This incredible winter expedition takes place in the frozen Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness near Ely, MN. You’ll soon understand how this million acre wilderness has made Ely the dogsledding capital of the lower 48 states. The popular summer canoe routes, now frozen beneath feet of ice and snow, provide an idyllic setting for day, week or month long dogsledding expeditions. On an Outward Bound dogsledding expedition you won’t just learn how to run dogs, you’ll learn how to explore one of the most remote, beautiful and harsh environments on the planet. Together with your instructors, your expedition team and your dogs, you’ll learn how to care for one another and work together to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.
Outward Bound instructors are committed to bringing teenagers into the wilderness and exposing them to the beauty, freedom and adventure it provides. From mushing dogs to taking care of your teammates, building a fire to building character, the Boundary Waters is a perfect place to get out of your comfort zone, practice independence, develop leadership skills and build self-confidence. Outward Bound students are expected to try their best, exercise compassion, practice quality craftsmanship and have a life-changing experience in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota.
Your course starts at the Duluth International Airport where you’ll meet your teammates as they arrive and then drive further north to the Outward Bound basecamp where your instructors will be waiting. The first night will be filled with introductions, both to your team and to your equipment. Your instructors will help you re-pack your gear into packs we provide. You’ll try-on layers of clothing, mitts and boots all provided by Outward Bound. You’ll even test your sleeping bags by sleeping out near a heated building on the first night. Don’t worry; your instructors will teach you a few tricks for staying comfortable and warm throughout the night.
In the morning you’ll continue preparing for your expedition by learning about dogs, cold management and your equipment. When your dog teams see you coming, they’ll begin a chorus of howls and barking, escalating in volume until you give them the command to run…“Ready dogs, let’s go!” The winter woods will become silent as you ski and mush down the trail.
During the day, half of your team will ski, taking on the tasks of navigating, breaking trail for the dogsleds and checking for safe ice conditions. The other half of the team will pack the dogsleds, hook up the dog teams and work with the dogs to maneuver the dogsleds through various conditions. At night you’ll work with your team to care for your dogs, set up camp, process firewood for the fire and cook dinner. When camp is finally set-up and you have enough firewood to keep you warm, you’ll sit around your blazing fire telling stories and enjoying a well-earned hot meal. If you’re lucky, you’ll marvel at the northern lights dancing across the sky.
Towards the end of your expedition you’ll have your Solo experience. Solo is an opportunity to practice the skills you’ve learned and reflect on your expedition. You’ll set-up your own shelter and cook your own dinner. Your instructors will check-in on you, but don’t be surprised if you’re doing just fine without any help. The self-reliance you practice during your solo can be one of the most profound and rewarding aspects of your expedition.
Soon after Solo you’ll exit the wilderness and make your way back to basecamp. You’ll bring the dogs back to their dog houses, making sure they’re fed and comfortable before taking some time to relax and warm-up yourself. Start with steamy sauna and take the “polar plunge” in the nearby Kawishiwi River where we’ve cut a hole in the ice. Then take a traditional shower with piping hot water, perhaps the most memorable and enjoyable shower of your life, before joining your group for a final meal to celebrate all that you’ve accomplished. Your group will spend one last night together in a heated cabin before an early breakfast and return trip to Duluth.
The BWCAW is a million-acre expanse of lakes and granite that has been protected as a true American wilderness—no roads, signs, or power lines. It has changed little since the glaciers receded 10,000 years ago. In winter it offers amazing expanses of frozen lakes, snow covered trees, and crystalline mornings. Wolves are one of the few active winter species in the area and it is not uncommon to hear their howls or see their tracks. Sparkling snowscapes, frosty pines and the hush of the snow will be etched in your mind as you look back on your adventures traveling through the border country.
To apply for this course click APPLY next to the course dates that work for you. In order to reserve a spot on the course you’ll be asked to pay a $125 non-refundable application fee. The course tuition listed does not include the application fee or an additional transportation fee. To better understand the application and payment process, click here.