I definitely have been silent on the blog lately. It was sort of intentional, as I just needed a small break from social media. But also, we’ve been quite consumed with some personal matters, as well as lots of writing deadlines.
One of the other things keeping us busy has been what I am calling “professional development.”
By definition, this usually means credits for formal coursework, conferences and other learning opportunities. Since our work is nontraditional, our “professional development” looks quite out of the ordinary.
For instance, Justin took 2 days of knot-tying classes. I realize you are scratching your head thinking, just how many possible ways are there to hitch a knot??? His class taught him about 30 different ties, 15 of which he already knew. There are probably 10 different knots that serve you well for mountaineering (his sport of choice). One knot works best for crevasse rescues, while another knot works best for rope team travel on the glacier. Don’t worry, I’m lost too. I know how to tie my shoelaces into a bow and that’s about all. But the point is, Justin plans to do some serious climbing this year and is trying to get all the training he needs to be fully prepared.
It was also time for us both to renew our Wilderness First Responder certification.
We first received our WFR (pronounced “woofer”) cert in 2015, upgrading from our Wilderness First Aid training. It was mostly for personal reasons, knowing we spend more time outside than inside. But it doesn’t hurt professionally. There have been a few jobs we’ve had over the years (i.e., Leave No Trace and Manzano Day School/Fenton Ranch) where some sort of wilderness first aid certification was required.
The thing about the WFR original certification is that the course takes 80 hours over 10 days; intense and expensive. If you lapse on your recertification (which is only 24 hours over 3 days), you have to retake the entire original training! We always knew we would keep up with our recerts, but it was surprisingly hard for us to fit it in and we actually pushed it until the last minute, as ours would expire this December! Phew!
Anyway, the class is great fun with like-minded people. We really need to plan our wilderness training courses better. We’ve always taken them during the winter! Since half the class is spent outside practicing scenarios, it probably would be an easier class if it weren’t snowing and 25 degrees.
We’ve never had to fully use our wilderness first aid—aside from coming upon a few dehydrated hikers over the years, a women flagging us down on the side of a remote road or a friend who experienced altitude sickness—but we feel good about having the knowledge base. I would like to point out that ONCE AGAIN, I scored higher on the written test than Justin did!
In the last installment of our “professional development,” we attended Winter Outdoor Retailer. We have been going to OR pretty regularly the last few years. The winter show is notoriously smaller than the summer show, but particularly because ever since they moved the entire production to Denver, they are experimenting with doing a winter show in November and a snow show in January. Either way, OR is always a perfect opportunity for us to touch base with various contacts in the outdoor industry and scope out all the latest products coming to the market for our Backpacker gear coverage.