NOS Mission

Nevada Outdoor School inspires exploration of the natural world, responsible stewardship of our habitat and dedication to community.
This is the spot for us to share stories, fun ideas or general musings. When you aren't in here, we hope to see you out there!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trail Log

Winter in Yosemite Valley

“One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?’” – Rachel Carson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Leaving No Trace in Hawaii

During Thanksgiving break, a fellow Nevada Outdoor School employee and I traveled to the great island of Oahu. Since we are both Leave No Trace (LNT) Master Educators we were on the lookout for how Hawaii practices LNT throughout our trip.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Before our trip even started we were leaving no trace by planning ahead and preparing. For those of you in Nevada, and most of the other lower 48, I’m sure you’re familiar with these stabby invaders – puncturevine aka goatheads. Even though goatheads have already been introduced in Hawaii, I didn’t want to be an accomplice to a further invasive invasion; which is why I was sure to check the shoes that I was taking with me for stowaways before I got on the plane.

Check for invasives or any organic matter in
your equipment before traveling to a new area

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: During our visit we trekked to the top of Diamond Head, Hawaii’s most recognizable landmark. Along the path there were signs asking visitors to stay on the trail for their safety and to prevent erosion. At times land managers will put up signs that just say “stay on the trail” with no explanation, or “stay on the trail” with the threat of a fine; however, the signs at Diamond Head told visitors why. Maybe some of you have heard of the idea, authority of the resource? The notion behind authority of the resource is that you’re more likely to get desirable behavior from visitors if they understand how their actions affect the way nature operates, rather than threatening them with regulations and fines. Plus, advising visitors of an action because it will keep them safe helps too.

I want to help protect Diamond Head by staying on the trail!

3. Dispose of Waste Properly: We saw this logo on trash cans throughout our travels on the island. I think this is a great way to let people know that helping is simple – throw away your trash.

We’ll say they’re caring for plants by throwing
away trash – not throwing away plants…
unless they’re invasives!

4. Leave What You Find: While stopped at a lookout on the southeast point of Oahu we found a mass collection of rock cairns with no evident purpose or reason. Art? Calling for a moment of reflection? A confusing trail system? Or just an impact bandwagon? 

Calling for a moment of reflection? I think the view speaks for itself.

Our friends at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics found a similar collection of rock cairns in Boulder, Colorado and wondered if it was art or impact.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts: We didn’t have an opportunity to practice this principle of LNT, but a quick note – if you’re looking to enjoy a sunset on the beach with a toasty fire contact local land managers or law enforcement to find out where you can legally do so.

6. Respect Wildlife: An exciting aspect of visiting a new place is seeing the wildlife that inhabits that ecosystem. Personally, I had two aquatic animals on my wish list: sea turtles and dolphins. I was successful on both accounts with an added bonus of a Hawaiian Monk Seal.

Their Hawaiian name is ‘Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua,
which means dog that runs in rough seas

While enjoying the Pacific Ocean we came across a resting seal that had an area around it roped off with a helpful sign informing beach-goers why the seal had a protection zone around it; and thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) logo I knew where to get more information. I learned from the sign that Hawaiian Monk Seals are protected under Federal and State Law; come to discover there are only about 1,100 of these seals left that are endemic (native) to the Hawaiian Islands. At least they’re faring better than their monk seal counter parts – the Caribbean Monk Seal is extinct and the Mediterranean Monk Seal has numbers in the low hundreds. Now that we’re all thoroughly bummed out, look at NOAA’s Natural History and Conservation of the Hawaiian Monk Seal brochure to lift your spirits. In the brochure you’ll find more information on Hawaiian Monk Seals, ways you can make a difference, and pictures of cute baby seals.

In search of more wildlife, we ventured to the North Shore to find sea turtles. Success again! We spotted a few turtles in the waves off shore then stumbled upon a Green Turtle resting on the beach. Using LNT’s rule of thumb, we kept a respectful distance while observing and taking photos. For those not familiar with the rule of thumb: close one eye, hold your thumb out, and then put your thumb in your line of sight between you and the wild animal. You shouldn’t be able to see the animal behind your thumb. If you can – you’re too close. On that same note, if you’re observing wildlife and they start to change their behavior, you’re also too close.

I promise I’m practicing the LNT rule of thumb;
not pretending to punch the sea turtle.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Consider visiting areas when you can avoid times of high use. We may have avoided more of the crowd at Diamond Head if we began our trek a bit earlier. This idea also falls into the first principle of LNT – plan ahead and prepare, but with this many people on a cramped trail being considerate and respectful of others is essential for everyone’s sanity. Slower traffic stay to the right to let others pass. Thank you and excuse me go a long way. And my favorite tip – don’t hog the lookout point; others want for photo opportunities too.

8. Happy Holidays! Even Santa plans ahead and prepares when going on vacation – note he’s packing sunscreen!

Mr. and Mrs. Sanda Clause preparing for their trip to Hawaii.
(That’s not a typo – this is a sand sculpture!)

Happy Holidays and Mahalo,

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Winter Hike Interrupted

UPDATE from The Humboldt Sun in the Feb. 22-24, 2011 issue:
"The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office announced last week that three men had been arrested and two others issued a summons to appear in connection with vandalism in the Water Canyon Recreation Area..."

Imagine driving to your local recreation area, in this case Water Canyon, excited to take the dogs for a walk on a warm-winter afternoon. They get to run off some energy, you get to soak up some sunshine and stretch your legs. You’re winding your way up the canyon road along the creek as your anticipation builds. You round the last bend where the trailhead parking lot comes into view – there it is! The trailhead restroom covered in graffiti… Your excited anticipation turns to anger and disappointment.

View of the trailhead and the graffiti-covered restroom

A bit excessive...

For the sake of this blog, we’ll keep the finger wagging to an outdoor ethics base. Whoever the perpetrators were, they were not being considerate of others. Fellow recreationists don’t want to see a graffiti-COVERED restroom, let alone use it. Also, they’ve created additional work for the Bureau of Land Management who now has to repaint the restroom – our tax dollars put to good use. Unfortunately, due to the cold-winter weather the cleanup will have to wait until spring so the paint will properly adhere to the tagged surface. Until then visitors to Water Canyon will have to suffer with this eyesore in an otherwise beautiful setting.

And to think…you just wanted to go on a hike.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Destination Recreation: Mt. Rose Ski Area

Here at Nevada Outdoor School, we scale rugged mountain peaks, explore winding canyons, soak up vast open playa, and play on towering sand dunes. Nevada has a wealth of natural wonders to discover and our staff has taken advantage of opportunities to do so. We have compiled our favorite recreation destinations in Nevada to give you ideas for your next adventure; all destinations can be found on the Nevada Outdoor School website – Destination Recreation page. In the coming months we’ll highlight various destinations around the state, so pack your bags because we’re hitting the road!

With ski resorts firing up their chair lifts and grooming runs, what better location to start with than Mt. Rose Ski Area! Don’t forget your helmet and happy shredding!

Mt. Rose Ski Area - We'll see you on the slopes!

Destination: Mt. Rose Ski Area
Adventurer: Andy Hart
Chosen Activity: Skiing through powder

Allure: Mt. Rose Ski Area is actually located on Slide Mountain, just south of the peak Mt. Rose, which is Washoe County's high point. Regardless, Mt. Rose is a great place to ski. There is no big resort at the base which means it is mainly locals and crowds are rarely an issue. Two high-speed six-passenger chairlifts access both the front and backside of the mountain keeping lift lines to a minimum. There are a couple of very nice, long, scenic beginner runs, not a tiny-little cat track or 100 yard long green run like you see at some other mountains; so bring along your non-believer friends and get them hooked. However, don’t let those nice greens fool you, Mt. Rose is home to some of the gnarliest, steepest terrain in Tahoe when you venture into The Chutes! And of course, there is a little of everything in between too. Mt. Rose has the highest base elevation of any resort in the area, 8,260 ft, this means the snow stays in good condition most of the year; you don’t deal with the slushy-muddy soup at the base of some other places. I also like the contrast in scenery between the front and back of the mountain. On the front it is pure Sierra Alpine, one chair lift away you are looking into Washoe Valley and beyond to the high desert and endless basin and range of central Nevada. Lift tickets are reasonably priced, and season passes are a stellar deal if you live close and can go all the time. If you like to ski, visit Mt. Rose and check out one of my favorite places in Nevada.

Other Activities: skiing, snowboarding
Location: Western Nevada on Mt. Rose Hwy – SR 431, 25 miles south-west of Reno
Information: Mt. Rose – Ski Tahoe

Friday, December 3, 2010

Leaving No Trace in the Snowy Sierras

Dust off your snowshoes and come learn more about Leave No Trace (LNT) and teaching techniques while exploring a winter wonderland. Nevada Outdoor School is hosting a LNT Trainer Course Friday, January 28th through Sunday, the 30th in the Donner Summit area.

Our Saturday destination - Martis Peak Fire Lookout

View from the lookout

Trip back down to the trailhead

We will explore the various principles of LNT while enjoying snowshoe hikes along trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Each participant will give a short presentation on an assigned principle; this is a great way to practice your teaching techniques and get ideas from fellow LNTers. At night we will warm up indoors at Clair Tappaan, a rustic mountain lodge nestled in the Sierras near Donner Pass.

Clair Tappan Lodge

Visit for more information and to register. Sign up now – this course is limited to eight participants.