Day one of hitch five began with the usual early morning scramble to eat breakfast and pack up gear for the upcoming days. However, unlike past hitches, we also had to pack up everything in the apartment - cupboards, refrigerator, closets, bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathrooms - and stuff boxes and bags into Dave’s car and Kelsey’s van. After multiple trips carrying miscellaneous items up and down the two flights of stairs and driving back and forth to the Kawishiwi office, we drove out of Ely together for the last time. The five hour ride from Ely to the end destination at Seagull Lake in the Eastern side of the Boundary Waters was absolutely gorgeous. By the time we got to the parking lot at the edge of the lake, the afternoon was nearly coming to an end. Paddling across the open water surrounded by hills of burned, dead snags felt incredibly natural and maps weren’t needed as we made our way across the familiar lake. August in the Boundary Waters can be wildly busy and, unfortunately, trying to find an open campsite led to portaging 100 rods and cruising yet another lake as the sun began to set. Despite the long physically and mentally draining day, paddling between rocky islands on glassy waters reflecting pink-orange skies was the perfect ending to the day. By the last hitch it could be assumed that Katharine and I would remember to bring a tent but, alas, we ended up sleeping on bedrock under a cloudless sky speckled with stars and a nearly full moon.
The targeted invasive for the first day of weed pulling was purple loosestrife. Unfortunately, or fortunately, none was found and the afternoon was spent checking up on old weed sites. Night two was spent at the Forest Service “boneyard” off of the Gunflint Trail. Dinner was delicious and the mosquitos were horrendous. After about 12 hours of slapping and itching fresh bites, we took it as a sign that we were to spend our last nights in the Boundary Waters.
Jack returned to join us for one last day of adventure and weed hunting. The seven of us traveled to Duncan, Daniels, and Rose Lakes with a lunch stop at the top of a thundering waterfall. After farewells were bid to Jack, a refreshing evening was welcomed with swims, relaxing and yet another amazing dinner.
The next two days, and the last two with a full crew, were fruitful day excursions to Clearwater, Caribou and Poplar Lakes. One last evening together was enjoyed in Grand Marais eating an amazing meal, ice cream, and sitting by the shore of Lake Superior. After the drive back to the base camp on Bearskin Lake we played card games as the full moon rose above the tree tops across the lake.
On the morning of day six, camp was broken down and the crew silently paddled across still water through rising fog. An ever exciting moose spotting made the long drive back to Grand Marais go quickly, and coffee was enjoyed by all before Dave and Nick headed off to continue their own adventures.
Kelsey, Katharine, Clare and I drove to Eagle Mountain (the highest point in MN at 2,301 feet - whoooooo!) and hiked up to an incredibly extensive site of Tansy. The further back into the woods we went, the more the patch of Tansy grew. A steady rain - the first we had had to work in all summer - pattered down on our four hard hats as we went to work. After the site was completed we hiked up to the top of the “mountain” and got to the first look out point as the sky turned sunny once again.
The last day of field work for the summer was spent on the beautiful Brule Lake. At about 9 a.m. we got to our campsite and set up tents and the tarp, then paddled off to the first of our two Canada thistle sites. Clare, thinking like a thistle, found the rather large patch after much searching. As we walked back to our canoes an incredible patch of blueberries was found and we made certain to pick our fair share. Making our way back to the campsite across choppy water was a welcomed challenge and we ended it with one more lunch in the great Boundary Waters. After a few hours of relaxing and divulging our greatest secrets, we made our delicious dinner of “Katharine’s pancakes” with the addition of bananas, fresh blueberries and topped off with fresh raspberries. Our last crew dinner of the summer was also the first we cooked under our tarp. After playing cards and watching the rain for a few hours we emerged to find a pink and gold flushed sky with a rainbow stretched across the trees.
A summer of working and living in such a beautiful wilderness area has certainly been an incredible experience. We have come to know the ways of the Northwoods, the eerie calls of the loons, and the feel of paddling with sore shoulders and toughened hands. To spend nearly every waking minute for three months with people who started out as complete strangers isn’t something many people get to do. We’ve traveled together, experienced the same shifts in weather, felt the same cool breeze come off the lakes. This experience forms a different type of bond; something so pure and real. There is no hiding of flaws or emotions, each person is exactly who they are. Together we’ve watched days pass sitting around a campfire near the rocky shore of a still, glassy lake. We’ve learned to live a pure and simple life.
“I am lost and I rejoice in the openness. I cannot decide where to go, so for now, I will dance where I am and be. There is no goal, no destination, just wilderness and life and being. I sing and dance and live in the wilderness, and I am home.” -Dance of Tziporah
Sigurd Olson was an environmental writer who lived most of his life in Ely, Minnesota, where we have been based out of this summer. Much of his writing has been described as putting into words what many people feel while out on wilderness canoe trips. Reading his words after spending the summer paddling the same ancient lakes that Sigurd Olson did has given a new meaning to the experience. An excerpt from the chapter titled “Awareness” from his book Reflections from the North Country has been especially enjoyed by our crew:
“We think we are finding all the answers, but this can never be done, for there are certain things that cannot be explained: relationships, intuitions, the grand thrust of the evolutional process, the riddle of a bloodstream, nuclear and genetic knowledge, the life-giving function of chloroplasts. The longer I contemplate this world of living things and look at the earth itself, the more I am convinced there can never be an end to wonder and awareness, and that one of the real tragedies in life is to waste time when there is so much to see and learn.”
May the long time sun shine on you.
Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes (11, 842 to be exact) and we paddled-twenty three of them in this whirlwind of a hitch. After all six of us piled into our mint green truck, we drove to the Moose Lake landing where we got a tow from the Forest Service. Our tow consisted of strapping our canoes on a rack on a john boat and speeding twenty minutes to our first portage into Birch Lake. The following hours of our trip consisted of strenuous paddling and portaging through four more Lakes. Finally finding an adequate camp site on Knife Lake, we wrapped up the day with a tasty meal of coconut curry and a round of cards.
Day two began with the shrill rattle of red squirrels and cups of instant coffee. Awake and alert we prepared to clear the first of five priority sites. This site in particular, was once the home of Dorothy Molter, a local legend. She was one of the last people to live in what is now the Boundary Waters and was famous for her homemade root beer she would sell to passing boaters. At the cabin site we encountered large patches of Tansy and over grown Tartarian Honeysuckle. After an hour, of pulling and sawing we took a few handfuls of GORP and ventured off to our next location. During this hitch we also had our first encounter with purple loosestrife, a plant which is known to completely over run wetlands and choke out native wetland species.
Following our two days of work on Knife Lake, we began two most strenuous days thus far. Our arms ached and screamed at us as we paddled through fifteen more lakes and over four miles of portage trails. However, the highly sought after, bittersweet, thimble berries made the pain disappear as we popped rip handfuls into our mouths. Weary from paddling, portaging and pulling set up camp and on what we thought was named “Diz Lake,” to our disappointment it was actually named Dix Lake.
The final two days of our hitch were spent pulling our final two priority sites. One of which consisted of only a single tansy plant, proof that our treatment methods are affective. Our final night we camped on Disappointment Lake, which was anything but disappointing. The lake was as beautiful as any, lined with birch, aspen, cedars and pines, filled with looming gray boulders and pristine clear water. A few lucky crew members even spotted a group of young otters splashing about. As we paddled up to our final priority site, we were confronted with a sea of four foot tall tansy. Removing it all seemed like a daunting task at first, but managed to conquer it all. Photographic evidence of our conquest can be seen below.
Unlike previous hitches, the Superior team took on a new member for a few days, their Program Coordinator, Mike Stenfancic. The team prepared their Duluth packs and food the morning of their first hitch while they waited for Mike to arrive around 9 am.
Once Mike finished shopping and had loaded up his canoe, the team left for the Moose Lake landing. The temperature was mild with clear skies and light wind and the entire team—in a stretch circle on the shore—relished the clement conditions. The relishing was especially prolonged and verbalized because they had a bit of foreknowledge that a severe heat wave loomed just off the Boundary Water region. For some team members, this would be a mental and physical challenge, yet for others it would prove to be a salubrious boon.
The first afternoon warmed as the team portaged into and out of Wind Lake. Mosquitoes hummed around faces, and black flies left red pinpricks on sweat-glossed skin. The destination was a two-day base camp on Basswood Lake, which was about a mile from the last portage out of Wind Lake. Visions of setting up camp and swimming fueled their muscles with energy during that last haul. Finally, the crew arrived: A grassy bank that gave way to block-shaped granite that crumbled into Basswood’s black water. Only moments after they set up camp were they in swim-trunks and -suits playing 500. Having an extra voice, a personality, and a helping hand—not to mention Mike’s contagious, bellowing laugh—was a treat for the team that first night and was already a lamented vacancy once he had to move on without them.
They spent the next two days visiting sites: The usual smattering of glaring yellow-eyed Daisy and seeding Hawkweed. The Hawkweed added a new caveat for the team this time around. The hitch before they realized that the Hawkweed’s frothy buds were easily knocked loose, which allowed more seeds to be sown. To avoid this, the crew used a Duluth bag liner—a thick, plastic bag—to put the seeds in. Team members tip-toed around as if holding a sleeping baby, a full glass of water, or as one team member noted, a sensitive explosive, hoping that each fragile seed would remain in the bud until the plant was put away in the bag. After cosseting the plant’s seeded heads for a few hours, the team moved on, satisfied with their meticulous work.
One priority site in particular was an anomaly for the summer. It was an old lodge property that was overrun by Goutweed. It was so large that all their agency contact asked them to do was to clear a ten-foot perimeter around the infestation. When they arrived at the site they saw one, then two, then a bundle, then an entire forest floor covered with the white-fringed leaves. Finding the perimeter to such an infestation was a challenge, but they identified the best border they could and went to work whacking the open areas with the rhythmic pendulum-swinging of metallic blades.
Goutweed is a small, three leaved plant that develops a cream colored fringe. It has a single lobe, which makes the leaf look like a mitten. A member of the carrot family, Apiacae, early settlers and lodge owners in the Boundary Waters area introduced the species as an ornamental despite the plant’s ancient medicinal uses for, as the name suggests, gout (a gnarly form of arthritis). Now, the weed is a legitimate ecological gout in wilderness ecosystems and for those obliged to get rid of it: Its rhizomic root structure and tenacious hold on top soil makes removal a teeth-grinding endeavor. Regardless, the crew managed to create a boundary that would contain the havoc one more summer until the next crew can arrive to manage the situation.
The next day the team was off for Prairie Portage and Sucker, Newfound, and eventually Moose Lake.
In the mornings, the goopy-eyed and shoulder-sore team ate oatmeal and drank instant coffee around the froggy-voiced National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) weatherman, waiting to both mentally and physically prepare for the day ahead. Each morning the NOAA man was a harbinger of imminent severe heat. Two members of the crew, Nick and David, waited in anticipation, while others simply accepted that the heat would be a challenge, but nevertheless endurable. But it was Jason, the neurotic, psychosomatic, cold-climate craving Coloradan, who each time he heard “heat index of 105”, whimpered and accepted his plight with silent crying in his tent.
The team began each day afresh and ambitious. Mike proved to be an invaluable resource for the team in identifying the myriad of flora on each site and portage. He not only showed his botanical wizardry, but he also served as a mosquito magnet. Each morning when he got out of his mesh-lined tarp, swarms of hundreds—maybe thousands—of blood-hungry mosquitoes cycloned around his exit. Oddly, he turned down an invitation to stay longer.
When Mike left for Chicago to visit the Superior team's sister team in the Illinois Sand Dunes, the crew headed to Prairie Portage. The team knocked the site out quickly and worked their way into other portages and sites in the area. The severe heat was staved off by low-lying fog, but the sauna-esque humidity was ubiquitous.
The crew moved into their last base camp on Newfound Lake the morning of the first full day of predicted severe heat. Nick and David thrived and bounded in and out of the canoes while the rest of the team moved a bit more slowly, conserving energy to make it through the entire day. The Forest Service recommended mid-day “health swims”, which the team indulged in at various sites and at lunch. That night, while listening to distant thunder and watching clouds boil all around, the team ruminated what a privilege it was to volunteer in such an amazing place where they could escape heat with a quick dip, then return to an “office”, or temporary home, that was in the middle of one of the Nation’s most serene wilderness areas.
The next day the team wrapped up the sites on Newfound and Moose Lake and survived one of the hotter days of the week. They left a day early to stay the night back at their dorm, but planned on going back to one of their first work areas from Hitch 1, Little Gabro Lake, the next morning.
First thing that following morning the crew was up and out the door. The heat was on early and the sky was an orange and blue haze. A sweaty, mosquito-pestered, 200 rod portage into the lake. Soaked and pocked with red welts, the team loaded canoes and slip through the placid water to new sites. They cleared out Hawkweed, Oxe eye, Canadian and Bull thistle all morning then went back to the dorm to clean up gear and prepare for the next hitch.
The third hitch was productive and exciting with the usual mystery of North Woods weather phenomena, and, with Mike’s candid reminder on his way out, that "some people would pay" to be out there doing what the Superior team is doing. They truly are the luckiest conservation volunteers ever...that's right, EVER.
It took three-and-a-half hours to drive from Vermillion Community College to the Blankenburg Landing on Seagull lake, and not once during the trip did anyone show any signs of impatience or restlessness; a fact that should be no surprise to those who have had the pleasure of cruising along Lake Superior’s western shores. With the windows down, the dance tunes jamming, and that vast expanse of water (3 quadrillion gallons worth) occupying the horizon our crew eased into the cushioned seats of our two Forest Service vehicles (one a mint green F350; call name Green Giant, and the other a white Trailblazer; call name White Rabbit) and awaited our eventual arrival.
The car’s clock read 4:00 by the time we pulled up to Seagull Lake and began unloading our gear and canoes, or as I call them, Kayaks. Because we were running a bit behind schedule--thirty minutes or so--we worked double-time and managed to paddle to our camp site and set up all our tents and gear by 6:00; an accomplishment for even a seasoned canoeist. Exhausted by a full day’s labor, we retired to our respective tents and promptly fell asleep.
Seagull, Rog, and Alpine Lakes, the three bodies of water around which our work for the week revolved, are a special lot. This distinguished status stems from their lying within the boundaries of the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006, which was a great blazing inferno that claimed 31,830 acres of Boundary Water forest. Ecologists and the like refer to regrowth in an area such as this as being secondary successional. That is, an area in which an event has drastically altered the landscape and disrupted the usual growth and development of that area thereby allowing a new wave of plant species to populate it. In this ultra-fertile ash-saturated soil, invasive species can quickly gain a foothold and begin outcompeting native plants. Bull and Canadian thistles are especially adept at taking root in a newly burned area and were, therefore, our main target.
With the great burned out husks of pines standing erect against the Minnesota sky like the enormous sun-bleached bones of some massive now extinct prehistoric fauna, we bushwhacked through the aspens and alders grown as tall as eight feet by five years of sunlight and rain; here and there running into patches of Canada Thistle which we pulled with special delight, for their tap roots grow straight downward and will often relinquish their hold of the land without dispute. The bull thistle we occasionally stumbled across, on the other hand, was not so eager to surrender. With thorns that can easily poke through a leather glove and roots that spread laterally through the soil, this was a foe worthy of recognition.
In the end, however, not even this mighty invasive could stand up to the persistence of the Superior Invasive Species Removal Team and, as the days flit by (as they tend to do when each one is filled with ten solid hours of work), our eyes became increasingly capable of picking out the pointed leaves of a thistle, and our hands became hardened and resistant to their tines. Victory was thusly assured, and as we sat around a table and shared pizza at Sven and Ole’s on our way back to home-base, a feeling of pride in our work was evident in our faces. HUZZAH!
Typically a 'day off' from canoeing, portaging, and pulling weeds doesn't begin at 3:30am. The thought of waking well before the light of day is to put it simply, absurd. Nevertheless, three members of the superior crew found themselves racing through darkened curves attempting to beat the sunrise. Their destination: bird banding. Shortly after 5am the groggy group of three joined forest service biologists and volunteers in setting up mist nets and a bird banding station. The forest service has conducted the bird banding near Isabella, Minnesota for the past four years. The purpose is to collect information regarding migration, bird health (age, feather condition, reproductive state, sex, weight), and species population. In order to acquire such an extensive list of information, birders and banders rely on mist nets (nylon mesh nets strung between two poles in varying habitats - riparian zones, dense forest vegetation, etc.) to capture specimens. After the information is acquired, a small aluminum band with an 8-9 digit serial number is applied to the leg. This number is recorded along with the other information and will then be sent to the Bird Banding Laboratory where the banding information is compiled.
The three superior crew members were split up with the more experienced birders and sent off to the 11 mist nets to collect any specimens. They quickly learned that removal of birds from the mist nets requires a peculiar set of detective skills. As one of the Forest Service Biologists put it, "You have to start with the butt." Since birds fly in headfirst, their removal requires a mix of dexterity and backwards puzzle solving to ensure a safe and stress-free removal. Some puzzles are more difficult than others, and each bird finds itself in a unique tangle. On a couple of occasions, the assistance of the head bander was required when Norma's experience and three pairs of glasses were insufficient for removing a real difficult snag.
Time flew as the the three dashed to the different nets, recorded banding information, and enjoyed Peg's freshly purchased "homemade" doughnut holes. By 11am the merry group had banded and recorded information of 50+ birds (northern parula, canada warbler, veery, oven bird, american redstart, and one of the favorites - cedar waxwing). After banding and recording the stats on the final oven bird, the three crew members helped take down the nets and banding station, said their thank yous and prepared to head back. Amazed by their hands on time with birds, overwhelmed with new knowledge, and stupefied by the fact that it wasn't quite noon, the three crew members returned to Ely for their second 'lunch' and some much needed coffee.
We spent the first half of this hitch on Fall, Pipestone, and Newton lake, and the second half on Little Gabbro, Gabbro, and Bald Eagle lake. Our efforts were concentrated on removing a few types of noxious weeds: hawkweed, a weed that has vibrant orange, red, or yellow flowers, the oxeye daisy, which can be identified by its white petals and yellow center, tansy, which is not flowering at this point in the summer and appeared as a small green herb, and the prickly Canada thistle.
Canada thistle proved to be the easiest to pull due to its short taproot, and small patches of hawkweed, tansy and oxeye daisy could be removed by digging up their roots. But when we came across overwhelmingly large fields of hockweed and oxeye daisy we resorted to “mowing” the flowers close to the base of the plant to inhibit seed production. Our tool of choice was the hori-hori, the super tool of garden spades that can both dig out roots and cut stems!
We were able to catch sight of some cool animals, such as beavers, bald eagles, and several turtles. Even a moose! On the first day of our hitch, while nearing a marshy area of a portage we were working on, Clare’s hushed call came from ahead, “Moose! Moose!” We tiptoed forward and craned our necks around the trees to catch a glimpse of the huge creature. The moose stood with its head lowered in the tall grass of the edge of the marsh, munching on aquatic plants. He slowly lifted his head towards our group and seemed to regard us with little concern. For a moment we stood locked in a staring match with the animal; those of us who had never seen a moose before were bubbling with excitement and awe. The moose slowly sauntered into the woods at the fringe of the marsh, looking back every few steps as if he wanted to stay and finish his meal of marshy plants despite the interruption. We thought of this awesome moose sighting as a harbinger of a good hitch to come.
Our days ended with a pre-dinner swim in water brisk enough to make us shriek and run for warm tents or campfire. Our dinner planning turned out to be a learning experience. While we certainly made several delicious meals, a couple were perhaps too experimental. Pizza barley night was one good example. Although it was yummy and filling, we cooked far too much barley and put in an enormous amount of cheese…Jason and Nick took one for the team and finished the pot o’ pizza barley, a digestive feat which showcased their steel stomachs. A few nights later we discovered that measuring in handfuls of flour leads to an extreme excess of pancakes. Despite an overwhelming amount of dense dough, this meal was culinary creativity at its finest—each person ended up making about 5 pancakes with a hodgepodge of unique ingredients. Nick’s concoction of dehydrated strawberries, brown sugar, and cinnamon mix clearly won the best pancake award. But when we had stuffed ourselves to full capacity we still had about 5 pounds of pancake mix to carry out. Luckily, the next day we stopped by civilization on the way to the next set of lakes and didn't have to carry the load too far.
The last day that we were on the water, the weather started to pick up and we ended up battling some 3-foot swells and very heavy winds. It was a test of our strength and canoe skills and it was… AWESOME! We were soaked to the bone by crashing waves and falling rain, only to find that we had overshot our portage. In one final push we took the wind head on and made it to the portage. When we finally arrived at solid ground, we couldn’t help but smile after surviving the elements… and seeing Nick’s vibrant red union suit blow in the wind.
While working, we saw an interesting mix of wildlife and campers. Many of the sites we visit are designated campsites. If there are campers present at the sites, we introduce ourselves and ask if we can inventory and pull some of the invasive weeds at their campsite. These interactions become opportunities for informal environmental education about invasive plants and other plant species in the area. We found that most of the folks camping are interested and thankful for the work we are doing. This hitch was successful and we learned many things that will help improve our next hitches!
We arrived at the Aurora office early Friday morning to meet up with Matt of the Forest Service weed crew for a day of planting Cedar and Tamarac seedlings. We caravanned to our tree-planting site, the 30-mile river, in our trusty Trailblazer and a Forest Service truck with a huge tank of herbicide in the trunk. As we drove towards our site Matt pointed out sites that he and his crew had recently gathered seeds. He described some of the jobs that his crew carries out; in a given day they may survey for rare plants or drive far and wide within the Superior forest to remove invasive plants. Fun fact about the herbicide used by Matt and his crew: it’s relatively nontoxic—one would get sick faster by consuming a solution of table salt!
After about an hour drive we arrived at the 30-mile river and unloaded about 800 cedar and 300 tamarac seedlings. Equipped with tree-planting bars, bug nets, and a couple hundred seedlings per person, we partnered up and headed along the bank of the river. The day was a beautiful and sunny, and we tromped through the riparian bushes to find what we hoped would be appropriate spots for the seedlings to take root. All in all, we planted 1100 seedlings, of which about 10-20% will probably survive. The long-term goal for this project is for the trees to grow tall and fall into the stream when they die; this will provide a shady habitat for trout. We all enjoyed planting these tiny trees on the riverside for an afternoon—it was a nice change from pulling up invasive plants.
We began our trial hitch with a massive Minnesota Northwoods thunderstorm. Standing on our balcony watching the rain pour down, our excitement for the upcoming day grew. After finishing our very haphazard packing routine, we hiked the quarter mile to the Kawishiwi Ranger Station and loaded up our trucks with packs, paddles, life jackets, canoes and SCA members. Before taking off, we met up with Jack Greenlee (Jack Attack), the Superior National Forest Plant Ecologist, who accompanied us on our hitch. Arriving at the Slim Lake parking lot (part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) we portaged our gear to the landing and set out onto the water. Jason and I powered ahead and lead the pack to our campsite where we set up tents and attempted our first tarp shelter construction. After a slow start we created the most impressive of tarp fortresses which, unfortunately, we never got to use. For the remainder of the day we traveled to the lakes nearby to inventory and remove invasive plants. At our first stop we found extensive Hawkweed and went to work as the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. The rest of the campsites and portages we went to did not have any intruders, but it was nice to spend the afternoon paddling and exploring more of the area. Upon return to our campsite, the ladies began making dinner while the gents paddled out into the lake to gather water. After an hour of agonizingly trying to boil our water with no success we borrowed Jack's stove and finlly got to eat our dinner of Gado Gado (totes delish). A clear breezy evening was greatly welcomed and we all stood under the pines watching the horizon and talking. We played a variety of games fit for a middle school girl's slumber party and had a blast doing so!
Day two of the trial hitch began as we checked out a beautiful location where the Forest Service is hoping to create a new campsite and looked for rare plants (Barren Strawberry and Ram's Head Orchid). The next stop was a campsite that was occupied but Kelsey and Jack politely asked if they could go ashore and look for invasive plants. While they searched, the rest of us ate gorp and watched from the water. Our last stop was the most riddled with invasive plants and we took our time pulling Oxeye Daisy, Hawkweed and St. John's Wort. And so ended our trial hitch. We have plenty of ideas on how to improve our packing for next time (it turns out that a bag full of hard hats is not incredibly comfortable) and are excited to get back out into the B-dub and attack those weeds!
On another slightly related note, Tuesday, June 7 marks the fist day of Nick's moustache growing experiment. We shall keep all updated with weekly photos of his progress!
Kelsey Navarre calls Toledo, Ohio home. She recently graduated from The University of Toledo with a B.S. in Biology and a concentration in Ecology. At The University of Toledo Kelsey worked in an applied spatial ecology lab. After graduation she decided to spend a year traveling the country and exploring different career options in the field of conservation. This brought her to the SCA. She is excited to spend her summer removing invasive species in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area. In her spare time she enjoys playing guitar, kayaking, listening to live music and crocheting.
Jason and his wife live in the confused society of the Front Range of Colorado where gorp-munching-yuppies collide with native cowtown-Reaganite American's. Currently, he's chiseling away at an undergrad in Environmental Sciences and works as a research assistant at the University of Colorado Denver. This summer he’s removing non-native invasive plants from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness with the SCA.
He backpacks and fly fishes year round, slashes the steep-and-deep gnargnar at Loveland in the winter (yeah, brah), and nerds out on entomology and botany while on hikes, which frustrates the goal-oriented pack luggers he's often obliged to explore Colorado's wildernesses with. Jason's ideal climate is some place where it snows six months out of the year, yet rivers remain thaw and salmon run freely. Give me conifers over deciduous, streams over rivers, mountains over plains! Boreal, here I come!
Arne Naess, Gary Snyder, and David James Duncan are the literary mentors who have significantly shaped Jason's perspectives on ecology and society while Hamland Garland and Rick Bass have--at least recently--been the suppliers of fiction, which balances the heavy loads of abstract and monotonous academic pursuits Jason finds himself in at the moment.
My name is Nicholas Victor. It's a long road from my home in Austin, Texas to my current spot of habitation in Ely, Minnesota, which is why I chose to fly. But seriously, there is a great distance between the two states, not just geographically, but culturally as well (I'll spare you the details, but for any southerners reading this, a hot dish is basically a casserole). A little more about myself: I enjoy running, biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and a host of other outdoor activities. I am currently attending the University of Texas at Austin where I hope to earn my English degree in the next two years.
The last twenty summers of Mari’s life have been spent in the north woods of Minnesota canoeing the lakes and enjoying the outdoors. Once again she is back, this time with the SCA, and is incredibly excited to gain a new perspective on the region. After studying Natural Resources Management for two years, Mari is looking forward to taking a break from the university classroom to find a hands-on learning experience.
When Mari is not canoeing the lakes and rivers of Minnesota and Canada she loves cross country skiing, hiking, drawing, photography, and discovering new music.
Raised in the greater Boston area, Katharine has fostered a love for the outdoors through hiking trips on the Appalachian Trail and Utah’s national parks. Last summer Katharine worked with the SCA removing invasive plants in the DC area, and she is looking forward to adventuring through the Minnesota wilderness this summer as part of the native plants corps.
Katharine currently studies biology at Bard College in New York, and will be a junior this coming fall. When she is not buried in an organic chemistry textbook, she can be found playing cello in numerous ensembles on campus, running cross-country, exploring the woods, and enjoying the sunshine.
David is a corn bred and fed Iowan of 22 years. He currently studies Animal Ecology and Spanish at Iowa State University. After studying in Panama and Costa Rica, a summer in the Boundary Waters is a return to his Midwestern roots. Along with five other corps members, David will be removing invasive plant species from the area with two of mankind’s most efficient tools: his hands. When he isn’t uprooting non-native plant species from Minnesota’s pristine habitat, he also enjoys running, swimming, kayaking, ornithology, and herpetology.
A native of Minnesota, Clare Croteau is fluent in the don’tcha know, uff da, ahh geeze and oh ya’s notorious in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Over the past nine years, Clare has worked many seasons with SCA and has had the privilege of meeting incredible people and exploring amazing places all over the United States. Along with her Minnesotan accent, Clare brings with her a great love of the outdoors, an eagerness to learn, and an excitement for working with others for the betterment of natural and social communities.
Clare studied biology and environmental studies as an undergraduate and, later, attended graduate school for environmental education. When she’s not outside backpacking, cross-country skiing, running, paddling, or snowshoeing, Clare most likely has knitting needles in hand.
|Work Site Final Report!|
|Jason Abdilla, Member|
|Nicholas Victor, Member|
|Mari Hardel, Member|
|Katharine Dooley, Member|
|David Brady, Member|
|Clare Croteau, Project Leader|
|Hitch 5: Farewells (awwwww)|
|Hitch 4: 23 Lakes in 7 Days|
|Hitch 3: Mike S., Gout, and Severe Heat|
|Bushwhacking in the (northern) U.S.A.|
|A Morning for the Birds|
|Hitch 1: Superior Crew|
|Trees for Trout and Tranquility|
|We's gonna get dose WEEDS!|