By: Brendan Gallagher
One of my primary goals entering the Gap experience was to mature as an individual. I thoroughly enjoyed my inexplicable and carefree adolescence, especially my unforgettable journey as a seventeen year old. However, once I turned eighteen a month ago, I became surprisingly aware and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of adulthood. The transition to the technology-free backcountry lifestyle has been both unique and enlightening. Acknowledging that my experience in the Wind River wilderness has changed me would be an understatement. I took too many amenities and benefits of front country life for granted. Showering, prepared meals, and the importance of toilet paper to name a few. However, as you know I am not out here surviving solo in the Wind River wilderness. Instead of my pervious self-centered daily mentality, I have been granted the opportunity to struggle, adapt, and improvise within a collective unit. I am so fortunate to be matched with such a supportive and encouraging group of fellow Elon freshmen. We strive to be better and assist each other under the realization that none of us can survive out here alone.
It is very easy to genuinely miss my friends, family, and loved ones from the contrasting society back home. With that in mind, my main psychological focus in the backcountry has been to remain optimistic. We have all dealt with or are dealing with adversity in one way or another. But I am adamant about these hardships simply being beneficial in the grand scheme of things. Release from our technology-bound civilization has allowed me to comprehend and embrace the importance of human relationships over materialism. Things are temporary, but I am truly grateful to know that some of these personal connections can last a lifetime.
With ample time for introspection and contemplation in the wilderness, I have established goals and aspirations, become aware of my endless weaknesses to improve, and continued to build upon and utilize my finite amount of strengths. NOLS and our impressive instructors have allowed me to mature by advocating for competence, self-awareness, and tolerance for uncertainty among other things. Most importantly, I have emulated the skills of my peers and combined them with my own to create a strong beginning base for our ongoing semester ahead of us. Shout out to my amazing friends and family from the 508, and I can honestly say my overall perspective of life has been altered as a result of my time here in the Wind River Mountains.