Leave No Trace

We have pretty much the coolest intern alive! But we had to do without him over the summer as he embarked on his own expedition. Blu Navarrete takes us through his month long trek in his own words and 35mm photos.

"During this past summer, I had the opportunity to go on a month long backpacking expedition through the Absaroka range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. This expedition was through an organization called NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School). The main purpose of a NOLS course is to bring students into a wilderness classroom, and to teach them Leave No Trace ethics, first aid, compass navigation, and environmental studies. I was grouped with fourteen other students from around the nation, and three instructors. Over the duration of my expedition, we hiked a total of 120 miles with 21,000 feet of elevation gain / loss. We traversed forest, marsh, alpine meadows, riverbanks, and steep rocky mountainsides. Spending a month in some of the most remote territory in the lower 48, I’ve exercised leadership skills and learned how to become a confident traveler in the wilderness."

Journal Excerpt 7/27/15
"The forest was black today. A large, dark, insidious cloud shrouded the entire valley we were traversing. It started with a missing sun, and a bleak fog, and then a harsh wind. The rain began shortly afterwards, dampening dead trees and turning them into black dreary silhouettes against the explosive grey sky. A single flash of lightning struck a few hundred meters from us, and we took cover in a field of widowmakers. Sitting atop our backpacks in this now torrential downpour, thunder booming like a cannon, I realized that the natural Earth is the same as modern civilization. Even though we cannot realize it, we replicate our primitive beginnings with the violence that is the urban world. Another hiking group spotted a black bear a few hundred yards from where we were camped. At the time, I was out collecting firewood in the forest, and that bear could’ve been not but 300 yards away. The darkness, the thunder, the furious noise of wind pulling trees to the ground, it is all just as violent as crimes committed in the city. I’ve grown to find the chaos of nature the most alluring thing I have ever experienced in my life. The bursts of light illuminating my tent are enough to remind me that it is still possible to return to where you began, where everybody began. I feel human, I feel vulnerable and exposed and isolated and hungry. I am hungry for more, I want this power to know I am alive, I want it to know that I am human." 

Everybody gearing up for our independent expeditions

​Wildflowers growing in fertile soil from a burnt down forest 

Double Cabin Guard Station, Shoshone National Forest 

​Tents at the top of Thunder Mountain 

​Drying my feet off after getting caught in a lightning storm and spotting a bear 

​One hundredth brownie pancake made in the woods  

Newport Anorak in the tent

Map Reading from out of date maps

 ​Our final hike from the wilderness into civilization 

Driver’s shoulder on the bus ride home 


1 comment

  • Eugene Carino

    What a amazing experience Blu,the pictures and your story were fun to read and see

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