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!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Visiting our National Parks During a Government Shutdown

As you know, the US government has been shut down for the last three weeks.  During this time, many of our national parks have been forced to close access completely, while others leave their gates open, allowing access to some areas of the park.  Unfortunately, as the shutdown continues, our parks remain understaffed, under supervised, and under maintained.  Without park staff to enforce rules or boundaries, or inform visitors of changes to conditions effecting the safety of their route, People are finding themselves in dangerous situations. Limited park staff means limited rescue and recovery personnel as well. During the shutdown there have also been unfortunate reports of overflowing garbage receptacles, and restrooms. The excess of garbage left in the parks can have negative effects on our wildlife, and the overflowing restroom facilities are leading to an excess of people depositing human waste on the surface along roads and trails.  Improper disposal of human waste is not only unsightly, but causes a heath concern.
Are you planning a trip to a national park in the future? Leave No Trace, The center for Outdoor Ethics recently published some guidelines on how to make sure that you are prepared: 

1.    Develop a plan B:
a.    If you are able to substitute your National Parks Experience for a trip to a state park or one of the many other municipal land recreation opportunities, choose to do so.
2.    Pack out ALL trash:
a.    With garbage cans and dumpsters overflowing as it is, do your best not to contribute to the problem. Bring plenty of trash bags and plan to pack out any garbage that you produce, as well as trash left behind by other visitors.
3.    It’s Time to try:
a.    Since many restroom facilities are closed or un-usable, it is essential that you use biodegradable toilet-in-a-bag products, such as Restop or Clean Waste so that you can pack out your human waste.
4.    Share Well With Others:
a.    Share your Leave No trace knowledge with others! Rangers usually fill the role of Leave No Trace educators at our parks, and without them, many people will be exploring the parks with little to no background on Leave No trace. 

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Hiking Essentials

While winter can be a more challenging time to get out and enjoy the outdoors on a regular basis, there are still opportunities to enjoy activities such as hiking. Hiking during the winter can provide the chance to take in beautiful views of the snowy terrain, and maybe even get out the snowshoes. Many people have some kind of idea as to what to bring in their hiking day pack, but this list will break down the ten essentials of what you should pack. 

1. Navigation
When it comes to navigation, a map and compass are essential. A good topographic map of the area you are hiking in can show you various trails and landmarks. Learning how to read a baseplate compass will also help if you become disoriented. While a GPS device works great, keep in mind that it will require batteries. If you’re traveling in the backcountry, it’s also a good idea to bring a personal locator beacon. This device can send out a message and determine your position if you’re in an area with poor cell service.

2. First Aid
You can buy a small first aid kit at most sporting goods stores, or you can make your own. Make sure you know how to use all the items in your first aid kit. Your kit should include bandages, gauze, gloves, tape, pain medication, and blister treatment.

3. Sun Protection
Even during the winter, protection from the sun is important. Having a good pair of UV-blocking sunglasses can protect from your eyes from harmful sun rays and snow blindness. Sunscreen is also essential, especially at higher elevations. Even during colder months, the potential for sunburn is present. 

4. Headlamp
A headlamp can help you find your way at night, as well as keep you hands-free to perform different tasks. Make sure to bring extra batteries!

5. Fire
If you run into an emergency, having supplies to start a fire is essential. A butane lighter or waterproof matches work well. Firestarter that will light quickly and burn for a few seconds will also be helpful. Candles, twine, and dryer lint all work well.

6. Knife
A good knife or multitool can be helpful when preparing food, repairing gear, or first aid. Depending on your needs, you can carry a basic folding knife, or a more elaborate multitool. Items for making repairs such as tape, cord, and zip ties can also be helpful.

7. Food
It’s a good idea to bring a day’s worth of food when you’re hiking. Food such as jerky, granola bars, and dried fruit that don’t require cooking are all good options.

8. Shelter
Keeping some type of emergency shelter such as a tarp, space blanket, or even trash bag can help protect you from wind and rain in case you become stranded. 

9. Water
Make sure you have enough water for your trip. Typically, you will need ½ liter per hour, but you’ll need to take into account other factors such as elevation and temperature. Carrying some type of water treatment method is also important in the backcountry. 

10. Clothing
The weather can turn quickly, especially at higher elevations, so it’s important to bring extra layers such as socks, gloves, and a jacket. For hiking in colder weather, carry extra layers for your upper and lower body.

Learning to pack these items, whether you are going on a day hike or into the backcountry is a good habit. Make sure to take into account the weather, distance you will be traveling, and the difficulty of your hike. Hopefully we’ll see you on the trail!

Happy trails!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Beating the Winter Blues!

I know for me winter is a tricky time of year.  The days are shorter and the temps are lower giving us every excuse to stay inside and be vegetative.  That, however, is neither good for us physically or mentally.  The vitamin D we get from sunlight and the cortisol and endorphins released from exercise are what my body craves year round.  But how can we get these things come winter? 

For me, winter is a perfect time to let out your inner child.    

No matter your age, there is something magical about snow.  If we think like kids and focus on the magic and not on icy roads and school delays, what’s not to love?  It provides a peaceful, unblemished canvas of the world on which we can go snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or just go outside and build a snowman or a fort with (or without) our kids. 
Now that you’ve decided to get out here are some tips on how:

·         Dressing correctly is essential.  Although many of us have cotton tees and jeans hanging around the house, try to avoid wearing these fabrics on your winter adventures.  If they get wet, either from snow or sweat, they will no longer keep you warm. Also, dress in layers.  You want to have enough layers to stay warm while sedentary, but because you naturally warm up when you exercise, you will want to be able to shed a few to avoid sweating and getting a chill.  Next, don’t forget to cover up your ears and hands.  Over the years I’ve invested in a couple pair of high quality mittens because if my hands get cold, being outside just isn’t fun anymore.  And last of all, remember the sun.  As a kid, I didn’t think about the sun’s effects in winter until one day Kristen Bourrett came to 4th grade with a face burn and a ski goggle tan.  The sun is especially potent in the winter so make sure to put sunscreen on and wear a pair of sunglasses or goggles appropriate for the day’s adventure.
·         Drink up. It isn’t intuitive to drink when it is cold outside, but make sure to bring some type of liquid. I am sometimes better at convincing myself to sip down some hot chocolate while adventuring in the winter, but sometimes some crisp cool water is just what my body needs. 
·         Bring a sweet treat.  Make sure to have a quick snack on hand just in case.  Normally, I am an advocate for healthy eating, but when I am outside exercising in the winter sugars and fats are what my body craves. So give in if you want to eat a candy bar.  Just remember that your food might freeze.  You want to avoid bringing something that might turn into an ice cube and send you to the dentist as a result.

Now that you are prepared, what can you do with yourself?

·         If you own a pair of snowshoes or cross-country skis, the Ruby Vista golf course is a great location in town to get in a few laps in during the winter.  Plenty of people have already been out there laying tracks around the course. 

·         Alternatively, check out the Snobowl facebook page to see about their schedule.  Rentals are available onsite and the beginner hill has been open already this year.
·         If you are a snowmobiler, there are plenty of places to go in the area. Although the upper parts of Lamoille remain closed to motorized vehicles, there are plenty of other places to explore in Elko county.

·         If you just want to get out and go for a walk in the snow, give snowshoeing a try.  It is essentially just walking with tennis rackets strapped to your boots.  In Elko, you can borrow snowshoes from the BLM, and in Winnemucca you can rent them from us at the Nevada Outdoor School office. 

·         Stay tuned… starting in late January, we will be partnering with the BLM, Forest Service and Nevada State Parks to host monthly night hikes in the Elko area. We will be posting details on our Nevada Outdoor School- Elko Facebook page closer to the date. 

Who knows, you might make a few new friends in the snow.  

I hope to see you out there!