This summer, Evan Marie Allison, associate director of the University of Michigan’s Sanger Leadership Center, completed a two-week NOLS backpacking expedition in Alaska. The overarching lessons she took away from the course ranged from “you’re capable of more than you think” to “don’t count your blessings: recognize your privilege.”
“North of the Arctic Circle is one of the most remote and least-disturbed wilderness areas in North America. Over 126 million years old, the mostly uninhabited Brooks Mountain Range in Alaska spans 700 miles and reaches elevations over 9,000 feet. This magical yet harsh environment was the location of a 14-day backpacking expedition I completed through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)—an international program leading in wilderness leadership education.
Over the course of two weeks, 12 of us backpacked 50 of those 700 miles. Each mile revealed what seemed to be a new world beyond our own that brought new challenges, life lessons, and unparalleled magnificence. It is hard to articulate the full magnitude of how inconceivably awesome—awesome in its fullest of definitions—and intense the journey was. However, what I can say with certainty is that it was a truly transformational experience.”