Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010


The day before the end.

ECOEE 2010 ends tomorrow. It is going to be the most bittersweet day.
Today everyone and I mean everyone, is in a great mood. But of course by great I mean stressed out and pissy. Even Ashley, I mean she has been before but today she was actually acting on it.

Hopefully when tomorrow is over people, including myself, can get back to enjoying life. Not to say we did not enjoy our lives on ECOEE, I know we did, it’s just the ending that gets ya. The part where you realizes that this whole thing is not just an awesome road trip with friends and that the school hosts so you can learn a lot, but also something you get graded on and have to do a lot of work for. Sure there is a lot of work at the end of any semester no matter where the classes take place, but, when you have just sent the last four months traveling through a good chuck of North America the last thing you want to do is play catch up on all the work you didn’t/couldn’t do during it cause you were too wrapped up in the adventure of it all

I don’t know if I am venting or rambling right now so I am going to stop talking. BUT before I stop, I want to make sure that you know, I loved ECOEE. Everything about it is fantastic. The only hard part is knowing you gotta get your work done before you can play. This being a completely doable task that if done well will allow many more doors to open throughout the semester. So those of you, who have been considering ECOEE, stop it. JUST DO IT!

To those of you who have been reading just for pure interest, for a glimpse into a family members or friends life thanks for taking the time to read these. Thanks for your interest and you support throughout this semester. It means the world to us to know there are people who see what we are doing and support it.

Thanks for reading all of our entries. I hope you have enjoyed them. I know we have loved sharing them, sharing our experience and stories with you.

Have a wonderful life and enjoy the ride.
AND remember
“Our roots are set in stone, but our branches are left unknown.”- Me

Peace and Love Always,

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Horn Field Campus

Ah! Our first day back in Macomb and we have a “free” day to relax, unwind, and adjust to be back. Such a strange feeling – no more 15-passenger van crammed like a sardine can or setting up camp. For me personally, it is nice to be back in a bed along with access to a hot shower. I also picked up my truck today (named Carlos) and I'll be darned if it didn't have a dead battery! I guess that comes with the territory – sitting in storage for a few months. The power windows and locks gave me trouble at first as well but they luckily came to their senses. It is so strange to drive again! It seems as if my inner-being has smashed my internal alarm clock now that it is sleeping off of the ground – I don't blame it! What is ahead, you ask? Cleaning gear, projects, and evals before a banquet celebration. It's nearly here... I wonder what everyone is doing...

“I see you, world. I see your beauty. And I sense your pain. And I am here for you.” - Thich Nhat Hahn

Denver Murphy

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Bordering Experiences

Before leaving for Mexico many people told us not to go. They said it was too dangerous right now and it would be smart to stay out of it.
Well today, two weeks later, we left Mexico all in one piece and headed to San Diego State University. I for one am glad we did not listen to all of those folks that’s told us not to go. The trip was to great to pass up, leaving today was ruff! Every person we met was so nice, welcoming, and personable in the sense that they became friends. It is always hard to leave friends.
I will always remember Ramon as the super smiley all the time guy that lead are pack mules and singing every step of the way. I will remember Francisco’s, the fearless leader who always positive, blunt and loved to share his words of wisdom that always hit the spot. Elizabeth I will remember as the sweet person who loves Sea Turtles and helping people help the environment (she lead our service project). Then Hermin, O Hermin, that’s about all I am going to say about that. 
Mexico has marked its territory in my memories, something I will never forget. My next trip to Mexico will never live up to this one, though, I will be back. For now I will get my work done and live my life. But I will always know that I will be traveling to Mexico again. I have seen a REALLY great piece of it, now I want the whole picture.

Peace and Love,
Kate Nelson

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


“One Love”

As I wake up to Jessica’s shrieking laughter yet again, I wonder what today will bring? Sal, Chris and Ryan are counting down the days till they get to see their girlfriends. Pat is just trying to make it out alive. Evan is still thinking about outdoor rec. versus computer science. Katy has been struck with utter disappointment of our group. Kate is still good ole’ Kate, “Hey E.C.O.E.E only take three fig newtons.” Ashley is caught in the middle, excited to leave but loves E.C.O.E.E too much. Me and Denver have no idea what were doing after E.C.O.E.E and Jess is cracked out on some 100% pure Columbian fine ground coffee and some low grade uppers such as redbull and monsters. I realize as I sit on a beach watching a family reunion where they all sit in a circle and hold hands, that I am jealous of this family. My family would never do something like this, which makes me get to my point. This family obviously has mutual love for each other and shows it. I am sure they have had their fair share of problems like any family. Yet here they are as one, holding hands in a circle on the beach. I would like to remind us that we only live once and only live one E.C.O.E.E. So as E.C.O.E.E winds down and everyone has their minds on something far off and distant. Lets not forget to show each other the love that we all know is there, but at times is hard to show. Lets respect one another and remember the simple thank you’s, your welcome’s and I’m sorry’s. Lets finish out this E.C.O.E.E with a deeper feeling then, we just conquered the land, because we didn’t. Yeah, were going to have cool stories for those folks at home, but don’t forget about us. Don’t forget about E.C.O.E.E 2010 and that at one point or another we all shared beautiful moments, together as one, like a family.

“Most any old poor fish can drift along and dream, but it takes a regular live one, to swim against the stream.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010


Baja, California (Desert Island): “Pinned”

ECOEE Log, 2:00am, wind has subsided to almost nothing at all. The moon is brighter than my headlamp and it shows me that I am buried in sand and laying *next* to my thermarest (awesome….) Though these are the perfect weather conditions to depart this desert isle (minus not having any sunlight) I content myself by falling back asleep. 4:00am, I am awakened by gusts of wind as I’m buried in the sand, again. There is no shelter from this cruel beast, sand-blasting us with every howl. We must get out. We must get out. By 6:00am my tandem kayak is leaded and ready to go – that’s when I get word we are holding out for better conditions. To occupy myself, I investigate a large intrusion about a hundred feet up a drainage near a beach. I am amazed by its size. I am amazed by its size. “Hey, Pat, is this geology?” I only wish he were here for that moment (it’s an inside joke thing.) Upon climbing down, weathering the wind, I finally find Pat as we stroll down the beach to investigate some shark remains. Gulls by the dozen soar and dart overhead. They were clearly offended at our presence. They’ll have to deal with it. By about 10:00am we’re good to go as the wind backs down. With three of our crew feeling ill, they are placed in he bow of the tandems. One of the sicklies, Ryan, was in my boat. Not long after taking off, he expels the “thing my body Is wanting to get out – one way or the other.” (That’s how he put is all morning…) I literally saw an entire pancake come out. Food for the fishes! Nom nom nom. Thankfully we made it back without anyone perishing. Casa Azul met us warmly as we began storing and cleaning things, the rest of the day being spend low-key. It’s hard to believe that our back country experiences have come to an end for ECOEE 2010. A real bittersweet experience. Whatever the case – it was a hell of a ride (this time around, especially.) Francisco’s wisdom and stories were great motivators along out brief journey. *This guy needs to write a book or get a radio show.* Students are wrapping up lessons – something that for the longest time seemed unattainable. But before we forget – there is still much to do and many miles to go. In many ways, ECOEE is a love/hate relationship – based on life. I will miss it when my time here is through and I look forward to what is ahead. “The wealthiest person is a pauper at times compared to a man with a satisfied mind.”

Denver Murphy

Sunday, November 21, 2010


La Vantana

Laying here in my bivy on a desert island in the Gulf of California, I take in my surroundings; surf crashing outside, wind gusts, and blowing sand. So much sand that I totally zip up the bivy and hide inside. My quarters are cramped and cluttered. In one corner, a copy of the backcountry classroom, hardly nighttime reading material, and in the other I have Francisco’s copy of the Swiss Family Robinson, that’s a little more like it. As I lay in here, I’ve realized that tonight is most likely the last night I’m going to spend in this bivy in the backcountry on ECOEE. I Know I’ve had mixed feelings lately about going home and ECOEE finishing, but tonight the last night out with ECOEE 2010 in the backcountry leaves me feeling bittersweet. We’ve paddled and swam and crawled through rivers, some of us dumped, some of us set things on fire, and some of us didn’t catch any walleye. We watched the most famous geyser in the world erupt, and some of us were too pissed about the critiques we had to write about it, that we couldn’t enjoy the sight. We slept outside and made sawnaws out of tarps, smoked fish and beef with a parachute. We also practiced knife sharpening, tricked Keenan with a bag of oregano, and were relieved when Katy didn’t cut her foot off. We’ve hiked through the deserts, some of us were more successful at getting lost than others, and we’ve seen some of the most famous and oldest cave paintings in the world. In the last few months we’ve seen the sun set and rise in 3 different countries, and with more beauty and color than we have witnesses before.

So I am ready to get back what I left at home, certainly. But am I ready to leave the backcountry? I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to leave, but all good things must come to an end. Peace out poopin’ in the woods.


Saturday, November 20, 2010


Lions! And Tigers! And Bears! O MY!

Actually not really.
Instead, sea lions, sting rays and octopus, O MY!
Today was a good day for the most part. Though is started out “slow,” and by it I mean we, the day was filling to say the least. We started off with a good two hour paddle. There were people laughing, people trying to get others to laugh, and others just enjoying the ride.
A big favorite of mine on this expedition is the ride. Every day is so different from the next in so many ways. Mainly by the jaw dropping sites we see, the wildlife we encounter, the activities we do, and the billions of things we learn each day. When I say billions it is not an exaggeration by the way. We tend to learn a lot of things more than once until it finally clicks…or doesn’t. But I am not going to talk about our hair pulling or hair turning gray learning methods.
Instead I would like to talk about the animals and places we have seen. Today was our second day in the Kayaks in the Golf of California. In two days we have seen so much. Today we paddled into a bay with porpoises following is. We pulled in, got to the other side of the island and saw a beautiful rock beach. There I found lots of little shells, a big piece of leaf coral, and a sunflower starfish! But that is not it. When we got back to camp we heard a few lessons and then went snorkeling.
I have never done this before so it was quite the, well let’s call it and experience. I am as I found out, not very coordinated with flippers, mask and snorkel. BUT! It did not matter. During my attempts I saw lots of sting rays and fish, a few star fish, a sea lion, and others saw and octopus. I could not se the octopus due to my inability to get over the rocks with my flippers on. So I shall enjoy it through the eyes of those that did.
ECOEE to me is a lot like what this day was, a lot of new sites, meeting new creatures, trying and learning new things and missing out on awsomness due to our inabilities. But, all in all having a blast and making memories that will last a lifetime. Such as, the minor earthquake I created due to dinner, and my “marging” through a snorkel or living in a new unexplainably awesome place about every night.
For as bitter sweet as ECOEE is it is way more sweet that bitter and I would not trade it for anything else.

Peace and Love,
Kate Nelson

Thursday, November 18, 2010


As Dexter would say in his “laboratory” SUCCESS!!! Today went by really well and I feel very relaxed as I watch the Baja 1000 racers go by from the comfort of my sleeping bag. Today we sorted food, cleaned and organized group gear, learned some kayaking skills, completed four lessons, washed clothes, celebrated Ryans birthday and got personal gear ready to pack for tomorrow. It’s hard to believe that the end is neigh and that this kayaking trip is one of the main events of the closing of ECOEE. Enjoy it while it lasts, because like those dune buggies, these next few days are going to be but memories in a flash.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck



Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The Canyons
For months now, we have been filling this journal with high hopes and positive thoughts. We have let our minds vent through our pens, and say how we should feel, what we should do, and any other thoughts they have when things are going well. But that isn’t always how ECOEE works. With every low in most of these journal entries comes a high. I know at least I feel sometimes that with the journal being on the blog, it isn’t always easy to elaborate on the lows, and those gaps between the peaks that seem to last forever. We don’t want any of our loved ones reading this thinking our journey is anything but fantastic.
We talk about how slim our grades will look for this semester. I think about how much progress our group has made. I observe (including myself) all of us putting the blame on Jeff and Kim, while they toss it right back at us. We all have things we could have done better. I’m supposed to be your guru on trees, a topic I teach with unfortunate mediocrity. I remember talking to Becky on the hone one night while discouraged, and she was trying to get me back on task. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve finished a semester disappointed with my performance, and with two weeks left that’s exactly where I’m at. This is exactly what she warned me about. I feel worse about my LOD days, lessons, and overall have been performing more and more poorly since we left this August.
While that’s one side, the places we have seen have been getting better and better. Baja California is a great place to spend Thanksgiving, and Francisco is a truly great person with some amazing insight to give us. He turns a shitty mood around like no one has been able to do so far, and has a refreshing balance of leadership qualities to keep us motivated. With so little time left, there is still so much to learn, which is something I am truly thankful for.
Maybe in the end, the crappy grades will be worth the journey. Maybe when we get some time to relax and put our heads and lives back on, we will truly feel like family. In the meantime, lets soak up some sun, knock the last few lessons out, learn as much as we can from Francisco, and enjoy what we’ve got while we do, cause like I said-one day we’ll wake up and this will all be over. Cheers


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


“Remember the most powerful religions of the world were born of desert metaphysics-extremes of desert visions. Moses, Jesus and Mohammad were men of the desert. It was their home. The sea was all right for special effects – part it or walk on it – but if they had serious business with God or the devil, they went to the desert.”
- Micheal Ventura
Baja-California had been great so far. The overwhelming beauty and presence of the desert is something that I had not expected. The massive Cardon cactuses are some of the coolest plants I have ever seen. The cave paintings bring about feelings of wonder and jealousy. Will we ever be able to re-establish that powerful connection with nature that the native people had so long ago? I feel like these places are overlooked and no matter how many times we see them on Discovery Channel or HD whatever, that connection, that respect and that meaning is not present. Not form a TV special or a documentary, no it takes much more. It takes presence, it takes interpretation, experience, it takes a hot long hike with all you essential on your back just to get a slice of that pie.
But what has been most fulfilling about this place so far is the condition of the group that I have come here with. It has been quite a while since I have heard and seen all of us laughing and smiling this much. Life is more graceful again on ECOEE and I am glad that the people around me are having a good time, because without them I would not be. Today while me and Ryan were trailing behind a bit Ryan had mentioned how this all felt like a dream. I thought how, while I was passing a massive Cardon, seemingly average I felt, like it wasn’t a big deal. Then I though about life back home and that not so big of a deal became huge, because this is a big deal. I thought of telling others our story and how the look on their faces would show shock and amazement. I thought of how I react when others have told me similar stories, how when ECOEE 2008 told me their story how massive my smile was. We have gotten so accustomed to diving into the backcountry every few weeks that sometimes we forget that we will not always be able to do so in the future, the near future at that. We are truly lucky and more than blessed to have this program. I can only hope that when we get back the withdrawals are not similar to the ones on that show with those people, I guess what I am trying to say is you don’t really know what you got till its gone.
Every single day one of you at one point has been my encourager, my harmonizer, compromiser, my gate keeper, my standard setter, my energizer bunny, elaborator, my diagnoser and my friend. Together we will always have our group, ECOEE 2010, and no one can take that away from us.

Pat Croke

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010


“Back in the Backcountry”
Were back in the backcountry and tarantula’s are everywhere. We haven’t seen any yet but I swear I feel their presence. Before we got to our camp we played a game called cadaver. Since this was the rockiest road I’ve ever been on it was perfect for this game. Everyone goes limp, like a cadaver before rigamortis sets in, then you bounce around and wherever you end up, you end up. Heads bumped, people fell to the floor boards, Pat was wedged between the door and the seat. We almost became real cadavers when the van started filling with gas fumes. So we stopped and checked the van. We found nothing so we kept moving. Then we made it to donkey doo campsite where we had delicious vegetarian stew and backcountry banana splits. After a long hot day it was nice to sleep under the stars.

“I keep my head in the sky and my roots in this ground, I’m not a patriotic man but for what its worth, I pledge allegiance to this land of my mother earth.” JBT


Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010


San Diego State

It’s a week until my 22nd birthday and that means that we’ll be home! But first we must venture south, deep DEEP south, across the border to Mexico. Everyone back home seems to be mortified about me coming down here. They said some American was decapitated a few weeks ago, and 108 Americans have been murdered down here since 2009. But that’s not such a deterrent to me. If anything it adds more to my sense of adventure, besides, I’m sure we’ll be fine. We’ll have Francisco, our local celebrity/leader. If it weren’t safe Jeff and Francisco wouldn’t let us come down.

So tomorrow we depart, bright and early for our long drive to Casa Azul in Bahi de Los Angeles. I can’t wait to see what it’s like over there. Remembering back to Canada and seeing how different things were up there, I can only imagine how different the world will be south of the border. Vive la Mexico!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Today was probably one of the best days I have had in a while. Even though, as we all know by now I am not a fan of climbing, learning how to set up a top rope was an experience I would like to continue. The long nomenclature lesson, learning about ecosystems and lost gold filled the day with knowledge and laughs, oh laughs. Poor Pat and his pants! Jeff showed us some playfulness and scared the crap out of Pat and the rest of us, but that was another story.
In short, today was awesome and if I could go back and do it again, I would.

“Without laughter, there is no use in living.” Dave VanSpeybroeck

Ashley VanSpeybroeck

Monday, November 8, 2010


Joshua Tree: “Corkscrew”

Ever been caving? I have (since our late night excursion not but a few hours ago.) For those of you wondering – it’s a heck of an experience. It was a fine way to end a day of lessons. We also got to spend a couple of hours in the small town of Joshua Tree. It was here I made my way to JT’s Saloon for some free wifi, dinner, and SportCenter. Fortunately for me, I was one of the two people who managed to connect to the net – angering the hundreds of commonfolk (seemingly) that rioted around me. While the Dallas Cowboys head couch begins his search for a new job – I am preparing myself for climbing – another something I’ve never done away from a rock wall. The energy is really high and there is work to be done but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, apart from it getting dark at 5:30pm. (Haha.) “Is this the real Caesar’s Palace? Did he really live here? I didn’t think so.”

Denver Murphy

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


“I SCREAM Mountain!”
LACOSS Day 2/1st full day

Trying to put today into words…not going so well. I can say that what ever this entry ends up saying, it will be nothing but positives.

Being at LACOSS (LA County Science School) for just these past 36 hours has been something of a whirl wind adventure. So far it has been a lot of familiar territory when it comes to the kids. There is just a bit of unfamiliarity with the schedule, activities, logistics and such. However, it has all been easy to adapt to. Having done something like this for about eight summers, it is not that hard to grasp. Here and my camp are quite different in that one is a summer camp and this one is a science school. The programs, facility, songs are all a little different too, there are still similarities, just presented differently.
Anyways, back to something you might actually enjoy. Today was fantastic. It started out with lots of screaming, excited girls who were nervous as heck. It was like they did not know why they should be excited, just that…well they should be so are. While getting dressed and ready for the day I found my first task. Teach a 5th grader to tie her shoes. Second task, get some not so experienced girls up a mountain in 85 degrees and sun beating down.
Result, some pretty beat, but proud girls who only whined a little in the beginning.
This is going to be a GREAT week. I can feel it!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010



Had our last morning at Summit Adventure, it was sad to leave. Thankfully we were able to get a few laughs in as Katy walked out in her nathingsuit over her leggings and leg warmers over that being an 80’s girl. All I could say is, OH Doolan… Summit Adventures was a pretty cool place, not that we saw much of the programming, but the facility was very nice. It felt as close to home as you can get on ECOEE. We got basically two whole days of comfy couches, am awesome wood burning stove as a fire place, a library, an amazing kitchen, bathroom with showers, and the ability to sit around and watch a movie with a MASSIVE bowl of popcorn. Granted we still did get some homework done…even that was relaxing.
Once all rested we left for LACOSS! The LA county Science School in Malibu. How freaking awesome. Come tomorrow we will be cabin leaders for a week hanging out with kids, studying all sorts of fun Environmental Science stuff and overall, just having a blast while learning a TON!
Thank goodness for these last two reboot days! I mean I have an idea of what we are getting ourselves into and let me tell you, you’re going to be greatful too.
Now, I end with saying, have fun this week. Put aside your stress, anxiety and funky moods and take this week for all it has to offer! It is going to be great! Tied pools, streams, mountains, kids and more! MUCH more.
You ready?! Because you better be!
Lets rock this week!

Peace and Love,
Kate Nelson

Saturday, October 30, 2010



Oh how I love free days!!! They are days to relax and get stuff done all at the same time; which is what I like to do best. Denver, Ryan and Evan went to Oakhurst, Jeff met up with friends, and the rest of us stayed back at Summit Adventure and worked on homework for a majority of the day. By the end of the day work got done, fooseball was played, laughs were had, jackets were purchase, and movies were watched. Everyone needs a bit of free time every once in a while and I feel that we made the best of it.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck

Friday, October 29, 2010


Once again I am more than impressed with our visit to an adventure agency. Summit had a great atmosphere a real cool campus and a great manager. Tom was a very energetic, humorous and overall nice guy. I find myself very taken in by the adventure Rec agencies and am pretty close to 100 percent that that is what I want to do. Since I never had a clue what it is that I want to do with my life this is good. My grades are not looking good for the future, this has gotten me down for some time now. Not to mention that the last time we had heard we were far from certifiable. The two things I was most concerned with coming into this I have royally screwed up. For the past couple two or three weeks this had put me down so much, a long with the daily frustrations, it has come close to ruining the this trip. Its been tough but I am coming around to seeing that all I can do now is try my best to get those two components up to par. What I am finding is that no matter how bad I want the cert or how desperately I want good grades it is not worth letting it ruin this trip. The trip that all of us worked so hard on, and were so excited for and so sure of, is not worth ruining because of those things. I am going to focus on the people here, the things were are seeing the people we are meeting, the kids we will be with and the many, many laughs we have had and will have. I said that “because of ECOEE I….” have found how hard you have to work and devoted you have to be to make a relationship work and how confident I already feel in holding relationships in the future and that is worth more than any grade or cert. Thank you FOLKS(haha), thank you Jeff and thank you Kim. I have gotten more than expected and anything else is a bonus. Live, try to love and for god sakes have some f’n fun.

Pat Croke

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010



Yo John Murr, I get you. Yosemite is beautiful valley trees and cliffs ‘oh my.’ Speaking of trees, we went on a tree walk today. Sugar pine cones are like the size of my arm! But that was all I really took home with me because I found myself preoccupied with watching climbers on the wall. I’ve never been one for climbing, but now I’m stoked to get a membership at Vertical Endeavors, and take a lead climbing course with Pat over winter break. Seriously, how cool would it be to climb Yosemite? Well, I hate to write such a short journal, but with the lesson monster approaching I need to run and prepare. Wish us all luck.


Sunday, October 24, 2010


As we pull into the Yosemite Region, the rain continues to fall for the third day in a row. Within a few days we each have seemed to experience the peaks and valleys of our own emotional roller coasters. In a world of constant activity and movement, a few rainy days confined to the van remind us of those long lost days called weekends. Speaking of weekends however, would you believe me if I told you we spent ours climbing mountains, hitting casinos, and standing front row at concerts?
The hump is over for ECOEE. With California comes our final list of destinations for the semester, and then we’re on our way back to Macomb. This once in a lifetime expedition is going to be over before we know it, and whether we leave with tears in our eyes or a chip on our shoulder is up to us. We all had our own reasons for coming on this trip, whether you were there from day one or joined with only a few weeks to prepare. If you have lost sight of those reasons for being on this trip, I sincerely hope you find yourself back to the path that brought you here. This trip is something that I at least plan on sharing with others for the rest of my life. I have no intentions of letting myself get stuck in these valleys, but rather rest on top of our peaks. Remember why you are here, and everything that has changed you since that morning sunrise on Highway 136 leaving Macomb. Remember the seven elements of love, and if you want a personal challenge try implementing them when it is hardest for you to do so. If you really can’t stand ECOEE anymore, suck it up and don’t bring anybody else down with you.
Just because the hump over does not mean that there are no more peaks to be conquered. Sure, the schoolwork is tough. But in no time we will be climbing in Joshua Tree, we’ll be sea kayaking in Baja, and we’ll be ending things with a bang. There is not much to be said about us that hasn’t already been brought up. Rather than picking each other apart, we should channel our energy into those aspects of love for one another. No matter how we feel right now, we all know that once we’re back in control of our lives, we are going to miss this chaos. Bangarang is not just our word, but a way of life. These past few days have been gloomy, but the sun is still shining, the birds are still singing, and it’s still a great day to be alive. Cheers


Saturday, October 23, 2010



I am so ecstatic! We are back to the Van, gas station stops and long travel hours… HA. But in all honesty excitement is the word to describe my feelings, California LOVIN’. This state has always been on my bucket list to explore and discover, before it falls into the ocean of course. We are spending many a hours on this Western shoreline and what better way to start with CHRIS’ BIRTHDAY! HAPPY B-DAY TO YOU! We had a buffet style dinner in an Indian Casino, on a reservation. The town was “Chicho”, doesn’t that sound exciting?! Kim, Ashley, Kate and I even went to an old theatre to see Petty Theft (an amazing cover band to the all powerful Tom Petty). We were pointed out for our young age in the crowd by the skinny, top hat wearing lead singer  how could the rest of Cali top this? Well tomorrow we will be in Yosemite. If that doesn’t do it I’m coming back to Chicho.
Farewell for now, the raindrops are making me sleepy.

Friday, October 22, 2010


As I awoke all warm and cozy in Me and Sal’s natural shelter, we remember we had to follow LNT protocols and tear it down. So in the dark we had to tear apart our masterpiece, so we didn’t feel we had to do it quietly. So everyone’s alarm clock became the snap and thuds from the destruction of our home. We started our day on time which is surprising because our instructors are not here this morning. Fields peak our destination is only a distant peak jutting out of the horizon. Some of us, the night before did not think we were going to make it all the way and still be sane, but were all crazy enough to at least give it our best. In three hour and fifteen minutes we made it to the peak, quicker than any of us thought it would take, so we thought we should celebrate with a barely warm drink. As we descend we see our long lost companions Kim and Jeff. Kim is running towards us with a camera like a mom at graduation and we all snap back to E.C.O.E.E life as we knew it before Oregon trails. But with a few more bits of knowledge and a stronger bond between us all.

“The earth and myself our of one mind. The measure of the land and the measure of our bodies are the same.”
-Nez Perce Chief Joseph


Thursday, October 21, 2010


I’m baaaaack…..
Captains log – Earthdate, October 21st, 2010 AD. Blue Mountain Range.
It is cold. I stuff the clothes I am wearing tomorrow in to the foot of my sleeping bag before crawling in to my liner. While sewing some repairs in to my hat, I prick my cold index finger with the needle (twice). The sting, along with the tightness of my back and the blisters on my feet, remind me of how human I really am. Under a full, silver moon, I write this journal with barbershop songs streaming through my head. They slowly lull me to dreamland as I think about the day and what lies ahead. Today we learned how to make a natural shelter in this sort of habitat before taking a nice hike to Packsaddle Gap. This is something I have always wanted to do – as I tried and failed once long ago when I was a wee young laddie. Even though getting water to our campsite was nearly an hour round trip down and up a wicked drainage – it was a fine test of navigation skills. The group was in high spirits tonight as a potluck made for a fest of pastas and brownies. Not long after awarding “The Skirt” once again to ‘Kee-Nay-Nay’ (Keenan Sturm), it was back to business after the REA instructors informed us that they were leaving – leaving ECOEE 2010 to hike approximately 6.2 miles solo tomorrow. God be with us….
Denver Murphy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


“To Sugar Creek”
What a long day! I feel incomplete if I go too long without pushing the limits of my body. It’s weird how I feel some sense of accomplishment after beating myself up all day, but it is perfectly normal to feel accomplished after an eight hour day of navigating through the backcountry and summiting peaks. I can’t stop thinking about how awesome it is to be footloose and hopping around the country for a semester of eighteen credit-hours. I always remind myself of how lucky I am (we are) to have this opportunity when I get overwhelmed with work or find myself missing the many great people in my life. Our time with the Rare Earth Adventures Team has been nothing short of amazing. I hope that I will remember everything they have taught me so I can further develop myself as a professional and drop some technical knowledge of the outdoors on my buddies that are into this kind of stuff. Backcountry navigation is by far the most challenging of the skills I have started to learn, and especially in this gnarly terrain. We have been working hard together to refine our skills and learn new methods along the way. Learning technical skills from experience is key, and that is exactly what we are doing. Until next time, excuse me while I go curl up under my ranger diamond tarp setup. Goodnight.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Malheur Nat’l Forest w/ Rare Earth Adventures
These are the days that (we all) I have been waiting for – putting technical skills to the test as we backpack through the Blue Mountains. Our official day started at 8am – just after everyone had heir hot (or cold…) breakfast and packed up their individual shelters (yes, everyone slept under a simple one-person, five dollar tarp from Wal-Mart. And, if you must know, it’s been the best sleep I’ve gotten in the Backcountry.) We began the day by discussing maps, compasses, time control plans (which are a general description of the routes and times for the day), and group roles (such as scout, logger, smoother, and of course – sweeper.) There was also some trail techniques covered to aid in trekking up and down an incline, such as a rest-step and zig-zagging to conserve energy and save the knees. We also briefly discussed how to use a GPS. After miles and miles (or kilometers, rather) of hiking, I realized hat indeed, I haven’t gone for a run since August. Oregon is absolutely gorgeous, Mindy and Andy are fricken awesome, and I can now identify St. Johns Wart. More to come – probably mostly good things. Shoutout to my fam and homies!
“Your mission is always bigger than your current role.”
Denver Murphy

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010


“Life Experiences Shaping Me as We Speak”
(My seven word response for Denver’s debrief question of how we felt)

All I can think about is how awesome everybody will think I am once I tell them about this. When we first got here, I introduced myself as a kid on Christmas morning. I couldn’t be any happier right now. So far, I’ve done a great amount of complaining on our schoolwork. This break from our academic responsibilities is a real treat for me. I’ve always found survival training like this fascinating. I bought my little SAS book to flip through while in the van, asking Keenan and Pat if they want to set up a snare trap once we get into camp. I can’t believe this right now- we’re about to head into the mountains of Oregon with a bunch of military survival instructors. I have always said that I would love to take a survival course if I had the time and the money. I just pray now that I retain even half of the knowledge I gain within these next few days.
Like I said in debrief last night, we’re doing a great job of finally implementing everything we’ve been talking about for the past two months. We’ve just got to make sure we run with this experience as a group. The next few days I’m sure will hold a skill set and methods of teaching it that are plenty different from what we’re used to. I couldn’t be happier to see how great of a time everybody is having here. Talking to some of you guys and getting the same vibe as me that this is our niche is a great feeling to have. I have been having so much fun that it hasn’t crossed my mind to be anything but happy. I’m not homesick, I’m not bummed about missing Becky, and I’m not the least bit stressed. If I said that I weren’t becoming increasingly interested in joining the service after this, I’d be lying. Not knowing what to expect at all, I still find myself fascinated by the unique set of circumstances that have lead me to be at this place and point in my life.
I had no idea what to expect for this week, but in many ways I had no idea what to expect going on ECOEE either, even after a full semester of preparation. Of course, it’s easy now, but it makes me think about how important attitude is with the unfamiliar. Hopefully this one will last for a while once we’re out of here. After this, we’re hittin California. Mind you that it slipped my mind that Oregon is on the coast, but I can’t believe we’re this far along. So again, try your best to soak it all in, especially while the pace is a bit slower. I love all you guys, even when you all piss me off like crazy. I wish I could write so much more to record this once in a lifetime experience. Cheers


Saturday, October 16, 2010


Day 2 of REA- First Full Day with X-Military Survival Experts
“On Cloud 9,” never understood why this is always referenced when people are really happy but as a result of its definition it works for today. From being able to drink from a water source on all fours like an animal, to hearing an enticing philosophy on fire building, finding natures gold (pitch), chopping wood without an ax, and building shelters in way more ways than one. We were all overwhelmed with happy thoughts and new knowledge. I mean I know I was. Not only was the knowledge there but so was the possibility. The possibility to do something only talked about. Today I drank bleach in a good expectable way. I got to split wood with a really big knife, was able to use my personal pocket knife for more ways than just cutting food or rope, and also got to freshen up on my knots.
This is my third time attempting to write this entry. So much has happened I feel my words can not give it all justice.
One thing I know I can talk about and get on point is the fact that I filleted and scaled a fish today. I have never considered myself a veggie for the “normal” vegetarian beliefs. More precisely I am a veggie because I hate the idea of meat. So much so that I swore up and down I would never touch, let alone scale a fish! But I did!
Once again ECOEE has pushed me to something I have never done before. Of course I have to also give credit for this one to REA. Their idea to smoke Salmon for the veggies that eat fish is what got me to suck it up and just do it.
Today I think it is safe to say that everyone got a lot out of all that happened. Some of the boys got their survival gods they have been dreaming about. Some got the guts to sleep under an open tarp even with a fear of the dark and all got to explore new methods of madness and show strength with different tools…both physically and metaphorically. All gained knowledge and comfort in the back country.
Way to go folks!

Peace and Love Always,
Kate Nelson

Friday, October 15, 2010


Undisclosed Campsite

“One’s mans wilderness is another mans theme park”
If this is true I feel like I am at six flags right now with a fast pass to every ride! Waking up this morning the group is alive. Knowing just enough to make our minds wonder. Rea will pick us up at nine am, we wont need our tents for the first 3 days, oh and…..there X military. You all know what I have to say about this…..WOOF. Upon arrival I see to my delight 3 new faces and they all bear a smile. Josh, Mindy, and Andy take the lead in a way of which none of us are used to. No complaints from this girl, I am one happy camper! Yet it seems like everywhere we go….people wanna know, who we are. Sooooo im going to tell ya! WE got Ryan, Pat, Sal, Denver, Keenan and Kate. Evan, Jess, Ashley, Chris, Katy….oh that’s just a taste. Ashley she’s our baby and little rugrat too, but don’t you let that fool you she knows more than many of us do. Sal in other words the candy man, typically seen hopping through the forest in the most unique of way. Unless that is he is missing his precious Beckita. Evan is our computer nerd and without his math skills I would surely be in a world of hurt. Ryan ever so precious he may be. Loves what he’s doing and the woman in his life. Don’t worry if he doesn’t like it he will be sure to tell ya. Jessica oh Jessica thank goodness for her, our resident hippie not only bringing great smells but lots of laughter too. Kate is the one who hates the hate. Peace love and happiness and lots of giggles to go around. Kennan may be one of our smelly ones. Yet he adds a secret spice that makes things oh so nice. Pat is very loud and yet oh so quite. He is the boy that’s brainy and a goof ball. Then there’s Denver Murphy our song master, bringing harmony to the group and always makes sure to point out when our energy is high. Chris deserves the nickname of silent but deadly in so many ways. Speaking not so often but when he does it packs a punch. Then there is me Katy, I’ve been told I’m the mother hen. Leaving one word to describe my behavior, DOOLAN…
There it is ECOEE 2010 as brief as I could make it. Mind, Andy, and Josh we are putty in your hands all eager to learn new things. Take our minds and fill them with as much knowledge as possible. Take our bodies and give us the technical skills that match. Lastly take our hearts back into the world we love to be in. The Wilderness calls!

Please and Thank You
Katy 

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Preparing for Another Backcountry Journey
Words cannot describe the emotions Giddy, anxious, excited, nervous… another venture into the unknown. As we begin another preparation, packing out backpacks, I glimpsed back to the first days at HFC. Although we had much more bases to cover (preparing for the expedition as a whole) the feelings I have do not differ.
This makes me wonder if they will ever change. Years down the road will the butterflies in my stomach subside to the new experience s I have? I could only hope not for I will never want to lose this sense of uncertainty. It not only makes me feel alive but reassures me that I’m living.
May this new chapter in our ever long adventure be full of surprises (not the kind that slime their way into your shoes), expand our knowledge, and help us enjoy being displaced from the noisy confusion we call “life”.
Check List
• Make some good BC glorp
• Break in my hiking boots (for realzies)
• Re-amp my BC bod
• Learn some new tech. skillz
• Meet some new peeps
• Explore some coo places
• & do things we can’t do when Jeff and Kim are here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Welcome to Oregon!

After a long day of visiting the BLM and driving basically across Idaho and into Oregon, I have pretty much gotten nothing done. Yeah I read a little, wrote a little, slept a lot and watched the landscape go by, but I also did a lot of thinking. After writing a letter home I suddenly became pumped to do my trip plan. Something just clicked that this could be awesome and I could develop a bomb lesson plan! I had wanted to find a way to really get my mind prepared for the intense work that it will entail, but something about today sparked my fire. Could it have been the man at the museum who was so passionate about the program that he paid for us to go look at it? Or could it be the fact that we are going back to the backcountry in a day? Whatever it is, I am pumped! There are so many different ways to do things, and like the BLM and the NPS at Craters of the Moon, we need to find the best way to make those techniques work and be capable of working with other programs, problems, and what not thrown in the mix. This trip plan will put everything that we are learning into the mix and whether we do a backpacking trip in Oregon, or a kayaking trip in Poland, we need to have a passion for it; Just like that man at the Museum.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Craters of the Moon

What an early day! Chow at 6:30 and in the vans by 7:30 woof: Good thing I’m journal and I got to sleep in today. After breakfast, and finally half awake, we cleaned up; let Jeff negotiate the treacherous road leading up and out of the KOA, then piled into the van to head westward still. Although the frontier was closed long ago, us Midwesterners might as well be pioneers in a wagon train judging by our wide eyes after we pass the mountains dotting the horizon.

The sights changed again as we entered the violent landscape of Craters of the Moon. Lava flows, pumice, half blasted apart necks of volcanoes. I’ve personally always wanted to see a landscape like this, so that’s one more thing to check off the bucket list.

Being able to talk to John, a ranger here today was a time for us to finally get some insight on the differences between the NPA and the BLM. On top of that, we also got an interp lesson on the whole formation of Craters of the Moon. I learned we’re 100 years overdue for an eruption, pretty cool to think about.

Jeff and Kim have been in pretty high spirits today, which makes me question,” is the end nigh?” But seriously, it’s good to see them happy. Jeff even joined in a game of hopscotch. This, I thought to myself, is good, this is very good.

Now, after our beautiful sunset, we hunker down to do our work, and maybe tell some jokes. A few of us meander to our tents to sleep, still wiped out from the early morning. I realized these days are kind of rare out here, no chaos, not a lot of bickering. I think that’s something we all understand and appreciate. I mean, when’s the next time Jeff Tindal will be coaxed into a game of hop -scotch? If it’s never, then I’m glad to have seen it now. I know that we’re all glad to be out here, not only for the play, but the experience and the learning.

Thank you Paul, thank you Doc Lupton, Paula, Dale. Thank you Jeff and Kim. Thank you everyone who made it possible for us to be here. And finally than you to the group, for we are ECOEE.


Monday, October 11, 2010


I slept-in till nine
So I though I’d make this rhyme
Out of the tent I rose
And this aroma hit my nose

The scent of a feast meant for a king
So I followed my nose without hesitating
But its only a dream because Evan is cook
So as my head shook I still had to look

The dutch oven was hot
So I opened the pot
Eggs, cheese, taters and bacon
Evan! I say, what are you makin

He said, “eat as much as you can
This is a meal for a mountain man
So I had a few plates
Then put away coolers and crates

All aboard the van, destination Jack Hole City
As we stagger into town locals look in pity
Some wandered, others pondered
In our clothes freshly laundered

Food, coffee and gear
some of us even had deer

a relaxing day to go shopping
but for Jess there was no hopping
Jess feels no good but refuses aspirin
Sal’s sick too in the same Mocosin

So gear shop to thrift store
Until the last coffee was poured
Homework got done
And others had fun

It was nice to be free
But with this comes responsibility
Im talking about Albertson’s grocer
Where communication could have been closer

However, E.C.O.E.E’s glass is half full
But we all just took a big pull
And now we have an empty glass
Adapt! Adapt! Bleed, tangle and thrash.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


No Tetons, what a bummer. But the showers and clean close will suffice for now. Seeing the Mountains from the road was quiet a tease. As I stared out the window I pondered the many things I would like to do on those mountains; climbing, packing, sleep, stare, breathe, slide, fall, trip and recover. Yellowstone had some amazing sights. I love the waterfalls the thermal features, but seeing those mountains reminded me why I decided to take this path in my life. Nothing can compare to the mountains. Their size only shows a small portion of their power and I am blown away. Growing up I’ve only seen scrapers that size, man made wonders that really to me aren’t wonders, just massive accomplishments. But the mountains, those are wonders, with their unforgiving faces and soaring high, it’s a reminder of how small we are and how much is out there and uknown. But they are not real to me, not yet, a glance is not good enough, a picture will not suffice, I want to touch, I want to feel and I want to accompany their peaks, if only for a short moment of time. I am not upset that we are not staying there because I will be back, and bet most of us will. There are things bigger than me, than you, than all of us together. So all we can do is strive to reach their height, weather we get there or not, as long as we do our best and do it with those 7 aspects of LOVE then we can reach the peaks of our mountains within ourselves.
Until then I will stay up all night doing class work and filling my head with more information than I know what to do with. As long as my two comrades (Katy and Sal) hang on I think I’ll be able to manage.
And How!

Pat Croke

Saturday, October 9, 2010


I never thought that writing in the journal would be so time consuming. Now that I have officially stared at this piece of paper for five minutes, I have realized that I do not have the super power enabling me to will words onto paper.
Being at Yellowstone has helped me come to the conclusion that there is a line in a lot of things that we do. There is a line that separates overdevelopement and having the means of generating funds to keep up one of our nations treasures, as well as a fine line between what we say we are going to do, and how we do it. We all learned last night that we have to step it up if we want to become outdoor leaders and we need to take initiative and do what needs to be done to accomplish that. Kind of how Yellowstone does what needs to be done to make the park more accessible to the general public while still maintaining a sense of wilderness. They need to make money for upkeep but at the sacrifice of the land, just like we need to take initiative even with the sacrifice of feelings and toes. I feel like the meeting we had is going to open our eyes, so that we can become who we need to be while still realizing we can have the vast wilderness that still exists in the background.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck

Friday, October 8, 2010


Location: Yellowstone National Park

The Elk with the Chandelier Antlers
While driving to Mammoth Hot Springs this morning our group managed to get a glimpse of a bull elk whose antlers were an enormous chandelier, watching over his does and fawns of his harem. One of the fawns had a gimp leg and was walking with a limp. Sadly, a predator such as the wolf will most likely target the fawn and... well...that's the circle of life. The students were at professional meetings all day while I caught up on grading. I couldn't stop thinking about that little fawn with the gimp. In some ways it applies to ECOEE. Every group will have a scapegoat or what we call them, "the weenie". This person may be different, misunderstood, or vulnerable in some ways like the fawn. The wolves will attack when the others aren't watching, when the fawn has strayed from the group, and when defenses are down. However, if that fawn is always protected, watched out for, and surrounded by it's family...the wolves will go up against a heck of a fight and that little fawn may have a chance to become that bull elk with the chandelier antlers.
~Kimberly Janus
Spay and neuter your pets!

Entry 2 of the day (Since Jess was not around to write in the Journal this day Jeff and Kim got their turn!):

We are almost to the mid-way point of ECOEE 2010 and I haven’t killed anyone yet- not even my grad assistant who constantly tries to annoy me and tries to assist me in losing my patience!!
Everyone we meet along the way talks about what a good group this is- patient, interested, helpful, considerate and so on. Little do they know what goes on behind “closed doors”!! Farts and burps sound different butt smell the same!! Front Country clothes look and smell like back country clothes. The multiple repeating of feedback until someone (and it is usually only one someone) finally gets it!
Sometimes good food and lots of it, but I am tired of eggs!! Almost always cold food after long announcements in chow circle, and even longer debriefs.
But this is the life of ECOEE- every ECOEE. People I neat think I have the greatest life, little do they know!!...with all the complaints here…They are pretty petty compared to all I get to see and experience with all these folks, even with ADHD grad assistants! I really do love my life!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


As we continue on the road of ECOEE we are constantly interacting with different ways of life, cultures, interests and more. Each place we visit has history, traditions, and qualities that are quiet different than back home. Emerson puts it well, “The good thing about going into the mountains is that life is reconsidered, it is far from the slavery of your own modes of living and you have the opportunity of viewing the town at such a distance…” Along the way of ECOEE we are all taking in what we see in the people we pass by. As for what everyone else is doing with what they see I do know that I am always attempting to place myself in the worlds we pass. “Would I fit?” is then the question that comes to my mind. This is even so when I think of the people like Native Americans that have roamed these parts. I am constantly reminded that there is more to life than that of the one we grew up in. Our job now is to find our happy medium, find our piece of the puzzle and the picture on it. Who are we as an individual? Where are we? What are we doing?
I hope we all find our piece of the puzzle.

Peace and Love Always,
Kate Nelson

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Badlands/Wind Cave
“Out west is where it’s at!”
Native Americans-I look back on what seems to be an eternity ago that ECOEE made its first stop for the semester-Dickson Mounds. At that point, visiting that Indian burial site was my greatest connection to the American Indians. I’ve always had a thirst for more of a thirst on the subject, but nothing has struck me hard enough to spark a fire.
Since our trip to the badlands, that has all changed. The scenery screams cowboys and Indians, and gives me the spark I needed to dive into our countries past, as well as the genocide that took place here nearly untouched upon by our education system. I feel like I have overturned a rock of knowledge and I’m excited at what I’m finding.
I think about our upcoming itinerary and am almost speechless, literally. Wyoming, Yellowstone, Tetons, Oregon, and that’s not even getting to our list once we hit California. It brings me to my title, out west is where it’s at! Like I’ve said to so many before, I don’t understand why so many people want to leave this country without checking it out first-it boggles my mind. You only want what you can’t have. Our country doesn’t have an impressively long timeline compared to most, and thousands of people travel to Europe to see and experience the great history behind buildings that have stood long enough to tell their own stories in the history books. But people come from all over the world to see and marvel at our one of a kind National Park Service. They come to see the incredible beauty of this country. While we marvel at our Badlands sunset, or while I eat my breakfast watching the sunrise over one of the longest cave systems in the world, people are sleeping on dirt. People are wondering where their next meal is going to come from. People are committing crimes to get that meal. People are dying in wars, and going through the next scenario that pops into your head. But don’t let these thoughts bring you down, let them bring a smile upon our fortunate situation and a reminder to soak everything in that you possibly can.
With each journal entry I have better and better things to say about our group’s improvement. We’ve got plenty to work on, and there always will be. But we’re starting to hold each other accountable for each other’s actions, and I see us moving forward as one unit, despite some personal nuts and bolts to be tightened, so let’s keep it up! Cheers

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Mt. Smilemore for Mt. Rushmore    
“We shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye.” Or is it an “I”? This is my second visit to the Badlands of South Dakota. Before we arrived to our campsite we had the opportunity to visit a Lewis and Clark Museum. The landscape here is absolutely amazing. For me the visit has already enhanced my opinion of this place as we are situated next to a small but quaint amphitheater that is used for park events.
The bugs are playing the strings, a cool wind is blowing, and the sun is beginning to set over the horizon. We’ve had a good chunk of van time over the last couple of days but it’s an evening like this that will make you forget it all. I am reading a book where the author claims she always has had a hard time “clearing” her mind and instead she prefers to “lose” her mind. I am beginning to understand where she is coming from.
Journals, lessons, chores, and the like continue to keep us busy while cat naps and the sweet sounds of Marvin Gay and John Butler keep us sane. Today I learned what a “Prairie Pothole” is and the sort of role it plays in the environment. You should look it up – they’re actually pretty cool!
Denver Murphy

Saturday, October 2, 2010


“Rules are for fools”

It seems that people think that following all the rules will always come with a bit of security, and maybe success. Sure, it is comforting to know you are following a certain set of guidelines or rules, whatever it may be. Is it not? Maybe following the rules is comforting because of the fear of failure. One thing I can assure you of is that there are an endless amount of reasons people follow rules. It could be because of a past experience, a risk, danger, or consequence. I think that the word rules involves more than just a standardized set of words that explain limits or expectations. Rules, or an expected way of doing things, acting or reacting, become programmed into our brains through a number of experiences. Getting hurt, breaking something, taking all the blame, staying safe, doing it “the right way” because you know it works and will avoid failure. Well, there are times to follow the rules, but beware of being trapped inside these metaphorical boundaries. There is more than one right way of doing things and there are plenty of new experiences to be had. So, step out of the boundaries and you comfort zone when you see fit, expand your mind, learn from mistakes, and learn from success. Harness new experiences and use them to your advantage. A wise man named Paul Petzoldt claims, “Rules are for fools.” Make that your own.

Friday, October 1, 2010


I’m writing in the van so this looks terrible, it’s much harder to write in than I thought. Yesterday was hectic but we all muscled up and did what we had to. Free time Friday night and Badlands Saturday morning, what a schedule. It’s hard right now to put thought into this entry cause we are all crammed in this van, and even though it will probably stink later down the road right now I feel great and the energy is really high! So its short and simple, but right now I just wana hang with my ECOEE crew.

Pat Croke

Thursday, September 30, 2010


October is coming upon us and the weather is changing faster than the leaves. However, we were surprised to see the sun out this morning, perfect cleaning weather. All of the gear we used in the North woods now has to be cleaned and put away. Its crazy to think the next user of this gear wont know the stories behind them. What our bags must have seen, heard smelled and felt must be atrocious and beautiful. They have seen boats tip over and felt cold water as well as bear teeth! They have smelled god awful aromas which I hope to never smell again. As the sand from Pancake Bay is washed out, so are memories. As the dirt from Greenhill portage and water from the Missinaibi is scubbed clean from the gear I see glimpses of the past. These memories will fade but not be forgotten. The sun dries our bags, absorbing the evidence that we were ever in Canada. Yet we know, we feel and we see that we have changed since we departed on this expedition. As we take down the last river bag down from the line, one chapter of our journey ends, but another one begins.
“Destruction breeds creation.”


Guess who’s back? ECOEE’s back! Back in the Mac! Here we are, back at Horn Field after, well, pretty much half of our sememester. It seems crazy so much time has flown by. I don’t know whats been going past faster, the minutes or the miles.
Today at Bradford Woods was Phenomenal. Their programs are incredible, and even after operating for over 60 years, they’re still finding ways to improve and add new programs. Talking with John at the equine center, I felt more inspired than I have in a long time. It’s people like John, who choose a life they love rather than a life of riches, that make the recreation field what it is.



Today, to me, felt exhausting. Maybe it was the work I turned out. Perhaps it was the massive swarm of children buzzing around today. Honestly, I think it is just the shift from backcountry back to the world. There are lights and signs and chocolate and warm air hand dryers and chocolate and more chocolate. It’s so overwhelming. Things move so much faster and few things are the same out here. It’s not bad, just different. That’s a strange, feeling unaccustomed to things that I spent 21 years doing. I guess I just still have a lot left to learn.
This morning, we departed the Gate’s home, but not for some wonderful words from Jeff’s parents. Jeff’s father was wandering amongst the group and mingling with us all morning. He told us we have a good thing going on here, although he personally felt like, “a mosquito in a nudist colony.” He said he knew, “what to do but didn’t know where to start.” I’m so committing that to memory.
The road to Bradford Woods was a long and arduous drive. Not only did we fudge up our travel plan, but a tire was blown in the process. Although, the hardest part of the drive wasn’t sitting on the side of the road or dealing with a spare tire that didn’t fit. No, it was the 5, yes, 5 White Castle’s we passed along the way. Even trying to comprehend all the wonderful bite sized sliders we passed is a sensory overload.
When we finally arrived at Bradford, we were greeted with a smile, and an army of children. The staff knew how to handle a group like ours though and stuffed our face with spaghetti, vegi-meatballs, and other wonderful foods before they asked us to really do anything. After moving into our cabin with central air (complete with touch screen thermostat, oh baby), we joined the children for a scavenger hunt and a skit show revolving around their experiences at the O.E. center. All of that was awesome by itself, but to top it off, we had s’mores. Righteous, RIGHTEOUS! I guess the front country isn’t so bad after all, considering the s’mores and all.



It is so hard to believe that we have just spent the last month in the backcountry. After an enthusiastic morning of paddling, we have pulled out of the Missinaibi River. With all the excitement of a fresh shower and a turkey dinner thanks to the kindness of Denise and Louise from the outfitters, things haven’t really hit some of us yet. I personally find it eery to be out in civilization now that we’re out. Between even the first few pieces of society we have come across, I find the excitement of our long anticipated gas station food to be lost. Ashley put it best when she said that it doesn’t feel like a month long expedition, but rather a weekend camping trip with friends. To be out amongst the trees, stars, and waterfalls, the appreciation of nature doesn’t completely sink in until you’re out. Needless to say this trip has been something I will never forget. We have been tested in pretty much every aspect I can think of. We’ve gotten on each others nerves, cried on each others shoulders, opened our doors to others and closed them shut too.
At the age of 21, I have been lucky enough to see and experience more than some people ever dream of. I have jumped out of planes, dove the depths of the oceans, paddled through hundreds of miles of rivers, and the journey has only begun. I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities I have been given, and I couldn’t be happier that I’m on this trip with all of you. We’re all living the dream right now, and it’s happening quicker than we think. So keep your eyes on the prize, whatever yours may be.

‘And it makes me think of where I’m at
On my not so straight and narrow path
All the generous and mostly undeserved blessings that I’ve had
I’ve had an all American mom and dad
Some of the coolest friends you could ever have
I’ve found love I thought I’d never find
Sometimes I can’t believe this life is mine
And I’m not planning on leavin yet, but the truth is you just never know
And if this is as good as it gets
Man, I think I’m good to go.”
-Jason Aldean



Waiting for a train in vain

Early to rise, so not to miss the train. In reality the train missed us, according to a cheery Canadian conductor, the train missed us by a week as a result of a washout down the track a ways. As we stand shivering around all of our unloaded gear alongside the railroad tracks, we come together and regroup. Louise, Denise and Owen from Missinaibi Outfitters come to the rescue. So we reload everything back up onto Owen’s truck and three small cars, practically go carts with four doors. On a positive note we practiced our gear loading/unloading efficiency! A long breakfast of sugary donuts and coffee at Tim Horton’s and we are on our way. The trip was going smoothly until we hit a bump in the road, or should I say spruce grouse. An explosion of feathers clearly showed the fate of this bird. After the “fowl play” we continued to our destination, Hawk Junction, but first a forestry lesson taught by Owen. Did you know that the crowns and branches of the trees that are logged are either left behind or burned, seems wasteful. Also, now-a-days they cut down smaller trees instead of big ones, because we are too impatient to wait for these magnificent plants to grow big and tall. So now they just cut more quantity of smaller trees to compensate. But in Silva culture, is there any compensation for the land? I don’t think we sufficiently repay the earth for our bountiful harvests. Shortly after our talk with Owen we pull into Hawk Junction, we turn a corner and see two white vehicles of destiny, patiently awaiting our arrival. One of these vehicles needed some coaxing with jumper cables, the other with a wrench , but soon enough we are pulling into the voyagers lodge ,where many of us had red meat for the first time in a month. For the veggies, they had vegetables again for the 30th time this month. With full bellies we pull into our pancake bay campsite, where some of us went to bed while others mossied around, pondering what their next move was going to be. There was a discrepancy between sleep times tonight, so our group needs to be more aware of how far there voice travels. However, we all eventually drifted to sleep/ ~Goodbye and goodnight~

You cant always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you can get what you need. -stones


Last Day of the River Adventure

29 Days just happened in the blink of an eye. It seems like just yesterday we were not canoeing but walking our boats through the river to our first campsite and having an explosive lesson on how to use our stoves to cook. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were having class under a tarp on a sunny sandy beach that stretched a quarter mile long and wide taking swimming breaks as the day grew hotter.
A lot has happened in these last 29 days. This Journal along with personal journals, mental notes we made, along with the pictures we taken are almost minute things compared to what we have learned and how much we have grown.
My favorite thing about the wilderness, next to its unexplainable beauty, is its power over people, or the power it can give a person. I have seen over and over the power nature has on an individual. Looking back on this past month has completely reinforced this notion I consider to be fact.
Today the person who tried to light a stove upside down is now fixing them with no problem and few questions. Those who were once close to clueless as to how to how the backcountry worked now have a teaspoon worth of knowledge and understanding of it. Some who may not have had any idea how to cook and make things taste good are now conquering the spice kits. People that were quite and SUPER soft spoken have just started to speak up and be heard. We have all grown so much and so many things have happened it’s hard to fathom or even believe it. All that is for sure at the end of the today is some are happy to have left the river for as much as they enjoyed it and some would be completely ok to resupply and get back on it. But we won’t. Today was the end of one fantastic adventure and the beginning of more exciting and challenging adventures to come. We have gained the knowledge and know-how we need to continue. As long as we remember it and understand that there is still MUCH room for improvement we will be ok.
This reminded me of a quote: “The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult and dreadful. Things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”- Katherine Houghtin
So let’s GO! Let’s keep Truckin!
Continue to grow and to learn and to work together on the rest of our adventures. We have gotten this far. Let’s blaze through the possible storms to come and rise above them!


Peace & Love Always and Forever,
Kate Nelson



Missinaibi River (Glassy Falls/Sandy Bay Portage)
Day 2 of Evals

Sitting in the Storm King all day doing evals, how much FUN! Though it is kind of fun when we get so distracted and tired that the goofing off makes you laugh till your stomach hurts. Evaluating your peers is not very stimulating. As we mark off scores for our group mates I start to realize that I myself need to work on a lot of the things we are marking people down for. This is not only a learning experience for properly critiquing your group and evaluating those you work with but also an experience that helps you to learn about yourself and, at least for me, help me to come to self realizations of my own. The biggest one is that we all have a lot of to learn, and the fact that we have learned so much already makes me wonder, will our brains be able to manage and store all this knowledge!? Or just make us go insane?
Well I guess we will find out.

Pat Croke


Day one of EVALUATIONS!!!!

Evaluation ready by 8 a.m., start the first evaluation at 8:45 a.m., and finish only two evaluations by 9:45 p.m.! Yeah, that’s thirteen hours of evaluating only two of our peers. We all understand that evaluating is an essential part of our growth as leaders, but DANG! But we made the best of it, talking and getting ourselves in a comfortable spot, drinking hot drink like our lives depended on it, and getting to know what goes on in other people’s minds. Everyone with out a second thought easily answered some of the questions, but others took up to ten minutes to debate through and decide upon an appropriate rating. Evaluating our peers across the camp stirs up some evaluating amongst ourselves with V.O.M.P.’s and such, but in the end critiquing and evaluating each other will be good for everyone.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck


“Glassy Falls”

Only two days left on the river. Time flies when you are having fun and on the run. I’ll admit that I never thought I would be camping on a beach in Canada. I’m glad to be spending my last days on the river with sand between my toes and a great view of Glassy Falls. Needless to say it’s not all fun and games. It seems like as soon as I feel good about accomplishing something, I have more work to do. School work aside, it is a job in itself just living out here in the backcountry. Between paddling, portaging, hiking out heavy packs around, setting up camp, cooking, bear bags, tarps, stoves, water, cold nights and frosty mornings each day presents a new and invigorating challenge. These are surely things our bodies and minds were not used to at the beginning of the semester. From our “so long” dinner back at Horn Field Campus, there is one final goodbye quote that has stuck with me though the entire trip, and that is; “Improvise, adapt, sit down and shut up.” I know I’ve personally done all three of these things at one point or another. We may all have a lot to learn but I think we have handled this lifestyle change rather well.



Beaver site # 2

Winnie the Pooh strikes again this morning, taking another snack bag full of goodies (at Katy’s dismay). Waking up us girls quickly realize that what was thought to be a prank (set up by the boys) was in all actuality a living breathing sneaky little black bear! Unless, of course, they had time to tear through Evans Starburst, fruit punch, black beans, and a few other U.F.O.’s (unidentified flavorful objects) to create a crime scene  topped off with a giant pile of steaming… well you get the idea. Somehow our smart four legged friend managed to avoid waking us up even with all of our pots, pans, and other noisy items piled on top of our “:secured” bear bag. At least we finally put to practice the art of hanging the bear bags. Food is such a commodity at this point (with only a few more meals left) that we can not spare a helping hand to our hibernating thief.
Although today was spent largely in our tents, (lightning kept us on lock down) much was accomplished in the Hen house. Whether the topic was beautification (eyebrows, nails, and hair) bears, boys, school work (a bottomless pit), chocolate, gear (the rankings and our preferences) or planning out the rest of our meals (all in individual bags, in order to get the best of our rations) we had quite the productive day.
Realizing that in just tow weeks I will be getting dropped off at the Riverton Airport (cough*at 3 am*cough) and yall will drive to Yellowstone afterwards… is it just me or is this going by WAY TOO FAST?... one more campsite, 16 more miles, then good bye Canada =( LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLE!!

11:04 pm. I nudged Kate after hearing our pots clank from the dangling food bags near our tent. I am the only one awake and I thought I may have been hearing things (well hoped). She mumbled and went back to sleep… 5 minutes later I heard sticks cracking and rummaging even closer to our tent… it was Winnie back again. I wake up Kate and Ashley, quickly followed Katy and we paraded out of our tent. “bear bear bear bear bear bear… bear bear bearan” Kate was armed with 2 empty white gas bottles, Ashley with the poop scoop equip with bear bell, Katy with her useful appendages (clapping) and I with the bear spray. It is obvious our food was found… we are back in the tent now



Beaver Site.

“Are you ready for some football – A Monday night party!”
A nearly full moon tonight – lighting the path back to my camp site after a long day and debrief. It is not long after I hear Salvador shouting, “Murph! Hey, Murphy! What’s with this Parkay? Get over here!” As I turn the corner with my head lamp I immediately see a mangled blue bottle with the kindof buttery substance pooled up on the rock it sits on. Going back to investigate the area a trail of buttery droplets lead me to my tent where the creature (supposedly a smaller, more curious BEAR) seemingly tried to draw a smile face on the vestibule door. A pan that I had soaked with water for ease of scrubbing was licked dry and Evan’s blue food bag has apparently vanished. What a way to end our second longest paddling day since setting sail on this river. I feel if Reader’s Digest put this day in to an article, it would read as follows: “WINNIE THE POOH (bear) VISITS WIU’S ECOEE EXPEDITION IN HOPES OF BARTERING FOR HONEY BUT INSTEAD BUSTS PARKAY BOTTLE UPON REALIZING THAT NOT ONLY DOES PAT, DENER, AND EVAN HAVE A PITIFUL SELECTION OF FOOD BUT THEY ALSO LOOK NOTHING LIKE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN.” But I digress. The day was long, sunny, and only slightly wet. It’s hard to believe we have only a few days left in Canada. And boy, I miss Monday Night Football!



Devils Shoepeek

I woke up this morning, stepped out of the tent, and immediately had to defend myself from ninjas and Mr. Smiths from “The Matrix”. Numchucks, samari swords, and nature’s fury together defeated our foes as we did our morning stretches. After some final instructions I left the group and started my day with Kim, only to see legs fly up in the distance as Denver did a 10-point tumble into the water. Watching through the zoom on my camera from across the river, I watched how everyone went into helping mode and couldn’t be anything other than impressed. Even though we are in the storming phase, there is never a time when one is short a helping hand. After two portages, some rapids, and a psych-out campsite, we arrived at our home for the night. It makes me happy to see the tents and tarps so well set up, the canoes cleaned and flipped over, and the steam coming from campsites as the groups make their dinners. Tomorrow is going to be a long day, but the way I see it, we are going to be alright. We are all there for one another, and that makes me feel ready to take on any kind of ninja.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck


“Two Portage Falls”

Up at 5am, twenty two miles in the canoes, couple hours of camp set up and cooking, ten minutes of stuffing face, couple hours of debrief, starting this journal entry at 11pm. As fatigue set in during the long paddle and confusion turned into frustration, I took a minute to breath and reflect on the twenty one days that have flown by. It is hard to believe we are just shy of 40 miles from Mattice. It seems like just yesterday that Katy was lighting a stove upside-down (god love her she has come so far since then), or Ryan practically tripping over a bobcat on the beach, and of course Sal finding new, creative ways of expelling his flatulence in or around Jessie’s face (most recently the cartwheel fart). As the day went on, it only got better with a little good conversation. Talk of mom’s home cooking, old high school stories, pranks, sports, friends, holidays and family make me realize how lucky I am. It’s the little things so often overlooked that can turn things around for you. Make the seconds count.



Unnamed Rapid after Brunswick

“A group is only a strong as its weakest member.”
Though I don’t completely agree with this, especially today, I am still reminded of it. Today, even with three members feeling down in the dumps or some variation of it, we were still able to make it 12 miles in 3 hours WITH taking at least a 5 minute break every half hour. Last night started things off right with tent mates making soup for their under the whether tent mates. This morning the helping hands, caring hands kept to work cooking, carrying packs, carrying extra weight in boats and more. As all this helping and caring is shown I can’t help but think on the positive side of the scale. All day long the group as a whole cared for each person. Some asked every fifteen minutes, “How are you feeling?” some told funny stories or just acted as their normal goofy self and some were the silent care givers staying to themselves and making the most out of the day trying not to be the person that asked yet again, “are you ok? If you ask me I think our group will be quite all right. We laugh a lot, learn a lot, explore a lot and bicker a lot and in the end we are all one tribe moving in individual directions while still keeping and eye on every other member in the group whether they be the strongest or the not so strong. Though I do not want to have to bight my tongue since we still have to figure out how to live in a 15 passenger van as a group of 13 I still have high hopes for this group. If not we can definitely say we tried.

Peace and Love Always,
Kate Nelson


Thunder Falls Day 2

Waking up in a tent is always awesome, no matter how many times it happens. It’s just one of those things that is always good. However, breakfast is not always good but tends to get better with time. A little bit of this and a little of that, something Jess calls “goolash”. Add a little maple syrup and presto! Breakfast is served. Things declined after the morning meal when news came that Jeff was under the weather. Perhaps he is a mere mortal afterall, but I still have my doubts. Nonetheless, ECOEE, led my our LOD Topher, pressed on in the pursuit of knowledge about the out of doors. There were bobcats and lynxs, woodland carribu and clear cutting, wigwams and intelligence tests. Lesson after lesson in a classroom with a forest in the front, a river in the back, a waterfall to the left, and some rapids to the right. Beat that Macomb!
But with Jeff’s condition not improving and one of our own not feeling so well, we stayed in camp and lived to paddle another day. Not so bad though, considering the beauty of this campsite. What is bad though, terrible actually, is the fact that this river has NO WALLEYE IN IT! I hear that does and fisherman say they catch them left and right on whatever they throw! I say fiddle sticks! I catch nothing but snaky little Northern Pike, peppered with the occasional Smallmouth. My group wants Walleye, I want Walleye, where’s the Walleye! I guess that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.
So to close this day and entry out, I want to record an observation of mine as I sit by the fire warming my feet. Around cities, it’s never really dark, just orange and glowing. Macomb can be pitch black. But Ontario’s clear night sky is neither. It’s like a night light of stars for us. Remember those boxes with the lights in them from the early 90’s? You would put a piece of paper on it with a pattern and put colored plugs into the pattern to make it a picture? I think they were called Lite Bright’s. Well, the Ontario sky is like God’s Lite Bright.
“The sky resembles a backlit canopy with holes punched in it.” – Incubus



Thunder Falls

Fire! I have fire!
A lean-2 up against a wall of rocks and a massive log. Six pairs of shoes are the only things separating me from the dancing whips of flame. Overhead are a dozen socks and a line lifting them over as they dangle between two trees. As I listen to Ryan read from the Missinaibi book and the distant roar of Thunder Falls I can only reflect on what was thought to be an easier day when compared to our last few.
It was cold this morning. Going deeper in to our expedition it seems colder every day – which makes crawling out of my sleeping bag that much more difficult. However after some hash browns and a glass of tea my world seems a bit brighter.
As we pulled out from the beach today, the wind greeted us with its ridged touch. By beach, I meant massive pile of drift wood. Split Rock Falls was our haven for the night – a sacred place of this region in all of its might. As we left our gifts of M&M’s, tea leaves, and thought, our minds soon focused on the day ahead.
The weather remains wishy-washy. Tiny squalls of the past few days had been reduced to nothing but a slight sprinkle – which was very pleasing. Our planned portage and a small rapid within the 6 mile paddle was all that stood between us and our destination. What could go wrong?
Play by play – 6 canoes and 1 kayak --- stuck, stuck, tip, stuck, tip, lined, tip. My canoe was fortunate enough to be the first down though my partner did get terribly wet. We were quick to grab floating objects before docking and heading up the water to help others. Until that point I had never been more concerned on this trip. At least half of us were completely drenched with an air temperature in the 50’s and icy water to boot. Luckily we got away with only having suffered some bumps and bruises, cold bodies, and wet clothes. Once again, blessed. No canoe or kayak could have made such a hard left by heading back and turning right on a dime (if only you could see it! (A BEAST)) Side note: I just put TigerBalm on my face. Now I’m writing through my left eye. Only peeking at my pen and paper. I immediately regret this decision.
We are camping across the river from the group. By we, I mean those belonging to “The Mansion” tent group. Kate dropped the pudding. It’s okay though, her dry shoes and fleece pants had it coming.
“When you’re camping and a bear attacks, you don’t have to be the fastest camper – you just have to be faster than the slowest camper.”




ECOEE’S got soul uh….double up….uh uh. OHHHHHH YAAA YA Ya Ya
My back achin my boots to tight. My bags are shaking from the left to right. To the left, to the right, to the left, to the right. Greenhill portage of the grave yard we choose the route that keeps us safest. But have no fear, cause Ryan’s here. He’s the fearless leader that keeps us in the clear. Weaving, winding all around. We make several trips and get ride of our booty rounds. But ill tell ya on thing, even when im ready to spring. It’s the individuals that surround me that make this experience one of a kind. Im not going to remember everything I learn on this trip. Yet the memories I bring with me will last a life time. Using the land around us is what makes me the happiest. Learning how to make cranberry desserts has been my favorite. There was Cranberry buttermilk pudding, Cranberry brownies, Cranberry cheesecake. Let’s not forget the most unique of them all. Cranberry tea infused with Jessica’s secret blend of herb’s and spices, topped off with a dash of Keenan surprise. With so many smiles, laughs, and jokes I don’t know who wouldn’t love this. Im on the adventure of a life time letting the good times roll. All I can say is with ten more days left I don’t want it to stop. I saw we keep on keeping on.

Much love <3 Katy


Wavy Rapids

Just after packing our boats, one of our 4-wheeling Canadian friends dropped by to send us off, his big smile he wears could speak a million words. He, also a forest dwelling camp rat like us, is happy to see that this lifestyle has not been forgotten. He is happy to know that we did not camp in vain on this historical plot of land, since he knew our intentions were good he and his friends not only shared a laugh with us, but spaghetti and pickerel (sorry Jeff). As we paddle we hear a train in the distance, which is first a disturbance of the serenity we have enjoyed these past 17 days, but turns out to be somewhat calming to know that society exists outside of ECOEE. Then just around another river bend we see two bald eagles fly to perch atop a tall birch. We are starting to progressively see more wildlife as we learn to talk less. I don’t even remember how many rapids we hit today, but I do know the helmet cam got some use. A few waves splashed our bodies and faces which made ripples engrained in our memory forever. If I forget this day I’ve forgotten how to live. Then what a way to finish off the day, then with a grand finale rapid photo shoot, followed by a beach group photo. After a hard day getting drenched by rapids, it was nice to relax by a fire thanks to Pat and some hard working wood gatherers. Then thanks to Kim we went to sleep with bellies full of high bush cranberries.

Harmony with nature is like harmony with a friend, you can’t cherish his right hand and chop off his left. - Leopold



Waking up to a dance party is very different than I am use to but might as well go with the flow.
Rapid after rapid after rapid after rapid after rapid after moose
The rapids of the acclaimed missinaibi river are rather low. Most of which were just a lot of rocksin ehich the caneos bottomed out in but in the ending the rapids of the day paddling down the long and windy river a silence upon the group fell in which a moose came upon the water front. A rather large animal in which everyone was looking forward to seeing.
I think that might have been the most silent thr group has been on the water. Crazy as it must sound.
The sounds on the rapids have never beenso sweet. With Denver and ryan just lying on top of there canor floating down the river.
Arriving at peterbell was an amusing site. Lots of left over stuff just strun about it made it like one of the unkown historical sites.
Now after having a pretty good dinner ryan came rolling back in a four wheeler with pasta and a we bit of fish just making the evening.
” The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for” ~Joeseph cambell
Stay classy ECOEE




The day started off with one saying running in my head… “The energy is really high”. Not only are we making our way to the river (finally) but also running rapids. As I may hae said before, white water is the butter to my bread. There will not be one day where a smile is not planted on my face that we see rapids. Water in my eyes is the MOST powerful element and as long as that is running through my mind as it is over rocks safety will be kept.
Long days are ahead with many obstacles, but if we celebrate “Saturday, Saturday Saturday Saturday” like we did tonight… pizza and cake… our spirits will be graced with food comas  hearty, delicious food comas.
Peterbell is our destination tomorrow and hopefully we all stock up on some DELICIOUS WILD CRANBERRYS. Lets stay as dry as possible, avoid the slugs that may be in our shoes, and stay relatively quiet for some hopefully wildlife sightings on the first FULL day of river.



Missinaibi River (Fairy Point)

I woke up this morning and have never been so relieved at the sound of silence. No wind and no rain! Evan came by the tent and said “we are leaving as planned.” Yes, we are back on the water and the best part is, I get the yak (kayak).
On our way to Fairy Point we stop and gaze at the ancient pictographs. Being the person I am its hard for me to believe they are real. I have a great imagination and sometimes that’s the problem. It’s easy to imagine someone painting those pictures and calling them historic. I think I just have a hard time grasping things like ancient pictographs from thousands of years ago. But the longer I stare the more real they become and I can’t stop thinking of those who may have drawn them. How different their lives were, what types of beliefs they had, what they held most dear to them; all I know is that it is much different from what beliefs and ideals are dominant today. How the world has changed. This was their home, their town, their neighborhood, WOOF!
It is a lot to think about, but I don’t let the thoughts linger for too long cause I’m in a kayak and lets be honest, kayaks are awesome. I had a blast going from boat to boat talking to the group, playing games and cracking jokes, what a great day on Missinaibi Lake. Thanks to Chris and his bag of goodies it was a great lunch too. Tuna salad, mmhhmm. With a side of fiber bar that Ryan from one of the RV camping folk at our rest stop. The sun is out the scenery at our camp site is amazing and the water, well I think Jess put it best when she said “I could cut glass right now.” Over all one of my best days yet, and to top it off chicken pot pie for dinner, Canada’s finest cookin done on a tiny stove under a big tree on a wet ground, can you say “Left Overs?”

Pate Croke


Half Way There

After a couple of gloomy days on our island, we have reached our half-way point of days on the river. Unless nature calls in a monsoon, the days of being in the tent getting things done at a leisurely pace are over for now. The time has come for lessons, and although none of us feel truly prepared, we are learning more than we think from each other. As Jeff assures us that we certainly aren’t doing the worst job he has seen, we all look forward to having our lessons taught with some stress taken off our backs.
Soon we finally enter the river, which is what we all came for. Rapids couldn’t come soon enough. As our famous ‘storming phase’ rolls in closer and closer, it is my prediction that things won’t really blow up until we run out of food.
No matter how many different emotions each of us have flying through our heads and our hearts, it seems that things are starting to balance out. We all have our good days and our bad days, but pushing on regardless of those feelings is part of the reason we’re out here. There’s no doubt that this is tough. To be in class 24-7, to be this busy all the time, to live in such close quarters, and to do it without a break. But I still laugh out loud when I think about the kids right now punching in excel sheets and regurgitating information they will never remember. It feels strange to know that this is literally a once in a lifetime experience, and to put yourself years ahead of now thinking of where we’ll all be at. Not all of us will become outdoor leaders after this. It’s a life that’s not for everybody. But we are all soaking in this experience in our own separate ways. Whether we are process, product, people, or idea on the IP-3 scale, we all are continuously understanding what we want out of this experience and this chapter of our lives.
No matter what, I am so thankful to be here right now with everybody in this circle. Thankful for Jeff and Kim, thankful for ECOEE, thankful for RPTA, and thankful that a unique set of circumstances has brought me to be where I am now. Cheers.



“The Island”

Right now I am sitting on the most perfectly comfortable rock chair on the side of an island in the middle of a giant lake watching the mass of cumulus clouds waltz by; and I am at peace. All I hear is the wind through the trees, the waves against the rocks, and my pencil on the paper. Looking at the clouds I cannot help but to imagine how tall they are, and if I were a cloud, how I would measure up to it. I often wonder about this in real life when I think about how I measure up in the world. We learned, and taught a lot of stuff today and every minute was as entertaining as the last. Although some of us are done with our lessons, there is still much to learn from one another. Each of us is small cloud rolling through the sky, and as we gather knowledge our cloud grows. Maybe one day, if we continue learning past our experiences on E.C.O.E.E., we can become a bigger cloud, a bigger person, and become someone great.

Ashley VanSpeybroeck