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!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

True Story

I remember the only time I actually felt panic while in the wilderness. While reading Backpacker (shocking, I know) I got some inspiration from a segment they have where true stories are told and they point out good and not so good things the individual did to get themselves into a situation and hopefully get themselves out. I’m going to give this story telling a try.

During the summer of 2006 I worked on the Summit Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest. One day after work in late June I decided to go on a quick hike to Sword and Lost Lakes (1). I threw together a pack of the essentials (2) and left a voicemail for my mom telling her where I was going (3). I hiked to Lost Lake and then on to Sword Lake. There was an overlook to Spicer Meadow Reservoir on the north side of Sword Lake so naturally I went to explore what I could see. The sun was getting close to going down so I decided to watch the sunset from the overlook and have a snack (4).

After watching nature’s light show I started heading back to the trailhead. I passed Sword Lake and then onto the trail around Lost Lake. Once I got a little ways down the trail there was a big rock face that was on my right – that wasn’t there when I came in (5)…I turned around and back tracked a bit. Then I found myself on the trail toward Sword Lake again, oh good grief. It was getting darker by the second and the panicky feeling was starting to rise in my throat; I turned around and started running (6) along the trail toward where this supposed cutoff to the trailhead was, and found myself next to that dang rock face again. I stopped, stood in one place for a minute, took a breath (7), got out my headlamp, and started walking slowly back around Lost Lake in search of the illusive cutoff. Bingo – found the trail.

By that point I was done being in the woods by myself. The trail was well defined and I knew where I was, but I was done. The cloud of mosquitoes I walked into was the last straw and I started sprinting down the trail (8). Thankfully I made it to my car in one piece and safely home (9).

About an hour after I got home my phone rang - a call from my mother wondering where the heck I was (10).

(1) When hiking alone I tend to stick to more popular trails in case of an emergency.
(2) Water, sweater, headlamp, snacks – should have included a few more things.
(3) Always tell someone where you’re going, what your plan is, and what they should do if they don’t hear from you. At the very least put a note under your windshield wiper.
(4) Once the sun goes down it tends to take the light with it – glad I packed that headlamp!
(5) Take notice of your surroundings and significant natural features, they are good reference points.
(6) Chill out! I should have followed this next note sooner.
(7) As soon as you think you’re lost, STOP, take a breath and assess the situation. Don’t make matters worse by making panicked decisions.
(8) Nothing like sprinting by yourself at dusk to say, “Come and get it mountain lions!” or twist an ankle or a number of other regrettable things.
(9) Come to find out, my supervisor at the time had spent an unexpected night on the very same trail after watching the sunset and then getting turned around on the way out. Oh…good to know.
(10) Whoops! Don’t forget to call your just-in-case-person to let them know you’ve returned safely!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is here?

East Range from the NOS Office 3-19-2012

Did you spring outside this week?  Monday was the vernal equinox, making this the first week of the new season.  While some parts of the country enjoyed unseasonably warm weather, here in Winnemucca we looked like this photo, taken from the front of the Nevada Outdoor School office on Monday morning.  Regardless of the weather, people are certainly out and about; little league teams are practicing and bicycles are rolling around town.  On Sunday, we woke up to a couple of inches of fresh snow.  By afternoon the sun came out and the snow had all melted.  I went outside and took advantage of the sunshine for a little jog, then later that evening we got a brand new three inches of the fluffy white stuff.  Spring in the high desert it seems, as usual, is marked by rapidly changing weather conditions.  It is easy to forget, on a mild day like today, that snow, ice and freezing conditions may be with us for another few months still.  So, plan ahead and be prepared, get outside and enjoy whatever weather Spring serves up.  Plan ahead and be prepared; did I say that last time I posted?  Hmm… I guess there is a good reason it is the first principle of Leave No Trace.
Have fun out there,

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beyond the Sagebrush

Enjoy nature just a quick drive from the Vegas strip.
Red Rock National Conservation Area, Nevada

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Adventure Resolutions

I was reading Backpacker’s January issue, I know you’re shocked, and their piece called The Backpacker’s Bible inspired me to come up with a few adventure resolutions for this year. I think I have a pretty epic summer ahead of me.

1. Hike Farther
The permit reservation is in! I’ll be hiking the first section of the illustrious John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Devil’s Postpile. The longest backpacking trip I’ve been on so far is three days-two nights; the idea of seven days-six nights and 60ish miles of a granite-fest is incredibly exciting, but I’ll admit a wee bit intimidating. I want to be able to enjoy the experience rather than crashing every night as soon as we get to camp, so I’m enlisting in Backpacker’s suggested strength training, as well as running hills at elevation. Let me tell you, I’m already feeling the muscles rebuilding – better now than on the trail!

2. Get Out More
Snow isn’t even done falling yet and I already have most of my summer mapped out with the idea of balancing work with lots of play. I already have two permits reserved and a few dates set with hiking partners. Now I’m committed!

3. Go Solo
I’ve been on day hikes by my onesies, but have always had company for overnight trips. This summer I shall brave the wilderness alone, I think it would be a rewarding experience. I suppose I won’t be truly alone, I’ll have to bring my four-legged friend because it would just be mean to leave Aspen at home.

4. Fine Dinning
I will go on at least one backpacking trip this summer where there are no dehydrated meals allowed. I’m going to finally take a look at all of those recipes I keep ripping out of magazines and fashion some tasty backcountry meals.

5. Make Fire
Normally in the backcountry I go without, it’s just easier to wrap up in my sleeping bag. However, it would be nice to know I have the tools and ability to make a fire happen in the woods.

6. Never Get a Blister
OK, I nabbed this one from Backpacker, but who wouldn’t get on board with this resolution. First step – new high-top boots that are lighter weight and with more wiggle room in the toes. Let the hunt for my new Keens begin! Also, I vow to never ignore hot spots!

Now that I’ve put my resolutions in writing and put them out for the world (or our 13 followers) to read, I’m motivated to follow through. Watch for updates on how they’re progressing!

Do you have any adventure resolutions for this year?