LANDER, Wyo. — Emma Houston, 17 of Kingfield, recently completed a semester-long wilderness expedition traveling in the Southwest with the National Outdoor Leadership School, according to a NOLS press release.

Last January, Houston and 13 other students traveled to NOLS southwest outside of Tuscon, Ariz. for a multi-activity expedition during which the students did not have access to modern conveniences and were challenged each day to banish their self-doubts and step outside their comfort zones.

After gearing up and packing their backpacks, the group set out to explore the Galiuro and Santa Teresa mountain ranges. For 24 days, they traversed the mountains on foot, learning basic skills of backcountry travel.

Transitioning from the hiking section, Houston and her course mates had a cultural experience visiting a border patrol station and public radio station in Marfa, Texas. Then the group went to Redford, Texas where they heard from a local border historian and learned to make a traditional Mexican dinner. The group camped in Big Bend State Park for a night, then entered into Big Bend National Park. For their final cultural experience, the group met with the park geologist, who gave an overview of the formations and fossils found in the park. After these cultural adventures, the group embarked on a 14 day, 120-mile canoe expedition. On this section, curriculum focused on team leadership,

Next, they spent 19 days rock climbing. During the first ration period, the group focused on learning foundational climbing skills on the East Side of the Cochise Stronghold.

This expedition began three months ago, students on the course graduated competent and confident leaders and outdoor travelers. Those who completed the expedition join the NOLS alumni network of more than 221,000 graduates.

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