By Anne Hoyt Taff '04

Ten women from the Macalester alumni community met in front of Weyerhaeuser at the end of July, threw their sleeping bags into cars and ventured to northern Wisconsin for four days of canoeing and camping along the scenic Namekagon River. Together, they revived a tradition from the 1940s, the annual Macalester women's canoe trip.

Led by guide Chris Heeter of The Wild Institute, the women spent time away from their city lives, laughing, relaxing, and bonding over the paths their lives have taken since Macalester. For some, it was a chance to brush up on rusty camping skills and steer a canoe once more, for others it was their first time sleeping in a tent and cooking over a fire. Adventures ranged from running rapids to finding squirrels in the food pack, and every day included spectacular views of the St. Croix Scenic Waterway, the surrounding pine forests, and wildlife.

Although few of the participants knew each other before the trip, sharing canoes and time away from home made making friends easy. The women spent time each morning sharing poems and stories and talking with Heeter about living life with a wild spirit. Once home, the paddlers shared thoughts and appreciation with the group –  reporting feeling refreshed, revitalized, and accomplished. The group plans to stay in touch and to “stay wild.”

The participants have said they look forward to reconnecting, spending more time in the wilderness, and returning to Macalester, sleeping bags in hand, for another wilderness journey next year. Watch for announcements about the next alumni women's canoe trip in the spring.

August 17 2011

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