Friday, July 2, 2010


Hello All,

I know that this blog has ended abruptly. Due to returning to life back in Colorado, work, school, and now another summer job that has kept me away from the front country for most of the time and busy when I am around camp I have not completed this blog. Realistically I am not sure if I will ever finish it publicly however, I this has been something anyone has followed, or something you stumble across and would like to hear more please contact me. I would love to share my story and provide any information I can. My email is

God Bless

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wind River Experience 2

So after those brief days back in Lander we were on the bus heading nevously toward the Winds. The bus ride was unique. No one really knew what to expect or how to relate to the other 14 people on the bus, let alone try to figure out who the heck were the three weird people (our instructors) at the front of the bus so patiently enjoying the scenic ride.

We pulled into a massive dirt parking lot filled with cars and with an amazing view of some lake. After rushing to unload the packs off the top of the bus and eat as much food from the lunches we had packed we began to relax alittle bit. The anxiety of Lander, packing, meetings were all done with. All we had to do now was hike....or so we thought. Our last moments in the parking lot were filled with applying sun screeen, checking and double checking our packs for things we needed and things we had deemed useless at the last moment. We broke into 3 smaller groups each one with an instructor. That first day I was with Clair. Once we had gone through the tedious project of making sure each group was self sufficient we seperated ourselves by about 15 minutes and began heading up trail in the general direction of our first camp. To be honest the first few miles seemed like a breeze, my mind wandered to a place of boredom for a bit, hiking on a trail walking at a pace that seemed snail like, I figured I was going to rock this with my eyes shut. (turns out I should have been looking closer.....). That day and the day or two after that were mostly navigated with the help of our instructors but with our input and leadership. After 3 miles or so we split from the trail and began cross country (and bush wacking) up a stream bed to the lake in which we would camp by. According to past trips and one of our maps there was an unofficial trail that lead uphill on the east end of the lake. we however never actually found that trail until much later. So we began hiking, climbing, crawling over downfall and brush in the direction we thought we needed to go. This navigating required we cross back and forth across the trickling stream (notice that in my account of the broken hand it was a roaring This was when the hand thing happened (see other post for details). Once we regrouped, i had some pain meds in me we continued on a game trail for awhile.

After taking a break in a beautiful meadow looking up toward sharp granit peaks and yellow aspens we crossed paths with another team that had found the trail and was cruising up to first camp. Following their lead we jumped on the trail and moved to camp. The most interesting part was after breaking my hand and bush wacking a good majority of the day we were the first group to camp. Which wasnt accepted until we all had hiked about a mile in the surrounding area and looked under every rock in amazement that we were the first ones there. Once everyone roled in we began the lessons on finding a campsite, finding kitchens, and even a wonderful depiction of the 7 Ds of dumping by the one and only Clair Parish. It was an interesting first night. no one really wanted to cook something for fear of ruining it, and everyone was trying to outdo the other groups dinner. we all ended up eating hot calories while the Instructors has some burritos or something (who knows!). The evening was filled with dips in the lake (not by yours truely, though it was a good way to ice my hand) as well as eating all the blue berries we could that covered the entire camp area. With blueberries being some plentiful in that spot it could be expected that bears were close by. though the sighting of one never happened we were reminded of their presence by the massive claw marks in a pine tree at the center of the kitchen areas. (comforting eh....). So i just described the first day, and it took forever. so for the sake of my fingers and the fact that most days blended together highlights will do.

As the trip progressed, breaking into hiking teams became more and more of a breeze. Though it became a large game of "not mine" when caring the bear fence came up. It wasnt so much the weight that made everyone cring with fear, it was more the awkward height of the thing off your pack that made it a garruntee that you would catch every branch, bush and other solid object when trying to manuvuer around them.

(Pause for now)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wind River Experience

The course began September 16th. I arrived the evening before after spending the day with a friend in Laramie, WY. Arriving in Lander was one of the most exciting and nervewreaking things I had experienced in awhile. The address that i had used to navigate to Lander turned out to be the International NOLS headquater building. I walked into this 3 story mansion looking like a lost child, when from behind the front desk I heard, "You must be a NOLS student," to which i promptly spun around looking half embarassed and admited that I indeed was one of their students and terribly lost. I was directed to the Noble down the street. This was a old historic hotel that NOLS bought a while back with was turned into a dorm type place for students and instructors to live in during their in town days in Lander. After lugging all of my gear, 2 crates and 3 backpacks, up to my room, I journeyed down the street to the Rocky Mountain branch which is were I would soon begin my course. As people began to role in we all nervously tried to size ourselves up against each other, telling stories, giving our background in outdoor education, or competeing in massive ping pong tournys. That evening was when we would meet our Proctor, Clair Parish, and the two other backpacking instructors Eric and Becca.

Sitting in the dining room all anxious and ready to finally meet these "NOLS INSTRUCTORS....dun dun dun" I was half expecting some macho lumberjack woman and some long bearded "I climb everest w/o Oxygen" man to walk in and throw down on us. Boy was I wrong. In came this 5 foot lady with a smile ear to ear in a pink polo shirt with a popped collar bouncing as she walked. This was Clair, the lady who was going to be in charge of us for the next 94 days.......I glanced around and other people had the similar bewildered look on out faces. Clair had/has more energy than a room full of ADHD children on sugar! She was so exciting to listen to as well as extremely hilarious. After an intro to the course, objectives, goals and alittle fun ice breaker with the rest of the students and our instructors we called it a night to unpack somemore and try to absorb what had just happened.

The following days were filled with meetings, rationing food, packing, packing, packing, organizing, packing and alittle more packing in case we didnt do it enough. hahah. The Rocky Mountain (RM) branch was a extraordinarily nice place with large cargo bays for packing and organizing gear, and gear shop and issue room full of all the toys one could ever dream of having as an outdoor enthusiats, and the GULCH, a room full of 50 gallon tubs with more varieties of food one could imagine capable of being eaten in the back country. Part of the morning was spent going over all of our equipment with an instructor. everything from underwear to shoe laces were checked and scrutinized to make sure it would stand up to the abuse we were about to take them on. Following that we were given an ellaborate introduction to the rationing system by Claudia (one of the most BA women I have ever met, and a amazing organized and complex person when it come to figuring out food for backcountry trips). We were put to work immediately bagging all of the food we would be needing for the backpacking section. It was an awesome experience to be pulling 50 gallon drums of chili mix from a drawer and measuring all of it out knowing that if we messed up it was our fault and we would have to deal with it 6 days from now when we decided to eat it.

After packing and rationing we took alittle field trip down the street to city park. It was quit a sight to see 15 students with full packs in orange hunting vest walking through the town of Lander on the way to the park. Here we were introduced to our tents, stoves, and bear fence. The first two were normal pieces of equipment to bring on my own trips, and was familiar with their systems, however a 9,000 volt fence was something one doesnt normally encounter in the backcountry. this fence was a new system designed by some NOLS instructors to keep food and personal items in a safe location away from sleeping areas so bears would keep out of them. It was quit a sight and many of the people we encountered in the field wouldnt even give us the time of day to try to explain what the big green gun case looking thing was on the side of our packs. It was even better when someone small carried it for the day because it stuck up two times the size of the pack and looked like one was trying to reach Mars on satilite.

So after a long day of organizing and being introduced to the NOLS way of doing things, we had a few more meetings with Program Supervisors and our instructors to get things ready for a early start the next morning. With full bellies and full minds people drifted off into their own corners of town and the Noble to say their last good byes to friends and family, to write or record their feelings, and try to get mentally ready for the 93 days ahead of them. It was a weird place and time. Not many of us were close yet, there was that superficial bond of knowing we are all in it together and probably going through the same thing, yet no one was really ready to talk about it. So with silent nods and quick smirks we passed each other in the halls and on the streets, all thinking about what our connection would be with that person and what was going to happen to us in the following months.

Waking up the next morning there was an excitement and anticipation in the air. everyone was awake before their alarms went off and the showers and bathrooms were packed with people getting one last front country experience in before "roughing it" for the next week and a half. As we packed our cloths up and moved everything into storage, as we loaded the buses and drove away everything that I had dreamed about, worried about, planned for, and prayed for was about to happen and whether I was ready or not here it was the start of my Outdoor Educator Semester!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Real Thing

Hello all,

I am back safe and sound from the final section of my semester long NOLS course. It is hard to believe that 94 days ago i wrote of my fears and thoughts about what would happen here. Now it is here and gone and i find myself trying to figure out just exactly where it went.

In the following blogs to come i hope to recap my trip as best i can with words. It has been a unique one filled with struggles, memories, fun times, and adversity. I want to begin with thanking God and all of you for one reading this as well as supporting me in any way shape or form. If it were not for the strong body of support i received in the field from my family here and those outside the NOLS walls this successful finish would not have happening.

Thank You.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

30 days, 9 students, 2 pair of underwear, and 1 case of GIARDIA!

it has been awhile since i have last written. Things have been very interesting. A greater post will come at the end of the course but here is alittle update from the canyons. so we finished our climbing section after a few days of feet of snow in the desert of colorado where sitting in tents and making food was about the only activity we performed. (minus lying in the snow to chain up our vehicles to exit the camp site). We spent halloween at green river state park where we met with the other OESF group and began the transition into the canyons. we split into 3 smaller groups. In our group it was micheal, nicole, jen, brandon, dane, genevia, hayley, ben, and myself. our instructors were Clair and Jesse (who was the unlucky person who spent many days back at WFR bringing bad news and discussing my continuance on the course). She turned out to be one awesome instructor and i am so Blessed to have had here in the field with us. so we headed out into the canyons, for what we all thought was 28 days of hiking in the desert (in the back of all our minds was this little voice - what that hell did you say "28 days in the desert"). It turned out to be one of the most epic and exciting parts of the semester yet. with a new perspective on life and the blessing i received to continue on this course i think i approached it like a kid in a candy store. I wanted to take in everything and not miss out on one bit.

Bringing specific details, stories, and misfortunes at a later time, we came out of the canyons on Nov 29th. nearly one full month from leaving out bus at a lonely broken down corral in the middle of the barren mesa. About 10 days left in the course i began feeling fairly sick, thinking it was a small bug, the food, the smell, or just my body breaking down i dealt with it. much of which was at the mercy of my poor tent mates who dealt with my musical performance day in a day out as i slept, ate, and walked. Upon returning to the frontcountry i decided to return to the place of doom - pinedale, WY medical center (the same place of my broken hand) for my longing stomach issues. Who should be the lucky doc to see my case but the same guy who gave me the news of having broken my hand. man what a surprise it was for him to see someone he thought had given up and gone home sitting right in front of him only 2 months after the first injury. with a half angry half surprised laugh he told me this time it would be easy and he would just give me the meds i needed and not bother to convince or argue with me to sit this one out. good thing he went that route because i had a plan of attack already brewing in my head (little shameful but i am soooo close!)

So here i am now at the ranch again, ready to leave at 5 am for Grand Targee ski resort to practice my beautiful telemark turns on the whopping 4 inches of snow that has fallen in the past weeks (glad i am using NOLS gear and not mine). On Dec 5th we enter the field for one more epic journey, to tackle the one thing i love too much at times. WINTER! we will be out for 12 days and return to Lander the 17th. Look for more then. for now to sleep, i have snow to shred tomorrow.

God Bless to all that have kept me in their thoughts and prayers, your generosity and love has not gone unnoticed by me or the Lord, thank you!!!

God Bless all

until next time......

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back From the Dead

Hello all.

So it has been a very long time since i have last written, and chances are this will be the last post until the end of November (depending on my continuance on the course).

Since the last time, things have been a whirlwind of events. I was leaving i was staying, i was maybe doing both, i was maybe doing none of them!!! Nuts I know.

As of now here is where i stand. I met with Chris Brownies (thats Brown Eyes) from NOLS. After a long converstation he felt impressed enough and comfortable enough to allow me to continue on to the climbing section of the course here in Colorado, and post pone any decision making until i receive an x ray in about a week looking at how much my hand has healed. It was an awesome conversation where i got to really express how strong i felt about staying, how sure i was that i could push through the adversity, and how (in more or less words) i wasnt going to go down with out exhusting every other option out there. (I want this more than anything right now, i have a calling here that i am not willing to loss so easily).

So thats the hand, hopefully healing like no other, I am on enought calcium and Vitamin D to build a whole new bone in my hand in 4 weeks (thats the strategy lol).

So lets recap a bit:

I have finished a 10 day backpacking trip through the Wind River Range in WY. It was awesome, we saw snow, rain, sun, wind and everything in between. I got to flyfish in a puffy jacket with snow all over and hike the most incredible peak in the area. From there we went to the 3 peaks ranch werre all the medical stuff went down both from a learning stand point (my wilderness first responder trainin) and from a service stand point (many long drives - 2 hours - to Jackson Hole, WY for my surgeries and appointments). During that time i successfully completed and passed my WFR training and test and am now a certified WFR through NOLS.

We took of back to Lander (HQ and the branch). There we packed everything for the rest of the course:Climbing, Canyons, and Winter. We will not return until the end of the semester. All gear and food will meet us at transition locations.

During this time was when all those conversations and the emotional rollercoaster i road happened. We did have a once in a life time opportunity to sit in on the state of the school address and go to the alumni and awards dinner with all the board of trustees and instructors and important NOLS people from all over the WORLD!!!! It was epic! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some many NOLS staff and hearing the stories and the expriences of people who have dedicated their lives to the organization. One man, named Doug, was taught by Paul Petzoldt himself and has gone on to work in every decade since the beginning of NOLS, and we got to sit down at dinner and talk with him!!! Awesome!

So we packed up all our gear, I got the green light to continue on and things went well. We took off for Grand Junction last Sunday and got down here in the evening. Instead of having NOLS rationed food, we were given a budget for each tent group and went to the super market to buy our 9 days of food. Today is our reration day and tent group switches. We have another 10 days to go until we move into the canyon section.

Climbing section has been awesome, it has been really hard dealing with the fact that i cannot climb but my hard skills and more technical gear skills are getting awesome from it, Since i know how to climb really this is what i have been wanting to learn. If anything this have been a blessing since i now have ALOT of time to practice.

It is no backpacking camp, we have big tents, propane stokes, water jugs, and coolers filled with fresh food. It is an adjustment from the fast paced like of the backpacking section. Staying in one location all day is alittle weird, but i am reminded of the wilderness when i fall asleep for the millionth time on a ground pad listening to the wind.

I have definitely struggled with my faith at times during this course, not in a large scale but in allowiing God to work through this situation. I want sooooo badly to continue on, to push throug the pain, the adversity and prove i can cut it, yet i know that this is not always Gods plan for me. I do not know what his will is, i pray constantly for it, yet i will fight for this course until i can see his will will rule over any other.

I see this as an opportunity to really glofiy God in this. He can heal my hand if he so chooses, no doubt and that is what i am praying for, yet i must humble myself and give him the same praise if it is not so. I do think and hope that this is an opportunity to really show how God can work.

Being in his creation is magnificant, the places we see and the things we do are breath taking, it is so clear he is surrounding us, holding us in his land, I love it.

Well that is an update for now, I am well, spiritually tested, but i like it, emotionally tested and i enjoy it, and physically tested and i can handle it, it is now getting the decision makers to understand and let me test myself to my true limits.

Thanks so much for everyones prayers and support. I love you all and hope your lives are blessed as much as mine has been.

until next time....

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whirl Wind of Events

So if you havent heard from friends, family, or myself yet, I have a broken left hand, which, being a lefty, has made writting anyone or typing near impossible (this is being written after many pain meds).

So the short and skinny of the situation: We left Sept. 18th for the Wind River range in WY. The first day was about a mile on trail and then cutting due south cross country to a high alpine lake. we followed a drainage up hill to the lake. Since there was no trail (that we could see, there ended up being one just out of sight the other groups took) we crossed the stream a few times to find the easiest terrain to travel on. The stream was no more than 6 feet wide at most and trickling at best, the last spot we crossed was alot of large boulders that were angled and ridged. I tried to step with my left foot onto a slanted ridged boulder when my foot slipped, I went down to my left and fell onto the ridge of the boulder with the top of my left hand. As soon as i fell i knew i had hurt it in some way, cursed under my breath and got myself out of the cold water. I immediately got dizzy and light headed and i lost some hearing for a few minutes.

Claire (my proctor) and I looked it over and it didnt seem broken or badly hurt, so after some pain killers and a ace wrap we were back to hiking. The whole trip i used my hand. Obviously i was careful with it, but was able to be a full participating member of the course. I managed it with pain killers and ace wrappings with some icing in the streams when i could.

After getting out of the backcountry,we came here to the 3 Peaks Ranch for WFR. Monday morning i went to the local medical center for x-rays, the doctor knew instantly that i had broken it. What i didnt know was how bad. I was told it was discplaced 1 mm, which was not surgery worthy. The next day i drove up to Jackson Hole to see a specialist and to get my NOLS formed signed off on to continue. There the doctor saw a 5 mm discplacement from the fractor, and showed me how my bone was actuallyu shortening, which was elongating the tendon, making it useless if i let it heal without surgery. So after deciding i needed to get cut up, we found out the top and specialists in Jackson had a surgery opening that evening and since i had forgottton to drink any water or eat lunch i was a candidate for surgery.

So within 48 hours i went from having a "hurt" hand and dealing with it, to having 8 titanium pins and a steel plate drilled into my hand bone to put it all together. it is the 4th metacarple in my left hand (the hand bone for your ring finger).

Right now my continuance on this course is in the air, i will do pretty much anything to stay. I am doing alot to expedite the healing process. NOLS obviously has protocol and things to think about with injured students. So there have been alot of meetings and talks about what is going to happen. I will know more as to what will happen this week.

For now that is all my hand hurts. I miss you guys and thank you for your prayers and support. I miss you all and hope God is doing awesome things in your life.

until the next time.....