Posted by: Stefan Anderson | June 1, 2014

In the Porcupine Mountains

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Last Friday students headed out across the Northwoods for Exploration Week. During Exploration Week students spend six days (five nights) either in the Porcupine Mountains, hiking the North Country Trail, exploring the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, or canoeing through the Sylvania Wilderness Area.

During Exploration Week I appreciate the opportunity to check in with groups throughout the week. In this blog entry it is my pleasure to share with you a few comments and photos from my day yesterday with a group in the Porcupine Mountains.

The Porcupine Mountains are located on the shore of Lake Superior and it takes about 90 minutes to drive to the trail heads from Conserve School. I drove up in the morning and hiked in to join the group of students who were hiking with staff members Robert Eady and Annie Bussiere. When I arrived at their campsites at the mouth of the Little Carp River I found them just finishing breakfast. It was a pleasure to see how well the students functioned as a team as each member took responsibility for their role for the day. Kayla shared the poem, “Why I Wake Early” by Mary Oliver while the group sat on a giant piece of driftwood. In that setting it seemed especially appropriate.

Why I Wake Early

Kayla reading - Why I Wake Early

Kayla reading – Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.”
~ Mary Oliver

Later that morning the group gathered together and discussed their plans for the day. This included the creation of a daily group contract to help them work together better as a team. Lena who was the days scribe collected their contract in the group’s journal. Heather showed the group the route that they had selected for the day. Some concerns were raised regarding the length of the hike and the group identified some alternatives should they decide  that the proposed route was too ambitious. One of the nice aspects of hiking in the Porcupine Mountains is that there are a variety of routes. I took a few more photos of the group as they hiked away from their campsite. Later that day I rejoined them at their next campsite for dinner. I found them camped near Greenstone Falls. The group was in good spirits and in great shape. I appreciated the way that the students took charge of dinner and the quotes from Epictetus that Kayla shared after dinner. These were quotes that they had learned in class from history teacher Michael Salat. As the sun set I left the group and headed out. My next stop will be with the groups at Pictured Rocks.

Stefan Anderson
Head of School

P.S. If you look closely at the photos of Lake Superior you can see some white pieces of ice floating in the lake.
P.P.S. Yes, there were a lot of mosquitoes, but the group was well prepared and responded by creating an interesting song about the little critters.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.

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