Top 10 Gap Moments

By: Mary DiMartino

  1. Neil killing a grouse on the Wind River Range during NOLS

I don’t even need to explain why this is #1 on my list. Cornelius Deforest Howland IV killed a grouse with a single rock. No further explanation needed.

  1. Completing my solo

Towards the end of our NOLS course we all did solos. We were each put in a separate place in the woods, where we were unable to see anyone else, and spent 24 hours completely to ourselves. During the day it was so relaxing to have alone time, something that was hard to get on NOLS since we are all constantly together. I spent my afternoon reading, napping, writing, and simply taking in the beauty of nature that surrounded me. While it was sunny all day, once the sun went down it began to storm. I was curled up in a ball in my sleeping bag that was covered by trash bags in attempt to keep me dry – it didn’t work. All night long I was lying there praying the rain and the thunder and lightning would end. Unfortunately, it lasted until morning. Even though I was convinced I was slightly hypothermic after completing my solo, I recovered, and I am incredibly proud of myself and everyone in the group for doing what seemed so daunting at first.

  1. Meeting & hanging out with Tim

Tim, a 7-year-old boy who lived on the reservation, changed my life. We developed such a deep relationship over less than a week, and I enjoyed every minute of our time spent together. I know I’ll never forget him or the impact he had on me from day 1.

  1. Hiking up Whiskey Mountain

A lot of people say this day was one of the hardest hiking days of NOLS. However, this was one of my favorites. My group had high spirits going up that mountain, despite how discouraging the never-ending hike got. We sang Katy Perry & Taylor Swift, songs from The Sound of Music, and more. The view when we got to the top was incredible. You could see for miles in any direction and you were so high it felt as if you could get lost in the clouds if the mountain was any taller.

  1. Getting closer with others

This wasn’t one specific moment that happened on a certain day at a certain time. During NOLS we were with each other literally 24/7 but surprisingly I didn’t leave with 13 super close friends. However, during our time doing service I’ve come to realize that I’ve gotten closer with everyone and have reached out to more than just the few I was really good friends with on NOLS.

  1. Working in the VAL garden

In St. Louis we worked in local community gardens in the afternoons. One day we went to VAL, which was a garden run by Grace & Larry. They were the sweetest people and really appreciated us spending our time helping them fix up the garden. When we were leaving, Larry said how it was so nice having us young people there because himself and the other volunteers that were normally there are old and can’t do the things we did that day. After hearing that, I knew what we did that day, and what we had been doing all week, truly did make a difference.

  1. Cleaning the abandoned school

During our week in Mullens, West Virginia, the girls spent their first few days at an abandoned school. We swept and mopped every room and while it was tiring and sometimes felt pointless, after cleaning the entire thing and realizing what we had done, I felt so accomplished. The work was hard, but most definitely rewarding.

  1. Doing the Dirty Dancing move with Nate

Nate always talked about how he could do the Dirty Dancing move. Ever since we left the Noble to embark on our adventure in the Wind River Range I told him I wanted to do the move with him. But despite my excitement I was nervous and unsure if he would actually be able to lift me up without dropping me. We eventually tried one day during NOLS but I was too scared so I didn’t go for it. BUT after coming back to the front country, I did the Dirty Dancing move with him – he didn’t drop me!!!

  1. Angie’s pizza during ISGE

During the last week of NOLS, we did something called ISGE – independent student group expedition. Us students split up into two even groups and hiked for 4 days and 5 nights by ourselves without our instructors. On one of these nights, Angie made my group pizzas for dinner – amazing, wonderful, delicious, 10/10, mouth-watering pizzas. I know it might seem silly that this made my Top 10 list, but if you ate some of the meals that were cooked during NOLS, you would understand my love & appreciation for this pizza.

  1. Going to Yellowstone

Spending the day at Yellowstone was really cool. I had learned a lot about it in my environmental science class senior year, and I enjoyed actually experiencing it instead of just hearing about it. It was so beautiful, and while I got to tell my family & friends from back home about it, no words or pictures would ever do it justice.

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