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Favorite memories: Barrus was a student
at Hamilton College in New York when he signed on
to be an instructor on the first NOLS course in 1965.
He went on to instruct for the school until about
10 years ago, when he left to pursue other adventures,
including a stint as a geologist in New Guinea.
The first thing Barrus remembers about
the inaugural NOLS course in 1965 is the Army surplus
tents they had with them that “were supposed
to be waterproof but weren’t.” Unfortunately,
the skies opened up to a torrential downpour the first
night in the field. Aside from “waking up in
a swimming pool” the next morning, Barrus remembers
a sense of excitement on that course. “It was
a whole new concept,” he says. “We were
going out there and seeing what we could do, trying
to teach people how to teach other people.”
Barrus also remembers that Petzoldt
wasn’t sure at the time if they could keep a
group of students out for an entire 30 days. “So
after two weeks we all got picked up in cattle trucks
and went down to take a swim at Ft. Washakie, stopped
at Crowheart Butte, and there Paul told the kids to
go in and buy whatever they wanted,” says Barrus.
“When he got the bill he decided he’d
never do that again.”
Where he is today: Barrus currently
lives outside Seattle, Washington, where he’s
a money manager.
Favorite memories: Jerry Taylor first met Paul Petzoldt
and Tap Tapley in 1964, while he was working near
Lander on Ft. Washakie writing the Shoshone language.
He was asked to be an instructor on the new school’s
first course. “I was trim and fit and tough,”
says Taylor of that first summer with NOLS. And he
remembers Petzoldt’s mission that summer. “He
wanted wilderness to be traveled in by people who
knew what they were doing and were teaching skills
in a more responsible manner,” says Taylor.
Taylor also remembers some of that
early outdoor gear, including World War II ski boots
from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, wool
caps, Stubai ice-axes, aluminum-framed goggles, and
Army surplus pack frames loaded with three stuff sacks.
“It was excruciating,” he says.
He also has a memory of Petzoldt that
he’ll never forget. “We were heading into
the mountains at the end of that first summer at NOLS,”
says Taylor, “and Paul said with tears in his
eyes, ‘we’re broke, I don’t think
we’re going to be able to run this school next
year.’ Paul felt like he was coming out of the
mountains for the last time. He thought it was the
end of his vision.”
Where he is today: After moving on
from NOLS, Taylor took his love for working with young
people and has been an investigative probation officer
at a juvenile facility outside of Chicago for the
past 20 years. He says he’s sort of a “legend”
at work for keeping in shape by biking, canoeing and
hiking. He’s returned to the Wind River Mountains
many times since his course, recently with his son,
who is in the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
Favorite memories: Andy Carson still remembers that
first letter he got from Paul Petzoldt in the winter
of 1965. “Paul said, ‘I’m starting
a school in Lander, Wyoming. Please come.’ And
so I did,” remembers Carson. He went on to instruct
for the school until 1970.
Carson grew up in Wisconsin and hadn’t
done a lot of camping before. “It was a great
education, a great experience, and kind of sucked
me into the mountains forever,” he says. “We
were all thrilled to do it. And the Winds seemed really
big. They don’t seem so big anymore. That June
there was a lot of snow, it was very alpine, and things
felt very remote.” His favorite memories are
of climbing Fremont Peak and doing morning runs and
then throwing himself into cold water. “Everyday
was a great day,” Carson remembers.
Where he is today: Carson lives close
to his NOLS roots in Wilson, Wyo., where he has lived
since 1971. An avid climber, he went on to own Jackson
Hole Mountain Guides and climb all over the world,
including Canada, the Swiss Alps, South America’s
Aconcagua and many more.
Favorite memories: Tap Tapley, who had already made
a name for himself as a real ‘man of the mountains,’
joined up with Paul Petzoldt in the summer of 1965
to help him get things started. Petzoldt, remembers
Tap, knew Wyoming very well. “Paul knew he wanted
to have a lake to swim in, a mountain to climb, rock
to go rock climbing on, and woods to learn map and
compass skills in,” remembers Tapley.
Tapley and Petzoldt were the first
course’s primary instructors, teaching snow
skills—everything from walking on snow to making
snow caves—expedition behavior, and cooking.
“We were basically doing all the things NOLS
is doing now,” says Tapley. “We were teaching
[the students] how to be teachers. That was the goal.”
The challenge, says Tapley, was the same as it is
today for NOLS instructors: “Our challenge was
to make sure students were happy when they got home,
and happy while they were out there.”
Where he is today: Tap Tapley lives
in New Mexico with his wife Anita. They are currently
compiling a collection of memories of Tapley’s
days in the mountains.
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