tHInK outsidE Rocks 2016

Think Outside
tHInK outsidE students on our final hike, 7 miles on the Cameron/Willow Springs section of the PCT
PCT Medal
YES!!!! I now proudly display this gorgeous medal for completion of the 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail


Sharing the outdoors is my passion. I think good information and planning leads to safe and happy outdoor adventures. Recent studies about the effects of hiking and nature have even found that it might just be your ticket to a brand-new brain. Check out What Hiking Does To The Brain Is Pretty Amazing.

The last few years, I have had the pleasure to teach tHInK outsidE, a 10 week class about the Pacific Crest Trail to students in 5th – 8th grades. Students explore a variety of topics using technology, hands on activities, field trips, and media focusing on: navigation, survival, gear, environment, physical preparation, leave no trace principles, and nutrition. The students use a companion website I created to experience and learn about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

This year’s 2016 tHInK outsidE class were curious and enthusiastic students, that loved to have fun and move. We enjoyed weekly hikes, a new set of class compasses, working together as a team, and acting out new things that we learned.

One of the big treats each year is having the chance to interview some pretty awesome long distance hikers. This year the students interviewed via Google Docs, PCT thru-hiker and co-producer of the documentary “Only the Essential“, Colin Arisman. The first time I viewed this video, I knew it was a perfect depiction of the grandeur of the trail to share with my students. Thank you Colin and Luke for your work.

Be sure and scroll down to the bottom of this post to view all our past hiker interviews. I encourage you to grab some coffee and sit down for a special treat and enjoy the unique interviews.

tHInK outsidE In Class Instruction and Activities


tHInK outsidE Hikes


tHInK outsidE 2016 Interview with Wild Confluence  ~ Colin Arisman

PCT Washington/Canadian Northern Terminus

Colin Arisman and Luke Kantola are PCT 2014 thru-hikers and creators of the 39 minute documentary “Only the Essential”. Colin and Luke co-produce beautiful films and documentaries at Wild Confluence Films.

During each class, students watched 5 minutes of the video. We documented Colin and Luke’s progress on the PCT using landmarks on a PCT map provided by the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

After finishing the film, students gathered in groups to generate 10 questions they were really wanting to know from Colin (Luke was on an over seas adventure). It was super hard to come up with just 10!!! I think you will enjoy the raw and insightful questions and answers.

Middle-school class “tHInK outsidE”

1. tHInK outsidE – What encouraged you to start the trail?
Colin  – “I grew up in nature, playing in the woods. I hiked the Vermont Long Trail (272 miles long) and really loved it – so I decided to do a longer trail.”

2. tHInK outsidE – What was your favorite sightseeing spot?
Colin – “My favorite spot on the trail was in Washington in the north cascades where I now live!”

3. tHInK outsidE – What was the hardest part of your journey?
Colin – “The hardest part of the trip was being bored sometimes. Learning to be happy just sitting or walking through the woods takes some time. Once you get used to being happy without needing TV, video games or friends though you can always be happy anywhere! I hope everyone takes some time to just go sit outside by yourself for a bit and look and listen to all the sites around you!”

4. tHInK outsidE – Did you change from the Mexico border to the Canadian Border?
Colin – “Yes, I got much better at being in the present. Just letting my mind go blank and really paying attention to all the life around me in the mountains. Also I got in really good shape walking all day every day. It felt so good!”

5. tHInK outsidE – What was your favorite trail food?
Colin – “I really enjoyed eating fruit when I had the chance. Usually we only had dried food because it was lighter, so when I had the opportunity to eat fresh fruit and vegetables it was great!”

6. tHInK outsidE – How much did it cost to hike the PCT?
Colin – “It usually costs people around $5000 to get a plane ticket, buy food for 5 months and occasionally a hotel rooms. We did it cheaper because we didn’t have much money.”

7. tHInK outsidE – Did you ever encounter a dangerous wild animal (bear or mountain lion)?
Colin – “We saw bears but this was an amazing opportunity. These animals are normally not dangerous to humans if we act in the right way around them and are respectful. I encourage your class to learn the facts about how to behave safely around these big mammals. Very, very few people are injured by these animals – in general it is much safer to hike the Pacific Crest Trail than to drive from Mexico to Canada in a car.”

8. tHInK outsidE – Did you ever get lost? Did you use a map and compass?
Colin – “It is very easy to stay on the trail as it is a clear dirt path. We didn’t ever get lost besides walking the wrong way on the trail for 5 minutes one time!”

9. tHInK outsidE – Did either of you get hurt on the trail?
Colin – “We occasionally got shin splints but not other than that.”

10. tHInK outsidE – Where was your favorite campsite?
Colin – “My favorite campsite on the Pacific Crest Trail was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I hope your class can explore this area!”

Note from Colin to tHInK outsidE:
Thank you so much for your interest in nature and the Pacific Crest Trail. The time you spend outside in the wild will change you forever, give you strength and help you be a better person. Thank you and I hope you can go on some amazing adventures in the mountains this summer!


Ready for More? Check out previous tHInK outsidE student interviews with very noteworthy long distance hikers:


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Your enthusiasm, zeal for life, and mentorship is infectious. The photos of the kids have fun while learning captures the spirit and result. Thank you for inspiring our future generation.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thank you and thank you for commenting. You gave me a chance to revisit last year with the kids and get motivated for this year. You are keeping me going, thank you, thank you

  2. Rockin’, loved this post. Glad to see you active and really appreciate all the effort that went into this blog post. I also liked seeing Wired featured as well. I believe that she is the one that turned me on to your blog and I follow you two wherever you go (on the internet of course!).

    Hope you have a great summer.

  3. What a great class!!! And the PCT video is so well done. I have read so m any books on AT and PCT thru hikes and such great blogs that the video felt so familiar .. . I was dancing around to video which made my FitBit happy and caused my cat to give me one of those “how can humans be so not graceful?’ looks that only cats can give.

    You can sure see the teacher in Wired during her interview. Great job of involving the kids and not just giving answers. Of course I follow both of your blogs, which makes this even more fun.

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Seamonkey, I can just picture you dancing away! I am so glad you enjoyed them as much as I did. That line up of hikers is equivalent to the Red Carpet. Love your comments. It made my day.

  4. Wish more adults helped kids learn to appreciate the outdoors like you do! Thanks!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      It is such a lucky opportunity to be able to combine my work and my passion all together. Fortunate I am!

  5. I LOVE that you do this!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      Thanks for the tip on Only the Essential. It made all the difference this year. I felt the kids really connected to the trail and all that it gives.

  6. I’m 47 years old, and I want to take your class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is there something wrong with me??? LOL. It looks like so much fun!

    • Christy "Rockin'" Rosander

      No nothing at all! It is fun. I learn something new every time I prepare for a class. Who could ever tire talking outdoors, nature, skills, and just walking. Thanks for commenting!

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