January - June
600 miles by ski and canoe
January: Life at Kroka Farm Base Camp in Marlow, NH
We come together as a large family at Kroka’s base camp and learn a multitude of new skills. We learn new ways of living, documenting our progress through prose, poetry, drawing and craft. Each day starts with morning chores – from caring for farm animals to splitting wood, shoveling snow, and cooking on a wood stove. Morning chores are followed by silent observation of the world from everyone’s secret spot. After breakfast we begin our study. January subjects are directly connected with expedition preparation and range from meteorology and wilderness medicine to nutrition and equipment construction. We learn classical and skate skiing, practicing daily, and take to the slopes of a nearby ski mountain for backcountry downhill lessons. Afternoons are devoted to studying and hand crafts. In addition, each student will focus on an independent project in an area of the expedition, such as food manager, gear and equipment manager or master navigator. While students progress on their projects, expedition plans materialize into reality. Each day ends with a study hall, songs, music and community time.
February and March: Life on the Trail
With skis on our feet, we leave behind the long lists of expedition plans and greet the winter trail. Three hundred miles of unbroken snow stretches out before us, and every day is a new adventure. Who knows where we will sleep? Fir boughs will make a soft bed and dry wood a warm tent. We study the sky and learn to listen to the language of the earth - tomorrow it will snow! We study the tracks of our new family: fisher, muskrat, squirrel and deer. We read the ice and learn how to find the door of a beaver’s lodge. We get to know trees as we encounter them on the trail; we will learn to read the landscape and begin to understand the history of settlements. We will carve telemark turns down steep hills on winding trails.
April: The North Woods Stewardship Center
As the snow melts away and the spring sun warms the earth, we change our focus from skiing to studying and preparing for the trip south. The same snow that allowed us to travel over the mountains will now feed the rivers that carry us home. But first there is exciting work to be done! We make a semi-permanent home from large canvas wall tents. We study the history and culture of the region through interviews, stories, observation and community service. A master canoe builder comes and builds a cedar and canvas canoe with us, our craft for the journey home. Days of pounding brown ash yields strips to weave our pack baskets. After a month of carving, pounding, reading, sanding, weaving, writing, and chopping, we pick up a new tool. It’s smooth, strong, and individually crafted—the paddle. We step into a shining cedar canoe with paddles in hand. The ancient travel routes open to us and suddenly, we are free.
May: Life on the River
The days grow longer and new life awakens – we learn the birds who sing us awake each morning, sketch the ephemeral wildflowers that bloom in riparian soil, and give thanks to the occasional fish on the end of our hook. We fill our bowls with fiddleheads, groundnuts, knotweed pie, and other sustenance from the riverbank. We make fire by friction, study hydropower and water quality, and learn geology from the top of Mt Ascutney. We tan deer hides and make moccasins, soft shoes for walking lightly on the Earth.
May/June: Farm Base Camp in Marlow, NH
Six hundred miles later we arrive back at our Base Camp in Marlow, NH. On our final building project at base camp we will put to work all the skills we have acquired in the past months. The last week of the journey is devoted to reflection, finishing academics and preparing a presentation to the community. Our journey is now over, but it is just the beginning of a life-long passion for wilderness adventure, conscious living, and a connection to nature and the spirit within.