BREAKING NEWS: 8 Amateur Hikers Survive Arctic Hell Sans Toilet Paper and Sanity

I can’t feel my face when I’m with NOLS. Thank you Wind River Range for showing me that my armpit hair grows at an exceptionally fast rate and reinforcing the fact that I am an absolute miserable human being when cold. For that, I am certain I will not be hanging around New England for another winter anytime soon. Just in case you’re planning to roll out of bed this morning, stuff the bare essentials into a sack, and head out into the legitimate woods with other folks who have no idea what they’re doing – here are a few tips that may be helpful to you. 

It is absolutely necessary to have at least one meltdown, if not several.
Thanks Sarah for hitting a homer with this one. The unpredictable weather of the wilderness has a way of making completely sensible and intelligent individuals into nothing more than mentally disoriented babies. Be prepared for crying spells, unexpected outbursts of pain, and references to how much you paid to be here. Colorful language is often present and heated arguments start with – not other people – but inanimate objects such as your sleeping bag or tent fly.

Entertainment comes from pictures of your own filth and simple word games.
When stuck at Rockbottom Lake for three nights because mother nature decided to disown you, not even sleep can save you. Thank God for digital cameras though! Pictures of you and your friends in a state of natural filth is a moment you all can cherish. It’s safe to assume these pictures won’t see the light of day once you head back to the homeland, but in the mountains it’s cool to be ugly. Let’s never underestimate the power of a few word games to pass the time. Our game of choice was Ghost – one that makes you question the entire education system.

Find a friend with a MedJet membership.
Sarah, once again, saves the day. Perhaps you should just take Sarah with you. When all seemed lost, and no one could speak of anything besides a rapid evacuation, Sarah decided to unfold her MedJet membership to the group. (Instructors: Keep watch of your satellite phones, we’re trying to find them and we’re trying to get out of here).

Foot and Stomach relations are imperative to this work environment.
If you’re not cool with putting your feet on someone’s stomach, you’re certainly not ready to take on the wilderness. When your feet feel like rubber duckies and you can’t remember the symptoms of frost bite, a warm stomach is truly the only remedy. (Shout out Beth, and our devotion to each other’s feet).

Hot water bottles are not just for the weak.
Boil some water, pour it into a Nalgene, sleep with it. Then, come talk to me and tell me how you feel.

Riddles do not help.
Just trust me on this one.

Avoid reminiscing on anything you enjoy.
After persevering through the snowstorm at Rockbottom Lake, thinking we made it out alive, we found ourselves in lightning position at a new camp under a continuous downfall of heavy, wet snow. My mind got a way from me (as I waited and hoped to be struck by lightning- the non fatal kind) and I started to think about Thirsty Thursday at UMass, OTT binges, Antonios pizza, and how for the first time in four years I wouldn’t be celebrating my birthday at Lit. It was, by far, my lowest point.

When it sucks, it sucks.
I insist you appreciate the sucky-ness of your situation when it sucks. Being positive all the time here is both ridiculously annoying and fraudulent.

Leave No Trace.
But, it is understood that, as amateurs, mistakes will be made. Burnt cheesy bagels may be lost beneath rocks. Baby wipes may be found coincidentally close to your pooping grounds. So, let’s change this tip to Leave No A Very Small Trace.

Number 1, I’m Number 1.
Last but not least, don’t forget about your WFA. That shit’s important.


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