photo courtesy of Amy Dobbs

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It has been a few weeks since I’ve posted. Here is a quick update on what Joe, Paul and I have been up to…

 Here in Minnesota Paul and I have focused on finishing boats and guiding winter trips in the Boundary Waters. In Georgia, Joe has been working hard as lead butcher at a local grass fed farm, Hunter Cattle Co. We’ve been buzzing with anticipation for this upcoming journey; Being patient and keeping our focus on work projects has been challenging to say the least. We are currently finishing up the last of our obligations and to-do’s before we begin our journey along the Appalachian Trail.

Boundary Water Winter Trips

On the back-trail.
photo courtesy of Amy Dobbs

Paul and I just lead a series of trips near the border of Canada at a wilderness lodge, Camp Menogyn. Menogyn is located in the northern reaches of Minnesota off the Gunflint Trail. The camp is owned by the YMCA and is used primarily as a summer camp for students. In the winter it becomes a great location to host winter adventures. The first two trips we led where with the Living Well group homes. The last trip was with Vision Loss Resources. All three trips were a great success and left us refreshed and motivated. These trips are so great because they truly encapsulate Wilderness Inquiry’s mission.

Connect people from all walks of life to the natural world through shared outdoor adventures

There is no road access to the camp itself. In order to get to the camp guides and participants must travel almost a mile across the frozen West Bearskin Lake. Just getting to the lodge is an adventure in itself. When participants have limited mobility we use pulk sleds to get folks around. Temperatures during the three trips ranged from 15 degrees down to negative 31 not including wind chill factor. Though these trips are lodge based they offer a number of challenges for participants. Throughout a four day trip we offer a variety of activities including: snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sauna, polar plunge, outside camping, endless board games, and of course dog sledding. Most participants try as many activities as possible. Experiencing the positive attitudes and grit of folks during these trips is truly life changing and motivational. I briefly mentioned Packing It Out during these trips and I’m excited to have folks from the trips follow our journey along the AT.


The greatest pulk sled race never known. West Bearskin Lake.
photo courtesy of Amy Dobbs

We coined MSC (meticulous self-care) as a motto for our hike to daily remind ourselves to stay injury free and to remain durable. Luckily all of our jobs are quite physical and require us to be on our feet all day. While Paul and I move heavy canoes and pull participants across lakes; Joe butchers and carries heavy beef and pork products all day. We have been supplementing our standard work environment with local hikes and flexibility training. The demands of hiking day after day will really tighten up every part of the body. Yoga will be a common practice along the trail. Not only will it help us remain flexible and injury free, it will help us stay focused on the present task at hand. The thought of having to walk another over 2,000 miles can be daunting prospect, but focusing on just one more step is a more realistic prospect. In the coming weeks our backpacking specific training will greatly increase to prepare us for the trail.

Coming Weeks

Fresh coat of teak oil

With the recent winter trips completed my focus is back on Packing It Out. Joe will be moving to Atlanta in the coming weeks to live with his brother and focus on training for the hike. Paul is done with Wilderness Inquiry for the moment and will be completing his continuing education requirements to keep his Wilderness EMT certification current. I have one week left at Wilderness Inquiry then I will be heading south to Illinois to visit my Dad and to sell both my canoe and kayak to save money for the trip. After that I will be heading further south to Knoxville, TN where I will meet up with Josh and Nichole. We then head south further south to New Orleans, LA to watch our long-time friend Daniel get married. Hiking will be the next and last thing on the list. I will meet with Paul and Joe in Atlanta, GA where we will drive to Amicalola State Park and begin our hike north. I plan to post at least one more blog post before beginning the trail. The tentative start date is currently March 29, 2015.

In other news, we have been receiving a lot of encouragement and support on both the facebook page and Go Fund Me site. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! Knowing that friends and family are supporting and cheering us on is a huge motivator. We are stoked to share this journey with everyone! Until next time...

Pack It Out


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