Wet Shoes: A Short Story

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Wet Shoes

“What were all of those things in the road?” I asked the next row in the van. It hadn’t registered that there were thousands of little somethings crossing the sandy road, until we had passed most of them.

“Tarantulas.” The next row replied, trying not to look out the window. Curtis, one of my instructors, smiled as he turned around to watch my reaction.

“Are you serious? There were thousands of them!” I scanned the road trying to see one more, now that I knew what they were.

“It’s their annual migration.” Curtis responded, grinning.

I had decided, about eight months before that moment, that I wanted to participate in the National Outdoor Leadership School. NOLS is an outdoor education and leadership program founded by, outdoorsman and mountaineer, Paul Petzoldt in 1965. He wanted to create an outdoor classroom in which students could learn the importance of leadership and teamwork in potentially harsh, and demanding, environments. It has a variety of courses, such as backpacking, sea kayaking
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Our instructors were satisfied with our progress and even let us carry forward without them. As a sign of trust, and acknowledgement to our responsible team dynamic, they waited an hour before continuing after us. The currents were not as heavy as we followed the curves of the canyon, and soon enough, only two person pairs were necessary, then it was possible to cross by ourselves again. On the worst day, we accomplished 32 crossings, and hiked from dawn to dusk. Nobody complained or blamed one another, and when Holly, the geologist, had a bronchitis relapse, everyone offered to help carry some of her supplies. Long before the end of the course, we learned how to work and communicate as a team. Because of this collaboration, friendships were fueled by shared experiences, and we made camp before nightfall every
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