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Westport Teen Completes 80-Day Wilderness Trip In India

Andrew Allison-Godfrey, right, of Westport and fellow hikers cook during their excursion in India. Photo Credit: Contributed
Andrew Allison-Godfrey and other students in the National Outdoor Leadership School get ready for their trip in India. Photo Credit: Contributed
Students on the trip find quiet time. Photo Credit: Contributed
Andrew Allison-Godfrey enjoys the rafting. Photo Credit: Contributed
The group rests for a photo. Photo Credit: Contributed
A scene along one of the hikes. Photo Credit: Contributed
The crew finds time to cook. Photo Credit: Contributed
A mountain peak gleams in the distance. Photo Credit: Contributed
The students went rafting on rough waters. Photo Credit: Contributed
A river slices through a valley. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- A 19-year-old from Westport took part in the adventure of a lifetime, spending nearly three months exploring the wilderness deep in the Himalayan mountains in India.

Andrew Allison-Godfrey recently completed an 80-day wilderness expedition in India with the National Outdoor Leadership School.

On Aug. 23, Allison-Godfrey and nine other enrollees embarked on an 80-day wilderness expedition. The excursion took the students on an adventurous yet educational expedition through the exotic landscapes of India, free of modern conveniences such as cellphones, video games and electricity.

An NOLS trip is all about remaining focused and present as well as resilient and enthusiastic about leadership education, environmental sustainability and attaining outdoor technical skills.

From backpacking through subtropical Indian forests and camping in high alpine Himalayan meadows to whitewater rafting ancient rivers, Allison-Godfrey and his coursemates learned invaluable skills in one of the most breathtaking backcountry classrooms in the world.

The group left with an instructor from New Jersey and flew to the New Delhi International Airport. A bus journey to the NOLS India branch in Ranikhet was the first step in the journey. The first section of the semester was a five-day Wilderness Advanced First Aid course. Going far beyond standard first aid, WAFA prepares students to prevent, recognize, and treat medical emergencies.

After the medical training, Allison-Godfrey and his coursemates embarked on 45 days of backpacking through breathtaking scenery. The group ascended up 40,000 feet of lush Himalayan mountain terrain on foot and covered more than 115 miles.

The students then moved on to the cultural section of the course, arriving in Sarmoli, a village in the Gory River Valley, where they lived with host families for nearly two weeks. Learning through cultural immersion, Allison-Godfrey and the others experienced the day-to-day life and culture of their host families, picking up Hindi and learning how to cook in traditional methods through first-hand experience.

After the cultural section was completed, the students began their whitewater rafting trip. The students navigated Class IV whitewater rapids after undergoing technical instruction and emergency river rescue drills. At night, Allison-Godfrey and the other students camped in style on scenic beaches along the river shore with single burner camp stoves and shade tarps.

During regular classes throughout the course, instructors and students discussed the river corridors, the wildlife, flora, fauna and issues facing the regional ecosystem. In 12 days of river travel, the group covered a whopping 70 miles on the Kali River.

Allison-Godfrey is a 2013 graduate of Greens Farms Academy.

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