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NOLS Alumni Trip Archives

Check out what we've offered in the past and let us know what you would like to see offered again.

Cumberland Island Sea Kayaking

Join NOLS and Southeast Adventures in exploring the magical landscape of south Georgia's coastal waters. Beginning on the Satilla River, participants will wander through the "black water" among cypress trees, white sandbars, swamp blackgum, and Spanish moss draped oaks.

Three days of paddling will bring you to mouth of the river and on out to the northern end of Georgia's largest barrier island, Cumberland Island. Here you will camp two nights while hiking some of the 18 miles of pristine undeveloped beach line on this national seashore. Wild horses still roam this remote and special place. The last day travels the protected intra-coastal waters back to the mainland.

This small corner of the south Atlantic coastal plain is rich with natural and cultural history, and November is the best time of year to discover its wonders.

Southwest Caving

Come on under! Relive the days of exploring secret passageways like we all did when we were kids.

Take the chance to experience the adventure and challenge of learning to navigate in a three dimensional world and discover the geological formations and wonders that are forever hidden from mere surface dwellers.

Caving is a mind sharpening and imagination stretching activity...not to mention it's down right FUN! So don't miss this opportunity to indulge your curiosity about "what's around the next corner". Memories for a lifetime are sure to be found.

The trip will run from a base camp in the Sonoran desert of the southwest and will make daily excursions into the nearby horizontal and vertical cave systems.

Colorado Hut-to-Hut Skiing and Snowboarding!

This hut trip is not just for skiers. With a pair of snowshoes or a split board, snowboarders can reach all of the same backcountry terrain that is accessed by the Alfred Braun Hut system.

Regardless of how you choose to go downhill, everyone will be introduced to the science and skills of avalanche awareness and safety. The instructors will provide this "must have" education and open your eyes to the land beyond the lifts.

The fresh, untracked snow of the remote Elk Mountains will open your hearts to the joys of the backcountry winter and the huts will keep your body and soul warm while softening the harsher realities of the cold season. *This trip is offered in conjunction with Aspen Alpine Guides.

Grand Canyon Mountain Biking

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is less visited, higher in elevation, and offers a more challenging mountain bike route than the South Rim. The riding will still only be moderately technical but with much more single track than last year's route in Utah. There will be instruction in biking skills, excellent food, and the grandest of scenery!

The biking route will include sections of the Rainbow Rim Trail and the Arizona Trail. Truly some of the more finely constructed trails in the United States. There will also be a visit to Grand Canyon National Park. This is a wonderful trip for bikers of varying skill levels.

Chesapeake Bay Sea Kayaking

Barrier Islands, expansive salt marshes, excellent birding, and an introduction to sea kayaking await the participants on this first ever NOLS alumni offering. This naturalist's paradise along the Atlantic Flyway is part of the Nature Conservancy's Virginia Coast Reserve.

Here's an opportunity to explore some of the last remaining pristine coastal habitat on the east coast. Catch the sunrise over the Atlantic each morning and spend days paddling through marshes and tidal creeks to various islands within the reserve.

Noatak River Alaska Canoeing

Alaska's Brooks Range-the classroom for this expedition-is one of the wildest mountain ranges in North America. Stretched across the tundra north of the Arctic Circle, the range is defined by big open river bottoms, steep mountain slopes, dense willow thickets and lots of wildlife. Much of the landscape lies above tree line and elevations range from sea level to over 9,000 feet. The mountains are spectacular and rugged, and rivers flow through wilderness for hundreds of miles. It's possible you'll see see Dall sheep, moose, caribou, wolves, wolverines, black and grizzly bear, and lynx as you travel. You'll learn how to paddle a folding canoe on the Noatak River in Gates of the Arctic National Park.

Remote, entirely above the Arctic Circle and accessible only by charter air taxi, this wilderness river receives little human use. This trip begins with the basics-camping, cooking, map reading, stove use, Leave No Trace techniques, sanitation, navigation, and bear safety are the foundation of Alaskan backcountry travel.

The Noatak includes stretches of moderate whitewater rated Class I and II. Those interested in fishing may have an opportunity to catch grayling or Arctic char.

Trekking in the Indian Himalaya

This hiking trip travels the Kumaon region amongst the high peaks of the Indian Himalayas. The staggeringly beautiful Kumaon, also known as the "Abode of the Gods," is rich in Indian myth, culture and history. It is the birthplace of the holy Ganges River and a crossroads of ancient trade routes between India and Tibet.

You will trek, with some donkey support, along the Pindar River to the toe of the Pindari glacier. Along the way you'll visit tea houses and hike past villages and fields still worked with water buffalo. You'll backpack through forests of maple, oak and rhododendron and through high alpine pastures to Zero Point at 12,000 ft. The sole occupant of this area is a Hindu holy man, Babaji, who lives here year round. After a day of acclimatizing, and depending on interest and fitness levels, we will trek to an alpine meadow at 14,500' to spectacular views of the twin peaks of Nanda Devi (25,790') and the rim of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary where most of the peaks are above 22,000 ft.

This NOLS Alumni Trip is unlike anything else we offer, and you will experience India as few foreigners do. Indian NOLS instructors with extensive knowledge of the region and its human and natural history will be on this trip.

Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in India's Himalaya. This 13-day trip, beginning and ending in New Delhi, is organized so that you can leave the US on a weekend and return two weeks later on another weekend.

British Columbia Sailing

Learn the art of keelboat sailing on this brand new Alumni trip offering. The waters of the Gulf Islands and the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia will be home for seven days of learning to cruise.

The curriculum is the same as a NOLS semester sailing section and will focus extensively on sailing and living aboard mid sized (34 feet) cruisers. You'll learn charts, navigation, and seamanship while being expected to cook meals and rotate through the various crew positions. You'll enjoy the striking scenery of the Pacific Northwest while sharing quarters with a few other participants and an instructor.

After this seminar, you should feel confident in your ability to sail with an experienced crew.

PNW Coastal Hiking

Come explore the wild Pacific coastline and see up close the varied natural history of this transition between land and sea. You'll live out of your backpack while traveling by sea stacks and listening to the sounds of crashing waves. You'll learn how to interpret tide tables and know when to travel.

In camp, you'll have the chance to discover the life, color and texture of amazing tide pools, sit around a driftwood fire as the sun sets over the vast Pacific Ocean, and wake up to the call of gulls, bald eagles and black oyster catchers.

This trip will also visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center and the Makah Cultural Center to give participants an even better overview of the life and history of this western edge of Olympic National Park.

Alaska Rafting

The Copper River is a huge, glacial-fed river that flows 100 miles from Chitina to Cordova, Alaska and into Prince William Sound. Fed by waters from the Chugach, Wrangell and St. Elias mountains, the Copper offers the chance to immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Alaska.

Salmon return to the Copper and its tributaries each year, while bears, moose and eagles all inhabit the forests alongside the river.

Near the end of the trip, the Copper undercuts the Childs Glacier, providing a spectacular display of ice falling 350 feet directly into the water.

After a week of camping, with days spent learning the art of oar and paddle rafting, we'll spend the last night in Cordova, a beautiful fishing community on the shores of Prince William Sound.

Lake Superior Sea Kayaking

The greatest of the Great Lakes and home to the finest inland sea kayaking in the country. You'll get to explore the Apostle Island National Seashore, paddle over ship wrecks, experience ancient geology, and enjoy beautiful northwoods islands.

Lake Superior is a national treasure renowned for its profound beauty and deep spirit. She commands respect and a careful approach well known to the sailors and kayakers who have tested her waters. Clean, clear waters, sandstone cliffs and caves, barrier spits and beaches combined with rich human history reaching back to the Annishinabe people and early French fur traders await those who participate in this first ever NOLS trip to the Great Lakes.

Wind River Horse Packing

Time for a little taste of the Old West! After a couple of days at the NOLS Three Peaks Ranch, you'll head into the mountains with a string of pack horses for a few days of riding, fishing and camping. Grab your hats and boots and live the life of a cowboy... or cowgirl!

Much of the West was explored on horseback and traveling with four-legged companions is a time-honored tradition in the Rockies.

You'll learn to pack, saddle up, and ride on this NOLS alumni horse packing trip. Come experience life from atop a horse and beneath a hat and see the backcountry through the eyes of those who have come before.

The NOLS Three Peaks Ranch on the west side of the Winds is a great place to start with "ground school"— learning or polishing basic horse care, riding, and packing techniques. August and September are outstanding times to be in the Winds— the bugs are knocked back, summer throngs have mostly headed home, and the trout are hungry.

Wind River Fly Fishing - Wyoming

Wyoming's Wind River Mountains are known for high alpine lakes and small stream fly fishing suitable for novices and experts alike. Llamas will take a portion of your gear as you shoulder a lighter than average backpack of necessities and hike through this wild and wonderful mountain range.

We'll pick up participants in Jackson, Wyoming and shuttle to NOLS' Three Peaks Ranch on the west side of the Wind Rivers to begin our expedition. Instruction covers the basics of fly fishing, from entomology to fly and line selection. Experienced anglers can refine their techniques or just take time to enjoy the solitude while beginners have access to the quality instruction for which NOLS is famous.

From Three Peaks Ranch, we'll vehicle shuttle to our mountain roadhead, meet our faithful llamas and shoulder packs for the backcountry portion of our fly fishing trip. We'll concentrate on Leave No Trace camping skills, fishing ethics and fishing techniques appropriate for the Wind River Mountains. You'll feel like you're in an Orvis® catalog!

In the Wind Rivers, we're likely to catch brook, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. Goldens and grayling are also possible. We'll use a mix of dry flies, nymphs, streamers, droppers— some fish we'll keep, but most we'll gently release.


Rainbow, where art thou?
Photo: Rich Brame

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