While many parts of the Adirondacks were becoming flooded we celebrated spring temperatures a little differently. We had a great early season hike yesterday up Ampersand Mt. It has become somewhat of an annual rite of spring for me. It was a great way to celebrate 62 years.
Jon Gans, Executive Director of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) does a nice job of describing, in the Harvard Business Review, how a NOLS course can help business leaders examine their leadership styles in the wilderness environment and then apply their new found experience in their work setting.
In our work we have found that more and more frequently the business world is trying to create a flatter hierarchy. The wilderness environment is a great place to try to practice it. The challenge, we have found, is to get business leaders to see, understand, and lead in a new business world paradigm. When we get them to buy in the results have been nothing short of amazing.
Yours truly on the Moffat Road in 1968. At least I was wearing a couple of wool shirts.
Upon arriving at the University of Wyoming in 1967, I had the opportunity to do some camping with friends. Some of it was similar to what I had experienced with my family, (with more beer) but I was soon introduced to backpacking, a unique idea to me at the time. “You mean you carry everything you need on your back?”
My first real backpacking trip in 1968 was more than just a little adventurous. It turned out to be a formative experience. Al Hendricks (from Valhalla, New York), Dennis Alf (from Berlin, Wisconsin) and I planned a 30-mile overnight trip over Rollins Pass in Colorado. Now, keep in mind you have three eighteen-year-olds, two from New York State and one from Wisconsin, planning to hike over 11,671 ft Rollins Pass during the Ides of March. In some parts of the world March 15th is considered spring but in the Rocky Mountains you are still enjoying the snows of winter. In those days winter camping was reserved for relatives of explorers Roald Amundsen, Sir Robert Scott, Admiral Perry, Ernest Shackleton and a few weirdos. Cross-country skiing had yet to become popular in the U.S., and snowshoeing was an activity left for hunters and trappers. We had one of Dick Kelty’s early backpacks between the three of us, no snowshoes and were wearing blue jeans. No, come to think of it, I was wearing beige jeans. (Pile hadn’t been invented and although we wore some wool, we weren't familiar with its virtues.) The sum total of our experience was my summer family motorboat and car-camping experiences and Al’s weekend hikes on the Appalachian Trail. We took off from Laramie, Wyoming for Tolland, Colorado and the East Portal of the famous seven-mile-long Moffat railroad tunnel. We planned to hike the gently winding abandoned railroad bed over the pass to Winter Park and then take the train back through the tunnel to our red VW Beetle on the east side of the mountains.
We started out on that beautiful March day with the sun shining brightly on the magnificant, snow-covered peaks. We were confident that we would have no trouble hiking the sixteen miles through the three-inch-deep snow up to the “Needle’s Eye” tunnel where we hoped to set up Al’s two-person, two-foot-high nylon pup tent.
We hiked about a half-hour, came around to the north side of the ridge and, to our surprise, the snow was crotch level. Our youthful enthusiasm carried us through a 100-yard stretch of this deep snow until once again we found the going easy through ankle-deep snow. We kept up a good pace all day and finally, just before dark, could look up and see the small 150-foot-long tunnel along the side of the mountain a quarter of a mile above us. We scrambled a direct route up the talus slope to what is called the Needle Eye Tunnel, saving about a mile of hiking distance but breaking an, unknown to us, cardinal rule of hiking, “Never cut across switchbacks.” As darkness rapidly descended, we set up the two-man tent, threw in our sleeping bags, grabbed a bite to eat and crawled in. Now imagine three husky college boys squeezing into a tent designed for two with barely enough room to sit up. Al had a high-tech down sleeping bag while Dennis and I had kapok-filled bags with pheasant-hunting scenes decorating the cotton liners. We tossed and turned on top of each other while the wind howled and the snow blew outside the protecting walls of the tunnel. Hearing the wind and blowing snow, we wondered what awaited us in the morning. We awoke early to temperatures in the single digits and eagerly crawled from our frosty tomb to a gorgeous sunrise surrounded by rocky peaks. The panoramic view of what is today the Indian Peaks Wilderness kept our little Instamatic cameras humming and gave us confidence that we would have no problem finishing our trip.
We had a wonderful dinner in a French/Lebanese Restaurant over looking the Mediterranean Sea. The picture is the view from our table. It is a bittersweet moment. I am anxious to go home but this may be our last trip and I will miss working with such wonderful people. We are hoping for future work in the middle East so we can collaborate once again with them.
Until then Au revoir!
Jack Drury's Leading E.D.G.E. Blog
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This blog was created and is maintained by Jack Drury with contributions from Bruce Bonney. Jack and Bruce have been working together since 1984 providing professional development in four areas:
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