Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To the Canyons!

One more post about the Winds before I head off in a few hours to the Dark Canyons of the Green River area...

We were hiking around 5 miles on average while in the Winds.  We would wake up around 7:30 everyday and pack up camp/make breakfast.  As our group was massive - 12 students and 3 instructors, we traveled for the majority of the trip in small groups of 4 students and 1 instructor.  At the end of the trip, we traveled in independent student groups of 4.  We generally got into camp between 1 and 3 in the afternoon.  When we got to camp we would usually need to start cooking, although occasionally we had a class - the topics varied widely..Leadership, Leave No Trace Principles, Managing Group Conflict, Astronomy, US Public Land Use.  After dinner every day we had an evening meeting - G.A.S.S.E.  Greetings, Announcements, School, Schedule, Entertainment.  Entertainment was generally a 'personal nugget', meaning someone's abbreviated life story.  Days were busy a full, meaning it never took me very long to fall asleep at night.  

I'll be out on trail until around Thanksgiving now.  Today we drive down to South-Eastern Utah to go canyoneering there (Canyoneering is essentially backpacking in canyons, although you occasionally rappel down deeper into the earth using climbing gear).  We drive to Red Rocks, Colorado immediately afterwards, meeting our new instructors on the way.  Then we rock climb for around 22 days, with access to phones and occasional trips into town.  We'll return to NOLS Rocky Mountain in Lander for one night around Thanksgiving and then go backcountry skiing for 10 days.  Have a wonderful Fall!



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A few photos from the Winds

The whole group the morning of our pick-up 

On the summit of Pyramid Peak, 12,030 ft. 
The morning after our first snow! 

Delicious Dinner!

Friday, October 1, 2010

21 Days in the Winds


I returned safely this morning to the NOLS Rocky Mountain Branch after backpacking for 21 days in the Wind River Mountain Range - a trip identical to Widji's Explorer backpacking trip.  I'm now in Lander for 4 days taking a Wilderness First Aid course and preparing for my next 2 sections - Canyoneering in the Dark Canyon section of the Green River Canyon system in Utah, and Rock Climbing in Red Rocks, Colorado.  I figure I'll write several posts about the Winds while I'm here..

Food has always been one of the essential parts of my life.  When I first went to my summer camp Widjiwagan at the young age of 12, I was rather flabbergasted with the quality of the food we ate in the middle of the woods.  NOLS' food has impressed me even more! There are two main differences between Widji and NOLS in terms of cooking.

              1.  NOLS knows how to bake - meaning REAL brownies instead of Widji's scrambled ones and delicious yeast breads instead of fried flat bread.
              2.  NOLS understands what "dehydrated" means.  See, most camping food is dehydrated.  At Widji, I was always taught to pretty much ignore said fact.  So many meals were rather crunchy with improperly hydrated foods.  My least favorite meal at widji - hash browns - is now my favorite at NOLS. By allowing the hash browns to hydrate for a mere 10 minutes, they become delicious, real food instead of crunchy crud.
       Here's another example of the beauty of rehydration....

This past summer at Widji was the first time my trip didn't have fresh onions for the whole time.  We ran out before the halfway mark, meaning we then had to deal with dehydrated onions as a substitute. Obviously we didn't bother to hydrate them.  And guess what the consequence was?....horrendous gas.  I learned on the first day of my NOLS trip during a cooking class that between the the patience of 10 minutes and some warm water, such problems disappear entirely!  It's an olfactory pleasing thing to not was horribly stinky tents..