Category archives for Outdoor Skills and Advice

Temperatures suddenly drop and clouds dominate the skyline. Light rain morphs to flurries. The wind gains strength driving snow sideways through the canyon we’ve called home for the last week. Some hoods go up, but other than that no one seems to notice. It’s business as usual on the last day of the 2nd Annual…

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…

Last week, Sally Jewell—former CEO of REI—took the helm as the new Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. This is great news for everyone who likes to hike, bike, run, ski, fish, paddle, climb, or explore the outdoors in any way. Why you should care? I’ll tell you. The Department of the Interior,…

It’s that time of year—the eve of summer, when the earth starts to awaken from her long slumber and I get itchy for adventure. After all, it’s what feeds me. Sure, my weekends are packed with fun outdoor forays all year long. But nothing compares to setting your sights on a somewhat scary goal and…

I’d put myself in the fairly adventurous category, but when it comes to backcountry skiing, I’ve never really given it a fair shake—despite having many “pinhead” friends who‘ve been trying to convert me for years. This perplexes me. Why the heck am I not ripping up untracked pow pow in the backcountry? By all measure,…

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…

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…

Going Solo Can Open Your Soul

So much of our lives is filled with stimulation and distraction. We rush from one thing to the next, be it work, errands, paying bills, taking care of kids, exercising or spending time with friends. How often do you actually put on the brakes and take time to reflect—on who you are you, what you…

See our Best Trails guide, including World’s Best Hikes: 20 Epic Trails. Tucked away in the most northwestern part of the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park is a waterlogged wonderland befitting of its name: any place so magical must be a dwelling for the gods. Surrounded by bodies of water to the north, east, and…

Ease Your Kids Into the Outdoors

For parents, few joys compare to sharing a favorite activity with their kids—of rediscovering a thrill through a child’s eye. This especially rings true with outdoor experiences, where a budding adventurer might need a little nurturing to bloom. Take backpacking, for example. I think it is one of the most sublime activities. I love the…

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…

When my husband and I went to Kauai last September, the one thing we really wanted to do was kayak the Na Pali Coast. It’s touted as one of National Geographic’s 100 Best American  Adventures. And with good reason. Picture paddling 17 pristine miles of Kauai’s rugged and breathtaking northwestern shore. We envisioned sparkling blue…

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…

The Internet is replete with tips for parents who want to maintain an outdoor lifestyle with their little ones. And there’s good reason, too. It’s one thing to be told your life will change irreversibly once you have a kid; it’s another thing to perch your kid precariously on a rock at 10,000 feet to…

I don’t like to imagine myself leaning over my boyfriend asking him what day it is, what his middle name is, and if he recalls what happened in the minutes prior. None of us does. But best way to face the possibility that at some point in our adventures a companion will get hurt is…

By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Faculty member and Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) As I head to the 2012 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, where NOLS is receiving an Outdoor Inspiration Award for inspiring youth everywhere to pursue an education through a NOLS adventure, I am…

Text and photo by Ryan Hutchins-Cabibi, Senior Field Instructor and Lightweight Backpacking Pro at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) As a tinkerer of gear, I get really excited when someone decides to build something they want that doesn’t exist. In the case of engineer Devin Montgomery, that something was a wood-fired boiler small and light…