The National Outdoor Leadership School Wilderness Training

The National Outdoor Leadership School specializes in wilderness training, including courses in basic wilderness survival and self-conservation, creating a basecamp, maps and land navigation and rock climbing.

| July/August 1988

Learning to lead the "wild life" in comfort and safety. The National Outdoor Leadership School has classes in wilderness training for homesteaders who want to experience a truly special outdoor experience. 

Wilderness Training Schools, Part V

Waking to a bright sunny morning, I'm aware of something moving outside our rain fly. I sit up in my sleeping bag and look toward the stream. There, at the water's edge, is a large brown bear. Grizzly? I'm not sure, but I am sure that if my heart beats any harder it's going to break a rib.

Two people are trying to scare him off by banging on some pots, but this bear doesn't rattle easily. Instead, he heads straight for them. Not sure what to do, I yell "No!" which seems to do the trick. Now he's heading for me. In seconds he's closing the gap between us, and I'm helpless, frozen with fear. Then I feel the ice-cold water hitting me in the face.

I open my eyes. It's nighttime, quite windy, and rain is pouring off the tarp over my head and straight into my face. I've been dreaming. Heavy-duty nightmare.

Confused, I watch as someone in long underwear struggles in the downpour to secure our rain fly. Then it comes back to me. I left New York's Lower East Side three days ago. This is Wyoming, and I'm here—somewhere in the Shoshone National Forest with 16 other campers for the National Outdoor Leadership School's Wilderness Skills Wyoming (NOLS-WSW) course—a two week backpacking expedition into Wyoming's Wind River Range. This is our first night in the mountains, the time is 3:00 a.m., and I've just learned some valuable lessons. First, our rain fly should be closer to the ground with a more gradual pitch. Second, this school is an around-the-clock experience. And third, wild country fosters some unbearable dreams.

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