College Bound students made the best of the cancellation of their wilderness trip. 08-24-21 Photo by Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

Minnesota college students make the best of canceled BWCA trip

The Forest Service directive closing the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness went out on Saturday, August 21. A major effort was launched to reach campers already in the wilderness, letting them know their permits had been canceled due to drought and fire danger.

Among those remote campers was a large group of students from St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict on an annual trek into the wilderness. The group of 70-plus people arrived at their Gunflint Trail entry point by bus and then headed out in small groups in various directions.

The logistics of getting those students out of the BWCA was complicated, but thanks to the calm group leaders, the young people packed up their gear and paddled out quickly.

The support team outside the wilderness had some challenges. Another option for camping needed to be found, as well as transportation. Sarah Gainey, with the Outdoor University at St. John’s University, expressed appreciation to the Cook County community. She said the crew at Voyageur Canoe Outfitter was helpful in getting the students out. Dave Tersteeg and the Grand Marais Campground helped get a large group campsite set up. And Tom Nelson, transportation director at School District 166, arranged for school buses to bring the college students to the municipal campground.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with the organizers. Here’s her report.