Thursday, September 9, 2010

Off to the Winds

After attending Camp Widjiwagan for 6 years, I've become accustomed to their way of doing things..which it turns out is pretty slow in comparison to NOLS.  Between about 8 and 4 today, we accomplished as much as Widji does in 3 whole days.  It was exhausting.

My alarm went off at 6:20 and upon awaking, I was pleased to discover that I had in fact not rolled of the top bunk I had slept on.  I haven't slept on a bunk bed since I had a pair of red, metal ones back in middle school and I was pretty terrified of the potential 5 foot drop during the night.  I packed up the few items I had taken out the night before and brought all of my luggage downstairs to the main lobby and went into the cafeteria for my first NOLS meal.  The kitchen manager gave us a short tour of where everything was and how we were supposed to dine.  Breakfast was impressive:  fresh fruit, yogurt, whole wheat pancakes, scrambled eggs, bagels, cereal, and orange juice.  Seeing as it was 6:40 in the morning and my body was supposed to be asleep, I didn't eat much.  I was on the clean-up crew, which, it turned out, was exactly like work camping at Widji.  So I loved it!  I got to operate the industrial dish washer and clean all of the plates and cups.  Heck! I would volunteer to do such a thing, I love doing dishes in industrial kitchens, it's a down right blast!  After breakfast we loaded our bags into the back of a pick-up truck and followed it over to the NOLS Rocky Mountain Outfitter. It's pretty much the best place ever.  I love outdoor gear stores and this was the epitome of them.  I showed my instructors what gear I had and then they checked off anything I needed on a list.  With this magic piece of paper, I could walk into the store, hand it to a NOLS employee, and they would guide me around, showing me where everything I needed was.  And here's the best part: upon choosing all of the gear I needed/wanted, I simply said "thank you" and walked out the store.  All transactions had already been taken care of! (Thanks Mom and Dad :)) It was glorious.  After all of our gear was figured out, we walked down the hall to "The Gulch" and bagged all of our food.  Lists had already been put up of what food we needed to bag.  I worked with my new Dutch friend, Richard, and we made short work of the cashews, sunflower seeds, and granola bars.  Then our instructors split us into our cooking groups - groups of 4 that prepare meals together, share gear, and share a tent.  Once those groups were assembled, they each returned to "The Gulch" and were packed out with food for 7 days.  On our 8th and 15th days on trail, horses meet us in the mountains to drop off re-rations of food.  With all of our gear and food assembled, we returned to our dormitory/hotel for lunch.  I was once again very impressed: fresh fruit, salad, pasta dishes, grilled cheese, reuben sandwiches, soup, and brownies.  We went back to the Outfitter building after lunch and learned how to pack our backpacks and then packed them.  Next it was back to the dorms to take part in a class with our instructors about the term PLE- Positive Learning Environment (NOLS is apparently VERY into acronyms - even look at it's name!).  We talked about what words we wanted to describe our trip - respect, fun, and initiative to name a few, and words that we didn't want to describe our trip - non-communicative, complaining, negative, etc.  This evening has consisted of dinner: pesto pasta, salad, garlic bread, and brownie sundaes and overly aggressive (and incredibly fun) foosball, pool, and ping-pong.

Tomorrow morning we board a bus for a 3 hour drive to the Western side of the Wind River Mountains.  Then we will hike for 21 days to the Eastern side and be picked up just outside of Lander.  I'm incredibly excited - my group is fantastic, my instructors wonderful, and the mountains sound beautiful.  I'll most likely be able to send mail via the horses while I'm on trail but I can't receive any.  I would still love to receive some when I return to Lander in 21 days! ;) Here's my address:

Christopher Abbott
PO Box 333 
Lander, WY 82520

Christopher Abbott
284 Lincoln Street
Lander, WY 82520
I'll talk to you in 21 days! Enjoy the Fall!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Day


I arrived at the NOLS Rocky Mountain campus today in Lander, Wyoming.  About 6,000 people live in the town and NOLS is right in the downtown.  I'm staying in what was once the Noble Hotel.  It's now the NOLS dormitory.  After putting my things away in dorm room 208, I went downstairs to the game room and was shocked into the game of meeting new people.  Almost everyone from the two semester groups were there - about 24 people in total.  Everyone would introduce themselves by saying their name and then what section they were in, 8 or 9.  I'm a 9.  So I naturally forgot the name of an 8 as soon as I met them!  We had an orientation meeting right away and I met my instructors.  I have 3, a man from outside of Chicago, a man from India, and a woman from Kenya....I forgot their names already. They gave us our schedule, which is..

Logistics Calender
9/8: HIKE orientation
9/9: Packing and Preparations
9/10-9/30: Mountain time in the Winds
10/1: pick up after hiking in the Winds
10/2: WFA begins
10/3: - 10/4  WFA
10/5: pack for Canyon section
10/6: leave for Canyon section  
10/7: - 11/2: Canyon time
11/3: Canyon Pick-up 
11/4: Drive to Rock climbing at Red Rock 
11/4-11/26: Climb in Red Rocks
11/28: back at NOLS rocky mountain
11/29-12/9: Winter on Togwotee Pass
12/10:last day
12/11: Departure for home

I have to head to bed, but I'll post more tomorrow night before I head off! 


Getting There

I left yesterday morning with 2 bulging duffel bags weighing down my mom's prius and a little sadness from saying goodbye to my sister, dad, and girlfriend Caroline.  My mom started out the drive on 35-S until we hit 90-W.  Then it was 550 nearly straight miles though the plains of Minnesota and South Dakota to Rapid City, South Dakota.  Today we'll continue west for 7 hours to Lander, Wyoming and the beginning of my National Outdoor Leadership School course! 

During the course - Fall Semester in the Rockies - I will spend 4, 3-week sections in the Rocky Mountains backpacking, rock climbing, canyoning, and backcountry skiing.  The group will consist of 12 guys between the ages of 17 and 19 and 3-5 leaders.  At least, that's what I think I'll be doing.  The only way to find out is to get on the road!