Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Day 58 October 13, 2009 Yosemite Institute

Day 58, 10/13/2009
After a bagel breakfast with all the fixin’s, Pete lead us to our 8:15am meeting with the Yosemite Institute Outdoor Education staff. They briefed the day on topics such as: weather, rock falls, Columbus day, and tomorrow’s meeting location. Then each of us broke off and paired up with an instructor. I had the absolute pleasure of spending the day with Robin and the Rockers. The Rockers were a 6th grade group from Presentation middle school in Sacramento. Robin was an Angel, sent down straight from Heaven!
Due to inclement weather, Robin made the decision to change the days itinerary. Since it was a geology day we first went to a sandy beach on the Merced river to play a game called, “Rockity, Rock, Rock, Rock”. This game was a blast, and taught the students about the rock cycle; as well as sedimentary, metamorphic, intrusive & extrusive igneous rocks. From there we went to Split Rock and Indian Caves to learn more about the geology of Yosemite.
After that we walked to the Awahnee hotel for lunch and designated journal entry time. Which Shane and I both agreed was a good idea. Then both of our groups joined up to play a game of toilet tag. At 3:20 class was over and ECOEE regrouped to head to our 4:30 meeting with Mara of the administration team. On the way there we made the best of the monsoonal rain by stomping in all of the biggest puddles we could find. After the meeting we went out for pizza; then headed to camp to tear down tents in the rain, and head south for Summit Adventure. That’s all for now. One love.

Matt McCabe

Day 57 October 12 2009
What does one feel in the presence of one of the largest organisms to ever grace this earth? Does one feel awe and wonder? Does one feel excitement and joy? Does one feel serene and at peace? What about at the base of a monolith, a shear wall of rock jutting out into the sky, a million years old? Is it possible to comprehend, or is just the thought too overwhelming? The answer to all of this is yes. One feels these emotions and thoughts, not separately, but combined in one big confusing inexpressible wave. There is a beauty in every place, and too often it is hard to uncover. But here, in Yosemite, the beauty is so prevalent it cannot be missed. There is something old and archaic about this place and it emanates from every bough, stream and precipice. What comes over you when you stand small before a tree that is older than the language you speak? Do you weep, for your insignificance before something so aged and so wise? Or do you stand a little straighter, shoulders back, taking a lesson from the tree? Look at the scars from the fires. Look how the tree still stands. A giant sequoia's bark is 10 times thicker than a sugar pine of the same size. It survives the fires of nature each time, and grows a little more nonetheless. We can all learn from the trees we saw today in the Tuolomne Grove. No matter what fires may come and even after the most difficult of times, grow a little more, and eventually you will tower over all else.
Here we sit, in the great valley of Yosemite, with a cliff on each side. The mountains tower above, silent, strong, having seen and known more than we could in a thousand lifetimes. What can we learn from them? May the clouds pass over you, may the elements batter your face, bu through it all, be solid, resolute, and if you never cease to inspire those who see you, you will unending shine in the light, and you will always come out on top.
So, my friends, as we continue on this journey of ours, be strong like the mountain, resolute in your goals. Stand tall like the sequoia grove, and grow from our fires. Together we will make it through. And no matter what, never lose that feeling from today, that jumbled confusion of too many emotions to count, and remember why you are here. We are all ECOEE, and we are the babbling brook, the raging rapid. We are the timeless tree, the mountain most high. We are the wildfire racing through the underbrush. We are whatever we make ourselves. We are ECOEE 2009, and that alone is something.

Day 55 Mono Lakes Bay

Day 55
What a strange world we live in where white painted land stretches across desert like surroundings. What a strange world we live in where coral reef structures are no longer submerged in a deep sea but jet from the land and lake like towers. What a strange world we live in where a beach is blanketed with black flies that swarm away as a whole, where brine shrimp dance aimlessly in the salty waters waiting to be the next gull meal. Mono lake is full of wonders and beauty that is so strange to me. One tiny part of the country can be so vast in life and beauty. Mono Lake serves as a lesson to us all. To value everything from the tiny brine shrimp, to the swarms of black flies, and to the California Gulls who call this place home. What strange places will we see next?
Love, Kimosabee

Friday, October 09, 2009- Day 54
“If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain, If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain; Or help one fainting Robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”-Emily Dickinson
Oh what joy to finally awake in a tent to the conditions of the outside. Yes the ground was harder, yes the breeze was colder but nothing beats sleeping in the outdoors under natures’ mercy. I missed greatly the aspect of emerging from the womb that is my sleeping bag and joining the rest of the group for the activities of a bon-a-fide ECOEE day.
Upon awakening we joined together for our first group cooked breakfast which was a welcome change from my usual two hotel pastries, two hotel sausage patties and bowl of Total. After this was finished we broke up and did the many cleaning duties required with breaking down a camp. Then Grand our FOD, recognizing the desire to explore the surroundings turned us loose, challenging us to find things around us that would use our five senses, well four if you weren’t okay with tasting random things on the ground. After finishing this we joined together to learn how to sow up our holy drying thingy and tape up our rips and tears we may encounter, which I have with my sleeping bag. Then we caught up on the readings of this here journal I am writing in and departed for California, another first state trip for me.
“There is no serenity so fair as that which is just established in the tearful eye.”-Henry David Thoreau
We stopped for lunch along a rest area of some sort and ate a good amount of recent meals’ leftovers and the usual choice of cold-cut sandwiches and P,B & J. After this was finished we hit the road again and truly began to feel the south western heat as we turned on the A/C when Matt needed the windows closed to make calls for his FOD day tomorrow.
Along this trip portion we rode along California highway 120 which was seemingly a roller coaster featuring an ample amount of hills to ride up and down. We eventually arrived at our campsite for atleast the night and began to do the usual jobs required to set up camp.
“Your disability is your opportunity.”-Kurt Hahn
Pete and his crew made a delicious dish and we had to break everything down completely to keep Smokey away. This is my first time in California and what a great introduction, first the hills and now sleeping by a waterfall!
-Shane Johnson

Day 53 October 18, 2009 Salt Lake City

October 18, 2009 Day 53
Waking up to our last morning in our hotel was nice. I think many of us were ready to be back on the road and outside again. On the road we were again with about a 10 hour drive ahead of us. With a stomach full of the hotels continental breakfast we were ready to go. We were all looking forward to seeing Great Salt Lake along the way. Many of us studying and sleeping the van ride was pretty laid back, although many of us pumped from the waffles at breakfast. We stopped for lunch at a old heritage sight that from the parking lot looked pretty festive. In the afternoon we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This was unlike anything I had ever seen before; it looked like snow, but salt instead. Many of us running around like little kids, we were all very excited to see this, getting some pretty good pictures. Pete also got his urge to shimmy up a light pole taken care of…which was very entertaining to watch. After we all rounded up again some were still getting some last minute pictures of this beautiful sight we were at. We were off to our campsite next.

Journal Entry 52 October 7th, 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

Waking up to another breakfast from the hotel was very convenient as we were suppose to be ready to leave by 9:30am. Turns out the vehicle situation of needing a new battery and two oil changes would take longer than anticipated. Most people used this extra time to put the final touches on their lessons. It provided me the opportunity to draw some pictures for my interpretation lesson. Once everyone got back to the hotel we quickly got ready and headed out to the Grand Teton Visitor Center. This visitor center is the nicest we have seen yet. They have a movie theater, LCD screens built into the floor, and several very well put together exhibits. After looking around for sometime we started doing lessons. Cassi started us off with a geology and fur trader lesson that told the story of John Couture. Lewis and Clark’s expedition was then explained by Pete. I gave my interpretation lesson on environmental issues regarding snowmobiles in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Nate split us into groups to learn about 10 different kinds of clouds. Next up was Shane with a fun Outdoor Education lesson on habitat and homes. We constructed home advertisements for marmots, ospreys, and pronghorns. As Shane asked if anyone had any questions we caught a glimpse of the first moose of ECOEE. We stopped to watch him only to realize that he was coming right toward us. Once he was close Jeff told us he was making that noise because he was rutting. After the moose had left Pete did a lesson on the trees in the area. We returned to the hotel and Ron and Jeff went to get food before Matt’s lesson and debrief. Kim had everyone write down reasons why they really appreciate one another on individual paper. This will be a great thing to look at if we are having a bad day. As I put the finishing touches on this, one thing comes to mind….

All You Need Is Love

Day 51 October 6, 2009 Teton Science School

Day 51
October 6, 2009

Today we were planned to go to the Teton Science School (TSS). Shane the F.O.D had us wake up around 8:00am to eat, get our things ready, then head off to TSS, which was about 10 minutes away. When we arrived, we were greated by a man named Joe Petrick. Joe explained the philosophy, and history of TSS, and then took us on a tour of the school, while answering lots of questions along the way. The TSS’s mission is simply: people, nature, place, education, and trying to make connections between these four words with their students. The school teaches from pre-school up to senior year of high school. The teachers and teachings are set apart from any other school because, not only do they teach the regular curriculum, but they also use experiential learning and Outdoor Education to help the kids learn through holistic. For example if a teacher is in his/her classroom, teaching a subject and suddenly an animal walks past their window, then that teacher will stop what he/she is doing, focus in, and have the kids learn about that animal. Then they will go back to normal teachings. Some other things the school does is; go on wildlife expeditions through safari rides, teach winter ecology, flora and fauna, teach instructors from other schools that don’t use this style of teaching, and they also have a Journey School where the kids are involved in a two to fifteen day camping expedition in the backcountry. The school has a supply room so the students can be prepared for the elements before they head out on their journey. TSS was very interesting to me. As I was walking through that place all I kept thinking about is: why didn’t I have a school like this when I was growing up? But who knows, maybe some day I’ll end up coming back and working here. Only time will tell.
Jacob Boyer

Peter Collins
October 5th, 2009 Day 50

Today was ECOEE’s first morning in the hotel. We arose to a breakfast that we didn’t have to cook for the first time in a long time. Everyone was very well rested as we met for our latest morning meeting of the trip at 10 am. We had the morning off for everyone to work on lesson plans that they had to work on before we were to leave the Rocky Mountains. Everyone was very busy in their rooms trying to get as many resources and lesson plans completed before we were to meet at 3 pm to head to the Elk Preserve so that we could get lessons done. Christine started the lessons talking about the predator and prey relationships with wolves, Ron spoke on wildflowers with emphasis on the sage brush and rabbit brush. Sean then talked about the endangered species of Yellowstone and the different levels involved with ranking endangered species. After a short walk across the street and up the hill Shane talked to us about the migration patterns of the Elk in the region and why they keep moving. Jake then talked about the local bison and how the Indians used to use every part of the animal without wasting a piece of it. Grant then finished the day off teaching us about how Chief World Wide Web would use his surroundings to build a shelter in the snow. We returned to the hotel to debrief the day and give feedback to everyone that presented today. For dinner everyone went out on their own to satisfy their own taste buds. When we returned some of us went for a nice soak in the hot tub to rest and relax in the jets, then it was off to bed.

October 4, 2009
Day 49

Well, to answer Jake’s questioning of what we will still see while in Yellowstone? The answer is, not much. Last night, FOD Sean asked the group to submit (secret ballot style) what members need – not want – in order to be successful during our last week in the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem. There were many requests for time to work on lessons and, that coupled with the report of eight to twelve inches of snow heading our way, Sean had to make the executive decision to pack up camp and hit the road.
We drove though west Wyoming, into Idaho and despite popular belief, I was in awe of the simplistic beauty of this land. I had the weirdest urge to stop and get a baked potato just to try out these “Famous Potatoes” but, I’m content with seeing historic buildings. We drove past the original WEA headquarters and one of Paul Petzoldt’s old houses in Victor, WY. There are scattered houses across the land and it’s insane to imagine what this place looked like when Petzoldt was the only land owner. While in the town of Victor we stopped to stretch our legs before making the trek over Teton Pass.
Even though we’ve had a battery that doesn’t like to start, frigid wind and snow that began dropping in clusters as we began the ascent – there is nothing that will slow us down. There is absolutely nothing that can stop us; no force in this world could turn us around; NOTHING – except for that highway patrolman. Even though this Iowan complains about being surrounded by a bunch of Illinois natives, it was a strike of luck to be from Western Illinois because the officer was a Peoria native.
We still had to turn around and take the long way around the mountain. Our drive ended in Jackson Hole, a tourist-supplied cowboy town. We had our quickest set up of camp as we checked into the 49er Inn and so begins the next chapter of ECOEE 2009: ECOEE stays in a hotel. However, a new environment, not the challenge that we think of for ECOEE but no matter the challenge, a new place has a new set of challenges. And, the new setting for a few days shall challenge this motley crew to be socially appropriate.

Day 48 October 3, 2009 Mammoth Springs

Josh Boyer
Journal entry day 48, 10/03/09

It was an early morning as well as a cold one. It seems it’s been getting down to zero every night at this time here in Yellowstone. We ate an amazing breakfast of biscuits and gravy and we literally stuffed our faces with it. The morning was foggy as we headed with our two vans to see sites that, for the most of us, haven’t seen before. The day was full of first time experiences for many. There was a lot of wild life that we all got to view. There were many bison around, and at one time got reaching distance away from a few of us. We saw different birds that we normally would never see at home. We also saw a couple creatures that I know I was exited about and that are fairly rare to see and they were bears, one black bear and one grizzly bear. They are very strong animals physically and compared to the food chain, and it is cool to see them in person. We also saw some mud volcanoes which are interesting. It’s crazy to think about that there is a huge middle crust of molting hot lava and gases. The steam from the center of the earth is rising and has to go somewhere, and it escapes through these geysers and mud volcanoes. Also it was great to see the two major falls that are here in Yellowstone. The view of them was pretty astounding. During the end of the day we went to Mammoth. It was pretty much a town, but there was a visitor’s center and National Park Rangers that patrolled the area. Mammoth use to be home to troops of the U.S. Army back when Yellowstone was first established. They were there because the Army was the first ones to manage this park and because back then there was still Native Americans who roamed about. We saw a lot today and there was a feeling of accomplishment as we all settled down and were ready for bed. There’s only a couple more days here and I wonder what more new things is there to see and do while were are here.

Day 46 October 1, 2009 Yellowstone! Madison Campground

Day 46 October 1st, 2009
Nine o'clock this morning brought a new experience on ECOEE, waking up to snow. After finding our campsite in Yellowstone's Madison Campground late last night, snowflakes falling all around, we exited our tents this morning in the frigid air to find the ground powdered white. One glance up showed the full splendor of our surroundings that, once hidden by the cover of night and shrouded in clouds, now broke through in this crisp mountain morning. Peeking through the gaps in the pine trees that stood tall all around, snow dusted peaks towered over all else, blue skies as a backdrop, a sight to start any day off right.
After a heart, but not necessarily healthy breakfast of oatmeal and, of all things, peanut M&M's, which shockingly tasted fantastic!, we loaded into the vans for the drive to Hebgen Lake, the site of a 7.5 earthquake in 1959. FOD Ron planned to have us stop at the interpretive center, but we arrived to find it was closed. Instead we spent 15 minutes exploring the banks of the Madison River, scouting the rapids out of habit, and viewing the remains of the rock slide caused by the earthquake left scarring the side of the mountain. Cassi gave us the story of what happened, explaining how the disintegration of the mountainside crushed the campsite below it, leaving 28 people dead. The mammoth boulders serve as an eerie reminder of the ugly side of Mother Nature; the side that leaves carnage and destruction in its unpredictable wake.
Cold, hungry, and wary, we moved to Big Beaver campsite, where we ate lunch before our meeting with the Forest Service at 3. Todd Stiles, a recreation manager with the Forest Service was more than happy to answer our many questions, both about the service and himself. We learned that the best way to describe the difference between the National Parks and the Forest Service is that “Forests are open to the public unless specifically closed, while the Parks are closed unless specifically opened.” Todd even eased some worries about where forest rangers go on vacation. Thanks to him, Matt's head may not explode.
After a meal of monstrous goulash, I sit by myself looking out over the valley where the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers converge to make the Madison River. The moon glides through patches in the clouds, illumination the mountains and rivers one moment, then stealing away again the next. This is my classroom.

Day 45
Most of us had a very restless sleep last night. We were all on night watch to keep a watchful eye out for the hoodlums that are notorious for destroying camping gear and jumping on tents in the middle of the night. The torrent winds almost sabotaged our morning’s breakfast burritos but the gang managed to hustle and break down the gear before any major catastrophe. We drove to NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, to gage a more comprehensive picture of what the organization does and how we can apply it to our classroom. The mission and values that propels NOLS is its commitment to wilderness, education, leadership, safety and the community ultimately creating leaders who better society. I feel like what I viewed today such as the ration room, the gear transition room, and the debriefing room had a sense of familiarity to it. In 1965 legendary mountaineer Paul Petzoldt founded NOLS during a similar economic recession and the Vietnam War. 45 years later we find ourselves in a situation where life is confusing, uncertain, and at times scary. These are the times when leaders are made, not born. These are the times when we need organizations like NOLS and programs like ECOEE to mold leaders that we have the strength and courage to get us through times such as these, and times such as then. We left NOLS and headed out for Yellowstone, just in time for the snow. Driving through the winding roads with aspen and pines hugging them, I looked down to see gray-blue water streaking through a canyon. I looked in front of me to see a few elk crossing the road. I looked to the side of me to see hazy mountains with snow covered tips. All around me there was beauty and amazement. Never in my life have I felt so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. America- with its amber waives of grain, Purple Mountain’s majesty, above the fruited plains, this is my home, and I will never take it for granted again. Thank you ECOEE.
Love, Kimberly Rose Janus

Day 44
September 29, 2009

We had chow circle at a pleasant 8:00am this morning, which Nate our F.O.D for the day, had set up. As we woke up, the sun was shinning, the clouds were parted, and the blue skies were out. What a gorgeous morning to wake up to, here in Wyoming. Our goal for the day was to travel around 285 miles to our next campsite in Lander Wyoming. When we stopped for lunch, while on the way; Nate had us make a choice: either to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or pick from a possibility of: McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, or Subway. Not surprisingly the group chose to eat fast food. When we arrived to Lander after the rest of the beautiful scenic van ride, Jeff pointed out to us, a building that was once a hotel but Paul Petzoldt bought out. He made it into the NOLS headquarters. After that we strolled into our FREE campsite, just pass a baseball field. Upon arrival Kim caught a glance at a little doe, and was frantic to find out what type of deer it was. It turns out that it was a baby Mule Deer. I know one lucky someone who is going to enjoy a chocolate malt. After we set up camp, Nate had the Chefs, Sou Chefs, and Deserters, come up with a list of food we will need to buy for the next five days in Yellowstone. The whole group then went to the store to shop for this list, accept for Matt, Pete, and I, who had a small list because we were only Deserter, Sou Chef, or Chef once out of these five days. Our job was to set up the kitchen before the group got back. We saw that the clouds were coming in pretty thick, off in the distance so we went to go set up the tarp first. The tarp was a failure because the viscous wind kept tearing through it. As we were cleaning up the tarp, a cop rolled by and told us to look out for any suspicious people at night because they had problems in the past with kids coming in at night and jumping on tents. Then we set up the kitchen and everyone else got back form the store, which I heard went pretty smoothly. We ate a nice meal of pasta with garlic bread, salad, and chocolate cake for desert. During de brief Josh (the F.O.D for the next day) told us we were going to Yellowstone tomorrow, and that tonight we were going to have each member of the group stay up on grave yard shifts, to make sure no hoodlums broke our tents. Yellowstone here we come!
Jacob Boyer

Day 43, September 28, 2009

Waking up in Nebraska was a great feeling. I knew for certain that we were finally back on the road. I knew we were heading to the buttes and plateaus of Wyoming; and I also knew all of us big kids were going to spend an hour in the candy store known as Sierra Trading Post. After a few hours of driving we stopped for lunch at a historical train depot/ WWII plane crash site. There were fourteen American men who died about two miles from the site as their engine failed and the crashed into the ground during training. It was kind of discouraging though, because the site was not maintained well and did not have a feeling of appreciation.
For lunch we had peanut butter sandwiches with a variety of options. Personally, I chose Peanut butter, dried pineapple, Craisins, strawberry jam, and a hint of maple syrup - this is highly recommended. From there we drove on and stopped out the border for a photo op. with the Wyoming border sign. Shortly after that we had our chance to shop around at sierra trading post. I think just about everyone walked away with something. I bought shoes, and a lightweight fleece - both at 60% off. Finally we arrived at our beautiful camp site at Vedauwoo surrounded by giant rock formations. Grant gave us an hour to roam around. Sean and I took this opportunity to go scramble up the rocks. We made it to a point where we had a great view of the Rockies to the West and air pollution to the East. After a fine spaghetti dinner and debrief; it was another early night for this Ecoeeian. Good night.

Mathew McCabe

Journal Entry Day 42 September 27th, 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

Knowing we push onward today made the late night and early morning much easier. We had the tastiest non-healthy breakfast that an ECOEE group has probably ever had. To celebrate Jeff’s belated birthday we had moose track ice cream, strawberry rhubarb pie, and German chocolate cake. Good thing this is not about getting in shape (Isn’t round a shape anyway?). Wanting to get out of Macomb & Illinois & Iowa & Nebraska (almost) I volunteered to be the first driver of our newly acquired minivan. After Driving for several hours we stopped at a rest stop and threw around the football. We took a short lunch and headed to Mormon Island State Recreation Area in Grand Island, Nebraska. While waiting for dinner some people set up tents, some set up slacklines, and some people disappeared. Dinner was great with a main course of a huge tamale pie.
My Quotes for today were:
“Leaders are not born. They are made. And they are made like anything else, HARDWORK. And that’s the price we will have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal”
Vince Lombardi

“Intelligence without ambition is like a bird without wings” Salvador Dali

“Adopt the pace of Nature, her secret is patience” Ralph Waldo Emerson

After Dinner we debriefed the day and Kim’s FOD experience. The day seemed to go better than I thought in retrospect. Kim’s questions for facilitating debrief were very timely and important. When Grant took over his questions were about what we needed to do to advance the group to the next level. So now everyone should know what they need to do….So how are you going to do it?? How are we going to do it?

And to quote a friend of mine:
It Ain’t Easy (NATHAN)
{But it’s worth it}(ME)


Saturday, September 26, 2009-Day 41,
Today was more like just a night for ECOEE 2009. Fresh off of having yesterday off as well as today until 7:00 p.m. we had not been together as a group. This was a different turn of events for the group after being together non stop for the forty previous days.
Most group members hung out with family and friends, some went all the way home to do so while others such as myself had them visit them in Macomb. It seemed as if the break made the group happy and provided us a refueling stop for the next amazing eighty or so days. I think I speak for the rest of the group, even though that’s a no-no under the rules of proper feedback, when I say that we are ecstatic to be heading out west tomorrow with no close return to Macomb in sight and I am even happier to be doing so with this group of people. Nothing can describe the feeling surrounding me now as I think about how much we will get to see and do over the duration of the expedition that is ECOEE.
So after arriving at Horn at the assigned time of 7:00 we were briefed by our FOD of Sunday that we would be taking care of some last minute things like organizing our personal things, Dropping stuff off at Horrabin, and shopping for the next few days’ meals at Wal-Mart. After that we were informed we would be sleeping in the lodge and waking up at 6:00 a.m. to eat breakfast and then hit the road at 7:00 a.m. I’m ready for the travel and even more ready for where they will be taking us as we enter the second part of this journey of a lifetime that surely will never be forgotten.
Shane Johnson

Day 39, September 24, 2009 Another day to clean

Today was another early morning for the group so that we could get a head start on the day to finish cleaning the gear and repacking the trailer for the next part of our journey. After breakfast Sean gave everyone a job to start on and before we knew it we were a well oiled machine pumping out our tasks. Time seemed to have no relevance as everyone would just seem to finish one job and get straight into another one without fuss or complaining. It was a little interesting dealing with the weather all day trying to get gear cleaned and dried with the impairing threat of rain. We were forced to adapt to the circumstances by finding different ways to hang things to dry inside the building. There were tarps hanging in the bunk house from corners of the bunk beds while bills bags found their drying place under the front porch of the lodge. Some tent rain flies were thrown over bunk beds to dry out while Grant and I played Tetris with the tents under the tarp trying not to take up too much space from Christine and Kim who were unpacking and reloading the trailer. After lunch we made a run into campus to drop off and pick up gear from Horriban and Currens. We put all of the backcountry gear away and exchanged it for the climbing gear that we will need in Joshua Tree. At Currens we picked up mail and our extra personal belongings from Jeff’s office to sort through and bring with for the rest of the trip. We also took time to look at Jeff’s personal books and check them out for the next leg of the trip as we will be heading to different ecosystems and landscapes. When we got back to horn the cleaning was finished and all that was to finish loading the trailer. I think we now have the most organized trailer in the history of ECOEE and I will be shocked if we loose anything,. With what I think was the earliest debrief ever the group talked about the day and when to meet back up on Saturday night. Everyone said their good byes and we were finally on a much needed break. Safe travels to everyone as we head our separate ways and I can’t wait to see ya’ll when we get back.

September 24, 2009 Day 39
Peter Collins

September 23, 2009
Day 38

ECOEE leaves summer camp: Last night had a weird sense of a mid-terms party. The greater majority of the group staying up to the wee hours of the night pounding lesson plans and group journals and newsletters out while uploading slide shows of Canada. This scholastic sense of urgency carried through into today. While we spent time at breakfast talking with Program Director of the Storer YMCA Nancy Burger about our professional hopes, I personally thought about what I need to get done on the long seven hour ride back to Macomb.
Having a back seat view of Jeff’s van I could feel a serious stiffness in the air. Nearly all socializing was unspoken reserved for traveling stops. People were left alone with their thoughts in slumber or alone with their laptops and, there was our rock: Jeff keeping us between the white and yellow line.
Upon returning to nearby Monmouth, Illinois Jeff made an executive decision to buy pizza for the group to help get us started on working on the massive chore list of cleaning gear. Even though communication errors brought up at debrief negated the potential time saved, I believe, it was a boost of morale to start cleaning. The boost was to get us started and it also came from the potential for getting time to ourselves, but no Jeff it will not be “time off”…
Sean gave a brief delegation of jobs to best be done tonight and the team “DID WORK” as some may say. At 7:30 Sean brought us together for a re-brief on our progress and a break for people to finalize lesson plans. At this time, Sean indirectly tackled a very important aspect of a strange deal with our expedition having time away from the group; he just did it in a highly ineffective way. I feel the strangest sense of finalization, as if we’re cleaning gear with Thanksgiving dinner digesting in our bellies already. Tonight and this weekend has the potential to highly volatile or rejuvenating.
I have to hope that every one will take advantage of this opportunity of separation to still make wise decisions and personal progress. And as the master of distractions: I have to consciously stay focused and ask myself, “What is best for me? What is best for the group?” And at this time, it is best for me to turn in for the night because we have a long way to go still tomorrow and the rest of the best days of my life.
Journal Entry – Day 37, Tuesday 09/22/09 Josh Boyer

We started out a little earlier than usual today. We did because we had to make sure we got to the YMCA Storer Camp at noon. We arrived there around an hour early. As a group we were excited and wild up from the van rides there. Nancy who was the head supervisor there met with us and got us under way. During the day there we individually picked from a variety a classes that camp councilors taught to the kid campers that were there. We could choose form the climbing tower, horse sense, canoeing, teams course, fire quest and more. We got to see how they run these classes and pretty much how the camp was run on a daily basis during that time. We all ate dinner, and by the way there food was great! We participated in the Underground Railroad program that they put on for the kids. Staff members dressed up as a sheriff, a partitioner, a runaway slave, and a few people who were slave owners back in the day during the slavery era. The kids split up into their cabin groups and a couple of us went in each group. The kids had to pretend that they were runaway slaves, but if anyone stopped us we had to say that we were slaves traveling as a singing quire. We could also only answer “yes sir” or “no sir”. It was a very serious time and to get that point across the kids couldn’t laugh or talk loudly. I was with the kids as we were doing it and I thought it was pretty realistic. We were getting yelled at and being told how great workers we looked and we were getting sold $500 a head to slave owners. I know if I was a kid I would’ve thought that this was very realistic and kind of scary. I know it really got the kid’s attention and they really felt how it was to be a slave back in the day. I am very pleased we went to the YMCA Storer Camp and met all the nice people that were there. It did help me realize that there were people who were trying to make a difference in children’s lives, and it’s especially hard to do that these days.

Day 36 Monday, Sept. 21
Well, we wake up back in our tents, but don’t get me wrong. This is certainly not a bad thing. I have become very fond of the tent. It has been our one seclusion from the back country. When it gets to cold, to wet, to windy, to buggy or just needing that feeling of having walls around you the tent is there. Its can create comfort even though it is almost paper thin. In our tents we have had some great times that go over looked when compared to some other things that we have done. For me the tent was the one safe haven from the wind and rain on our crummy first night. The tent was also the first and only piece of gear that I broke accidently. Those tent poles were really bent before I got it. We can’t blame the last straw for breaking the camels back, right? Also the tent is where Pete and Sean had the infamous wrestling match that led to Jake yelling at Kim. I couldn’t have put together a more unique group then that. Its also where Kim get her revenge on everyone for giving her a hard time by elbowing or hitting them while they slept. The tent was a great place to work on journals and try to catch up and do as many of them as possible before sleep set in. It was also a great place for having those conversations before bed to just talk and wind down from either a long day of paddling or an even longer day of listening to Jeff’s lessons, ha.
Honestly, having Jeff out her and listening to those lessons have been one of the most enjoyable times out here. Even though most of his answers are “What do you think?”, he has helped us all out so much. It is pretty safe to say that we would not have been able to do what we did without him. Either we would have wrecked so many times that we would have been stranded, or our whole camp site would be drenched because our tarps weren’t set up the right way or one of numerous ways that would have kept us from reaching our goal and by goal I don’t mean Mattice. To keep him on his toes at all times was Christine. She was there to ask the questions that maybe we were afraid to ask or ones that we didn’t even think of. For this I am grateful she is here. I am also grateful for Ron and his willingness to do whatever it takes, whenever need be. I am also grateful for Matt and the great conversations that we have had and will have, that are sure to be enriching. I am also Pete and his work ethic and drive. He has made me want to push myself more then he knows. I am also grateful for Cassi and always having a great attitude and smile even during the times its not easy to do it. I am also grateful for Grant and letting me vent and give me that mush needed advice. I am grateful for Josh and his ability to go with the flow but step up to lend a helping hand. I am also grateful for Kim and her drive to do well and also to be able to laugh at herself. I am also grateful for Jake and his desire to learn about wilderness education and anything that is presented in front of him. I am also grateful for Sean and his ability to change easily and go against the grain if need be to do what he feels is right. I am also grateful for Shane. He has become one of my best friends and is a great mirror to point out when i need to check myself. i am grateful for ECOEE that is slowly but surely shaping me into an outdoor leader but even more importantly a better person. It is also making me a better writer because I feel like thats all I’ll be doing from now on. Time for bed. - Nathan Barr

Day 35, September 20, 2009 Missinaibi outfitter

Day 35 Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009
Today we woke up for the first time inside a building. Some enjoyed beds, others a couch and some even volunteered for the floor. Because of the 8:30 am train ride and having to ride to Hearst, we all got up pretty early but to our surprise the morning was rather warm. We effectively loaded, unloaded and loaded the canoes and all the bill’s bags on the train. Riding the train was especially exiting for some because it was their first time on a train. As we rode the train we passed some sites that looked very familiar. These will be places that are going to be missed by everyone. Eventually we got to Hawk Junction Station were our trip originally started and crossing the first bridge that we went under on that very wet late August day. As we got into our bags that contained our front counter clothes it felt for me like it was Christmas morning and I’m an 8 year old boy opening the present that contains the exact thing that i wanted. We continued our journey back to Macomb and with food on our minds as we entered a local grocery store parking lot. Tomorrows chef crew with ROn and Shane ran into the “value mart”. As the rest of us waited the last few Canadian dollars burned a hole in our pockets. Eventually almost the entire crew trickled in the find some comfort food. We compared our purchases afterward by trying what each one got. I got to eat a kiwi whole and try some break with garlic spread. It was the first time I had tried eating a kiwi like an apple but I’m a fan now and will be certain to try it again when we are back in the states. I purchased apple cinnamon cheerios and orange juice. I know this was the first time in what seems to be a very long tie since we have had cereal. Even though we are enjoying the grocery store visit we soon realize that its time to get back on the road. It seems like we have a lot of miles to go and a short time to get there. Compared to out paddling rate of 2.5 miles per hour, it feels like we are almost flying and it even requires no portaging or rapids. Soon after Wawa we come to our almost last destination of the day. It happens to be a sit down restaurant, and after looking at the menu my eyes are like saucers. There are so many options that sounded good that it took us quite a while to decide on what to order. I finally decided on the biggest cheeseburger I could find with all the toppings. Others choose wise choices like the poutine which is french fries, gravy, cheese and bacon.
While we waited for the food i made my first phone call in almost a month to my house. It was great to hear my mom’s voice and to talk briefly about what I/we had just done. The half hour call went by to fast but was very refreshing. As the group was finishing up our first meal that didn’t require us to wash our own dishes some mentioned that someone was able to let us in to the ice cream shack next door. Tis day couldn’t have gone any better, no day can get any better when it ends with ice cream. Time for bed. -Nathan Barr

Day 34
23 days have gone by like the relentless current down a river. Sure, it was a little rocky at times but the current pushes past those rocks just as we have done. We have found out that the grueling back country tested our minds more than our bodies. It was through our struggles, weaknesses, and moments of desperation that we realized one thing about ourselves and each other…we all belong here. ECOEE is a part of us and we are a part of it. Without ECOEE we are mere faces in a classroom, strangers passing each other in a hallway, or lost souls never knowing what they were missing. After paddling through our last rapid, paying respect to an Ojibwa burial site, and pulling out of the Missinaibi River for the last time… feelings of triumph, sadness, and relief were felt by most of us. Relief that we made it through the backcountry safe and unwavering, sad that the journey has come to an end, and triumph that we have gained so much throughout this enduring experience. The more liberal indulgences of the front country such as wet milk, cell phones, and I-pods set a whole ne tone for the group. Although the front country does have its perks it was the mighty heart of the backcountry that had broken us, built us up, and soldered a permanent connection between all of us. As we sat in a cabin debriefing the entire trip I realized then that we are more than just friends, we are a band of brothers all united by fate somehow. As our quest continues, so will the memories of our river trip, steadily flowing like a strong current, our courage, commitment and character closes one chapter and opens another one.
Love, Kimbo-slice

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 33 September 18,2009 Evals!

Friday, September 18, 2009, Day 33,
Today was bound to be a day of excitement and interest. So many things to wonder about, work for, and at the same time worry about. The wonder was how and when were we going to be able to finish evaluations, then do face to face briefings of evaluations with each other and Jeff and at the same time travel three miles full of possible portages and rapids. The work for, well, was simply working to do those things and the worry was finally facing the “roasting and toasting” from our peers that is evaluations.
With all of that being said the day, though confusing at times, went smooth and we came together as a group to accomplish so much. The feedback was constructive, the paddling was smooth, and the portages turned into being either runnable or lineable with a great among of teamwork speeding up the portage process of the two boats that chose to go that route.
Realizing this is officially the last night sleeping in the backcountry after we arrived at a beautiful beach of a campsite made me realize and appreciate a multitude of things. For one it dawned on me that we actually pulled this off as a group, sharing responsibilities as leaders and navigators and pulling our weight at everything else that needed to be done. Here we are one day away from leaving and despite occasional doubt we met the deadline and turned it in to a mere molehill of a mountain. For that I want to team drink the whole Coca-Cola I had earlier to this ECOEE 2009 for getting the job done. After much reflection and discussion with my tent-mates/makeshift group of cook-mates about the days events we finally busted out our much anticipated spaghetti dinner tossing in sauces and spices galore, anything that sounded relevant to a spaghetti meal, and somehow the “I don’t care what we eat” cook group made one heck of a meal. On top of that we teamed up for some amazing brownies collectively raising or attempting to raise the cooking opinions of Pete and myself. Tomorrow we hit the truly uncivilized civilization and realize again how a herd of moose, pack of wolves, and a flock of geese are more civilized than the entire human race will ever be.
Bye Shane Johnson

Day 32 September 17,2009 First Day of Evals

Thursday September 17, 2009
Rising today we woke up for a day of the unexpected. A day full of evaluations was in store. Jeff had us go off solo and take time to put our own order off how we see their leadership. Decision making, basic camping skills, expedition behavior, and technical skills of the group we thought about and ranked. Some of us had the chance to get our evaluation from Jeff as well as to where we stand individually. Today was out of the ordinary for me. Critiquing everybody so detailed and to the point was hard. To keep us trucking many pots of tea and coffee were made, also to keep us warm for one of the coldest days we have encountered so far on this journey. Having the rain moved from the rocks to the tent. Huddled under trying to stay warm and focused we trucked on. We had a delicious dinner of cheesy potatoes, chicken, and rice. After that digested it was off to the funfetti cake batter. That was a delicious was to keep us going. After a late night we are going to all know where we stand as an individual and a group through this process. It will help with our journey through the front country as this portion is coming to an end very soon.
Tea Bag Quotes
-All love that has not friendship for base is like a mansion built upon the sand
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox
-No man is on island entire of itself
-John Donne


Day 31 September 15, 2009 Stewn on rocks called Albany (upper and lower)

Day 31 September 15, 2009
Our first chilly and dark day except with minutes of sunshine sort of reminds me of the Paul Petzoldt quote Jeff shared a while back now that we should hope for the best, expect the worst and now as days get close to finishing up planning for what is here among us. The river has been quite kind to us and an excerpt from the book couldn’t say it better especially as our group struggles to apply our experience and knowledge when running the rapids-our otherwise notable constant challenge. Hap Wilson shares (pg. 22)
“The Missinabi is a regal master, a dedicated tutor, patient and tolerant to our
weaknesses (that we should admit our limitations, as paddlers undeniably makes
us better canoeists) knowledge of self, of the equipment we use and our place on
the river administers a profound sense of security that only experience can give us.”

So as we continue to chalk it all up as an experience, the stuck-on rocks, the sideways pins, long paddles combined with weather factors sunshine, mist, head and tail winds. Also, crafting our river reading skills to see that downstream V, you know the best one from all angles down scouting up and when in the canoe as you are moving through. It’s always going to be okay especially when we arrive at camp-sometimes like today, we meet the unexpected and had a surprise campsite to accommodate us. 9 miles from where we started this morning and now camped along a strange stretch with the quietest water I can recall in several days. There are rocks strewn everywhere on this stretch called Albany (Lower and Upper) Rapids. When we warmed and dried up from an undertaking of misty weather as well as an abrupt swim for a few we got to some lessons by late afternoon. We tried an attempt at some interpretation lessons and Jeff coerced us into some group competition to come up with a list of things that makes for effective groups. Then collaborating for a special prize both teams worked to decipher a crazy detailed and elaborative list which when revealed was impossible to perfect. But with many traits, actions, and considerations we realize that it takes more than simple one-word ideas to make an effective group. It takes time and getting to know each other and I am glad that this group will have much more time together not only through to Mattice but onward for many more roads, mountains and waters to cross. Where we may actually begin to piece together all these things Jeff talks about and we try to understand. But I encourage us to remember that each day is another opportunity to receive gifts if we want.
-Christine Lagattolla

Day 30 September 14, 2009 Runable, or Unrunable? That is the question

Day 30/ 9-14-09
This morning seemed a bit darker as we arose at 6:30am to start another great day of paddling. We strolled off in great spirits because we knew we had some awesome rapids ahead of us, (run able or not), and also we got to choose if we wanted to run bow or stern, and some chose their own partners also. This made the group comfortable with their paddling, and personally I felt like I could take on any rapid that came before me, and my partner. As we paddled the first seven miles before our first portage, we passed under a bridge. We heard some horn honks on top of that bridge, and as we looked up we saw a truck waving down at us. This was another small experience that there was civilization outside of our ECOEE 2009 world. We came up to “Two Portage Falls,” our first destination. Matt (our L.O.D.) let a couple of people scout the rapid out first before he made a decision on either running it, or portaging our gear and canoes. The rapid was intense, and was much too big to run with canoes, so we portaged our things down to the beach at the bottom of the rapid. As more and more of us got there we noticed Jeff off in the distance on the left bank of the rapid, lining down it. This got some of us to think that maybe we should have lined the rapid, but what’s done was done. On the beach Matt had us eat a nice lunch and then we were off to canoe forth to our next rapid called, “Pond Falls.” The whole process or the day was to scout the rapids, see if they were run able, and then make our decision to portage around it, run it, or portage our gear and run with empty canoes. The first part of Pond Falls was not run able so we portaged around it again. As we got back on the water there was a pleasant stretch of water before the third rapid. On this stretch of water we encountered our biggest natural wildlife that came across our vicinity yet. We had seen a black bear cub walking along the river bank going from bush to bush looking for berries. We were awed and amazed by the gentle sight of this bear, because for some of us this was the first time we had seen a bear in its natural habitat. After the awesome site we traveled to Devil Shoepack Rapids, where we had about a mile stretch of rapids to rage on. Matt took is up to the portage on a cliff where we scouted out our best route to go. We ran the rapid one by one with only one boat getting stuck on rocks. Our camp came soon following, and we all got much needed food. Today was well planned, ran smoothly, and the black bear took the icing on the cake.

day 28 September 12, 2009 State of Mind!

Journal Entry Day 28 September 12th 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

“All (mental) states have mind as their forerunner, mind is their chief and they are man made. If one speaks or acts, with a pure mind, happiness follows one as one’s shadow that does no leave one” Selection from The Words of Truth

Change has been previously mentioned & for me the change of waking up in a more secluded area was a great start for the 28th Greatest Day of my Life in a row. After showing up late due to some knockout breakfast calzones we started today with the only guaranteed rapids of the day. Our campsite for today remained a mystery with little choices on the map and Missinaibi book. Making a good pace of around 3 mph, this trip seemed to be going quicker than the last couple. As the rain came and past, so did Brunswick Portage and another opportunity to see a historical site. The river should be an easier paddle than the open lake and the way campsites have been located we should be able to find some along the way… Soon we found a campsite that I now call home for tonight. Luckily we had to run a small rapid to get closer to the camp. It’s hard to complain about much out here especially with starting and ending the day with rapids. After covering the four triangles of risk management we jumped into a decision making personality assessment. This tool split the group into four categories that decisions are made based upon; From Ideas, Process, People, and Product. Contrary to Jeff’s prediction, only two people were primarily people decision makers. This seems to be good for the group as is makes several different perspectives available. And not to disappoint, some rhymes for y’all

As we enter our final week (in Ontario backcountry)
We fail to realize just how much we reek
So tonight for rain showers I pray
To wash our stink and scum away
But not enough to block out the sun
For in reality ECOEE has just begun

Our stove is broke our hearts are not
Who would have thought Ontario would be so hot
So prepare yourself for 92 more days
& only a few more Canadian Ay’s
Through growth and experience we shall learn
As adventure hides behind every turn

And again to end with a challenge…
Strive to deepen your relationships with all…on the trip
And make feedback constructive…
And not just a rip

I must be tired…. Love you guys/girls

Day 27 September 11,2009 The rapids we call life

Matt McCabe
ECOEE Journal

Day 27 - 9/11/09

As the water ebbs and flows I can’t help but to stop and think about this swift water rapid called life. Navigating the currents and eddy’s, balancing the positive and negative, harmonizing with yin and yang. Constantly evolving with the changing water level: quick thinking, decision making, and facing the consequences there of; is the name of this game. We are all individual players with our own goals, agendas, and prerogatives; but playing for the same team. It can be easy for me to get caught up in numbers and statistics and to forget about the reason we are all playing in the first place. Sometimes I forget that we all come from different homes, with different pasts, different lives, different places; each developing our own comfort zones. Now we are all here on this journey together, but we have come from different paths; and we shall each find our own way back to the place we call home . Each day now I am learning that there is no right and no wrong. There is only you, only me, only we, only us. There was this, there was that, but that was then, now this is us. We come from many, but now we form one. The outside world maybe hungry, impoverished, and often at war, but we here on ECOEE we are fighting for more. Peace, love, and happiness our Cree; but love for thy neighbor certainly doesn’t come free. Though this task at hand can surely be won: it will take you, it will take me; together it will take we. So with time dwindling down I ask: have we done what we said and have we achieved what we pledged?

day 26 September 10, 2009 Splashes and Crashes!

September 10th 2009
Day 26

Change. It can come in place, time, thought; change of heart, of direction, change of a dollar. Change in attitude, in latitude and maybe even in strati-tude? Changes happen in me, you, us and, them. Changes derive from the over-coming of fear and ironically it is fear that usually keeps things from changing. Real change is never easy but must be voluntary. Days like today bring about change.
We, ECOEE 2009, have the portage shuffle down fairly pat but the Greenhill Portage was a change of pace. Intimidating by being more than a mile long and having a narrow path, yet we have portaged in much worse conditions. I believe it was the romance of running “The Graveyard” and stepping up to the challenge of a Class III Rapid that made a majority of the group decide to portage the gear and, then run the rapids. After a lesson on “lining boats” and a route to take down the winding white caps; as well as a game plan to eddy out if the way is too rough – we anxiously boarded canoes.
Anxiety climaxed for Nathan and I at the point-of-no-return, looking down at the switch-back looking flow of white water. We swayed and sloshed down: swinging around like apes, drawing hard like beasts and, howling like madmen. We narrowly avoided Jeff, Matt and Shane whom were hung up between a rock and a hard place, literally. We eddied out of hard flowing water, or I should say we successfully ground ourselves on shallow rocks behind Cassi and Sean and, to our dismay looked back to see Jake and Kim had been added to the fiasco in the middle; with five paddlers trying to free themselves safely from the unforgiving flow. I honestly haven’t felt so helpless in a long time because, I could do nothing. Christine and Pete hurried down the bank to assist in the unplanned swift water rescue. After some time and, plenty of grunting, people were freed and heading in the right direction. This change in plans was one cog in today’s wheel and a reminder to be willing to roll with the punches with brains in your head and, not in your back pocket. Another test of judgment for LOD Cassi presented itself in the form of St. Peter Rapids: a torrent and technical Class II run that Cassi wisely decided to portage around. It was truly what I call a lunch pail day.
So, with grand totals of over 6000 meters portaged and twelve miles canoed, I give a smile at this working person’s day under a blanket of stars, about to join the camp in slumber. But, before I do I want to say a few words of wisdom to my brothers and sisters to carry with in life, beyond ECOEE.
As you change your perspective, perception and, prerogative: Be proud of how you have changed, aware of how you want to change, patient with those whom you can not change and, most of all flexible to changes to you don’t see coming.
Ronnie Wildermuth

Day 25, September9, 2009 Nose and Toes!

Day 25, September 9, 2009

Oh what a day. I just finished an almost midnight snack of “mashed” potatoes with Shane which couldn’t have tasted any better. Before this we had a short lesson on how to make a fire with Kim that turned into lets see how many matches we can use. This had happened after a debrief on the beach which was just a few feet from our current favorite CII rapid in Canada. We had spent several hours enjoying Wavy Rapids. Fist by jumping into it feet and nose first. Some were a bit scared at first because of how intense the water was running and also because I had jumped in first and ran into some rocks. But the sense of adventure kicked in and soon everyone was wanting seconds and thirds of that helping. It seemed that most came out with sore hands or buns but it didn’t stop us from running it with empty canoes. Even then, we probably didn’t run it properly and a couple canoes even filled to their limit.
Prior to this we encountered not only or first but first and a half log jam and no bread to put it on. This proved to be tricky at first but with a good team effort we got through it and absolutely destroyed the portage in record time. Right before the log jam the group enjoyed six different rapids. Some short, some long, others with many rocks that seemed impossible to avoid them all. Right before we hit out first rapid we canoed past several miles of marsh and saw many beaver lodges (Thanks Shane). We didn’t see any beavers but saw a pair of otters that were trying to either communicate to each other or to us but we haven’t had the WEA course on animal language so we have no idea what they were saying. This was a much sweeter part of the day then when we stopped to pick wild cranberries that we saw on the side of the river. We all picked as much as we could and once we got back in our canoes we realized that they weren’t ripe and tasted very tart and bitter.
Just a hour before this we started this great adventure with a song and march created by Ron to help us remember the seven principles of LNT. I feel this was a good idea to have a little lesson before we get in our canoes for the rest of the day, and to also get us moving and a little more energetic. I know I’m usually not into moving like that in the morning but it was fun and it just seemed right or good when it happened. By 7:15 AM me and my tent group of Matt, and Kim, were up and soon out of the tent, Big Agnes. The other new groups are Cassi, Pete, Jake, and Grant in one of the four person tents and Josh, Ron, Sean, and Shane in the other. When we found out what our new groups are I know everyone was excited because it was new people to hangout and cook with and hopefully nobody snores in our new groups.
As I rap this up I realize I’m grateful for our today and all the new experiences we had. I feel also grateful for getting to spend time in the canoe with Sean and having a good time at our new, mosquito free, spacious, and almost LNT approved spot (because of the fire). Though it seems that this trip may be coming to an end we still have a long way to go. I know I’m in no hurry because this is our classroom. Time for bed.
Nathan Barr

day 24 september 8,2009 Day of Lessons!

September 8 Day 24
Today began as most days in backcountry do. Birds chirping, sun shining and, oh yeah, mosquitoes buzzing. With an extra bit of rest courtesy of LOD Jake, we started our morning of catching up on lessons and rest. There was no travel planned for today and it was nice to not have to break camp for once. Our first lesson of the day was some much needed stove repair from Jeff. We disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled our Primuses, Whisperlites and Dragonflies. Afterwards, confident in our oiled pumps and clean screens we proceeded to Matt’s yeast baking lesson. With dough rising in our pots we let off steam with 3 hours of free time. Some caught up on homework, some prepared lessons, some took naps and some enjoyed quality time with our new Canuck friends, eh. Refreshed, we sat down at 3 to return to our lessons. First came the rest of Matt’s yeast instruction, then some animal Outdoor Education from Jake. He talked about the not so cuddly black bears found in the area before taking us to a pile of semi fresh bear feces. I noticed that the bear did not use good LNT principles, and showed no use of a 6x6 hole, no leaving the trail, and didn’t even mark the spot with a stick. Thoroughly scared of the proximity of bears, we returned to the circle for Nathan’s lesson on Expedition Behavior. He described how the group’s individuals, group as a whole, and how the group presents itself all contribute to Expedition behavior. Next followed Josh with an explanation on causes, symptoms and prevention of dehydration. I cannot wait for tomorrow’s toast. Afterwards came Cassie with first aid kits, and Shane with blister control. I finished the session out with an activity on biomes. We then received and gave feedback on the lessons before moving into the final debrief of the day. It was a good day and we tried not to give Jake too much flack for being such a chill guy. After receiving our new tent groups, and an overview of tomorrow, we split up to bake our breads (delicious by the way) and move our gear. Matt finished out a great day with a lesson on astronomy. This is our classroom.

Day 23 September 7, 2009 Bomb Proof Camp!

September 7, 2009
We woke up twice last night first for the storm, second to head out in the morning. Getting our campsite bombproof was a task. All working hard to get it done in a timely manor was interesting. Now off to sleep till about 7:30. Off to the ricer and rapids we went. Scouting the rapids was a bit nerve-racking for some. After getting a good look we started in for the day some of us going down sideways, left, right, hey even some upside-down. Working with our partners are having good communication got us down the river safely. Going through six rapids we got out experience in for the day. Having two class 2 rapids for us in the mindset of really knowing what we need to avoid while running the rapids. Luck was on my side today for sure. The paddle was gorgeous today winding through the trees seeing many geese flying over head was surreal. After getting to camp we set everything up with more open area then we have been used to for the last couple nights. We had a lesson also on Hyperthermia from Sean and he taught us the signs and symptoms. Also, the many different levels from mild to severe. While we were all gathered we heard an unusual noise coming from the path. We met some characters of the region at this camp. Welcoming and giving as our other friends from Michigan. After breaking for dinner we met for debrief. Sean did a great job today as ALOD and getting things accomplished. Pete gave us a lesson on bear protection. This knowledge will be used tonight with the rumor of a bear and cubs just a half a mile away. I guess we will find out by morning. With a stomach full of Northern Pike thanks to our new friends and Ron for the Fish Fry.
-It’s not only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves
-Andre Gide

day 22 September 6, 2009 Rapids!

Journal entry-day 22, 09/06/09 Josh Boyer

The morning started out crisp just like any other morning. The sun was out and there were just a few clouds in the sky, I knew it was going to be a hot one today. We all had a little more spark of light under our steps because we knew that today was our first day to go down some white water rapids. The rapids were really fun! We only went through a few class one rapids, but even so. Although there were people who were quite skeptical about them, I know after seeing the smiles on their faces that they have achieved and overcame that timid ness after it was over.
As a group we learned how to read the rapids to avoid any spills or injury that can occur. I know to follow the down-stream V, and to avoid up-stream V’s because that means that most likely there’s a big rock there and hitting it just wouldn’t be cool. Also it is important to never get your boat sideways going down because bad things can happen if that happens.
All in all it was a good day. I can’t wait to see how the class two rapids we are going to going through tomorrow will differ from these rapids today.
Love and Bliss,
This and That,
The wilderness is my home,
And I’m happy with that.

Day 19, September 3, 2009 Portage and Canoe

Thursday, September 3, 2009, Day 19,
Today we woke up getting a beloved hour longer sleep than we had gotten the previous few days. I crawled out of my tent at 7:30 a.m. to pack my things up and help take the tent down, soaking wet from dew, and put it away. We made hot drinks to get our blood flowing and wake us up for our paddling trip that lie before us. The trip itself was not a great deal of mileage but we had a portage to look forward to. The portage went swell especially with a rare yet highly welcomed sign relaying the message of it being just that. However before that the group had very productive discussions while breaking and we strive to find a way to safely and happily stay close as a group while traveling along the great Missinaibi.
After we completed the portage we paddled onward to find our camping destination. We went to one, two, and then three campsites with potential before once again we were blessed with another rare sign indicating a campsite was in front of us. After an hour to eat lunch and set up camp Jeff taught us conflict resolution which was very entertaining and beneficial to the group at this point in time. We then took a short break and finished up debrief of which I got to close out since I excitedly prepare to be the leader of the day tomorrow.
After debrief we began to cook dinner and ate, every group seemed to have great meals. Then the weatherman, Nate, called for rain. We all rushed to set up tarps and tent flys. And now I find myself writing this in the tent preparing for SLEEP!
By Shane Johnson

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

September 2nd 2009
Day 18

I find it difficult enough to honestly and critically analyze a day in which I am put in charge of, let alone writing a group journal entry about the day. So, I must start out by thanking whatever force of nature that allowed for my inconsistent watch-alarm to go off, in order to have a cup of coffee and watch day break in peace.
I told the team that it was going to be a work day on the water and every one had their lunch pails and were even early to start a day, for a change. We made excellent time getting “down and dirty” – a few of us took this a little too serious at the boggy portage. The day flowed like a calm river and we worked like a well-oiled-machine… and maybe a little too mechanical because, this leader momentarily forgot about the wild heart of his group. So, inspired by a flock of geese (and yes, Jeff, by their flight pattern and call I am sure they are geese and, not loons) I just hopped out of my sleeping bag, across the wet grass that is my bedroom at 11:53 PM to fully enjoy their natural beauty; I want to say to all whom ask ME how to live life…

May your morals be your map
To route your best direction

Your spirit be your compass
To guide you through distraction

And let spontaneity be your guiding star
To find peace, love and happiness, without instruction

Ron Wildermuth

Day 17 September1, 2009 This is our Classroom!

Tuesday September 1 Day 17
Stumbling out into dew soaked grass, we emptied our tents and prepared for our long stretch ahead. Breakfasting amid the rocks strewn with blueberry bushes, bare of the fruits they once bore, we finished the portage we started the night before. Loaded and leaving, the wind at our backs, we left once again for places unknown. Through and trials we plowed through the waves, the sun beating down, not a cloud in the sky. Swell after swell, and swells once again, we paddled our way up the shore, reading our maps in search of Fox Island. We passed Chris and Rabbit Islands, and finally found it but what we discovered was that the island was unsuitable for our needs. Split up into two groups, we separated ourselves, using an island and peninsula. After a meal and time to recover, our spirits were higher and we started into lessons. First, we examined the maps that Jeff had, sorry ours were not up to code. We learned about colors (what they meant on a map of course, we may be RPTA students but we’re not kindergarteners) and the helpful hints on the borders of the map. Black stands for manmade structures or boundaries, red and orange for roads, brown for elevation, blue for water, and who knew that green meant vegetation enough to hide a tank in? we then moved to declination or at least a teaser for it. I do look forward to Shane’s explanation of why compasses guess, and why magnetic north is a conspiracy. It should be very interesting and enlightening, as usual. Next came a lesson with 9 steps on giving feedback. Using this new information, we were able to have a nice, long debrief. This was the earliest we have debriefed so far, making for plenty of time to go fishing, make dinner and get other things done before nightfall. Also this is our first night separated between groups by more than a hundred feet. I do not know how the other groups’ nights are going, but after a fine meal of noodles, tomato paste, and pepperoni, I cannot wait to hit the hay. Tomorrow looks to be another long day, but tonight is clear with plenty of stars and the moon shining bright overhead. Goodnight and remember always to glance around, listen to the waves on the rocks, and think, this is my classroom.

Day 16 August 31, 2009 Just another day!

Journal Entry Day 16 August 31st 2009
Written by Sean Stowell

Waking up on the rocky shore
Our group felt energized from the bivy challenge the night before
Singing and singing and dancing about
We shuffled canoe positions and headed out
The waves were choppy, our skills unsure
Precise communication was needed for a cure
After some circling and changing of spots
We thought we found our portage, or maybe not
Turning around and heading north
We found a waterfall or rapids or something of the sort
Scouting the trails for a portage route or a way
Jeff gave one lesson on how to portage today
The trails were steep and portage was long
But our group was tight and our minds were strong
Slick rocks and downed trees and un-maintained trails
We proved our group was tougher than nails
Once we were finished we had to more a log
So we jumped in the water to unclog the clog
One more Kilometer to call it a day
But oh wait, another portage in our way
On this portage we found tonights home
Because for ECOEE our home is wherever we roam.
Old man time was stern tonight
But he was trying to get us to do things right

After Debrief to sleep we went
To get more rest for tomorrow
Good night Ladies and Gents

This is the Best Day of my life

Day 15, August 30, 2009 The Best Day of My Life!

Matt McCabe
ECOEE Journal

Day 15- Sunday, August 30, 2009

This is the best day of my life! This might be a backwards way of starting a journal but here I am; laying in a bivy sack underneath a bright moon, and a sky full of stars. We found ourselves here on this rocky inlet beach on the shores of lake Manitowik after paddling an eight mile stretch from the Blue Bay. This venture took us nearly the entire day. We packed up camp and were on the water by 9:40 this morning after a few minor set backs. After paddling about 3 miles we hit big winds ad waves on the open lake. We decided we should stop at a sandy beach to eat lunch and wait for the winds to die down. It took some convincing from Jeff, this turned out to be a pretty good decision. Although, since we did miss the campground at red rock, those two hours of passing time could have turned out useful when finding a place for dinner and shelter. Now though, as I lay here on this beach for our first bivvy challenge I could not be happier.
On a side note I would like to reflect on one of the most valuable lessons from today. Jeff taught us about leadership and decision making today. The basis is that all decision we make our based on a sliding continuum ranging from unconscious/incompetent down the line to unconscious competent. I realize that we all fall in different categories on this scale depending on our past experiences and also by the task at hand.
Jeff also told us a very sad story about outdoor leaders he knew who made the wrong decisions in a situation and it costing them their lives. Although I did not think paddling right after lunch was that risky, looking back I should have been more conservative. Point taken; hopefully lesson learned.
Tomorrow we have another 6.5 miles to go before our first portage at little stony portage. Since we are tired and maybe sore from today, I hope we manage to paddle well tomorrow; or at least not paddle like “ a bunch of drunken ducks”. P.s. Pete earned his nickname today: Fete Collins!

Good Night - One Love Matt McCabe

Saturday August 29, 2009/ Day 14
As we woke up this morning around 10:00am the rain was still puttering down on our tents. The late rise was much needed and appreciated, because it boosted our spirits tremendously. This was the first morning waking up in the backcountry. And besides the rain, everyone was pumped and raged about finally beginning our journey through Canada. After breakfast, Kim (the L.O.D.) had us meet on the beach so Jeff and Christine could teach us about some lesson plans that they set up. To start the lessons off, Christine taught us the importance and process of how to; take a dump, do the heresy squirts, poop, drop the log off at the lumber yard, etc. She had us all come up with different ways to say taking a dump, because the best way to teach this topic is to make it humorous. Next Jeff taught us about cleaning correctly, getting to the point that the solution to pollution is dilution. Finally that morning he finished his lessons off with stoves. The group had plenty of questions about the topic because of the problems they had with their stoves earlier. After lesson plans we set off for a much-needed lunch to replenish ourselves. When lunch was over we had a little time to drying, from the canoeing the day before, and to get done whatever we needed to get done and ourselves to make sure our clothes were hung up. By the time that was up, we set off to do a couple more lesson plans. The first topic of the second round of lessons was about, “the ten essential items you will need if you go on a day hike.” We split into three groups of four, and brainstormed the best possible items that were needed. We all then huddled up, explained, and agreed on our ten items. It turns out that we were ten for ten while comparing the expert’s list to ours. Jeff taught us how to make bear bags to finally end our lessons for the day. After he taught this he had us put it to the test. We practiced putting up our own bear bags with our cook groups. Soon following we had a nice debrief for Kim, and Josh (the new L.O.D.) told us that we were setting off and canoeing tomorrow to, go further down our river path, an set up camp in a new area. We had dinner after debrief, and for a while, Christine read us the journal from the day before. Then we were off to bed, anxious and ready for what tomorrow had in store for us.

day 13, August 28,2009 Rain, Rain, Rain!

Day 13 Friday, August 28, 2009
Today we began rushed as we have finally reached the day we have been preparing for. Today we hit the water, in the sprinkling rain, loaded down with the gear and food for the next 24 days. Canada has greeted us with its abundant resources of trees, water and wide-open lands. After a breakfast of English muffins and bacon we were loaded and ready to drive to Wawa, a town of 3700, to meet with Linda Campbell and learn about the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). She had prepared a slide show/PowerPoint on some broad topics and departments. Our interests fueled the lecture with questions. Changes by downsizing some areas have limited facilities and access points they have previously managed. But overall as an embodying governing agency of the land in Canada and mare specifically Ontario they appear to be running an organized and public friendly country. Relying on parks to be self supported and offering a variety by scheduled events, online registration seems updated and fully functional for visitors and residents. It was the topic of private land and more specific polices that was confusing as we compared most of the information to our own land agencies. Private land in Canada is divided into townships you must pay taxes and allow visitors access to your land with all liabilities included. Now other than the meeting we stopped into town to get gas and maps. Some visited Tim Horton’s a coffee/donut shop for a sugary treat satisfaction. Driving along the road by the lake and into the town of Hawk Junction anticipation was building. An hour at the beach with a quick class on loading and packing canoes got us in order as Nathan and I drove the vans to stage at the train station and walk back. It was still raining and we chatted about what as about to transpire and the somewhat craziness of leaving the civilized comfortable world for the unknown. When we arrived back to our put-in everyone was ready. Hopping into the canoes and pushing off for our first leg of the journey, right away reality beckoned as we paddled under the road bridge we had just driven over. Through a bit of a fast water swift, then meandering around a marshy area into some long bays, through a rocky channel we next opened up into Blue Bay in Manitowik Lake a little more than 3 miles from our start. The rain was coming down strong so we stopped early to get dry and warm with a quick setup of our first backcountry camp, some dinner and finally rest, our first day already teaching us flexibility and the importance of the essentials.
-Christine Lagattolla