The Washington Sea Kayaking and Alpine Backpacking courses begin in the San Juan Islands, a maze of islands surrounded by swirling currents, known the world over as a bucket list paddling destination. You’ll start with the basics and progress quickly as a paddler, immersed in learning through expedition experience, learning advanced paddle strokes, rescue techniques and marine natural history. Moving camp from island to island, you and your crew will learn how to pack for expeditionary travel; build camp and cook using Leave No Trace ethics; and work together as a motivated, goal-oriented, cohesive team. All this learning transfers well into the North Cascades, where you’ll trade your charts for maps and learn mountain navigation. You’ll travel both on and off the trail through fir forest valleys and high wildflower meadows and scramble to rocky summits that are unforgettable.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Do you ever want to unplug, step away from the daily grind to take on new challenges? Are you ready to conquer harder skills and remind your senses (or discover for the first time) what it’s like to crest a mountain peak, hear the echoes at the edge of a vast canyon or feel the rush of white water spray on your face? Take a break from your routine, radically change your surroundings and test your tenacity. Put some “firsts” in front of you and find moments of unexpected discovery along the way. Experience Outward Bound as an adult and prepare for an injection of adventure, awareness and adaptability that sticks with you long after you unpack your backpack.
Return home with newly expanded wilderness abilities, an energized outlook, a rekindled allowance of empathy into situations and relationships and an eye toward the future.
Students will seek out beaches where they will sleep under the stars and get acquainted with the fascinating natural and cultural history of the Pacific Northwest coast. Instructors will teach the teamwork and communication skills necessary to travel as a group of kayaks in a working waterway. Students may also have the opportunity to do a service project with a local land agency, hike to an island vista or comb the beach.
Students will work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades with a focus on wilderness skills such as navigation, natural history, and backcountry living. Students will learn the essentials of backcountry travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas, including navigation with map and compass, Leave No Trace ethics, first aid and backcountry cooking. Depending on the group and the conditions, an attempt to summit one of the many rugged alpine peaks in the course area can be made.
Service to others and to the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Groups follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment and engage in acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop an ingrained appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In order for profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and Solo is that opportunity. The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own choosing, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
This course provides an opportunity for students to learn and practice the ideas of leadership, character development, and service that are integral to Outward Bound. Students will develop and apply these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. Instructors will work to challenge each student to try new things and step outside their comfort zones, as well as provide feedback that can be acted upon before course end. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel and expedition living.
San Juan Islands, Puget Sound, Washington
Nestled between Vancouver Island and the North Cascades, the San Juan Islands are a unique coastal cruising ground with large expanses of sparkling water and mountain scenery. During your journey you will encounter coastlines with a combination of sandy and rocky beaches, shallow and deep harbors, placid and reef-studded bays. Knotty, twisted Madrona trees grow along much of the shorelines while evergreen fir and pine forests cover large inland areas. Sightings of harbor seals, porpoise and eagles are common as well as the rare glimpse of an Orca whale. The islands get less average rainfall than the surrounding area due to the rain-shadow effect of the Olympic Mountains. Summertime high temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit while lows could be in the 40s.
The North Cascades, Washington
The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks; they remain some of the wildest and most untrammeled wilderness in the United States. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers in the “Lower 48” and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. Our course areas in the Pasayten Wilderness and North Cascades National Park host some of the most famous alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Temperatures typically range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The Alpine Backpacking portion of our course area is on the eastern side of the Cascades, and thus tends to be moderately dry; however, rain and thunderstorms are not unusual. Early-season courses (May, June) may spend time camping on snow, while mid-summer courses tend to have more moderate temperatures.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.