Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 45- Brandon Wessels

From Yellowstone to the Grand Tetons, that was the journey that was ahead of us when we woke up and had chow at 8 this morning. By 9:15 we were on the road, but it wasn't too long before we stopped at a nearby post office to send souvenirs and presents to loved ones back home...little did we know the post office wouldn't accept credit or debit cards so people like Jen ended up being S.O.L. And had to pack their would-be mail back up. Once we got back on the road we had about three hours to drive before we reached the Grand Tetons.

When we reached the visitor center where we were supposed to shower at, we came to the sad realization that the water at the facility had been turned off which meant no showers for this ECOEE group this day...but then our LoD Molly and her faithful assistant Katy went in the visitor center to check if there were other shower facilities around and, to the extreme delight of our group there were, and we were going to take advantage of them since some of us hadn't showered in two weeks.

Before we were able to take our showers we had to go set our campsites up and then meet with Scot Guenther, a manager and rescuer at the Jenny Lake Rescue Cache. Scott explained to us all what his job entailed him to do. He made a good point at explaining and expressing the fact that rescue isn't just about saving people but also that there's a lot of planning, paperwork, and logistics that must be done before a rescue team goes out in search of the victim.

After our meeting with Scott we drove to a recreation center located in Jackson Hole. This was the lovely place where our showers were located at. The showers were $7.00 a person, but after 2 weeks of not showering the money didn't really seem all too horrible of a price to pay.

Once the group was all squeaky clean Molly sent one van to the grocery store to do a food buy for the next couple days and the other van went back to the campground to set the tents and kitchen up. When the food buy van came back to the campground they had eight pizzas with them which we devoured through and through. Being squeaky clean from the showers and with my belly full of pizza, this sleepy ECOEE member is going to go zonk out.

Goodnight friends and family,
Brandon Wessels

Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 44- Katy Hunt

My goodness, my goodness, what a wonderful day! Well, at least it was after 8am! Our professional chef Brittany crept quietly out of her sleeping bag this morning to get a head-start on breakfast for the group only to find both of her boots missing! Thankfully, the sly fox Brandon and I had witnessed sneaking around the campsite the night before kept his trickery kept his trickery light for her. I on the other hand had to search far and wide for my left boot, while my right stayed untouched near my tent.

Breakfast was coming along with eggs scrambling and bacon sizzling as our LOD, Nicki, noticed the sky showed signs of rain. As we gathered for chow, the drops started to fall! Luckily, it was barely enough to get our gills wet and actually produced a beautiful rainbow after the rained cleared.

After our bellies were filled, we loaded up the vans to head off to Canyon Village’s Mt. Washburn, a 36 mile drive away. For some the drive flew while others window gazed at all the beauty Yellowstone has to offer. Justin spotted a black bear strolling solo down in a meadow from the road, turning everyone a little green by his sharp spy. Little did we know that Justin’s sneak peak was just the start of our wildlife adventure for the day.

We started our way up Mt. Washburn on the neatly arranged trail that was once a road. Climbing and laughing our way to the top, we all took the opportunity to gaze out at the beautiful scenery of millions of trees below us. Monica further explained our curiosity of the trees below us with a lesson on White Pines and their purpose for the surrounding wildlife. A little further up the trail laid some coyote scat and I had to investigate, (scats and tracks being my Outdoor Ed. Topic and all). As I picked out a small mammal claw from the scat to pass it around, Corey gasped and pointed down the trail. The moment we’d all been waiting for: a grizzly bear! This big bear was right down the trail from us, giving us a safe but good view too. Tony clarified that this bear was indeed a grizzly due to its humped back and “teddy bear” like ears. Although he looked cuddly, we respected his space and headed up the trail another half mile just to see another bear! This time, it was a black bear nibbling on some pinecones. I’m sure Brandon got a big shock upon walking out into the woods to pee and find a black bear having a light lunch!

We continued on with our hike and kept on for another hour before reaching the top of the mountain. Everyone rejoiced in our accomplishment of 10,243 feet in elevation. Plus, Jen finally get to see her Pica at the top of the mountain making it a win-win for her! After taking lots of silly pictures next to the sign, we headed back down the mountain for a quick lunch.

Since our hike lasted longer than expected, we headed over to Canyon Visitor Center to learn more about the volcanoes and lava flowing beneath our feet. Time was moving faster than we would have liked as Nicki decided two quick views of Uncle Tom’s Point and Artist Point would have to suffice. The Upper Falls drew out cameras and wide eyes to take in its natural beauty. However, its amazement could not be compared to Jeff’s surprise model shots laying in the pinup position in front of the falls! Both were once in a lifetime shots!

Pilling into the vans, we arrived at camp where Brittany prepared chicken noodle soup with dumplings and salad. The nights are getting cold here making the warm soup fill our bodies with happiness and our heads with sleepy thoughts. Goodnight everyone!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day 43- Molly Corrigan

This morning we woke up at Madison Campground in Yellowstone. Brandon our master chef for the day made scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, sautéed vegetables and a breakfast pizza. Little did we know he had also prepared a cake for Jeff’s birthday. We gobbled down our breakfast and gathered around for Tony’s Outdoor Education Lesson. The lesson consisted of a game called “The Animal Station Rotation,” where we all split into groups of three and gathered at one of four stations that tested our knowledge of animals. Group three, Brandon, Brittany, and Katy, were the winners. My group would have tied if it wasn’t for my understandable mistake at the “Antlers or Horns” station.

Then it was off to Old Faithful which I and some of the group have been waiting for since we arrived to Yellowstone. There were so many things to see, hot springs, geysers, visitor centers and gift shops. The only way our leader, Sarah, would know that everyone was satisfied was to give us the choice to see what we want and split up for three hours. We were told to meet up at 2:30 for a mile long interpretation walk. Ranger Landis our Interp guide gave us tons of information on the geysers and the history of the park.

After the talk it was time for Jeff’s birthday surprise dinner. I think he was skeptical at first but on the way home I knew he had enjoyed it because he was actually playing music and singing along. I guess he really enjoyed our company or maybe it was his pork chops.

It was dark before we got back to camp. Everyone changed into warmer clothes and got ready for brief and debrief. Around 11:00 I was getting ready for bed when I noticed the dutch oven with Jeffs cake was sitting on the picnic table untouched. I held back from grabbing a pieced before cuddling up in my sleeping bag. I guess the cake will have to wait till tomorrow.

Thinking about you every day,

Friday, September 23, 2011

Day 41- Sarah Heller

My, oh my, these kids woke up early today. I was fast asleep in my nest when the pots and pans started banging around at 5 am. From up here it looked like the girl they call Molly cooked biscuits and gravy with some help from Katy and Brandon. I followed their white vans from high above as they approached Yellowstone National Park. Whoa! Hit the brakes, there’s bison crossing the road!

The first stop the kids made was to Lamar Valley. There was a lot of action happening here, with cars lined up along the road and people outside with their binoculars. I flew across the valley and saw they were watching a pack of wolves. A man named Colby was teaching them about the research Yellowstone is doing on its’ wolf packs. There were even 5 wolf pups out in the valley running around.

I soared high above as they loaded back into their vans and headed towards Mammoth Hot Springs. A river wound alongside the road and the students gazed out at its’ ‘rocky’ waters. When they arrived at Mammoth I watched them go into a building and they said they were meeting with Bob. When they came out I heard them talking about some of the youth programs that Bob helps run here at Yellowstone. I perched in a tree as they ate their lunch in a nice grassy area.

Then they dispersed around the grounds and it was hard for me to keep track of all of them. I saw Jen, Brittany, and Monica go into the Visitor’s Center as Nicki met with Steve and Jeff for her student evaluation. After they came outside there were elk on the Mammoth lawns. It is rutting season right now for the elk and bugling can be heard all around. Many of the students witnessed a bull and cow mating and if they were to come back in June, they could see the offspring.

I followed Corey, Molly, Justin, Heather, Tony, and Sarah along the Gardiner trail as they hiked up above the Mammoth area. It was a beautiful view out over the mountains and valleys that they were able to see. A few of them checked out the terraces that have the hot springs running out of them. These formations are very unique and are ever changing.

I then followed them across Mammoth as they were to meet with Rick to learn about bison. Yellowstone currently has about 3,700 head of bison roaming within its boundaries. I watched the kids load into their vans for the final time and head for Madison Campground. They started cooking up a stew for dinner and it was getting dark. I’m not sure if these kids ever sleep! I know it’s time for me to get back to my nest for the evening.

Good night to you ECOEE followers.
‘Baldy’ the Eagle

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day 40- Heather Carlberg

These peaks rose around us as we awoke to a pink sunrise at our Lander Campground. We ate a breakfast of biscuits and gravy prepared by the chef, Nicki. We then packed and loaded the vans and headed out towards Cody, WY. Away we went across the red plains under the rising sun, ever bright, and through the glorious red rises of the Upper Wind River Range of the Rockies.

Wanders are we, though never lost, we are in search of knowledge and adventure. Joe Harper, a United States Forest Service (USFS) Wildlife Biologist at the Shoshone National Forest Branch gave us knowledge to dwell upon. He informed us about how the USFS deals with wolves, bears, and ranchers, as well as fires and managing the wildlife within the Shoshone National Forest. As we loaded into our vans on our way to our next camp, we remembered that Mr. Harper had told us we would be traveling upon the same road built an hundred some years ago, through men’s blood, sweat, and tears.

We headed to Walgreens, grabbed Justin’s prescription, and some last minute snacks for the road. We headed out of Cody destined for what lay beyond the pass in ht mountains. As we drove, we gazed at the majestic beauty that surrounded us. From the red quartz sandstone hills, bluffs, and mountains, to the tan grassy plains, we realized that this is a place unlike any other. This is Yellowstone.

We had a mix up in direction by Monica, the LOD, which caused about an hour delay, but we arrived in a discrete campsite by a bubbling brook with a rugged peak for a glorious back drop. We ended our day on full stomachs from Nicki’s delish horseshoes, and full minds from Joe Harper and the brief for the next day.

Life ever changing, minds ever growing, we prepare for the new adventures that lie ahead. Ignite your passion, live your adventure.

Until next time, with love to all back home,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 39 - Justin Morris

Location: Lander, Wyoming (Day 2)

A person who lives in this beautiful city may not appreciate just how majestic it is. As the sun rose on our day, the base of the rockies become a pillar, appearing as if the Rocky Mountains were holding the sun up into the sky for all to see. Tony, our leader of the day, got us in gear and moving in the morning for the anxiously anticipated day in Lander. We had an early appointment with the National Outdoor Leadership School, better known as NOLS. The school was founded on the ideals of the god father of our own program. Paul Pezoldt is who I’m referring to. We wrapped up our morning at Lander City Park and headed into town for our busy day. We met with Any Basset, a field instructor for NOLS who gave us the keys to helping finish our 10 day trip plan, Some interesting things we learned were that every NASA astronaut since 1999 was a NOLS graduate at one time as well as NOLS tracks their carbon footprint not only in the back country, but also in the front country with an incredibly detailed emissions and sustainability chart. They do a bang up job on practicing what they preach.

Around lunch time we left NOLS HQ, grabbed some BLT’s courtesy of Sarah (The Palin) Heller and headed into NOLS gear shop for a much needed Sierras gear buy. Afterwards, we spent the rest of the afternoon taking care of our personal business and sprinting around Lander like the tourists we are. Some of us took showers at the local recreation center, we completely took over a laundry mat, and visited local shops for gifts and more gear. This was all much needed and put us in extremely high spirits. As one van arrived back to the park, we began setting up base camp for our last night in Lander before Yellowstone and awaited the van that went to do a food buy to arrive as well. Eventually everything was settled and meat loaf was on the stove. (Thank you again Sarah!) We ate the meal that reminded this guy of a home cooked meal from mi’ madre. After we cleaned up the aftermath of dinner, we slowly made our way into the circle where we handle all our in house business and eventually ended after some time. Some of us hopped in the vans sniffing for some free wi-fi and others dove into their sleeping bags. Tomorrow we make way for Yellowstone, where another page in ECOEE 2011 will be one for the history books. Keep it real ECOEE followers.

Go where your heart takes you, and let your moral compass do the rest.

-Justin Morris

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day 38- Monica Gummow

This morning I woke with a start. I heard someone all the way in dream land when they made an exciting statement: “I think that’s an elk up there!” I sprang out of my sleeping bag and poked my head out of the tent to see for myself the first elk of our trip. Sure enough, as the sun rose over a large hill near our campsite, on top stood a lone elk grazing on grass in the twilight hour. Corey,Brandon, Steve, and I stood watching the perfect sight before snapping some pictures and heading over for breakfast.

After eating our morning meal prepared by Heather, the group headed off for our tour of Wind Cave in the Wind Cave National Park . When the tour began we walked down farther and farther in the ground, our lowest point reaching 183 feet below the surface. The cave was spectacular; the more we descended into the earther, the more we found. The tunnel we followed was filled with formations such as frostwork, boxwork, and cave popcorn. The most notable feature of the cave was the large caverns that opened in random places. The huge room like areas gave us all a chance to marvel at the beautiful colors and formations all around us. We were all very sad when our tour had to end, many of us could have easily stayed the rest of the day.

As we left Wind Cave National Park, we had a six hour drive ahead of us before we would reach our next destination. Many of us passed the time in the van as we normally do: reading, doing homework, listening to music, or catching some zzz’s. However some of our group knew that today was special and although they continued on with their normal van activities, they were sure to stay alert.

After some hours of waiting, we were all excited to see what we had been looking forward too: we got our first glimpse at the Rocky Mountains. Lander, WY was the final destination the final destination today which meant we were able to drive straight toward the Wind River Range of the Rockies. For one of our group members, this was the first time she had ever seen real mountains, Brittany stared in awe at how massive the peaks seemed, even though they were still roughly 70 miles away.

As the mountain peaks grew bigger and bigger, the vans drove closer and closer to Lander. Once we arrived in town we made our camp at the city park. Dinner was made and the group discussed some peer evaluations as our evening activity. Unfortunately for us flat-landers from IL, we are not quite used to these mountain temperatures. We all hurried to our tents after debrief to hide from the cold in our warm sleeping bags.
Hopefully by next rotation we will be somewhere warm and I won’t have frozen fingers from being the journal writer!! Until then, we miss all our friends and family at home. Stay cool ECOEE followers!

Love Much!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day 37- Tony Beyer

Today was one of those “play it by ear” days, we were scheduled to have a professional meeting at Badlands National Park. However due to scheduling conflicts by the Badlands park ranger we were unable to have our meeting. Even with that hiccup we rolled with the punches per usual and moved on to Mount Rushmore National Monument. Corey our stern LOD directed us flawlessly to Mt. Rushmore, but not before a brief stop at Wall Drug. You all may be asking “Where the heck is Wall Drug?” but it is this tiny tourist town that got its claim to fame by offering free ice water. We all had our time to cruise the one blocked tourist trap until it was back I n the vans and on our way to the monument.

Once at Mt. Rushmore we got two hours of free time to do what we wanted. Some went on a ranger walk that explained some neat facts about the monument. Others just took a stroll around admiring the extreme and beautiful work. I personally was very excited to be3 where the epic final chase scene of Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” was filmed. But after that glow wore off we all took our respectable pictures as us being the fifth member of the monument.

After Mt. Rushmore we scooted over to Crazy Horse which is supposed to be the Native American rebuttal to Mt. Rushmore yet it was started 60 years ago and only about 1/10th of it is done. After the long day we arrived at our campground in Wind Cave National Park, which is where I’m writing from right now. But until next time I’m Tony Beyer signing off.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 34- Brittany Abrams

This morning we awoke at Horn Field Campus for the last time in a long while. We had planned to hit the road and head west for two months—7AM was when we wanted to depart but due to lateness we did not leave until another half hour later. Brandon was ALOD and I got to ride shotgun for him to discuss tomorrow’s plans. Jen was LOD and did a wonderful job having and helping the rest of us get ready. We were to travel 504 miles today from Macomb, IL to Sioux Fall, SD. The trip itself was chill. Brandon and I chatted along as others caught up on sleep. The weather was grey and cool but the air was crisp- fall was underway which I am excited about since it is my favorite season of the year. About 8-10 hours later on the road and we made it to our destination.

Kampsites of America (KOA) was where we set up camp for the night. Sarah, Tony, and Justin did a great job making a scrumptious “motherly dinner” which consisted of a roast-like dish, fresh corn on the cob from the Wessel’s farm, and brownies! We took advantage of the warm pavilion located next to camp to work and eat in. After dinner, and working on personal work, Jeeves had their evaluation with Jen. When all of us united again we did Monica’s group evaluation. The night was late to finish so many went right to bed after debrief and brief for the following day, and some of us stayed up to finish group work. Debrief was for the first time short, sweet, and to the point, which was what we were aiming for this entire time. The group is doing well and I know I am excited for being back in the front country and exploring the West! Back country was a success –let us make front country that way too! Love and miss you all from home…and until next time take care.

Peace and Love Always,

“The more you know, the more you forget. The more you forget, the less you know. The less you know, the less you forget. The less you forget, the more you know.”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 31- Heather Carlberg

Quote 1: It is a page in a chapter. Don’t close the book, just turn the page. -Unknown

Quote 2: Be the change you wish to see in the world - Gandhi

Quote 3: You will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue – Mike Murdoch

Today, was the day we have somewhat anticipated, some in good ways and others in bad. Evals. This is our midcourse evals; the equivalent to our other WIU and High School buddies midterms. Except where they are about history and math, we are explaining and critiquing leadership and outdoor living. We have completed all told within our two eval groups, a total of 41/2 evals. Those lucky souls will then move onto a one on two session with our mentors, Jeff and Steve. After our evals were done, we ate Jen’s fab fettuccini alfredo with garlic toast and the left over tomato and chicken soups from lunch. Later, we anticipated the arrival of Dr. Mike McGowan to help us debrief the trip thus far. He highlighted that we are not yet in the storming stage, but we are not in the forming stage either. He also said we need to communicate to others of our thoughts on their behaviors, actions, and some times, their mentality. He warned that bottling it up is only going to make the situation worse later on. While we reflect upon today’s lesson, we can reflect upon ourselves and being the change we wish to see in the world.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 30 - Nicki Smith

1 Sheep, 2 Sheep, 3 Sheep….. This is what a fraction of what happened today. We awoke to dark skies and our courageous LOD Corey took an extra moment of silence to remember those affected by 9/11. Being a veteran himself, he knew exactly what sacrifice it takes to serve this country. We thanked him and those who served by his side. But for the early morning that everyone had, it was not in vain, for we had a long journey ahead.

ECOEE was on the road by 7am and was headed off to the next stop. This stop was not new to us, and even for some of us this next stop was our second home. Some of us were excited to see some familiar faces and some just to have a stationary bed for a couple of days. It did not matter because the ride went quick. A stop for gas and food and we were finally back in Illinois. Unfortunately, when we arrived back to Horn Field our day wasn’t over. A food buy, gear cleaning and repairing took over for the next few hours. Stoves, bear ropes, Duluth bags, food bags, road kill, river bags, and personal gear was sorted, thrown out, or cleaned.

Our day was set after we all gathered up for debrief/brief. It was a night of internet, and phone calls home to our loved ones to have them hear of the adventures upon the English River and our travels to and from. And so after some writing I hit the sack and dream once again about sheep until tomorrow morning. Goodnight y’all and slept tight because this ECOEEian has had some journey’s in only 20 days.
Nicki Smith

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Day 29 - Katy Hunt

Another day another lesson learned for the ECOEEE clan as a late night tucked away in a cozy cabin at Camp Confidence in Minnesota turned into an early morning. A lot of the ECOEE participants took advantage of the warm shelter by staying up late into the night working on homework and catching up with friends back home.

But a late night always brings an early morning for us all and everyone’s bright and shiny faces were up at 6:00 am. Our fantastic host Bob greeted us with a scrambled egg and bacon pizza including a variety of breakfast drinks we all had been craving.

After a quick wrap up of the facility’s main lodge, we hit the road for a six hour drive and 205 miles later we arrived in Lake City, MN, at a campground to stay the night. Once we were all settled in our home for the night, a great treat was in store for us. You see my fellow ECOEE lovers; this little town of Minnesota holds a WIU legend by the name of Doc.

Frank “Doc” Lupton was the original coordinator of ECOEE and built the program from the ground up. With a belief in the importance in the importance of education and the love of fellow outdoorsman, Doc traveled the short distance from his home to the campground to share stories and advice from ECOEEs past.

After a few stories and lots of laughs, Doc rose from his chair and asked if ice cream for Dairy Queen should be a part of our day. Before we traveled off for an icy treat, the local photographer stopped by and took a few snap shots with his old school film camera for the local press.

Dinner by Heather included a delicious variety of fresh veggies, fruits and meats followed by an evening of knots and rope trick lessons by our guest of honor.

Doc is proof that a passion and voice can carry on long after the reins have been passed on; you just have to know how to use them.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Day 28 - Corey Frantz

Today is the first full day in the front country and we had a long drive ahead of us. I woke up and wanted to punch Tony in the face for being so obnoxious, it was funny, but is still wanted to punch him. Then we “the ECOEE” group tore down camp, to get ready to leave for long day ahead. Jeff and Steve made breakfast, Jeff said it was mostly his doing, but it was amazing fit for a king and enough for ten more. There were pancakes and in the two big Dutch oven an amazing skillet filled them both. In the skillet there were eggs, cheese, hash browns, fresh green peppers, fresh tomatoes, and onion as well and of course sausage. It was awesome! Then we cleaned up and got ready to leave and drove to the United States! It was a great feeling crossing the border and being backed home, plus we didn’t get searched so it was a nice and easy transition. Within twenty minutes we stopped to fill up with gas and eat lunch, we stopped at Hardees which was good, but I know some felt guilty after eating such a greasy lunch. After we headed to Brainier, Minnesota to Camp Confidence, which is an amazing place. It is a non-profit organization that facilitates people of all ages, which have different disabilities. It sounds and looks like they do amazing work. The man that gave us the tour name is Bob, and is one of the lead guys out here and filled us with tons of information and great food. After the great tour which was great he cooked us dinner. He made us Kabobs some with chicken, beef and green peppers, onions, and yellow squash. As for sides we had wild rice with almonds and a great zucchini and onion salad. The night turned out to be great we had awsome food and a cabin that felt like a five star hotel to us. The day drawing to an end we did the usual, debriefed and debriefed some more then briefed the day. Another long day of driving it’s time for bed. Good night.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Day 27 - Tony Beyer

Today was the last day on the river, a rush of many emotions was coursing through us. It was a very bittersweet feeling, on one hand it was nice to get to our normal conveniences like toilet paper and a shower. On the other hand it was hard to leave the eternal beauty of the wilderness we've come 115 miles down the English River and we did it together. Its brought us close to one another and going back to civbilication is going to be tough, but we must adjust and use the lessons we learned out there and apply them in the front country.

So we set out from our majestic beach campsite at Ruby Island for a pretty easy six mile paddle to the marina where our white stallion like vans awaited us. My first thoughts were getting my iPod headphones in my ears and reflecting on the past 18 days while listening to good tunes, as I know others wanted to as well. We took a short drive to Ojibway Provincial Park to set up our front country tents. Little did we know the surprise that “Jeeves” (Jeff and grad. Student Steve) had in store for us, it was a dinner at a close by restaurant Knobby’s, right off the lake. The thought of eating food prepared by someone other then our ECOEE brethren was awesome. Also knowing we don’t have to clean the dishes was a treat.

We debriefed the entire 18 day expedition, expressing our favorite parts, lessons we learned and how to incorporate those into our daily lives. But now it’s a new section of our ECOEE journey and I look forward to the new places I’m going and who I’m going with. So I felt this quote is quite fitting, “I’ve been smiling lately, thinking about good things to come and I believe it could be something good has begun.”

-Tony Beyer

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 26 - Justin Morris

Quote of the Day:
“What the fool does in the end, the wise man does in the beginning.” -proverb

As fast as this trip came, itʼs end is literally in sight. The group left this morning from one of our most beloved camp sites thus far. But only after two interpretation lessons given by Monica and Nicki. Our leader of the day, Molly, had us packed and ready by seven for a very short paddle day. Our partners were new, instead of sticking with the usual male/female pairs, and instead having all male pairs and all female pairs for the first time the entire trip. We set sail around eight thirty, leaving behind us the English River which some will miss dearly and others not at all. We have become one with our paddles, in control of our own destination and goals. Our objective is close, almost literally in sight. The mood is good due to the near completion of our objective of reaching the finish line in time. The fruits of our labor revealed themselves in the form of a sandy, beautiful beach equipped with a “slammer” (make shift toilet) and filet (cooking) tables for fisherman to use on the south end of Ruby Island. Weʼre now only a few short hours away from our destination by way of canoe. The group got some much needed R & R in the form of free time in which we did laundry, journaling, and other homework. We also took baths :). After a short risk management lesson by old man river, we broke for dinner and compiled what we had left in our food bags for pizzas and pasta. One by one we drifted to sleep, some dreaming of technology and civilization, and others a resupply with soda and candy included just to be able to stay longer. So long sports fans!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 25 - Sarah Heller

Standing here live at English River Falls, I am with a group called ECOEE that is on day 16 of their 18 days of paddling on the English River. They are headed towards Sioux Lookout and they have nearly reached their destination. This has not been an easy task though, let me tell you! You see, last night they had to sleep out under the stars with no tents because there wasn’t a campsite to be found. This didn’t put a damper on their spirits as it did on their sleeping bags, no! Today brought clear skies and warm weather and they were up and at ‘em this morning, ready for adventure.

That adventure is just what they got too. Their day was filled with rapids upon rapids and Brittany, their leader, and her canoe partner Nicki, steered them in the right direction. With the English River being so low this season, the waters are very ‘rocky.’ This can mean danger if the canoes are not paddled through very precisely. Tony and Molly were in the navigator boat today and they were taking the rapids head on.

During one set of rapids, Jeff, the wise one, and Katy got their canoe stuck between two rocks. Bad turned to worse very quickly as the rushing water began filling the canoe. They started dumping their bags and gear out of the canoe and all of it went rushing down the rapids and into a bay. A recon mission was put into place by Corey and me to gather all of their belongings. The canoe was still pinned though, with thousands of pounds of water pressure forcing it between the rocks. It was time for the “Macho, Macho Men” to try their hardest to get the canoe pried out. Jeff, Steve, Brandon, Justin, Tony, and Corey were using all of their might to save the canoe. Monica was sure to get pictures of all of this action. After several tries, they finally got it shoved out of the rocks and it flew down the rest of the rapids. They all floated down the wild waters and the women rescued them at the end. Jen was among those that performed a T-rescue to capture the canoe and Heather helped pull it back to shore. It was a little banged up, but it popped back into place and was ready for more action.

During another set of rapids, the group portaged the gear and canoes rather than chancing it on the rushing waters. Up came the tenth and final rapids of the day and the ECOEE-ians looked to portage this set as well. The canoes landed and were unpacked and the group began hauling their gear up what appeared to be a portage trail. Little did they know that this trail was merely a game trail and would end, just as soon as it began. Many trudged on through the forest, hoping to find a path. This led to some getting lost and frustrated in the woods. They all made it out to the water and decided they would have to run the rapids with the canoes because there was no portage trail to be found.

They glided through flawlessly and arrived here at the head of the falls this evening. They all pulled onto shore and unloaded their packs from the canoes and set up camp for the night. After filling their bellies and preparing for their travels tomorrow, these paddlers are ready to get some rest. From the top of English River Falls, with the moon and stars shining bright above me,
I’m Sarah Heller and “I like turtles.”
Good Night!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 24 - Heather Carlberg

Temperature at 8 a.m.: 66o
Barometer at 8 a.m.: 28.8

Today started out early. Up at 5:30 am and ready to go by 7 for lessons by Brandon and Tony. We then headed out into the bright horizon searching for new discoveries and awaiting the adventures we knew laid ahead. Even though we started out at a balmy 42o F, our spirits didn’t waiver. The day grew brighter and better as the sun rose higher and higher into the bright bluen yonder. Our fearless and ever joyous leader, Brandon, proposed a 27 kilometer, or a 16 and a half mile, paddle for this sunny morn. As we finally left our makeshift camp, the sun warmed our wet clothes, lifted our already high spirits even more, and made the day a lot drier. Not for long, however; for we had 5 rapids and/or portages proposed to accomplish before we reached our final destination at the 6th to last portage.

The first was a simple just follow the V’s, and away we went quick behind our ever knowledgeable leader Jeff. Brandon and I, and I assume the rest of our group did too, got a wee bit of water over our gunwales. I ended up using my shoe to bail the water from the bow, while Brandon used a sponge to soak up as much water as he could from the stern. The second rapids followed shortly after, yet they never appeared, and we drifted onto the third set and after some good long deliberations, we ended up having to portage our gear across. The fourth set was shallow enough we started to line them through. However, after about a half hour we encountered a waterfall and we ended up portaging around the fall. We continued another few kilometers, and we ended up at the 5th rapids set. It ended up being easily navigable long sections that we drifted across. We then were under way on our way to #6. After some careful planning and deliberations, we decided to run them in hopes of the larger campsite on the island after the rapids.

The island never appeared and we were forced to stop for the night. With no place for our tents, we were forced to bivy it up for the night. Everyone piled layers upon layers, either to dry them against their body heat or to warm up for the chilly night. We cooked quick and simple meals, claimed a spot somewhere in the small clearing, snuggled into our sleeping bags or bivy sacks, and huddled together for the night that lay ahead. Well ECOEEIAN followers and well wishers, it is off to bed for this tired ECOEEIAN, until next time, with love to all, and hopes of the great adventures that lay ahead of us,


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 23 - Brittany Abrams

Today the group woke up at 7:00AM after a long nights slumber because of last evenings rainy cold weather. The sleep was much needed I would have to say so myself. The morning was still cool and wet but we had lots to catch up on. Justin, our Leader of the Day (LOD), was asking us to tear down camp after we cooked ourselves some breakfast. Brandon was out Assistant Leader of the Day (ALOD) and was doing a great job as usual by keeping all of us positive. After all was taken care of Katy debriefed us from the day before which was such a crazy weather day that had some of us scared and worried what was to happen next especially while hurrying off the water when lightning was striking near and giant gum ball sized hail was beating down on us. Everyone shared their thoughts and agreed it was a great learning experience. After debrief Justin then gave a lesson about Great Exploration and then introduced us to Edible and Medic-able Plants. As the day stayed gloomy and grey we set off paddling to our next destination. We didn’t make it far because the winds picked up and we settled on an island for the night. Jeff gave another instruction on the j-stroke when paddling since some were still struggling with it. TEC plans were also explained to us once again because we were confused on them too. Heather gave her lesson on the Ojibwe People and the Fur Trade. Soon after we broke for dinner and met again for debrief. The sky began to clear and stars filled the dark sky as Jeff explained the cold weather the morning was to bring. Right now I am sitting out under the stars waiting for the bread to bake with Molly and Sarah. My thoughts fill with the thought of how we have only three days left on the river and as nice as it sounds to go back to heat, showers, electricity, technology, and what not- I will sure miss the back country life and dropping out of society for the few weeks. Even just the thought of not being able to live this different lifestyle that I and many others may never experience again makes me sad. Being here and learning from Jeff and Steve as well as my fellow ECOEEians is and has been a great opportunity. I hope all of us can look back at our time out here and appreciate it. The next few days will be busy and hard work but will be an awesome accomplishment when we finish! Until then we will keep on rollin down the river and seeing what more can be brought upon us.

“There are three kinds of people in the world, the wills, the won'ts and the can'ts. The first accomplish everything; the second oppose everything; the third fail in everything.”

Peace and Love to all,

Brittany Abrams

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 22 - Brandon Wessels

Today was a bright, sunny day for the people of ECOEE...not! Despite the fact that it was cold and rainy, people managed to keep chipper spirits about them for the most part. It started out this morning, we were to be awake and out of our tents by 5:30. When the sun decided to peak over the horizon the skies were pink, which was our first sign that we had an “exciting” day ahead of us. Brittany, Monica, and Molly gave their lessons early in the morning and then once they finished we took off on the river with the goal of covering 20 miles in mind.

When the clock hit 12:30 the predictions made by the pink skies this morning proved to be true because right after our fearless leader Katy steered us to shore strong winds picked up and if we had been on the lake there is a good chance at least one of our seven canoes would have capsized and the others would have had very little control of where their canoe went. But we made it to shore and didn't have to worry about that. After the wind calmed down for a bit and we had a little food in our bellies we set off again with our eyes on the clouds because the weather ahead of us didn't look too promising. A ways down the river we came to a couple rapids, the first was a piece of cake in comparison to ones we've previously seen. The second one, however, had a four foot ledge and therefore we were forced to line our canoes through. About five minutes into the process of lining our canoes it started raining on us, go figure right? Instead of being upset or angry though you could see the smile on each person's face get bigger and bigger as the rain fell harder and faster – well, we were all at least waist deep in the rapids so getting wet happened to be the least of our worries. Once we got all the canoes through we took off almost immediately, but then it happened: the main excitement of our day – lightning. As soon as our wise omnipotent leader Jeff saw it he yelled for us to paddle like we've never paddled before and get to the bridge standing in front of us for safety. But when we crossed a few bends in the river it was not a bridge standing in front of us but instead another set of rapids! Jen and I, being in the leading canoe, tried to decide whether to run the rapids or pull off to shore, so as we turned to Jeff for his input an acorn fell out of the sky into the water in front of us...oh wait! That wasn't an acorn, it was hail! Without thinking twice Jeff yelled for everyone to get to the river right shore. Once we got there everybody jumped out of the canoes and ran to a safe spot on land while using their PFDs as protection from the large hail clusters, someone grabbed the group tarp and everybody gathered underneath it to seek safety. While waiting for the hail to stop, Katy took a head count to make sure everybody in our group had made it in safely. When the hail finally stopped, Jeff declared we were camping there for the night so we got our tents out of our canoes and set them up immediately, and then changed clothes and wrapped ourselves up in our tents until the rain decided it had enough fun with us for the day...which didn't end up happening until the next day. So we stayed in our tents the rest of the night, some of us sleeping and the others (such as myself) did homework until they were ready fro sleep. I guess it's going to be an early night tonight.

We miss you dear ECOEE followers. Goodnight!

Brandon Wessels

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 21 - Justin Morris

Quote of the day:
“It is by acts, not by ideas that people live.” - Anatole France

Average Temperature: 70 degrees (F) Barometer: 28.3 Wind: 3-10 MPH

Another day, another canadian dollar. The group started this morning with a little more urgency than usual. Attempting to exemplify professionalism as well as our commitment to why were here. For the most part we were successful, nearly meeting our 7:00 A.M. deadline. Monica, the leader of the day, encouraged us to aim high after yet another mental day where we watched the clouds and storms go by. It felt good to be back on the water and moving again, all of us exemplified this by singing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song. More or less just humming it. The first half of the day came and went. Knocking out both our portages that were planned for the day over waterfalls and facing only minor resistance from Jeffʼs mother, mother nature. After our little tiff with the wind on Lake Sowden and our explosive early afternoon, we began to feel the effects of our sun and started to slow down. Regardless, we pushed on to reach our final destination at Camp Cozy, which was more of a front country campground in comparison to where we had been. Some of us had our fingers crossed for a vending machine with candy and sodas and of course we were let down. Although we never got our soda and candy fix, we managed to take hot showers and revamp our attitudes a bit with some well cooked backcountry food. The smell of brownies consumed the air and the campers prepared themselves for nightfall. WAIT! Itʼs my group making the brownies, YESSSSSSS!!!! Well life is a garden yaʼll, just dig it!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 20 - Katy Hunt

Ah ha! After the endless August heat, we are now coolly rolling into September here on the English River. Life in the back country is never dull, especially when it comes to the weather.

Our group woke up to a hazy sky filled with stratus clouds and a light wind. None the less our determined leader, Molly, looked at the sky with hope of better weather. With the direction to load the boats, the group quickly filled their canoes with both personal and group gear while dark clouds filled the sky.

By the time everything was packed and ready to go, a dark array of nimbostratus clouds had gathered around the lake making the water swell with waves. Surveying the quickly rising waves as well as the blowing southern wind, it was decided we would wait out the storm on the island.

Instead of staying on the student’s side of the island, we quickly paddled over to “Jeeve’s” (Jeff and Steve” side of the island where there was more room to accommodate all of us. Our convoy moved Molly knew the time spent on the island could not be wasted so she and Jeff decided lessons would have to do.

Jeff spoke of lightning safety, while Brittany pointed out the Six W’s of campsite selection, Heather taught us all about rocks and Nicki on wildlife’s habitats and homes, but we all had to wonder if we would ever get off the island. A quick break for lunch was given and the sun popped out for the time being warming our spirits with thoughts of departure. However, the sun didn’t stay and visit long, for the wind soon picked up again and in rolled the clouds.

Seeing the slim possibility of parting shore, Jeff continued his lessons with a brief on decision making skills which put us all in a guessing mood. To top off the day, a little personal TLC time was given where everyone got to take advantage of the spacious trees to hang clothes lines. Our campsite on the island soon resembled a commune full of people bathing off the shore. I’m sure it was an interesting sight to see when a pair of motor boats passed by, but that’s just the ECOEE way.

Until Wilson and I get off this island,

Katy Hunt

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 19 - Monica Gummow

A Bedtime Story

Once upon a time in a far away land called "Ka-Na-Duhh" there was a group of explorers. they had been on a river trip for nine days when the group came to a set of rapids just too dangerous to cross. Instead, they took the most grueling portage of their entire expedition, a whopping mile and quarter. A trek so intense, only one thing could be carried at a time. This meant that each of the fourteen explorers had to make this trip at least six times The leader of the day claimed to have walked the trail enough times to have covered 12 whole miles. This entire journey took 5 exhausting hours before all of the gear had been successfully transported.

The day was not over yet though and the weary explorers still had more work to do to push on to their final destination. The travelers perked up for an afternoon of paddling. Unfortunately for the group, a hurricane like storm looned in the horizon. bringing not rain but grueling winds. Try as they might, the group could not continue to battle the forces of nature and decided to make camp on a small island in Lake Wabazikaskwi.

After a hard day filled with work the group enjoyed time together by playing games and learning folklore and myths. One legend they heard was about the old wise man who traveled with the explorers as a guide and advisor. A story was told about how this old wise man and how he came to be on this earth. It was revealed that unlike normal humans "Jeeves", as he was called, was not like you and me. But rather he was once a tree, who heard the call of needy students in the distance. Upon hearing their cries for knowledge, Jeeves grew legs and sprung from the forest, paddle in hand. I suppose one could say "he was born that way."

As the night came to a end, the explorers found the way to their tents with a evening of stories and games still on their minds. Proud of the hard work they had accomplished earlier that day they laid down to rest, preparing for another day of hard paddling. With a good night wish to one another, they fell asleep dreaming of their forthcoming adventures.
Good night and sleep tight ECOEE followers!

The End

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 18 - Molly Corrigan

“one foot in and one foot back, it doesn’t pay to live like that” – Avett Brothers

This morning we were suppose to have our canoes packed and ready to go by 6:30 which ended up being 7:00. Our destination was 12 miles away to Mackenzie Lake, just before our big 1.25 mile portage. We did a few sets of rapids today the highest being a class 2. I know my canoe partner, Steve and I were proud to make it through and I am sure we weren’t the only ones in the group that felt that way.

The next set of rapids we had the choice to line our boats or portage them. Only Jeff had the experience to go down a class three rapid, which looked like a waterfall to me. Tony, Jeff’s canoe partner for the day, suggested they go down it. So everyone gathered around the rapids to watch their fate. Heading for the rapids Jeff’s expression was calm and focused which turned into a giant grin as soon as they hit the rapid. Tony started off all smiles then his eyes widened and his mouth dropped. When they hit the white water the canoe filled with water shockingly they made it to shore without capsizing.

We made it across Mackenzie Lake to our campsite where we wrapped up our day with dinner and debrief. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day but of course we will make it through just as we always do. We miss you all!

With Love,

The Monarch Tribe

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day 17 - Tony Beyer

So today was a nice late start, thanks to Jen our LOD. She gave us a 9:00 am start, most got to sleep to 7:00 am! Woo hoo, latest yet on ECOEE. It was a very mental day, we did no paddling and just crammed in our lessons. I taught Myth Busters, Brittany taught Indian Lore and others taught there lessons. Jeff also taught us judgment and decision making skills and how to translate your skills to other areas of life. Everyone seemed to be in better spirits today, especially after yesterdays long haul. I liked the idea Jen had to give us some extra sleep. I learned a lot today in terms of what I’d enjoy doing and how much more I have to learn.

-Tony Beyer

I will leave you with a quote “Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you’ve got, for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Day 16 - Nicki Smith

Day 7 on the river began at 4am. At least this was for me and my tent mates. This was due to a long and hard day on the river paddling. For many of us, us being college students, 4am is a lot of times when we go to bed so actually waking up at this calm hour was a little struggle we endured. With only 2 hours before we push off for the day we finished breakfast, torn down camp, pack our bags and canoes and started paddling a little after 6am. I’m unsure whether it was waking up at 4am or the getting use to finding our way around a map, but we somehow managed to lose our spot on the map. With some bearing and understanding were we actually started we were off to the races again. It was at this time that Jeff once again reminded that we must take care of the group and to be cautious when paddling in open lakes as they as more dangerous than rivers.

Many hours later and 17 miles from last night campsite we arrived to a set of rapids. Just on the other side of this is where we would portage the gear and canoe’s to keep paddling. But the paddling would be in the future for now we set our campsites along Lake Mattawa. Then an informative lesson on scats of animals by Katy and then a test on what are adversity and uncertainty is. It might be just me, but this really put into perspective on what a wilderness leader or a leader in general entails. It was a long day for ECOEEians, an early morning, 17 miles of paddling, and a hot dinner put our minds at content for the day. After our debrief/brief most of us scattered off to hang bear bags, wash up, or to finish lessons for tomorrow and for some of us just to curl up in a warm bag and dream until the day we see modern showers, laundry, and or maybe just when the day arrives where we don’t have to plan time into the day to filter water. But for now I write from the comfort that will be my home for 11 more days until we finish the English River…. My sleeping bag and pad!

With Love from Lake Mattawa,

Nicki Smith

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Day 15 - Jennifer Longshore

The Group woke up with high spirits today even though it was early and chilly. Each tent group broke down their camp and canoe partners packed their boats in preparation for the day’s journey before coming together for a lesson form Steve about weather.

Once Steve’s lesson was done and announcements were made we quickly made our way down the river. We had a long way to go today, but for most of the day the boats were filled with laughter and not grumbles.

We managed to line or steer our canoes through three sets of rapids instead of portaging, which saves a lot of time and keeps everyone in a good mood. As we turned around the bend after our third set of rapid navigating we were met by something we didn’t think we would see our entire time on the river – other people! A friendly man and woman with their playful dog had heard us passing through the rapids and had come out of their cabin to see what all the noise was about. We were all shocked and excited to see some new faces after so many days of only having each other to stare at. The nice couple took a couple pictures of our group all together before we said our goodbyes and continued on our way.

We finally made it to Lake Selwyn, but Corey, our leader of the day, had a difficult time finding us a campsite. He finally settled on a place, but it was a little small so Jeff and Steve had to paddle around the corner to find a site of their own.

While the rest of my group set up camp and began setting out the things we needed to cook dinner, I set out to fill our dromedary with water to cook with. I went to the water’s edge and scooped up a bowl of water to put in our drom, but it was full of bugs so I needed to go out farther to find cleaner water. I got in a canoe and headed out about 15 feet from shore. I had no trouble at all filling up our dromedary in the canoe by myself but as I turned to head back to shore, I suddenly flipped the canoe. I was able to save my paddle and our water bag, but my group’s large cook pot sank to the bottom of the lake. I was able to pull the canoe to shore and get it flipped over by myself but I had no luck at all finding the pot even after dawning goggles and swimming down as far as I could. Leave it to me, the clumsiest member of our group, to be the first to flip a canoe!

After camp was set up and dinner was prepared we met for debrief and then Corey taught his lesson about biomes and ecosystems and Nicki taught her lesson about staying warm while sleeping. Her lesson couldn’t have been given at a more perfect time since the nights here are getting colder and colder.

Once lessons were done it was time for homework and bed. Hopefully everyone did a good job hanging their bear bags since we saw bear tracks on the beach on our way here. I guess we will see if anyone has any food left in the morning…

Until next rotation,

Friday, August 26, 2011

Day 14 - Sarah Heller

Ahoy, mateys! It is day 5 on this wretched English River. The crew got some good sleep last night where we landed the ships. After breakfast this morning, the assistant captain Steve gave a lesson on clouds and weather. Just in time before the rain, I might add. Then our first mate, Corey, taught us pirates a thing of two about how to stay warm and cool while on our travels. It was then time to load the ships and start heading further north. We took off full steam ahead and attacked the waters with a vengeance. The stratus clouds split from the sky and the sun came through to dry our decks.

As we made our way down the river, there were treacherous waters ahead. Our fearless captain, Jeff, led the crew through the rapids with ease, with his pirate paddler Molly on board. After clearing these waters we thought we would have smooth sailing for another great while, but up ahead there were more rapids. Four ships travelled down the chute to navigate these waters, but there was a small waterfall drop-off that could not be chanced. The ships were lined around and down the waterfall with no pirates on board. Jen and Monica were aboard one of the ships that made it through unscathed. The other three ships had to come ashore and carry their treasures across the land. Nicki, Brittany, and Katy were among the fearless crew that carried their heavy loads over logs and down to smoother water.

Our ships were cutting the water, travelling four clicks per hour. The sit-in captain, Heather, was hoping to travel great distances to a lake up north, but the mateys were tiring out and the day light was dwindling. A new task was put at hand to discover a place for the crew to land their ships in these ‘rocky’ waters and marshy terrain. My first mate, Tony, and I were the navigators for this entourage and we had to follow the winding curves around and around until we landed the ships on a bank and declared camp. We travelled a great distance of twelve miles today, which is good for all of the treasures we are packing. The crew is tired and one mate, Justin, a little sunburnt, but they are all in high spirits and ready to do their chores.

The ships were tied up and unloaded and all of the pirates cooked up some grub. It was then time for our crew to circle up and discuss the bloody day. The clever pirate, Brandon, was sure to correct the grammar of those mates who spoke of themselves before others. The brisk air set in and the starry sky illuminated the waters below. It is another late night for the crew and we must get some shut eye before day break tomorrow. Thanks for listening to the tales of the ECOEE pirates.

Until next time…ARRR!!
Buccaneer Helen Keller (Sarah Heller)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 13 - Corey Frantz

On the 25th of August, in the year 2011, a group of students from Western Illinois University, woke up on a cold damp morning in the middle of the wilderness in Ontario, Canada. Deep inside the Boreal Forest, surrounded by trees and next to a root beer colored river, the group starts off yet again on an expedition that will test their metal. The river called the English river will provide this group with many challenges but will be the path towards their final destination. The group starts off late and is reminded by the fearless leader Jeff that it is un-expectable and if it continues there will be consequences.

After Jeff and other fellow group member teach lessons to the rest of the group to give them the knowledge and skills needed for this trip. The canoes in the crisp root beer like water glide through like a knife going through warm butter, while each person puts the blade of their paddle into the water pushing ahead. For the first time the group gets to experience going through rapids, they get to experience the rush of being pushed through fast waters that surge past and over big boulders. Each canoe filled with two paddlers and their gear must navigate through using team work and communication to ensure their safety. Everyone a little nervous but more excited than anything is eager to topple the obstacle and gain this amazing new experience. The group makes it through with ease, smiling ear to ear, adrenaline coursing through their veins ready for more.

On their way yet again, they meet two more of these obstacles and make it through one by one safely. They paddle to their next camp site, which is a massive granite rock, looking like a giant blunt spear protruding from the earth into the river. They land there and start to set their camp up, one by one the groups’ tents pop up, and bear bag ropes are slung into the air to rest on the best branches they could find.

The group starts to cook, and the aromas of food fill the air, busy as bees they work. Then it’s time to learn some more after their bellies are filled. After some discussion on leadership, personal stories filled with laughter and some tears, then a lesson on fire building its time to debrief the day. With their first camp fire filling the circle with orange light, filling the air with the wonderful familiar smell of camp fire smoke, the group is content to discuss the happenings of the day, and what’s to come the next. All tired from the sun beating down on them, a long day of paddling, one by one they finish some homework and last minute chores they disappear into their tent and slowly fall asleep in their warm sleeping bags.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 12 - Tony Beyer

Wet and Wild Wednesday would be a great name to sum up today. Another bright and early day,
8:00am start followed by THE portage. Grueling and rainy Jeff (the jedi) Tindall instructed us on how to carry our canoes across the Jurassic like terrain. As the morning went on the rain, temperature and wind got worse, but we trudged on. One trip at a time we carried our gear, until four and a half hours and a few spills later we were at the end. Little Monica had her troubles carrying a pack that weighed more than her, she took a few spills (12) after further calculations, but she made it through. Corey and I happened to be the 1st one out, so we waited for our fellow ECOEEians to come out across the trail. Little to my surprise everyone came out all smiles. As the rain poured on us, we laughed, and for what reason? I don’t know, but we were giggling like school girls, especially when Schtephen almost went swimming while loading the canoe. While I pointed and cackled at his clumsiness, of course I go down, jokes on me right?

Well we started off on the river, about three hours too late, but soon pulled out due to the dropping temperatures and there wasn’t a campsite for nine miles. We all called our respective campsites, which we soon found out, were terrible choices. But of course Jeff and Steve’s was just perfect. Apparently camping under seven widow makers is a bad choice?

We then debriefed the day and our LOD Brandon, who was just superb. He led us perfectly and truly cared about his group. After debrief we got done somewhat early, which is a first, but that’s all for now.

“It’s just a box of rain that will ease the pain and love will see you through.”

-Tony Beyer

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 11 - Brittany Abrams

This morning we woke up at 6:00AM to tear down camp, unhang bear bags, and cook breakfast before we were to head out onto the English River for another day of paddling. Little did we know that after we had taken down camp and got everything ready to go…we found out we were going to stay another night. My group and I had to go reset up camp and get ready for a day full of lessons. Nicki was Leader of the Day (LOD) today and her assistant was Brandon (ALOD).

The first lesson was taught by Sarah about the correct way to dispose of garbage (Leave No Trace style). Monica then demonstrated how to set up a tarp. Katy informed us about hygiene and why it is important especially in the backcountry. She explained everything and anything which helped both the ladies and gents become more informed on ways to keep our body healthy. Jeff also did many lessons throughout the day. He explained to us the importance of conflict resolution especially while in a group as large as ours as well as why efficiency plays a major factor. Another great point mentioned was about feedback from peers and how to use it and benefit from it. In order for us to become the leaders we want to become that needs to be considered. The group also made time to debrief Justin from the day before who did not make it to debrief the previous night.

Nicki was very relaxed today and we got a lot done. She asked us to come up with goals that our group wants to reach. The goals we came up with for the semester was: 1.) Flow 2.) Learning to Love 3.) Becoming leaders we want to be 4.) Building life long bonds 5.) Becoming effective problem solvers. These five summed up all our thoughts. I do want to mention some other goal ideas that were passed around that I really liked. One which was said by Corey was “work smarter, not harder” and Katy’s goal “to survive each other’s heartaches, discomfort, pain, weakness, love, and distraught.” Both of these stuck with me.

After finalizing the goals we had made dinner in our cook groups. When finished we hung out bear bags which was easier than the night before and then met on the rock for debrief. The Canadian sky was scattered with a gazillion stars and as we sat there on the rock along the river I realized just how lucky I am to be here with everyone on this expedition and wondered what was to come. I will be looking forward to having a different home each night and waking up with the sun or sometimes before and then going to bed with the moon.

Nicki asked us what we had learned today and Tony being Tony answered with he learned he was the weanie of the group-haha he sure is a character though and a weanie loved by us all. I came to realize this expedition is all learning whether it may be a specific lesson taught or skills we learn as we use them every day. This is taking us closer to the goals we are hoping to accomplish.

To all back home reading this- I hope all is well and we are looking forward to sharing our stories with you. We couldn’t ask for a better classroom and I couldn’t ask for a better group.
“If you always do what you did… you will always get what you got.”

Peace and Love to all,
Brittany Abrams

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 10 - Brandon Wessels

Quotes of the day:
“Dream as if you'd live forever, live as if you'll die today.” -James Dean

“All for one and one for all.” -The Three Musketeers

“A chain is only as strong as its' weakest link.”

Today was a very very bitter sweet day. The group woke up at six this morning to get packed up and ready to set out on our first of 18 days of canoeing on the English River...I'm not going to lie, I was pretty upset when I realized I wasn't going to get my last fix of Mountain Dew before we pushed out onto the river, but I guess I'll survive. Before we shoved off, Jeff showed us how to pack the canoes properly with our river bags so the canoes would float down the river smoothly with their weight centered.

Once we were out on the river things went pretty smooth, everyone was doing just as good, if not better, than they did when we practiced in Macomb. About 2.5km later we reached our first portage, but instead of making the trek we decided to set up camp since it was the first day on the water and we still had a lot to do.

Our first chore was to find an appropriate area to set up a campsite which we were able to do successfully thanks to our lesson that Brittany taught us on campsite selection. Once our tents were set up we gathered around to listen to Molly teach us how to use water filters so we don't get jardia and poop ourselves. After Molly's marvelous lesson Jeff taught us how to use our backcountry stoves and then we prepared and cooked dinner for ourselves...which didn't go quite as smoothly as we would have liked, but the food was pretty good and only a few people came out with a couple minor burns...just kidding, but seriously, they did. After dindin it was time to hang our dreadful bear bags. This wouldn't have been such a bad task if there were trees around with branches that wouldn't snap from a grasshopper landing on them. After a very stressful 203 hours of setting up bear hangs we finally got the job accomplished.

Following our sloppy success against the bear hangs we circled up and debriefed the day...too bad our leader of the day, Justin, decided to call it an early night and was passed out in his tent so we had to do it without him – but after all the energy he put forth these last few days and only getting three hours of sleep in the last three days, who wouldn't like to zonk out early?

Needless to say, this has been a long day for everyone, but full of learning experiences. Time to hit the sack so we can conquer the challenges of tomorrow.

So long ECOEE followers!

Brandon Wessels

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 9 - Nicki Smith


- Your disability is your opportunity

-You can’t measure time in days the way you can measure money in dollars because every day is

-The less you change, the more you remain the same

Today was just another average day for ECOEE 2011. It started out with a good breakfast
prepared by Brittany. Then we packed our bags and headed for the land of the Maple Leaf! Canada was on everyone’s mind, as we entered this new and strange land to some of us, we saw views upon views of this gorgeous place. Ft. Williams was our destination today.

This Ft. had been important asset to the fur trading business. Owned by what was the
Northwest Trading Company to spefecily for making connections, building relationships and most
importantly for the trade of valuable goods to the Aboriginal people. During that time there we
learned that the trading system was done on a credit type of system sometimes, and it was also set around a beaver pelt. This meant that the fur of a silver fox was worth 4 beaver pelts. Along with some interpreting we got to see and experience some dances, traditions, drums, dedications and dressings of the Aboriginal people. Some books and suviorners were bought and then we piled into the vans for the long ride to English River Inn. An Inn right across where we would put the canoes in and head off for an expedition along the English River for 18 days with only the 14 of us to keep each other company!

When we had finally arrived, 3 hours later, the view from pulling in put into perspective about
what was to be going down within the next months to come. I think all of us know how blessed and
lucky we are to be doing ECOEE, but to see the view here is overwhelming and really pounds that nail. Once dinner was started and the trailer and vans had packed up it hit all of us that we were not in Illinois anymore. For some, including me, the more the hours pass and push off becomes closer the anxiety skyrockets. Yet all of us seem to be stoked about doing this river expedition. For the rest of tonight and up into the wee hours into the mourning we are finishing packing our river bags, preparing our lesson plans, or at least getting a little comfort before heading into 18 days of seclusion. Before I sign off we want thank Bruce and Louis, the owners of English River Inn! ECOEE 2011 will be forever grateful for your hospitality, warmness, and generosity.

With Love,

Nicki Smith

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 8 - Justin Morris

Quotes of the day:
1) “Success is temporary and failure isnʼt fatal.” -Mike Ditka
2) “Talk is cheap, that is until you hire a lawyer” - Dennis Rodman
3) “ A hypocrite is someone who complains about nudity & violence on their VCR.” -

Straight out of high school we didnʼt know what to do, wanted to go to college to get away and try something new. Today we find ourselves with an incredible view, something so big, something so blue. Lake Superior supplied our craving for knowledge, a monument worth saving according to our government. Their vision was clear and that was to preserve this piece of Ojibway indian history, an interpretation chief named Pam left us with little to no mystery. We learned that calling cards used to be left in birch in order to tell others with little search. Unlike other Native Americans, the Ojibway stayed put when times were tough, never, not once, abandoning their perch. The Ojibway stood tall, vowing to never give up, swearing to never fall. When the fur trade finally took a dive, the french and english in order to survive, headed for Canada to let the new Americans thrive. The portage trail used by suppliers remains intact with a visitor center built in 2007, meant for others to interact. Although 50 years late in creation, it represents the strength of one incredible sovereign nation.

Can you dig it?


Friday, August 19, 2011

Day 7 - Jennifer Longshore

Today’s Quotes;
“You cannot discover new oceans until you are willing to lose site of the land.”
-Fortune Cookie

“Your disability is your opportunity.”
-Kurt Hahn

“A dream is a wish your heart makes.”

This morning the group was woken up with a crisis. The percolator cap for the coffee pot was missing and Jeff was not pleased. Sarah, the LOD, organized a search and, after several minutes, Nicki found the missing piece where it had slipped off of the sink and underneath the Outward Bound shower house.

After a quick breakfast prepared by Nicki and Brandon, we packed up our gear and waited for our hosts at Outward Bound to arrive at our camp site to give us a tour of their facility. Once our hosts for the day, Mariah and Justin, arrived we had introductions and a couple of ice breakers to get the ball rolling. All of our spirits were high as we left camp to start our tour, but we were all shocked when we were immediately led to our old arch nemesis from Horn Field Campus: the Whale Watch.

The Whale Watch is a team building activity that involves moving your group in different ways across a giant seesaw. This frustrating activity took us about 12 hours to complete last spring, so we were sure that Jeff had plotted against us and asked our hosts to torture us with this initiative, but it turned out to be a horrible coincidence. To all of our surprise though, we were able to complete the exercise in around 30 minutes. This really shows how much our group has grown since we first came together last spring.

To finish up our tour we visited the dog yard, the Pieh Building, and the trip building. We then said our goodbyes so we could load up to find a place to eat lunch. We ended up having lunch in a parking lot next to a pleasant stream that we all enjoyed playing in while lunch was prepared.

After lunch we continued down the road to our scheduled campsite at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. Our LOD, Sarah, planned some free time into our day that would allow us to catch up on some homework. This was great because some of us have been struggling to find time to get everything done.

For dinner, Nicki and Brandon mixed up some cheesy potatoes with rice and chicken and a delicious Oreo pudding desert. After dinner we debriefed and then some of us went for a night hike while the rest of us stayed behind to clean or do more homework.

We all had another late night so it will be hard to get up in the morning for another full day. We will see how good of a mood Jeff will be in after he has to eat oatmeal for breakfast…

Until next rotation,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 6 - Katy Hunt

"Every mile is a memory, take every step in stride."

"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. - Girl Scouts of America song."

"The color of adrenaline is brown."

Although the pure Minnesota sky dripped with stars this morning, our group of exhausted campers rose from dew soaked tents for a quick breakfast at Moose Lake Camp Ground. Our leader, Monica, knew the group’s habits of being late and planned ahead for an early morning wake up at 4:30am! Head lamps spilled lights out everywhere as everyone in the kitchen and the van.

After a quick sweep of our tent spots, Monica corralled us up for our first meeting of the day around 6:05am to learn about our visits. Our first stop was Laurentian Environmental Learning Center in Britt, MN, ending with a trip to the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN. We knew both of these visits would require a great amount of time spent touring so we made haste for the vans around 6:45 and arrived at Laurentian around 8:30am with time to spare.

Once out of the vans at Laurentian, a jack of all trades staff member greeted us for our tour. Mr. Jim DeVries was his name and knew the campus like it was his own home. In fact, it had been his place of work for the past 22 years. While touring the camp’s beautiful setting, many of my group members freed their minds with knowledgeable questions concerning the facilities business standards and policies as well as the importance in having a relatable staff. Although Mr. DeVries neglected to let our strong questions faze him, I believe he was a bit taken back by the quality of our curiosity. The facility was incredible, providing a sundry of opportunities for both children and adults to experience, including a full rifle range, wigwam interpretation area, a lake, canoes, and so much more!

Although I’m sure we all could have stayed longer, noon was fast approaching and the group had a few errands to run before the next stop. After expressing our thanks and goodbyes were said, we loaded up the vans again and started the short drive to Ely, MN. Along the way, students studied, played games, and enjoyed ourselves while our selfless drivers Jeff and Steve carried on.

Once errands were completed and directions were finalized, we parked the vans and headed into the International Wolf Center. Our group spread out to hear informative interpretations from guides and see the wolves frolicking around. Not long after our group was stationed in the main viewing area, an interpreter came in for a presentation on the wolves and their environments. Although she was informative, several of us ECOEE kids left to further explore the facility leaving more patient onlookers behind.

Barely 20 minutes after leaving the main room, out came the wolves and we all came back to
catch a glimpse of the creatures we’d come to see. But of course, the wolves didn’t stay long, perhaps knowing it was almost five meaning it was close to closing time. With last minute glances through the looking glass, we shuffled to the vans for our last destination of the day, Outward Bound.

Our vans split up while LOD Monica went to talk to the administrations, Steve and his van
parked the canoe trailers. Brandon and Justin truly know how to take care of their group by patiently and accurately helping Steve back the trailer into their proper place.

After unhooking the trailer from the Right on cue, Monica bound up the trail beaming with news of a shelter and beds for us to stay in for the night. Best of all- a shower house awaited us too! We all did our part in loading up cabins, fixing dinner, and planning for the day ahead but one thing remained prominent in us girl’s mind: a real shower!

Although both facilities were fantastic, the days ahead look promising and I cannot wait to
experience them one by one.

Until then,


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 5 - Sarah Heller

August 17, 2011

Our last day at Horn started off early, but not bright.
We had to leave at 2am, and it definitely wasn’t light.

When we were ready to go, Jeff was nowhere to be found.
He was busy shutting down his house, so we had to run into town.

We started heading down the road, with our trailers in tow.
After travelling twenty miles, one canoe looked too low.

We had to pull over and get it strapped in tight.
This ended up being one of the things in our day that didn’t turn out right.

We proceeded on our way, with eleven hours left to go,
Our destination being in Northern Minnesota, don’t cha know!

We had to stop for fuel and stretch breaks while on the road.
After reaching Winona, we added four new canoes to our load.

Travelling further north, we were looking for an REI store,
But in the midst of Minneapolis/ St. Paul, we got lost more and more.

Finally we found it, and everyone let out a sigh.
We rushed into the store because there were things we needed to buy.

We had a set schedule to be done, but a little longer we did take.
We needed to get back on the road for our final destination at Moose Lake.

After arriving on the campground, we circled around the lot.
Finally we found our campsite and there were lessons to be taught.

Jeff showed us how to set up the cook stove and the washing stations too.
We learned of many new tasks that we had to know how to do.

Jen, Justin, and Nicki began preparing a delicious meal.
While everyone else set up tents and gave the campsite a feel.

Brittany fetched the water and Brandon, Tony, and Molly had to clean.
Katy lit the lanterns; my we make such a nice team.

Heather was in charge of the vans and trailers on our first long haul.

Steve is our grad student assistant, who is always there when we call.
We were led today by Corey, who has the stern leadership qualities one must possess.
Monica was the assistant leader who helped make the day a success.

After we finished dinner and all the dishes were put away,
We say on the ‘rocky’ ground and debriefed our entire day.

After the meetings everyone was getting tired and needed to get some shut eye.
Though some of us decided to go down to the dock and look at the starry sky.

It was a beautiful evening on the lake and we all had some fun,
But we had to get to bed because tomorrow there was more work to be done.

So for all of you out there reading, don’t you worry about this ECOEE ‘club’.
This is Sarah Heller signing off…Peace and Love.

“Promise me you’ll always remember…
You’re BRAVER than you believe,
and STRONGER than you seem,
and SMARTER than you think.”
-Christopher Robin

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Day 4 - Monica Gummow

Today was our last day at Horn Field Campus. We had so much to do yet before we left for Canada, so we got started on our to-do list right away. After a short, light breakfast prepared by Katy, we began the task that we had all been waiting for: the gear shakedown. During the shakedown, we all take out all of our clothes and equipment and decide what was suitable for our back-country Canada trip. I know many of us were nervous that we had packed too much, not enough, or just the wrong things in general. After sorting through all of our items, most of us had done ok when we had packed at home. For those who needed new equipment though, a trip to REI was planned for tomorrow when we would be driving through Minnesota.

After we had gone through our individual gear, we sorted through the group items and split up the gear amongst the members of our tent groups. Once we had all of our things packed, we got together anything we had left and packed that away in storage until September. Away went all of our bags and then we moved on to the next exciting thing. Jeff taught us how to maintenance the vans and attach the trailers that carry our gear and canoes.

Lunch was nice and quick and then we all split up to get more tasks accomplished. Corey and I went to the laundry mat to do everyone’s dirty clothes one more time. Tony and Sarah went to the health center to get physical forms and Steve and Brandon went to the RPTA office to handle some other paperwork. Since the laundry and physicals took a while, we were on campus for 4 hours. We were gone so long everyone else had time to make a grocery run and clean all of our cabins.

Once we were all back at Horn Field, we finished packing some things in the van and before we knew it, it was dinner time. After dinner we rushed to get cleaned up because it was party time!! As an ECOEE tradition, an ice cream social was held as our send off party. It was great seeing our professors from the RPTA department and ECOEE alumni. We received lots of advice and well wishes; we even had the privilege to have Dr. McGowan teach us a last minute paddle stroke. As our guests left for the evening, I’m sure we all felt a little sad about officially leaving our friends and professors. Although, the long day ahead of us and the forth coming adventure made the evening extremely bitter sweet.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 3 - Corey Frantz

Quotes of the day:

"A nail that sticks up must be hammered down."

"If you don’t know where you’re going, you will end up somewhere else."

"I think fish is nice, but then I think that rain is wet, who am I to judge?"

The day started off rough for the guys and me. Sarah, Katy, and Jen made a great
breakfast, while Tony, Brandon, and Justin worked there butts off cleaning throughout the day, but especially this morning after breakfast. We picked out our food for the trip, each person going through their ration list, and carefully weighing out the food. After the food draw we were put into our cook groups for the first part of the back country and filled our spices. Then had another amazing meal cooked by the girls again. After the group sat in a circle and got personal, each individual describing their medical issues so each of us would know how to react in certain situations if a person gets sick or has an injury. After hearing what Jeff said we will see if he can make it through the trip, he is getting old… The after that we debriefed the day, and briefed for the next. The LOD (leader of the day) had a rough debrief but was given helpful information to help her for the next time she leads. We have an action packed day tomorrow, and received good news; we have four new canoes waiting to be picked up in Weanoha, Minnesota for our river trip to come. Time for bed, until the next time, Corey.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 2 - Molly Corrigan

August 14th 2011

Quote of the day:

“A single arrow is easily broken but not ten in a bundle” –Japanese Proverb

“Men who trim themselves to please others will only widdle themselves away” –Charles Schwab


Today was an eventful day. We woke up between 6:30 and 6:45 and headed to breakfast. Monica
started the day off right with a delicious banana coffee cake with yogurt and fruit. Once finished we had a lesson on risks and hazards that we need to be conscience of. We split into two groups and made a list of things that can “hurt, kill me, or make me sick out there.” Then we had to label each hazard as objective or subjective. The group with the most hazards wins and the prize was Dairy Queen bought by Jeff as long as it doesn’t get too dark, it got too dark.

After the activity Jeff taught us how to put the trailer on the van. Then it was off the Spring Lake to spend the day on the canoe. We were taught the parts of the canoe and paddle, along with the different strokes needed. We picked personal flotation devises (PFD) and canoe partners and got in the lake. We practiced the strokes taught and paddling straight, which was harder for some. My canoe went in a circle at one point. Then it was time for lunch before switching positions with our partners. Monica made cucumber sandwiches, I ate way too much.

Now it was time to get wet. Two boats would tip over at a time and each boat would be rescued. Every canoe played the role of rescuer and rescuee. Everyone really enjoyed this, the water was perfect. We got to have some fun by racing to rescue someone and yelling “Are you ok!”

After the excitement it was time for some real paddling. We paddled about 2 kilometers and everyone improved. We went through a small river and my partner, Sarah, and I must have banged into the river bank 6 times. It was time to head back to Horn Field so we loaded the canoes on to the trailer and the cooks took one van to start dinner while the other van, the cooler van ;), went to Horrabin to drop off the extra paddles and PFD that are not needed.

When our van got back from Horrabin Heather and I, the leader of the day (LOD) and the assistant
(ALOD), discussed what was expected of us and made an itinerary for the following day. Everyone else, besides the cooks, check the canoes to pick which ones will be used for our expedition.

Yummy Yummy, dinner is served! We ate baked chicken with peppers and onions with rice, another one of Monica fabulous recipes. Once all full, we all collected 6 maps each and folded them and put them into ziplock bags. Now it was time for debrief. We discussed the goals Tony (amazing LOD) had made for the day, communication, time management, and efficiency, and everyone pretty much agreed that we did a good job in accomplishing these goals. Next Tony was on the Hot Seat, were we told him how pleased we were with his hard work and he definitely set the bar for the future LODS.

Now it was time to sleep but we had to end our first full day in style with a hands in huddle. One, two, three ECOEE!