Monday, September 30, 2013

9/30/13-Plan to Play

Plan to Play
Cassandra Roy
My quote of the day was once spoken by Peter Drucker, “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” ECOEE 2013 has been planning this expedition as a group since January. Others have been planning for this since before college; even selecting this college because of it. In whatever way you look at it this group of 14 people has been planning for this semester, month, week, day for a very long time. But the real question is; how far can plans take you? I, myself, have made plans that change or just never occur; as I am sure have most of you. During our spring semester we planned this 120 day expedition. Every week we revise our schedule and every night we revised that schedule. Today, for example, we changed our plans of spending our last day at Yellowstone National Park. We took the time to plan stops at geysers, hot springs, self-guided tours, visitor centers, and even to see Old Faithful. So what does all of this planning mean to the group? As I quoted earlier planning is only good intentions unless they are followed by hard work. Now I am sure that my entire ECOEE ,including myself, would agree that planning in itself is hard work. So you may be wondering what hard work I am talking about. I have realized during this expedition that none of our plans, none of our hours of talks would mean anything if this group did not try to follow the plans. We can only talk so much, but it is our actions that truly matter. Without the entire groups hard work and effort this expedition/group would not be where we are today. So this journal is my thank you to the entire group, for making ECOEE 2013 work, and making it an experience that I will never forget. -Cassandra Roy

Sunday, September 29, 2013

9/29/13-Early Rising

                                                                   “Early Rising”
                                                                   Quinn Moore

            This morning I had a very interesting dream about school bells and alarm clocks. During my extremely weird dream I realized the noises I was hearing during my slumber were coming from my tent mate Andrew’s watch. I was upset that I heard his alarm go off at an early 4:30 am. As I laid awake in my sleeping bag, still drowsy, I thought to myself why on earth would I agree to get up this early again! I thought I learned my lesson when the group left Horn Field. Meanwhile I was still in my nice warm bag dreading the moment when I had to get out of my warm sanctuary; I remembered why we all agreed to get up this early. The whole group was looking forward to the possibility of seeing grey wolves early in the morning. Even though it was very early, I don’t think I have seen the group get ready so quickly! Once the vans were loaded the group got on the road and headed to our destination. Once we arrived at our stop, the whole group waited in the vans for about an hour hoping to see a glimpse of a wolf. Sadly no wolves were present, so it put a damper on the groups moral. After our depressing moment we got back on the road and headed back to camp. While we were driving we saw a grizzly bear off in the distance running through a field. I guess seeing a grizzly bear makes up for not seeing some wolves. Who am I kidding it was an awesome sight watching such a big animal running through the plain. Our next stop proved to be much more successful. It seemed like fate intervened because lone behold a bunch of people were scattered all around their cars looking at a pack of wolves! Some of the people had some high powered spotting scopes, that we kind enough to let the group look through. Off in the distance we were able to see an outline of five grey wolves feeding on a carcass. A park ranger was present as well and he gave the whole group a special interpretive talk about the wolves in Yellowstone. His name was Ranger Rick, and taught the group with almost as much enthusiasm, as the group had about wanting to learn about wolves. After our talk with Rick we got back on the road to see some more amazing sights. We had several more breathtaking stops before we arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs again. The group had about an hour of well needed free time before our next scheduled interpretive talk. The interpretive talk was very informative but not as exciting as Rick’s talk. After the talk the group headed back to the campsite to start dinner. After dinner and our daily debrief the group’s moral seemed a lot higher. The night before the group had a serious talk about the group dynamics and the problems the group faces. Today the group seemed to come closer together and our bonds strengthened. As I lay here in my tent writing in this journal I am looking forward to tomorrow’s plans. We are going to Old Faithful tomorrow and I have been looking forward to seeing the geyser for some time now. I have been looking forward to it because of an inside joke between my parents and I. So in closing goodnight to all and I hope everyone’s day was as exciting and educational as ours!
                                                Roses are red
                                                Violets are blue
                                                I don’t miss Roxanne

And neither should you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013


 Andrew Busker
Here we are at Yellowstone National Park, the first section of land in the nation to be recognized as a unique, beautiful are worth preserving, worth saving.  Like experiential learning and outdoor education, many people realized its effectiveness and deemed it worth preserving, worth saving.  37 years ago, the founders of ECOEE were aware that this unique program was worth saving, worth preserving.  Over the past couple days, the group has grown aware of our condition and we are now putting in the effort to save the group from our problems, to preserve the things our group does well.
Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest volcano system in North America and is the only place in the world to have this many volcano-related features packed into the area.  A massive chamber of magma lies only 5 miles below the surface, yet despite the uncanny closeness to the hot depths of the earth, the Yellowstone area is fairly stable and has not been home to a long time.  Some say that it is only a matter of time.  So far, our group has functioned in a similar way.  Each one of us has frustrations, irritations, and struggles with the group and ourselves that act like magma chambers flowing underneath our smiles and behavior.  Despite these frustrations, irritations, and struggles, our group tries to function and remain stable.  There has not been a large volcanic eruption in our group in a long time.  Today we made sure that it would not just be a matter of time.
Tonight we sat around a lantern and shared what we would like to accomplish as a group and established rules to assist in the attainment of our goals.  Unlike the magma chamber that is always flowing, always heating up the water in Yellowstone National Park, our frustrations, irritations, and struggles with the group and ourselves now have the opportunity to cool, to become a solid core behind our smiles and behavior.  Sometime in the future, our magma chambers will heat and a geyser of frustration will spew forth onto the group, but now, with the help of our new goals and clear rules, we will be able to effectively handle that frustration and turn it into a beautiful part of our group, a part of the group worth preserving, worth saving.  If the instability of Old Faithful draws a crowd that remarks in its beauty, then this group can turn its problems into a strengthening bond that makes us all proud.

Friday, September 27, 2013

9/27/13-In the eyes of the buffalo

--> In the eyes of the buffalo
Kyle Pickett
At the beginning of the semester we were asked by Doc Lupton, “What do you think you will see if you look into the eyes of a buffalo?” Today I was able to get close enough to one to truly ask myself that question. This experience happened in the afternoon after we left our campsite to head for Mammoth. The morning before we left had been slow for the group. We didn’t have anything set up and some of us had no idea what we were doing for the day. Because of this our group spent a portion of the morning talking with Jeff and Shane about what our goals for the group were. This question was left open to the group and we all discussed what we thought needed to be done. After formulating a plan for the day and an idea about what we wanted to talk about, we decided to head to Mammoth Hot Springs to learn about the park as well as do some homework. While we drove towards our destination the question that was asked by Jeff kept running through my head. What goals did I truly want for our group and what needed to be done to make our group better? This thought was still in  my head when we got to see something amazing. Walking down the road we were driving on were three bison. The one in the front was he. As he walked down the road he kept inspecting each of the cars he passed by while the two behind followed along. When he started to pass our van his head turned towards the door and I felt he was looking straight at us. He was close enough you could almost see yourself in his eyes. After this experience my head was filled with what happened with the buffalo and what Doc had asked us in the beginning of the semester. I wondered what I truly saw in those dark solemn eyes and how did this experience relate to me? When I look back to the experience with the head buffalo I see something that relates to our group. In the head buffalo I saw how dead set he was on moving forward. His mind on what was ahead. But I also saw how curious he was to the things around him. Yet while he was curious to what he saw he was determined to move forward for the group. He was protective and thinking about his herd. When I look at this I see something that our group can take advice from. For we are a curios bunch. Always eager to move forward and learn. Yet while we do want to do these things we forget about the group and what they need. As leaders we should be able to find a balance with what we want and what the group needs. For if we are able to we will be able to accomplish whatever goals we set for ourselves in the future.

“A man can fail many times but he isn’t a total failure until he begins to blame someone else for his own deficiencies”- Waite Philips

Thursday, September 26, 2013

9/26/13-Wyoming and Its Beauty

--> Wyoming and Its Beauty
Emily Chathas
I awoke this morning all snuggled and warm in my sleeping bag, and I could feel the chilly air that was inside my tent. I knew that on today’s agenda was a scheduled visit to NOLS -- National Outdoor Leadership School. The purpose for our visit to NOLS was to learn how they would typically lead a group through one of their courses. This was a good way for us to get a better idea of how to plan our own trip that we have to plan for one of our courses on ECOEE, Management of Outdoor Adventure Recreation. Elise, our tour guide, did a really good job at giving us scenarios, examples from her past courses that she led as an instructor, and many more helpful lessons. This definitely gave our group a better understanding of how to plan our own trips. Another key part to our visit was when she gave us a tour of the international headquarters of NOLS by showing us all the departments that keep NOLS up and running. Man, there are a lot of departments and important people that do all of the work. I was very impressed. I thought the inside of the building had some really neat architecture. After our visit, our next stop was Yellowstone National Park. Let me tell you, the drive blew my mind once again. I had closed my eyes for a half hour and when I woke up all the trees and mountains were covered with snow. I said, “What the heck. When did it snow?”It was crazy to see so much snow in September. After continuing on the road for a while, all the snow disappeared and slowing peeping through the clouds I could see the Grand Tetons. They were amazing to look at. As I am on the road traveling through these states it is so hard to get my homework done because the scenery is so pretty and all I want to do is look out  the window and say “ooooh, aaaah” to everything I see. Wyoming is a gorgeous state and I plan to visit this state again. I can’t wait to see more of the West! 
“Look at everything as though you were seeing it for the first time or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.” – Betty Smith

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

9/25/13-A Long Drive to the Clouds

A Long Drive to the Clouds
Kevin Williams
            Waking up this morning to one of the most beautiful sunrises yet, I was happy to see Dustin cooking the first hot breakfast in the front country since we have gotten out of Canada. The Badlands have been quite the sight for most; we were able to see bighorn sheep, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and a lucky few were able to spot bison far in the distance while looking out atop a cliff. Leaving after clean up this morning, we had a long 10-1hour drive to Lander, Wyoming in our new minivan. Along our drive we were able to see Devil’s tower, cowboys herding cows, and the inside of a cloud at 9,000ft above sea level, it was a very sight worthy ride today.  As we got to Lander around 7:30pm we decided tp take Jeff out to eat for his birthday at a local restaurant that served us some of the best food you could eat. As I lay in my tent, reflecting on the day as well as the week, I can say it has been a rough transition from the back country to the front country. Already burning two Dutch ovens, spending far too much money on food, being slower than we’d like, and getting side tracked by people and things at home; we as a group are struggling to get back into the flow of everything. No one can be blamed but we should all take responsibility of OUR group. I become frustrated with myself more every day because I’ve been taught the skills and have been taught the lessons to create a better group, yet as a member of the group I don’t seem to create any positive change for the group. We WILL get better as we learn from our mistakes but for now I’ll leave you with this, “Oh but everybody thinks, that everybody knows, about everybody else, nobody knows, anything about themselves, cause their all worried about everybody else.” –Jack Johnson

Monday, September 23, 2013

9/23/13-The Magnificent Badlands

                                                        The Magnificent Badlands
                                                               Elizabeth Flesher
How Magnificent! After an 8 hour drive we made it to the badlands. Eyes widened as the land changed form fields of sunflowers to the rugged landscaped that reminded me of ant mounds. Once we got to our campground in the Badlands National Park we fumbled out of the vans to stretch and set up tents. As I tried setting up my tent I had to battle the wind that kept blowing and trying to take it away. Luckily Tyler came to help before I lost it. As dinner was being cooked a few of us took that chance to explore and see the badlands up close. We were all so excited and in awe of how much beauty this place holds. As we ran around and took pictures a few slipped through the clay-like mud. Kevin happened to fall and covered in mud. Dinner was ready so we all made our way back to camp. We chowed down on spaghetti and vegetables and saw that the sun was beginning to set. We made way to the top of a hill to enjoy the scenery. A ton of pictures  that we are excited to share with everyone back home. Never have I seen a sunset like this one. The last light of the day reflected off the badlands and gave the landscape a red tint. I didn’t want the sun to go down. I wanted to enjoy the beauty for awhile longer, but unfortunately it set. After everything was cleaned and put away we gathered so the LOW’s could brief us of the day ahead. We have an exciting tour and interpretation of the badlands scheduled. We will get the chance to put our knowledge to use of the topics we studied for the past semester and summer on outdoor education. It is bed time, but before that we got the care packages that were sent to us from back home. Everyone was happy to receive letters and packages from friends and loved ones. Thank you for supporting and thinking of us on our journey.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

9/22/13-On the road again

 Rogelio Hernandez
On the road again.
I have never heard so many alarms in the morning before. As I was awaking by the countless alarms that Norris setup. It reminded me that the transition between backcountry and front country was at a turn. Instead of hearing the sounds of birds, the wind blowing, and the rapids smashing against the rocks as it flowed down the pathway. I was bombarded by the sounds of seagulls by the sea, lazars shooting in space, and a gentle harp trying to ease my pain of waking up.
But a last all good things come to an end. I want to leave the group with some friendly reminders about living on the road. I called them the “living on the road for dummies” since we’re traveling back to the struggles of the front country.
First rule of thumb, don’t assume. Just because an area looks safe doesn’t mean it is. We want to keep in mind that everywhere we go we take safely very serious. 2. Organization is key, keeping the van clean and organized is the secret to group member’s happiness. 3. Entertainment- music though the universal go- to of any road tripper, after a few thousand miles on the road, it doesn’t cut it. Haven spoken words, van time is learning time. Think of the van as the center of the universal. Expand your mind by exploring something new, catching upon work, and having a conversation. The final tip of living on the road.
The key to life in the van is flexibility- flexibility in attitude, flexibility in lifestyle, flexibility in relationship, money, parenting, traveling, and business. The more you can adapt to the situation in life, the more powerful your high will be and the more quickly you’ll be able to bounce back from the low in your life.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

09/21/13- Catching Up!

Catching up!
By: Norris Andriuskevicius

“ Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” -Buddha

After a relaxing night in a bed that wasn’t composed of the Earth’s natural surface, we woke up at the hotel to debrief 

the Leaders of the Week on their performance. A major topic we discussed was the decision to get on the Grass river on 

Thursday morning to head to our final stop of Paint Lake where we would finish our backcountry expedition. Waking up 

that morning to a freezing, windy, and rainy cloud filled sky the group had took a democratic vote and unanimously 

decided to go for the final destination even with these terrible conditions. At the debrief we talked about how large of a 

mistake this decision was by the leaders of the week and group as a whole. Largely because of the weather and 

environmental impacts such as high waves and large crossings, Jeff went on to discuss how this was a huge risk and 

one that could be life threatening because of Northern Canada’s extreme wilderness. At LOW brief we went on in 

furthering the transition process between the backcountry and front-country by doing laundry for the first time in a month 

while, we did tent mate/cook group evaluations. Next we went shopping for this upcoming weeks food situation, and I’m 

not sure for what reason bought a lot more food then needed so we need to make sure we have our big stomach 

prepared. And that seemed to be the case when we had 36 hot dogs for dinner with potato chips and cookies. Having 

returned to society it seems the backcountry experience has taught lots of us the greater meaning of appreciation. 

Surrounded by all these tools of societal construction has still been a shock and slowly re-adapting process for me 

personally. But today was a day dedicated to that entire reason, making phone calls, reading emails, updating blogs, and 

lots of new things we had not experienced in the past month. As we transition to the front-country I hope we continue to 

develop in the way we had in the backcountry as a group. There is lots of excitement for the destinations we are reaching 

for next being the Badlands and Yellowstone!

Friday, September 20, 2013


Kyle Pickett
            “Life, it seems, is nothing if not a series of initiations, transitions, and incorporations” This quote by Alan Dundes is something I believe relates to our group and what we have in store for us. When we first began the canoeing section of our expedition, we were able to experience our own initiation into a world beyond the computer screens and cell phones. With this initiation we were able to experience the hardships and wonders of the Grass River and the multiple lakes around it. The experiences have allowed for us to grow stronger not only as individuals, but as a group as well. With that growth we have been able to overcome many obstacles that have stood in our path. From raging rapids, long portages, and mighty winds we have been able to triumph over all of the challenges that have been put before us. Yet while we have overcome many things in the backcountry, we must now begin a new challenge, and that is the transition into the front country, and to having technology all around. With distractions all around, the group must now begin our second part of ECOEE. And with the ease of looking back to friends and family with just our finger tips, we must stay focused on the goals and the journey ahead of us. For if we are able to focus on our goals and not get distracted, it will show that ECOEE 2013 as a group can come together to overcome any challenge.
“Only by contending with challenges that seem to be beyond your strength to handle at the moment you can grow more surely towards the stars.” Brian Tracy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

9/19/13 Sweet Success

Sweet Success
9/19/13 Day 41 –Shayla Hill
            What a day! Where do I even start? We paddled the last 19 miles of our canoe expedition today and boy was it a day. We all decided as a group to take off this morning in the mist and wind. Little did we know that this led to a very cold, wet, and long tiring day. We all did it though. We completed the Grass River! When we stepped out of our canoes shivering cold, we got to work right away on unpacking the canoes to get them out of the water and onto the trailer. Once everything was loaded we headed to the campsite where some of our tent mates were already there with our tents ready, except of course that dang MSR tent for the leaders of the week.
            Everyone got their day bags and changed into nice dry clean clothes. To congratulate all of us Jeff took us out to eat. It was nice not having to cook at the end of a long tiring day. Everyone enjoyed their meals to the fullest.
            Now as I lay here in this darn MSR tent after we finally got it up. I realize that these past 28 days on the river flew. We’ve all shared so many stories, memories, and laughs. This has definitely been an experience that will not be forgotten. I’ve learned and grown so much.
            Tomorrow we have much to do. A few interpretations to be taught, the river expedition debrief, and tons of cleaning. It will be a great day though because it will be my birthday! I guess I’ll have to settle with Jeff’s gift of “paddling my butt the last 10 miles” today. Also dinner for everyone being dedicated to part of my birthday was a wonderful surprise. Thank you so much Jeff =) you didn’t have to do that. Now that my tummy is full and it’s late, sleep is coming quickly. So until next time…goodnight!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

9/18/13-Home, where my love awaits silently for me."

"Home, where my love awaits silently for me."
Tyler Schrapf
“I once sent my friends a telegram that read ‘Flee at once! All is discovered. . . They all left town immediately.” – Mark Twain. Today marks the last full day on the river, signaling an end to the Grass River expedition, and marking the first quarter of our trip. Due to our hurried pace to make up lost ground in weeks prior, we sat at the entrance of Paint Lake, our final destination, for one final day of rest and reflection before finally heading into the front country for good. It was a good thing too – There is a lot to consider. As the group heads back to the civilized world, one of the biggest things we took into consideration as we discussed the upcoming events was the reintroduction of technology into our lives. The group carefully weighed pros and cons for nearly two hours before finally coming to the conclusion that. . .we simply have to use our best judgement in regard to the temptations of technology.
                  The day was not only filled with discussions on telecommunications. A large portion of the day was spent sitting around a social fire shooting the breeze, literally; it was windy. Interpretations were given on Mercantilism & settlement, offering a greater depth of understanding our Canadian environment.
                  Overall I could not have invisioned a more positive back country experience. We ran rapids, hiked brutal portages, campled on some very inhospitable sites, and really pretty much just roughted it. As we move into the front country portion of our journey, I am hopeful that it can match the positivity and experiential learning that the Canadian wilderness has gifted us.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

9/17-To portage or not to portage That is the question!? The return of the Ecoeen.

Day 39 Sept. 17th
                To portage or not to portage that is the question. Today the ten of us brave enough or well stupid enough tried our luck on a set of class two rapids. The overall lesson of the day was that no matter how hard you try when facing a brick wall of white water you'll never escape that tip. The last few days we've gotten graced by the G man himself to have nice camping spots at the end of our portages even if they were not meant for fourteen people. Once again Norris and I famous last words before the rapids "Let's make it happen" and one fist bump and a plunge into the cold waters of the Canadian grass river later, sadly our celebration surely got the best of us. Diving head into a white wall of what seemed to be a brick wall but in reality was a ROARING set of water, being the second to attempt, the first of two boats to conquer the wall we were still defeated due to our infamous paddle raising, lesson learned today "first rule to running rapids... Don't gloat till you are the on shore." As my head began to nod and boyo began calling my name, we came up to our second to last portage of the day. With the promise of our best campsite we had to settle for a picture perfect scene you would normally on the background of your computers desk top we began hulling our gear and boats across a spurs forest. Now here I sit with the first camp fire we've made in the backcountry at our last camp site with our goal no less than one day away, staring into the blaze wondering to myself what's next.

                                            _Dustin S. Granat                                                                                                                            "Inspire while being Inspired"

Monday, September 16, 2013

09-16-13- A Busy Day of Growth & Perserverance

A Busy day of growth and perseverance!
By: Norris Andriuskevicius

Waking up after an afternoon with the instructors and facilitators being across a channel, they pulled up for the day to 

begin. We were ready at eight in the morning and headed down the body of water we came here for the most being the 

Grass river. With the sunrise coming above the horizon we took a quiet trip down the calm winding river, as it glistened 

without a ripple in the water. It was a very serene and majestic moment for me and many others. As I created a repetitive 

soothing rhythm of submerging my paddle to feel as I was gliding across the river in a meditative manner without gravity 

in effect. After following a group of nine baby ducklings for a mile or so the group came across the shortest portage yet 

totaling a hundred feet. This would also be the first set of rapids the entire group would attempt. After unloading bags, we 

began; some cleared the rapids with ease, others had paved their own path on the rapids, got stuck on rocks, and the 

most talked about fear ‘the tip’ where canoe partners went swimming. This was an important and exciting new 

experience for the group, and something that’ll never be forgotten. Our next encounter would take the group through a 

demanding physical stretch-zone experience that will also most certainly be remembered for it’s magnitude. The largest 

portage totaling a length of 850 meters one-way with five broken tree trunks laying over the trail, this was by far the most 

challenging experience we have yet to complete. Having to take somewhere between 3 to 5 trips to get 7 canoes and all 

of the bags around the five rapids, this was a grueling workout for all of us. As you push yourself to the limits and get 

outside your comfort zone, you discover how strong you truly are and allow for yourself to grow to heights you never 

before imagined. Legends, warriors, and other well-renowned figures have reached their great potentials through hard-

work ethic and pushing themselves to the limits while persevering to get stronger. We finished up the latter portion of our 

canoeing journey down the Grass river and into Tramping Lake where we left the Provincial Park area and had to find an 

unmarked campsite. Yesterday was a day a great growth, courage, and perseverance; making me very proud of our 

group of ECOEE 2013. As we continue to leave our footprints on our experience and encounter lots of experiences, I say 

lets's ‘Keep on, Keepin’ on!’ 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

9/15/13 Frost

9.15.13                                          Frost                                      Andrew Busker

Yesterday when the cold wind raced through our campsite, I suspected that our nice, warm days were coming to an end.  My suspicions were certainly confirmed when I woke up: winter is coming.  This morning was the coldest morning we experienced thus far.  With the temperature being 35 degrees at 7:30 in the morning, we began our day.  After our morning meeting, we loaded the boats as usual.  While I walked with my bags from my campsite to the canoes, a joyful yet morbid thought crossed my mind: all the mosquitos are dead.  Even though that meant no more uncomfortable meetings with annoying buzzing around our ears or having to slap our arms and legs every minute, an entire generation of living beings vanished from our daily life out here.  Yet, there is something to be said about resiliency.  As we found out during our debrief this evening, not all the mosquitos dies in the frost from last night.  Yes, a living mosquito is now few and far between, but those who survived have not given up just yet.
As we paddled northeast along the lakeshore, I noticed yellow autumn leaves peeking through the green needles of the northwoods.  The trees agreed in that winter is coming and have thus started their preparations to ensure their resiliency.  Unlike the mosquitos who will die and have a new generation to replace them, the trees will stand dormant until the spring air renews their limbs.  The pines and spruces grow ever more resilient as they continue to thrive during the cold winter, refusing to rest like their brethren.
Out here, with the days growing colder and our time on the river shrinking faster, we must be resilient as well.  We must not just stay warm, but we must not forget to enjoy the remaining moments we have out here in the Canadian northwoods.  Like the now dead mosquitos, once our time on this river is over, we will not be coming back.  Even though we are just mosquitos to this river, our experiences on this river make us like the pines and spruces: always absorbing, never resting.  As we end our journey on the Grass River and continue to different lands, I hope that we grow into strong, tall pines and spruces, trees that absorb every experience and never rest long enough to go dormant.