Wilderness Adventure in the Boundary Waters

Led by Greg Kneser, Vice President of Student Life
June 12–18, 2016
$950 per person (see inclusions below)


We are blessed to have the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in our backyard (well, if not our backyard, then just beyond the neighbors). It lies entirely within Superior National Forest and is the most visited wilderness area in the United States, for good reason. The boundless beauty and tranquility are uplifting and refreshing.

Join us on an Ole adventure in the BWCA. We’ll start with a visit to the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center at Seagull Lake, which tells the story of the Gunflint Trail, before having a group dinner at Gunflint Lodge and overnighting at Hungry Jack Outfitters in Grand Marais for our entry into the wilderness area. We will also be fully equipped by Hungry Jack Outfitters, an Ole-owned enterprise.

For 5 days, we’ll paddle from lake to river to lake again, and disembark as necessary to use the portage trails between bodies of water. This vast area has changed little in the 10,000 years since the glaciers receded. In this serene setting we are likely to spy loons, moose, bald eagles, deer, otters and more, and we will, of course, hang our food high to avoid sharing space with bears. As Marshall McLuhan said, “There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” This program is an adventure of the body, as well as the mind and spirit. You must be physically fit enough to carry gear on the portages, including large, but manageable backpacks and, with your paddling partner, the canoe. Also, everyone in the group will share chores like cooking and camp maintenance.

After we exit the BWCA we will stay overnight at Hungry Jack, and will spend our last day taking in the adventure of the North Shore, including breakfast at Nanibijou Lodge, and a visit to the North House Folk School. The Folk School was  a key partner with St. Olaf volunteers in imagining, designing and constructing the Memorial Chime Tower and later, rebuilding the Flaten Art Barn on the St. Olaf campus.  Our hope is that the trip will coincide with the Wooden Boat Show at North House, one of the main summer events of the Summer in Grand Marais.  As we continue down the North Shore and back home, there will be time to visit some of the wonders of America’s “North Coast”  that the group will identify.

This unique Study Travel has no deliberate educational theme, but is an opportunity to gather with fellow Oles – official and honorary alike – and share time together in an area of natural beauty.

Program Leader

Greg Kneser is the Vice President for Student Life at St. Olaf.  He has traveled extensively with students on domestic service trips,. including New Orleans, Nashville, Mississippi and Chicago.  He has assisted with St. Olaf Interim courses in London and Nicaragua. Greg often describes himself as a “wanderer,” and has worked with students to look beyond the obvious when traveling or serving abroad, connecting their experience of the day with their lives back on campus at St. Olaf. Greg led his first Study Travel program on the Danube in April 2015 and the first Ole Wilderness Adventure in the Boundary Waters in June 2015. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Greg has spent the last 25 years at St. Olaf, mostly beside his wife, Sandy Kimmes ’89, and their teenage children, Amelia and Wylie.

What to Expect

Expect an adventure, as advertised! You will be active in the most positive way and immersed in nature’s bounty every day.

This program requires that you be physically fit and able to paddle, walk, and carry belongings for many hours a day. All participants will be expected to pitch in with tasks such as setting up camp, making meals, and repacking your own and group equipment.

The weather in mid-June in northern Minnesota should be beautiful, but can be hard to predict. Average temperatures for this time of year are a high around 67º Fahrenheit, low around 48 F, and rainfall of 3.7 inches for the month.

Program Fee

$950 per person, completely outfitted (inclusions listed below). Deduct $30 to bring your own sleeping bag and an additional $30 to bring your own tent. Roundtrip transportation between St. Olaf and the BWCA is included. Transportation to St. Olaf at the beginning of the program is not included. A $500 per person deposit is due upon registration, and is fully refundable until April 12, 2016, when final payment is due.

Route planning and permits
All food, chosen from a set menu (special diets can be accommodated within reason)

Personal packs (Cooke Custom Sewing):
Sleeping bags (Marmot or Slumberjack)
Clothing bags
Therm-a-rest pad
Crazy Creek Camp Chairs

Equipment Pack:
Tents (MSR)
Ground cloth
Dining Fly (Cooke Custom Sewing)
Short Rope (Ten Each)
Canoe anchor
First aid kit
Stove (Primus Himalaya)
Kitchen sink bucket
Water filtration system (Steri-pen and/or Katydyn filter)
Water bag
Cook kit (MSR stainless steel)
Fry pan
Coffee pot
Plates, cups, bowls, silverware, cooking utensils
Measuring cup
Sharp Knife/filet
Clean-up kit
Toilet Paper
Bear rope