So i have finally arrived in Lander, Wyoming. I got in about noon yesterday the 15th. After leaving the Sperlings and driving like a half insane man i arrived in the small town of Lander. Other than the main strip there isn't much going on here. Except of couse.....NOLS.
Lander is the home of the International Headquarters. We are talking 3 stories of outdoor madness. To think that everyone in that building is as much in love with the outdoors as you is INSANE!!!
I found out quickly that this small building packed with people and running like mad was not the case. The international building is not where we would be spending our time. Just down the street (2 blocks) is the home of the Rocky Mountain Region of NOLS. and just across the street is the Noble, a 3 story, nice enough to be called outdoor persons luxury, hotel. Used ONLY for NOLS students, and equiped with a sick dining hall, play room, pinp pong, fooseball, pool and a massive flat screen tv. Everything you could ask for and more before leaving these luxuries for months on end.
After getting my room assignment moving my little "town" bag in i wandered around the lounge and play room to start meeting people. I begun to put faces to names and real people to facebook friends as more students roled in. What threw me for a big loop was to find out that there were actually 2 sections for the same course. I had an uneasy feeling in the beginning to think that the people i had begun to make friends with and get to know would end up on the other section. Well due to the will of God, they were. I was alittle scared in the beginning, this comfort i had formed was taken away and i was surrounded by names and faces of people i have never met or talked to before.
I found out quick that these were some awesome people. Turns out one guy Scott, knows alot of the same people I do in Fort Collins, as well as some of the initial trip leaders for my Aconcagua expedition. There are also what seems to be a large amount from the Chicago/Northern Indiana area on top of the large amount from the East Coast.
We had orientation last night at 7. Here we finally met what seemed like the women of the course (since all day it was only the guys that seemed to have found each other and we were somewhat worried). This was also where we met Clair, our proctor who will be with us the entire course, as well as our backpacking instructors Becka and Eric. They will only guide our 10 days in the backcountry and then turn us and Clair over to new guides.
Our meeting consisted of ice breakers, trip expectations, schedule for the days in town as well as in the field and some of the assignments that we are expected to complete through out the whole course.
We went out as a section last night to a local pub to celebrate us all being together and begin to get to know each other. It is cool to be still with the other section alot and get to know them, since during our canyon section we will be split into groups with their section to meet stricter permit restrictions.
This morning started early, 7 am breakfast followed by gear prep. Here we went through every piece of gear with our instructors, went and bought things we needed and begun to eliminate items that were considered luxury. Once we all have been checked off and had the equipment we needed to took off to the Guantlet. Here is a massive room filled with every spice, noodle, bean, and other bulk item in these massive tubs for packing. After a small briefing we went at it. The process and logistics and planning that goes into it is amazing. We needed 267 lbs of food for 10 days. that comes out to be 1.65 lbs a day for each person. We weighed items out in different sizing and when finished broke into our cook teams to walk through and be assigned the rations we would be carrying for the section.
After rations we went back to the gear bays which i forgot to mention are sick, they look like old barn bays with empty floors and big closets lining the walls to store extra stuff in. During this time we were explained and assigned group equipment by our cook groups and began to break it into equal amounts. What was interesting for this trip is instead of old fashion bear hangs we use a bear fence! that 9,000 volts of electricity that we setup around anything scented to keep them off. Wow how times have changed!!!
We were free until lunch time, following lunch we had a Pack Packing class where our instructors gave our a brief explaination on how we should be packing our packs. Following this was time to pack stuff. You would think this was easy and many of us assumed it was since we had planned to use the following free time ours to do cool stuff that never happened because we spent all afternoon in those bays.
I am using my own pack, which is smaller than the recommended sizes and being a big guy my clothes have more material on them than others. I ended up packing it twice, removing something each time and still thinking how i can make it lighter. My pack weighs right now 53 lbs with water. The nice thing will be that each day we lose 1.65 lbs. In backcountry terms thats alot of weight we get to kick off our backs.
Now that i am down with packing, we are relaxing until dinner. We have a discipline meeting later tonight, a slide show, and time to work on our classes to teach.
It has been nice to be here a few days, Lander has already become like home and I will only be here a hand full of times.
I have continued to see Gods hand at work in things here. I have been able to spend more time in the word and more comfortable praying and reading my bible around my course mates. He has definitely taught me to trust him with the change up of different sections as well as being able to not hide my faith.
We leave friday morning and cannot wait, well maybe i can, chilling here preparing is kinda nice. We do our WFR course right after our 10 days out at the 3 Peaks Ranch that NOLS owns. this will be some fun time to be in a civilization setting yet far enough in the mountains to stay connected.
I hope all is well with everyone and thank you again for your support and prayers, they are much appreciated.
until next time.....