Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin

of NOLS

www.nols.edu

Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin is a field instructor and Diversity and Inclusion manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). In a previous life, Aparna was a hot shot lawyer for a decade. Being a hot shot meant she didn't have time to do the things she loved, like climbing and playing outdoors. She did, however, get some amazing views from top floor offices in urban skyscrapers. In 2010, she turned her passion into her career, and she's never looked back. While not at work, she can be found outside playing with her husband Jamie and their 4-year-old son Kieran.

As my family prepares for the 2,000-mile round-trip drive from Wyoming to California for the holidays, I’m using all the spare change I’ve got left after gift-shopping to procure some essentials for the journey in our Subaru Outback. With a six-year-old, books on CD are a must, and maybe we’ll even take the portable DVD…

If there’s anything my family is determined to do, it is to live in style in backcountry. We don’t just want to survive the wilderness—we want to thrive in it. So last year, inspired by our learnings in outdoor living from working field courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), we embarked on our…

We had our first “White Christmas” this year. We live in the mountains and there is often snow on the ground in December, but since I can remember we’ve never had it actually snow on Christmas Eve. And this wasn’t just snow. It went from absolute dry ground and sunshine on Christmas Eve—we even went…

Camping Recipe: Saag Paneer

By Casey Dean No matter where your hiking boots take you, you can enjoy the foods of the world over a Whisperlite Stove. This version of the Indian dish saag paneer replaces the paneer with tofu, but a white cheese instead of tofu would be a great option as well. The Mexican cheese, queso fresco, is a great…

After a summer of training hard in Washington’s Cascade Range, British Columbia’s Waddington Range, and Alaska’s Chugach Range, the Expedition Denali team is poised to embark on their journey to Denali in June 2013. This film clip will give you a brief window into their training this past summer and their thoughts on the upcoming…

Five lessons of outdoor expedition leadership that will make you a better indoor leader The Google team was stumped and their indecision continued to build. Should they hike the longer, easier way to the left and get drenched in a stream crossing? Or take a direct dry path which would involve some bush-whacking and then…

Imagine catching a rainbow, brown, brook, golden, cutthroat, and lake trout all in one day. To some this is just a whole lot of fish. To anglers it is a dream—a dream that can come true in the Wind River Range, where all six trout species thrive in abundance. And fall is the season to…

By Casey Dean, NOLS Backcountry travel requires planning: route planning, anticipating weather, organizing gear with travel-mates, and much more. Meal planning doesn’t often get much attention, what with the relatively tasty and ridiculously convenient freeze-dried meals (and beer?) at our fingertips. Nonetheless, backcountry cooking is a wonderful way to spend an evening in the most…

Written and reported by guest contributor Casey Dean Skies across the nation have been darkened by smoke from forest fires. These same forests are the very destinations we set for adventures, so it is of utmost importance this summer to plan with particular attention to fire risk and wildfire danger. First and most simply, reconsider…

Contributing writer Casey Dean helped with this post. We have peaks on the brain here at NOLS, as one of our own returns from an expedition to the highest point in the world and our Expedition Denali team prepares for a summer of training on glaciers in Alaska, the Waddington, and the Wind River Range.…

NOLS is training the Expedition Denali team for their 2013 attempt to summit Denali. With the help of Climb Strong, we’ve set up a rigorous fitness regimen that will whip the team into shape. They’ve already established a base level of fitness and have started building it up with a simple 30-minute metabolic workout. Follow…

We adventurers often daydream of climbing rugged peaks, swimming in pristine high alpine lakes, traversing across blue-green glaciers, or trekking along rugged ridgelines with dramatic views  … while we’re sitting at our desk eating donuts. Do you feel like reaching for your next adventure is just making your arms sore? At NOLS, we’re working with…

NOLS’ local backcountry chefs Casey Pikla and Amy Rathke prove once again that backcountry food is fit for a king (or a picky princess like me). High-calorie, high-protein food is a must when you’re active all day, and what better way to pack a high-protein, high-calorie punch than a breakfast quiche before you begin the…

Oh, I only wish I were talking about myself. But alas, I’m referring to something just a tad prettier and more fragrant. Flowers. A year ago, I was bundled up in a down jacket and there was a foot of snow on the ground in town (and much more in the mountains). This weekend I’m…

NOLS Rocky Mountain River Base Manager and senior field instructor Phil Henderson sent us a lovely little e-mail from his approach to Everest Base Camp as part of a North Face and National Geographic-sponsored expedition to summit Everest. Before you read his note, let’s set the stage. As one of few African Americans in the…

By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) On June 7, 1913, Alaska Native Walter Harper was the first person to summit Denali, the highest peak in North America. And though the face of our nation has evolved from mostly white to a mosaic…

Whenever you travel into the backcountry, do you ask yourself: “Eat like a king but break my back with the weight; or eat like a squirrel and travel light and fast?” Well, you can stop asking yourself that question. Backcountry travel doesn’t involve a Hobson’s choice. Time and time again, our field instructors prove that…

By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity + Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); photographs, from top, by Andy Clifford, Rich Brame (3) Oh, the things you learn about yourself when you spend 35 days on a NOLS course in the wilderness with a backpack and a fly rod—and without…