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.
This itinerary is subject to change. BLD indicate meals included in the program fee.
Sunday, June 12 Depart St. Olaf (LD)
Meet on campus around 7 a.m. and travel in vans to the Gunflint Trail out of Grand Marais. You may also drive yourself north and meet the group at a designated location. Specific campus departure time and meeting instructions in Grand Marais will be provided prior to departure. Lunch is included on the way north for those in the college van. In the late afternoon, tour the Chik-Wauk Museum at Seagull Lake, followed by a group dinner and welcome session at Gunflint Lodge. Overnight at Hungry Jack Outfitters in Grand Marais. Hungry Jack offers bunkhouse accommodations, with 4 to 6 bunks per room and shared bathrooms; these accommodations are included in the program fee. You also have the option to drive yourself to Grand Marais and reserve alternative lodging for the night on your own. You will then also need to drive yourself to Hungry Jack Outfitters, as that is our jumping off point for the BWCA.
Monday, June 13 — Thursday, June 16 In the Boundary Waters (BLD)
We’ll enter the BWCA Monday morning, following an orientation by staff from Hungry Jack Outfitters, who will also transport us to nearby entry points. Depending on the number of participants, groups will be formed prior to departure, based on preferences for rigor of travel and interests of individuals. Specific routes will be chosen very close to our departure. Evening camp sites will be chosen by the group leader based on how much progress was made that day and the availability of space at each site.
Friday, June 17 Exit the Boundary Waters, Overnight at Hungry Jack (BLD)
Today we’ll exit the BWCA , turn in our gear, have dinner together at the Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail, and bunk at Hungry Jack.
Saturday, June 18 Return to St. Olaf (B)
This morning start our trip back with breakfast at Naniboujou Lodge, an iconic establishment up the shore from Grand Marais, before starting our way south. If participants are interested, we’ll stop along the way to visit Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, or attractions in Duluth.
Judy Tegtmeyer is the Director of Recreation and an Instructor in the Exercise Science Department at St. Olaf College. Judy has been at St. Olaf for 25 years and coached both soccer and basketball upon her arrival. She has taught a wide variety of classes including outdoor recreation topics such as orienteering, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, cycling, canoeing and rock climbing. She has also traveled abroad with the Theater in London Interim course and co-taught an Interim course in Arizona called Bodies and Biomes. She has considerable background in wilderness camping and has led numerous canoe trips to the BWCA, Quetico Provincial Park, and northern Canada. Judy has led this trip in the Boundary Waters twice before, in 2016 and 2018. She feels that being “off the grid” is an important opportunity for rejuvenation of the soul and reconnection to the forces of the natural world. Judy received her undergraduate degree in Geology from Denison University in Ohio and her graduate degree in Kinesiology from Indiana University. Judy resides in Northfield and enjoys numerous outdoor activities in the surrounding area.
Wes Braker is a master’s student in the Conservation Sciences program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he is studying additive genetic variance in prairie plants. He has spent the last few years working with various University of Minnesota research labs carrying out research in Minnesota’s prairies on biodiversity, invasive species, soils and nutrients, population dynamics, and population genetics. While he currently lives and works in St. Paul, MN, he has extensive back-country experience, exploring remote areas by foot and paddle from the south United States to northern Canada. Wes has also lead many canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Provincial Park, as well as hiking trips in Isle Royale National Park. Wes is excited to explore the amazing paradise that is the Boundary Waters with you. For voluntary preparatory reading to get you in the mindset of a wilderness traveler and to introduce you to a brief background on the philosophy of the BWCAW, Wes recommends Sigurd Olson’s The Singing Wilderness for some superb outdoor reflection.
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 an extended distance. You should have fairly sure footing over uneven ground. The level of paddling challenge will be geared toward the ability and experience of the group. 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.
As a condition of participation in this program all attendees must have received a COVID-19 vaccine and received a booster shot at least 2 weeks prior to attending the program. The Centers for Disease Control now say all adults can and should get a booster shot once they are six months past their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months past their single Johnson & Johnson dose. If, by departure time, you are not yet 6 months past your second dose or 2 months past your single J&J dose, you will not be required to have a booster. Because changing conditions may result in additional or different participation restrictions, we will strive to keep you promptly informed of any changes resulting from the ongoing pandemic.
$1,200 per person, completely outfitted (inclusions listed below). Deduct $22 to bring your own sleeping bag and $30 to bring your own tent. Roundtrip transportation between St. Olaf and the BWCA is included. Transportation to and from St. Olaf is not included.
- Route planning and permit
- 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 Chair
- 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 bag
- Water filtration system (Steri-pen and/or Katydyn filter)
- 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
PAYMENT AND REFUND SCHEDULE
Because of ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is possible that a program could be postponed. In such a case, while we will strive to make full refunds when we can, there are certain expenses that may not be refunded to either St. Olaf or the participant.
Deposit Due: $500 upon registration
Refund if you cancel: Full refund until March 31, 2022
Balance Due: April 1, 2022
Refund if you cancel: None, unless the program is full and your place can be resold
Cancellations must be received in writing.
We are delighted to share that our 2022 Boundary Waters program is an official GO.
As a condition of participation in this program all attendees must have received a COVID-19 vaccine and booster at least 2 weeks prior to attending. Because changing conditions may result in additional or different participation restrictions, we will strive to keep you promptly informed of any changes resulting from the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, feel free to plan your travel to either St. Olaf or Grand Marais. There are three options for gathering on Sunday, June 12:
- Meet at St. Olaf around 7 am and get driven up in our college vans.
- Fly into MSP and get picked up at an airport hotel around 8 am.
- Meet the group in Grand Marais around 4 pm.
If you are booking a flight, we strongly recommend you consider adding flight cancellation insurance to that purchase.
We’ll be asking you to confirm your plans to us in April.