A quick overview of my NOLS expedition…
7/9 First day out! While setting up the maps to view our route through the Winds a local named Dale approached to ask what we were doing (complete with beer in hand and dip in mouth!)
7/10 Dear Lord, the mosquitoes! They’re solid black clouds!
7/12 Went fly fishing for the first time ever. Ate a delicious trout dinner. Yum!
7/13 Summited Mt. Geikie (12,378’)
7/15 Camped in the most beautiful campsite ever. Froze my butt off jumping into an alpine lake. Had to pee in the middle of the night, and the big dipper seemed to take up half the sky. Enormous!
7/16 Summited Dragon’s Head Peak (12,205’). Planned to also summit Pronghorn Peak, but the expected “grassy slope” turned out to be a 5th class rock face. Oops!
7/18 Re-ration day! We met the horses at 1pm. We received food for 8 days and our rock climbing gear. Packs were heavy as we hiked to our next campsite.
7/21 It just isn’t a NOLS course until you hold lightning position in the rain for 15 minutes. The lightning had interrupted our rappelling class, and I thought to myself “well, if I don’t get to rappel, at least I got a great quad workout.” But the storm passed and I did get to rappel. A lot.
7/22 Camped in the most beautiful campsite ever. I know I said that before, but that was because I hadn’t seen this one yet. We’re just below Angel’s Peak, next to a beautiful lake with little icebergs floating in it.
7/24 Base camp! We’ll be staying here for the next 7 days while we Rock Climb! ☺ Then we move onto glacier.
7/26 Re-ration day! This time we received food for 15 days, plus more climbing and mountaineering gear. Fortunately we only had to bring it all back to base camp.
7/28 Multipitch climb up Elephant’s Head peak with Gabo and Ximena. The views of Gannet and Fremont from the top were beyond amazing.
8/1 Hardest day of my life (at least that I can recall). Started with a hike to the top of Indian Pass (elevation gain ~ 1500’, pack weight ~ 70+lbs), then down again across Knife Point glacier (my first time on glacier!). Supposed to climb up another glacier to the next pass, but oopsy, no glacier. Damn you global warming! Instead we scrambled up the moraine (add another 1500’ elevation gain). Then crossed another glacier. Hail (ouch!). Rock fall (run!). Finally, camp at about 8:30pm. Stuff face with food to keep warm. Pass out from exhaustion.
8/4 Holy shnikeys, my tent mates and I were almost just taken out by a lightning storm. We were in the tent talking and snuggling against the cold when we started hearing a clicking sound. I looked up and saw a red electrical arc between the 2 tent poles. We all freaked and moved as far away from the poles as we could. I don’t know how long we silently held lightning position on our sleeping pads, but I eventually had to break the tension with a song. For future reference, singing ‘You are my sunshine’ is very calming during near-death experiences.
8/6 Today we started our independent student travel, which officially means the course is winding down. I’ve started fantasizing about “civilization”, and even made of list of things I can’t wait to do (#1 is take a shower- you can’t imagine how bad I smell).
8/9 We left camp at 4:30 this morning and were picked up at the trailhead at 7. The shower was everything I hoped it would be, as was the burger I chomped down for lunch and the coffee I drank while I checked my email.
8/12 It’s officially over. I’m back in Denver, and already checking things off my list (yoga class and a hoho cupcake at City, O’ City). I have to admit that I’m trying to shake a slight feeling of melancholy, and putting off going back to work as long as possible.