Into the Wild

Senior to dedicate month exploring Alaskan wilderness


Alaska is known as the final frontier of uncharted territory. Nature dominates the terrain, and humans have to adapt to the harsh conditions. Those venturing out into the wilderness with only a backpack, their fellow adventurers and their own brains must carefully plan the endeavor.

Senior Sam Reber embarks on such a journey July 1 with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Beginning in Palmer, Alaska, Reber will spend a month hiking in unmapped Alaskan forest.

“We leave from Palmer on foot,” Reber said. “I guess we just end up back in Palmer 30 days from then.”

Despite saying he doesn’t have much experience outdoors, he isn’t concerned for the trip.

“The organization is like a school,” he said. “It’s a leadership program, so they’re not just taking me out, they’re teaching me the skills to do it on my own.”

Reber said the program fulfills a lifelong dream of his.

“I’ve been wanting to go backpacking and hiking across the world for a long time, but I think this is the best opportunity to learn how to do it,” he said.

He started planning the trip in January this year, but said it was an impulsive decision.

“[Social studies teacher Kristoffer] Barikmo told me about the organization that puts it on,” Reber said. “By the end of February, I had to have a decision made because we had to start making payments for it early. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

Reber said he is excited to have signed up for the trip.

“It’s the summer before college, so I needed something to fill my time,” he said. “I think the leadership skills it will provide will be very important, but I don’t think the hiking and the backpacking is going to help me as much in college unless I drop out of college and live on the streets.”

Though he’ll learn survival from the program, Reber said he thinks the experience will be trying.

“The farthest north I’ve been is Chicago,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a reality check. It’ll be a shock for me the first couple days [and] weeks I’m out there because I’m not used to it. I’ll have this newfound respect for everything I own because I won’t have anything while I’m out there besides a tent.”