My NOLS Instructor Course

Maybe you’ve never been on a long term hiking expedition. Maybe you’ve never gone further than car camping. Heck, maybe you’ve never eaten s’mores that didn’t come out of your toaster. That doesn’t matter, because a NOLS expedition can blow your world open to infinite possibilities.
My own journey to becoming a NOLS instructor was one of the most intense things I’ve ever done. I had to run from rock falls, and was nearly hit by lightning. Here’s one of the more humorous stories from my adventure.

August 2, 2010
The end was near. We had been crossing glacier for hours (a slow process when you’re tied to 4 people and walking through deep snow), and all that lay between me and solid ground was an icy stream. I saw Audrey leap, fall, and fumble up the other side. “I recommend NOT doing that,” she said, “try up there.” The spot she pointed at with her trekking pole looked firm, stable. I envisioned myself gliding gracefully across the ice and up onto the snow. I began to move toward my desired crossing and sank thigh deep into slush. As the freezing water began to flood my boot, I tried frantically to pull it free. But the ice was a vice around my boot. I began stabbing the snow with my ax, trying to break myself free. Once I released the snow’s death grip on my now frozen foot, I quickly reviewed my options. Walking was unfortunately not one of them. It was time to crawl. I made my way on hands and knees until I reached the creek, at which point I was able to wade across. My steps dredged up a sickly, yellow-brown sludge. On the other side of the stream, I was back on my hands and knees, crawling up the bank. In my mind flashed an image from Austin Powers. Yeah, baby, yeah! Now be a cougar, be a cougar! As I finally stood I felt the urge to sing “I’m too sexy for this glacier, too sexy for this-Ahh!” I sunk again into the snow. “Screw you glacier!” -is the PG version of my exclamation. As I finally made my way up the snow, I looked back just in time to see Logan hop gingerly across the creek. Son of a-!
It wasn’t the first time I was laughed at during the expedition, and it surely wouldn’t be the last.


More photos at


One thought on “My NOLS Instructor Course

  1. Great recount! Makes me want to go on another NOLS trip. My brother and I have both trekked out on some wonderful journeys. I would love to read more! I’ll take a look.

    Your entry makes me want to get back into the backcountry!

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