On this course you will expedition through the picturesque and historic Rangeley Lakes of western Maine. You will depart the base camp on the first or second day of the course and not return until the end. You will carry what you need for as much as a week in your backpack and you will hike, paddle, or climb nearly every day. You do not need to have previous backpacking or canoeing experience. We will teach you everything you need to know to travel comfortably, including how to pack a backpack, maneuver a canoe, set up a wilderness campsite, rock climb, and navigate using a map and compass. Arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition.
You will canoe in the upper reaches of the Androscoggin watershed. The Androscoggin is fed by Aziscohos Lake, the Magalloway River, and the Rangeley Lakes: Cupsuptic, Mooselookmeguntic, and Richardson. Indigenous Abenaki peoples used the Androscoggin as both a means of transportation between winter habitats inland, summer living on the coast, and as a source of food. Later the Androscoggin River was used to move logs to mills downstate during the logging boom of the nineteenth century. These days the lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fisherman, and other recreationalists. Some of the portages you may encounter have been in use for centuries, such as along the Rapid River.
- Canoeing – Part of your course will be focused on learning wilderness canoe expedition skills. You will canoe on lakes and rivers, learning paddle strokes such as the draw, pry, and J-stroke. You will likely learn the skills of portaging (carrying the canoe on your shoulders), and lining (guiding your canoe down unrunnable rapids) as you travel through some of the amazing waterways of Maine. In learning to work and communicate well with your paddling partner each day you will discover the power of two people truly working together.
- Portaging – To travel between lakes, your group will work together as a team to carry packs and canoes over trails. Portage trails are rugged and often rocky or hilly. They vary in length from a few hundred yards to a few miles. The group will work to come up with a portaging plan that sensibly and safely distributes all of the responsibilities.
- Solo – The solo experience is a standard element of Outward Bound courses. With sufficient food and equipment, you will set up camp at a coastal site on your own for a few hours or overnight. Your solo site is chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet be within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time and will be mostly alone, however your instructors will check on you occasionally. The solitude and break from the fast pace of your expedition allows for rest and personal reflection, which is necessary to make the most of your experience.
- Rock Climbing – During your course you will spend a day rock climbing on one of this area’s many granite cliffs, known locally as “Little Bear,” “Bald,” “Table Rock,” and “Square Ledges.” You will learn to use climbing equipment, tie knots, climb and belay each other, while instructors provide overall supervision of the site. Climbing gives you a chance to practice your balance, coordination, flexibility as well as the group’s ability to trust and encourage each other.
- Final Challenge Event – We typically end our courses with a Final Challenge Event—an individual final physical push. This might take the form of a run or a triathlon activity.
- Training Expedition: initially, your instructors will focus on teaching the skills of canoeing and campcraft, navigating and coaching your team through the art of moving through the Maine waterways safely and efficiently.
- Main Expedition: the instructors begin to hand over technical responsibility for day to day running of the expedition while they continue to teach more advanced skills, and coach you in the finer points of leadership and teamwork.
- Final Expedition: Near the end of course, if you and your group have demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem-solving and wilderness living skills, you may be given the opportunity to travel without your instructors participating in decision-making. Many of our students tell us this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work together, solve problems, and accomplish a goal independently, utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
Women’s Courses (18+)
Women’s courses are designed for and taught by women. In a collaborative team traveling through a peaceful wilderness setting, you can reconnect with the essentials of community and of life. Our one-week women’s courses are the perfect opportunity to get a fresh perspective, step out of your routines and challenge yourself in new ways, discover new strengths, and forge new friendships. No previous experience is necessary—all wilderness skills are taught from the beginning. You will only need to be physically fit and motivated to live, learn and work in a team. The expedition may only last a week, but the strength of the experience will be with you for a lifetime.
To apply for this course click the apply button next to the course dates that work for you. The non-refundable application fee of $125 is due at the time of application. Course tuitions listed do not include our application fee or transportation fee. You can also call one of our expert Admissions Advisors at 866-467-7651.