This alpine backpacking and sea kayaking course begins in the North Cascades – a land of glaciated mountains, alpine lakes, and high alpine meadows. You’ll start with the basics as you and your crew learn how to pack for expeditionary travel, set-up camp and cook using Leave No Trace ethics, working together as a motivated, goal-oriented, cohesive team. You’ll travel both on and off the trail through fir forest valleys and high wildflower meadows, and scramble to rocky summits. All this learning transfers well into the San Juan Islands, where you’ll trade your maps and learn how to use charts to navigate the island channels. You will progress quickly as a paddler, immersed in learning through expedition experience, learning advanced paddle strokes, rescue techniques, and marine natural history.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
Are you ready to take a journey that will change your life? You won’t look at day-to-day drama the same way after you’ve conquered a high mountain ridge, made a boat obey your command in windswept waves or slept under the stars watching bats swoop overhead. Joining an Outward Bound expedition changes you. Your crew, your Instructor, your route and your adventures will have a profound and lasting impact on you as you rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places.
After you come home, many of the character, leadership and service traits you uncovered on your expedition stay with you, helping you navigate your daily life with more resilience and success.
During the backpacking section the group will be transported to the North Cascades where students will hike into the Sawtooth, Pasayten, or Glacier Peak Wilderness areas. Students will travel with backpacks on- and off-trail through rugged mountain terrain. The overall technical emphasis of this section is to learn backpacking skills and Leave No Trace methods, and to develop navigation and camp-craft skills. Leadership, communication, and responsibility will continue to be developed as the group prepares for the “final expedition.”
The course will include at least one peak attempt, depending upon the weather and the group’s physical preparedness. Peak attempts are day-long enterprises often entailing pre-dawn starts. Successful peak climbs require patience, efficiency and teamwork to attain the summit. Our 22-day courses frequently involve multiple or more involved peak attempts, a longer solo period, and a chance to explore and travel deeper into the backcountry.
Seek out beaches to sleep under the stars and get to know 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 beaches. Our courses follow a similar progression, with longer courses allowing for more advanced skills and the opportunity to visit and camp on more islands.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. During the travel sections of this course, Outward Bound Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with our “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course—if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skills—students may have the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. Many of our students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
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 students. 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, 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 student at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
This course will introduce students to the ideas of leadership, character development, and service that are integral to Outward Bound. Students will begin to develop these skills in an expedition setting so that they can continue to grow once they return home. Instructors will work to challenge students to try new things and step outside their comfort zones. As a team, each group will work together to complete difficult tasks necessary for backcountry travel.
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 North Cascades, Washington
Known as the “American Alps,” the North Cascades offer glaciated mountains, alpine lakes and high alpine meadows for endless exploration. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers outside of Alaska, and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. This Outward Bound course area is home to some of the most stunning alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States.
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.