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.
(Incidentally, Grand Marais won the “Best Midwestern Small Town” award for 2017, as chosen by USA Today readers. A Minneapolis StarTribune article said that USA Today “described the Boundary Waters gateway city as a charming town with ‘art galleries, quirky restaurants, local shops and diverse lodging.’”)
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.