Posted by: csdailyblog | September 19, 2010

Conserve Students on Exploration Week: “Amazing!”


I invited Conserve students to send me their thoughts on Exploration Week, and here are the contributions I’ve received so far.

Josh, in a photo taken by trip leader Jeff Rennicke. More of Jeff's photographs can be seen in the blog post below.

From Caitlin S.:
For my experience, being in a group I wasn’t used to at first felt awkward, but after this time together, we all act like a family.  It was great to get back, but I loved making friends, and being in the back woods helped to form our equipo (team).

From Josh K.:
Going into the wilderness was amazing with amazing people and enjoying nature at its greatest, what more could you ask for?

From Kayla F.:
… As it turns out, Carolee (Michael, our trip leader/history teacher’s wife) went to town on our food! We had three huge food packs, the heaviest weighing in around 75 pounds– the other two weren’t much lighter. We also had a barrel full of food, a Duluth pack full of sleeping pads, and all of our personal gear. In the end, each of our four canoes would hold 3-5 packs or drybags. Anyway, we managed to load all of this up into Carolee’s Subaru, and we began the first trek together to Big Bateau, where we put in to Sylvania. This first day, it was windy. We all grabbed canoes, lifejackets, and paddles and began divvying (spelling?) up the gear. Alex and I paddled together, as our custom, with him steering. Just behind us was Michael and Allison; farther back were the two canoes manned by Marshall, Jess (our field-instructor leader), Caitlin, and Krystal. Because of our practice in THE GREAT WHITE CANOE, Alex and I were pretty speedy, and Michael was sure to split us up later in the trip… but now I’m ahead of myself!

Kayla, with "The Great White Canoe"

Portaging, as it turns out, isn’t too bad, even with some humungous packs! I’m pretty bad with canoes, so I tackled packs and drybags instead. From Big Bateau, we portaged to Florence Lake, paddled across to our next portage of 78 rods. Each rod is 16.5 feet– the longest portage we did the whole trip was112 rods. We started really getting a system down for portaging, stringing two drybags across a paddle and balancing this on our shoulders like the bar for squatting. Loon Lake is pretty big, and the waves were much bigger than those on Florence or Big Bateau. Luckily for the first half of the paddle, a sandspit broke up the lake. However, the second half of the lake was really tough. …  (an excerpt from a longer entry in Kayla’s blog, found at


From Alex B.:
I have been camping and doing lots of outdoor trips for many years. So personally I had no worries about this trip, but when I saw some of the other members in my group I was little worried. That is why it was so amazing to see how everyone worked extremely hard and our group operated as a well-oiled machine. No one complained, and even though everything did not go perfect at all times we still kept a positive attitude.

Beyond just the team dynamics, everything about this trip was amazing. The trees were in full color, providing extraordinary views from the water. Several windy days produced waves large enough to rock the boats which made us all feel as if we were on the high seas instead of just canoeing an inland lake. We had nightly talks around the fire where we read about the adventures of Lewis and Clark or shared our highs and lows for the trip. Exploration was prevalent as well; we ventured into the eyes of bogs with our canoes through narrow channels that barely allowed our canoes through and we walked along the bank of a small stream trying to find its point of entrance into Whitefish Lake. Even the physically tasking work of portaging four canoes, eight dry packs, paddles and lifejackets, group gear bags, and 170 pounds worth of food (oh yeah did we eat good) across treacherous trails was a blast. We sang songs and whistled, and talked only as loud as Michael would allow us since we were in the wilderness.

I could write for hours on everything that we did this week and how much fun it was. Hopefully what I have written gives an image of how much we learned and experienced over the past five days. Finally I would like to apologize for not having many pictures to share. All of our groups cameras died in the first two days, but I think more importantly than just getting pictures we received memories. I personally do not like to take lots of pictures because those moments are forever engrained in our minds, and sometimes it is better to have those images stored in our brains than relying on temporary photos to remind us of our life.

Thank you, Alex, Caitlin, Josh, and Kayla, for sharing!

Mary Anna

Don’t miss the photos from Exploration Week in the blog post below!



  1. Reading all of your comments of your trip is giving me wonderful flashbacks of personal camping trips that I had with my Conserve is so nice to hear about the wonderful experiences you were able to have! Keep up the great learning and exploring you all – it is great to hear of new memories you all are creating at my home! – Katherine Clark (CS Alum)

    • Thanks, Kath! It’s nice to hear from you.

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