How to prepare
We strongly recommend that students do some physical training—hiking, biking, running—over the summer to get their bodies ready for this “long walk to school” and for the hiking that will be part of our daily routine throughout the semester.
We will be hiking through altitude changes, through streams and across rough terrain. You may wish to do a few practice outings to discover how you like to arrange your backpack, what types of freeze-dried food to consider, and learn the intricacies of your tent and sleeping gear.
You will be provided with a list of required and suggested gear. The items you choose will be important for your comfort while backpacking and for your daily life at Taylor Wilderness Research Station.
Before you purchase a new backpack, consult with a good outdoor shop to get fitted and find the style that works best with your body and preferences.
Most universities have rental centers that offer you a chance to try different brands before buying. Factory outlet stores, gear swaps, and used items can help reduce costs. Make sure your backpack and boots are in good condition.
Food costs are a part of your Semester In The Wild fees, so once SITW begins your meals will be covered. As a group (and with help when you need it) you will plan your menu, order your food, and prepare your meals. You will be provided with ideas for healthy meals to get you started and will be able to harvest produce from the community garden at Taylor. Meals are often eaten together with the whole Taylor community.
There will be three parts of this trip to pack for: your time at Taylor, your time on the trail and backpacking, and your time in Moscow. Backpacking trips will take you through steep, rugged terrain and span weather conditions from hot and sunny to cold and snowy.
Laptops are not required for Semester In The Wild, but are highly recommended.
Below is a rough list of items you will need. Students accepted into Semester In The Wild will receive a detailed list of required and suggested gear.
- Hiking boots
- Sleeping bag and pad
- Water bottles and purification supplies
- Backpacking dishes and utensils
- First aid kit
- Clothing suitable for temperatures ranging from 80 degrees and sunny to 10 degrees and snowy
- Water shoes
- Personal hygiene items
- Medicine—prescription or otherwise
- Books and supplies for your coursework
- Waterproof field journal/notebook and pencil
- Business casual clothing appropriate for final presentations
Your clothing for daily life at Taylor will also work for your time in Moscow, where you will spend your last two weeks.
The integrated nature of the coursework is unique and you can expect an intense and immersive learning environment. You can expect to experience coursework different from any you've encountered before—fieldwork in America's Wildest Classroom.
The purpose of Semester In The Wild is to leave you with a unique perspective in thinking and writing about natural resources, as well as preparing you to be a leader in creative solutions for the future of the ecosystem.
Semester In The Wild faculty are chosen for their commitment to students as well as their love for wild places. You can expect to develop a close relationship with these faculty, and experience a mentorship that you won't find in a regular college classroom.
Your best form of communication is hand-written letters flown in and out on the weekly mail plane—the last remaining air mail route in the Lower 48.
Taylor has limited satellite internet and students have some ability to send and receive email messages using a Taylor computer.
The more prepared you are, the more you’ll enjoy Semester In The Wild, and the more you’ll learn. You can email Meg and Pete with any questions.