NOLS Alaska Mountaineering – Day 2

6/20/2009

Today was such an exciting day! I love it here, and we’re not even in the field yet, haha. It started early with me and Ian waking up at 5:30am to get breakfast. It was good, and I ate a TON of bacon. Next, we packed everything up and headed to the train station where I met the rest of the people on my course. 6 are 17 years old like me, and the other 6 are in college. Except Jake from Minnesota, he’s 32. It’s a great group though, we’re all pretty smart and I feel safe knowing Jake is a paramedic! For the most part we all have very similar interests, so everyone gets along really well.

It rained on the hour long bus ride from Anchorage to Palmer, and even more in Palmer. Once we got here, we had some hot chocolate and took a tour of the NOLS grounds. The main building is red and shaped like a U. It houses the ration and gear issue rooms. Next our guide showed us the bay, where all of our stuff is still spread out all over the ground for packing up in the morning. This place really is a farm too; it’s home to both chickens and pigs!

After the tour we got our gear checked over, and were fitted for our plastic mountaineering boots. I had to rent some insulated pants, rain pants, wind pants, as well as insulated, wind and rain jackets. My boots are very comfortable, and the gaiters Grace sent are the ones I’ll be using. I was lucky and got a pair of boots that are lighter than everyone else’s. Yay!

Next was lunch, where everyone chatted and got to know each other more. It’s hard to believe we all just met this morning. We’re such nerds too, with conversation including school, medical stuff, engineering and star wars.

After lunch, we had our first lesson: how to pack a pack. Then we went to the ration room and made our food rations for the 30 day trip. We all worked together, since the food rations are shared between many people. For example, I packaged 23 bags of brown sugar, 19 bags of flour and 43 bags of cocoa powder. It was fun though, we put on music and had a good time. We put together the rations for each tent group, and I found out my first group will be both Evans, and Johnny from Utah. Eventually we set up our tent, learned how to make the right knots to hold it in place, set up our sleeping bags, and played croquet.

Finally it was dinnertime. I didn’t really like dinner, but I was so hungry I ate it anyway. It was this spicy chicken veggie mix, with this odd mustardy, sour sauce. Hopefully dinner in the field is much better.

After dinner we sat down and went over our route. We’re going to be dropped off after a 5 hour bus ride at a river that leads to a large glacier. Next we’ll walk up the Macklaren river, onto the Macklaren glacier, through a pass to the right, and then we’ll be surrounded by peaks to climb. Next, we’ll go up that glacier to the much larger Black Rapids glacier, hike along it to the West, and then come back down through that mountain range. Our instructor said it’s the most beautiful range in the world.

Well I’d better get to bed now since it’s nearly 10PM (but the sun is still out!!) so I’ll write more tomorrow! I wish today wasn’t the last time I could talk to my family for a month, but I had to turn in my phone. I’ll write home and have fun!

~Sophia

NOTES (6/20/09)

Packing a pack ABC’s:

  • Accessibility
  • Balance
  • Compression
    • Stuff things! Don’t roll or fold
  • Dry on top of wet
    • Tent fly almost always goes on the bottom
  • Everything zipped inside

<- DAY 1    ||    DAY 3 ->

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