Dictionary.com describes wanderlust as, "a great desire to travel and rove about." For me, this means
I'm never content with just staying where I am. Don't get me wrong, I love being home, or at school, or wherever, but now that I have seen much of the country, I realize just how much more is out there.
More to see, more to do, more to experience.
I've heard it said, "The best journeys answer questions that, in the beginning, you didn't even think to ask."
The possibilities that travel offer are so great that I'm always ready for the next trip. And now, I think I've found one that may be the best yet.
The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) the premier outdoor educator in the United States, and serves over 2,000 students annually. These students range in age from 14 to the mid-fifties and complete courses ranging in length from two weeks to an entire year.
As stated on their website, "The mission of the National Outdoor Leadership School is to be the leading source and teacher of wilderness skills and leadership that serve people and the environment." It goes on to say that positive, ethical leaders change the world, and that the backcountry provides the ideal classroom.
Students on NOLS courses learn technical outdoors skills while becoming confident, competent leaders when they return.
I recently was accepted to attend NOLS for the Spring Semester in the Rockies. I'll start in late February, spending two weeks in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, backcountry skiing and learning the skills necessary to travel and survive in the winter.
I'll then return to the NOLS headquarters in Lander, WY where I will spend actual classroom time completing my US Forest Service and Coast Guard certified Wilderness First Aid Course.
From there I will head to the red rock canyons of southern Utah and northern Arizona learning to navigate the slot canyons and desert landscape. At this point I will begin taking more control on the expedition through exercises such as becoming "leader for the day," responsible for the direction and safety of myself and fellow students.
The next three weeks will be spent scaling The Needles of South Dakota and other top climbing spots around the West. I'll have the opportunity to "solo" spending an entire day and night alone, soaking up the beauty of the wilderness.
The final section will send me to the great rivers of the West where I'll learn how to safely navigate a variety of watercraft through both whitewater and flat water.
Finally, I'll return home to Nappanee, IN, hopefully changed for the better.
Even though its still five months away, I'm already looking forward to what will surely be the adventure of a lifetime.