Jerky and County Road One

The last two days have been busy for the guys. Monday the guys met at basecamp to learn several new skills and perfect the skills they already know. The guys started off the meeting by learning how to pack the kettle pack. The kettle pack holds all of our cooking utensils, flagging for bush crashes, stoves, etc...The kettle back needs to be packed so the "stomach" of the pack is flat, so it will fit in the canoe. After the guys got the hang of the pack, we headed to the parking lot across the street from basecamp and learned how to set up tarps. We assumed the rain and wind was coming from the river, so we set it up accordingly with the truckers hitch, taut line, bowline, and the double half hitch. The tarp is held down by sticks that are wrapped with paracord and a rock set on top of the stick to act as an anchor. The tarp looked good and roomy for everyone to hang out under. We practiced our "coiling" of paracord and repacked the tarp and paradcord into the kettle pack.

We decided to go for a nice portage before paddling, so we would get nice and hot before going out on the river. The guys made a huge step yesterday. Instead of portaging to the tennis courts which are a little under a half of a mile, the guys portaged all the way out to county road one!! County road one is around a mile away from basecamp and a big accomplishment for portaging. The guys did an awesome job. We loaded up the canoes on the dock and headed out with our portaging partners out on the water to a bay upstream from basecamp. The guys are starting to paddle in straighter lines, but we will continue to work on that until we leave. When we got into the shallow bay, Gavin and I taught the guys a game call J-Lean. The purpose of the game is to sink the canoe without tipping it. To avoiding sinking the canoe, we use a low and high brace to slap the water to avoid tipping. It can be a tricky game, but teaches canoe control on the water. 

This morning was another busy day for the guys. We met at my former guides parent's house, the Trigg's for beef jerky day. The goal of today was to have all the crews cut what will be their jerky for the trip. The guys had to cut all the fat off of the jerky and slice them into jerky length pieces. Around 11:30 we had lunch provided by Rhonda Gronseth-Thank you so much for the subs!! the guys enjoyed the food before heading to the boot shack to get our boots.

The guys all met at the boot shack to get their boots for the summer. All of the guys seemed to enjoy the boots so much that all of them ended up leaving with them on. Everyone got boots, socks, liners, laces, and mink oil. We all got fitted for boots and made our last stop for the day at Savers. At savers everyone was on the hunt for trail shirts, shorts, or anything that caught their eye. Everyone seemed to have some good finds. The guys are getting anxious to get on trail. Can't wait!!!


Countdown: 12 days!!!!

Superb Sewing and Master Chef's

Yesterday was the busiest day the crew has had so far. We had the crews baking day AND ditty bag day....whoa. Typically baking day and ditty bag day are on two separate days since they take so long. However, thanks to the Chielewski's generosity hosting, we were able to get both done in one day. We did everything at Jack and Jim's Restaurant, which because we had those industrial ovens, we were able to cook everything at once. We had some guys creating our bay bread with candy, s'mores ingredients, blueberries, and raisins. Bay bread is similar to a big granola bar that provides us with a lot of calories during the trip and will be present in most of our lunches on trail. Other guys were working on cooking and seasoning the hamburger, mixing the hot chocolate mix, and making our bannock. With everyone working on several things at once and the power of Jack and Jim's kitchen, we were able to crank out all of our baking very quickly. Once everything was cooled off, we all began bagging the food and putting our Bay Bread into empty juice cartons, which Rhonda Gronseth was generous enough to get for the crew. The whole process only took the crew a few hours. The Chielewski's were also generous enough to allow the hungry crew to eat at the Jack and Jim's Buffet for lunch. YUM. 

Once everyone had enough to eat, we all made our way into the events center part of Jack and Jim's for our ditty bag sewing day. Thank you to all the parents who were able to help out with sewing and allowing us to use the sewing machines. Ditty bag's took very little time since everyone had their own sewing machine to work on and someone to help them. Everyone made three ditty bags, one small, medium, and large. These are used to hold and differentiate  our personal items from one another. Everyone also made their own paddle cases, which will hold our paddles on the bus ride up and back. Everyone did a fantastic job sewing and everything turned out super well. 

Huge thank you again to everyone who was able to help the crew yesterday. All of the help made for a quick, smooth, and efficient day for the crew. The guys will have another busy week with Beef Jerky Day on Tuesday and Food Packing Day on Thursday. We are getting so close to our departure :)


Countdown: 13 Days!!!!

Crew Sleepover

The whole crew spent Friday and Saturday morning at basecamp for our crews basecamp sleepover. We started off the meeting Friday by setting up the maps in the meeting room. The guys were able to set up the maps way faster than the meeting before. The guys also learned the trick for how to set up the maps quicker by using the square map key in the lower right corners of the maps. Once the guys were able to get all the maps set up, we began drawing out our route on our maps. It looks like the guys were able to get quite the variety of things within their route such as fishing, cliff jumping, pictographs, whitewater, and big named portages. It will be exciting for everyone to see what the route actually is like once we are up there. We plan on starting at Wallace Lake, resupplying food/care package letters on Lake Sasiginnigak, and finish on McCusker Lake. Gavin was assigned to being our crew maps manager. He was in charge of drawing out the route and making sure everyone was having a say in where we are going. He will also be in charge of putting in our campsite UTM's into the computer before we leave. 

Once our route was finished, everyone was starting to get pretty hungry so we headed down to the river to have a bonfire. We started a fire and began making our hot dogs and smores on the fire. We also started up a stove, so we could make hot chocolate to go along with the food. We had a good time talking to each other around the fire and learning everyones favorite tv shows/music. The food had no chance with the crew and it was eaten pretty quickly, so some of the guys decided to take a swim in the river and warm up by the fire before we headed back up to basecamp. Before we headed into the meeting room to get ready for bed, I taught the guys a fun trick for if you ever forget to bring a toothbrush anywhere. The trick was to use charcoal as your toothpaste and clean your teeth using that. This was a super funny moment for the crew to laugh at everyones ridiculously black teeth/mouths (check crew photos for more). This was a good way to lighten the mood before bed. We rinsed out our mouth's and headed into the meeting room where we stayed up a little later talking with one another before bed. 

Saturday morning was an early, but gorgeous morning. The crew got up at 6am for our first paddle on the Mississippi River. The guys seemed to struggle to get out of bed, so I'm curious to see how that will go on trail;) Everyone grabbed a life jacket and paddle and we headed down to the canoes to portage them down to the dock for loading. I showed the guys how/ the purpose of each stroke. We learned the power stroke, J stroke, and draws. Everyone was paired up the night before, so we headed out onto the water to practice paddling in straight lines around the river. I alternated boats so I could help everyone with their J stroke and paddling Stern. This typically seems to be the hardest part of paddling for most people, but with some more practice the guys will be pros. The guys seemed to be able to paddle in some pretty good straight lines by the end of the meeting. I was impressed! We will be trying to get on the water as much as possible between now and the time we leave. Before we left the water I had Jared and Blake tip their canoe, so Devon and I could demonstrate how to properly perform a T rescue. A T rescue is a open water rescue that allows one boat to re-flip the capsized canoe over. The guys were successfully rescued and everyone portaged the canoes from the dock back to the canoe rack. 

The guys successfully finished their routes and first time on the water paddling. There will be plenty of paddling before leaving, so I'm excited to see the progress before trail. Blake will be in charge of setting up our next meeting where we will work on setting up tarps, tents and getting the dehydrating process going. 


Countdown: 21 Days!!!

A Taste of Summer

The guys all were able to get a little taste of summer this past Monday at the meeting. The meeting started off by teaching the two guys who missed our canoe flipping meeting how to flip the canoe. However, I wanted to have the guys who already knew how to flip the canoe teach the two other guys who were new to it. It was a fun challenge to see how many parts of the canoe the guys could remember. Everyone was able to get the canoes flipped up perfectly, so we went for a portage down pine point road. We portaged about another 100 yards past our last portage, which was the tennis courts along Pine Point road. In total each guy portaged around a half of a mile! Wahoo!! Again, I had the guys talk with each other about what their most excited about for trail this summer. We circled up after our portaged and shared what everyone was most excited for. Sounds like the guys are most excited for some fishing, the beauty and the experience in general. 

We quickly moved from portaging out to the fire pit by the river. We set up stoves so I could show the guys how to properly start/turn off the stoves. I also taught them our "fire position" that we use when around fires and stoves in case they were to flame up, or our pots were to tip over. The guys did it with no problem, so we decided to put our new stoves skills to the test and make our first batch of Voyageur hot chocolate. We boiled some Mississippi River water to a boil and had everyone flavor their cups to taste with the Voyageur hot chocolate. We will be making our own Voyageur hot chocolate on our Hudson Bay Bread cooking day later on. We drink the Voyageur hot chocolate for breakfast and dinner each day on trail. It is especially good on the days where it is cold and constantly pouring rain. All the guys really seemed to enjoy the hot chocolate and the company of one another around the fire pit area. 

This Friday night we will be going over our route and maps, as well as having a crew sleep over. We will be heading out on the water at 6am on Saturday morning for our first day on the water. Can't Wait!!


Countdown: 25 Days!!!

Ingredients to Success

The Fritz crew had a busy, but very productive meeting last night. Unfortunately, the meeting had to be at 8:30pm so that everyone in the crew could make it to our meeting. Last night's meeting was a very critical meeting since the main focus was the deciding on the food we are bringing. 

The guys were all given pre trip jobs that they will be responsible for as we prepare for our trip. The guys will also now be in charge of setting up meetings. They will each have to look at our crew calendar and find a time that works best for everyone to have a meeting and what skills they think the crew should learn at the next meeting. This will allow the guys to gain some skills that will be important for on trail such as communication, organization, and leadership. Jared will be in charge of setting up when our next meeting will be and we will rotate who is in charge at each meeting. 

After all the jobs were organized, we began looking at our menu. Devon's crew job is to be our food manager. He is in charge of making sure he talks with the crew to see what food everyone wants and how much to have for each meal. It is an important job and he will be very busy at our food packing day. It was important that they were working together on this because that way everyone is having a say in what food we bring. The guys planned enough food for 25 breakfasts and dinners and 26 lunches on trail.

The guys seemed to finish our menu in good time, so I asked the guys if they still wanted to set up maps since it was getting late and they all seemed anxious to get those set up. We began setting up our maps to start getting an idea of where we want to go on the trip. I gave the guys until 11:00pm to set up the maps and unfortunately they were unable to get them all connected before then. We will be setting them up again next meeting and going through our route in more detail.

Feel free to contact me with any questions!


Countdown: 28 Days!!!


Flippin' Good Time!

What another fantastic day for the Fritz crew! Yesterday the guys met out at basecamp for a crew meeting dedicated towards learning how to flip up the canoe and portaging. The guys were absolute rockstars! 

We started off the meeting by learning all about the different parts of the canoe so that the guys would know what parts I would be talking about while demonstrating how to flip the canoe. Some of the parts we learned were the stern, bow, gunwales, thwarts, yoke, and deck plates.  After learning some canoe terminology we began going through the different steps leading up to flipping up the canoe. I demonstrated each step, then had the guys run through each step before adding a new one. Eventually we got to the part that most people tend to get nervous about-the actual flip up. However, all the guys CRUSHED it and everyone was able to get the canoe flipped up on their first try without assistance from anyone! AWESOME. Once everyone had it up, we learned how to properly take it off while doing the same steps as getting it on, but just in reverse order. The crew got the hang of it very quickly, so we decided to test it out and go for a short portage down to the tennis courts on Pine Point Rd. This gave the guys the opportunity to get  an idea of what portaging is like on trail, but there will be less roads and more fallen trees, hills, and bugs on trail, thats for sure:) Each time the guys portage from now until the trip they are encouraged to portage farther than they did the meeting before! We split up into to pairs of two so that one person could portage to the tennis courts, and one could portage back. It seems like they were all starting to feel it in their shoulders by the end of their portage. On our walk back from the the tennis courts I asked all of the guys to find out something about their partner that they don't know about them yet! 

Once back returning to basecamp from our portage, I challenged the guys to try flipping up/down on their weak sides since they had only done it with their strong sides. The guys seemed a little hesitant at first as to if they could do it or not, but eventually accepted the challenge. We went through all the steps again so they could see how to do it with their hands switching spots from how they originally learned it throughout the process. Once again, the guys crushed it and they all flipped it up on their weak sides on the first try and after a portage!! Believing you can do something, even if its new to you and having the support of your crew members is a special feeling. The guys did an awesome job of encouraging and helping each other out! Way to go guys!!!

After the flipping had stopped, some of the guys wanted to jump in the river before leaving, so we all gathered by the river to hang out and talk with a beautiful sunset along the Mississippi River. The crew will be going through maps next meeting and start making our route for the summer. We will be able to incorporate all of the things we hope to accomplish/see over our 26 day expedition when going over our maps. 

Feel Free to contact me with any questions!!


Countdown: 36 Days!!!

All The Little Things

The crew had a productive second meeting at basecamp this evening by managing to get some little things out of the way. The guys started off the meeting by sanding down one side of the paddle to prepare it for painting. So awesome to hear that some of the guys, as well as family members will be painting  their paddles this summer. The guys had some awesome ideas for paddles and I cannot wait to see the final products!! 

After our paddles were complete, we gave David (Basecamp Manager) a hand unloading and moving six canoes that we will use this summer from the trailer, so that we can get them prepared for our upcoming trip. The extra hands made the process very quick and easy. Once all the canoes were taken off we worked our way into the cozy meeting room in basecamp to go over questions on our gear list and get correct sizes on all our gear. 

Once everyone had correct gear sizes we began to work on a small, but important skills to know for our trip-Knots and coiling. Coiling the rope is an efficient way to wrap up the parachute cord (Paracord), or p-cord) for easy access the next time it is used. The guys were able to get the knots down so quickly that we were able to get through 5 different knots this evening. The knots we learned were the double half hitch, taut line, Bowline, Clove hitch, and the square knot. Once the guys were feeling comfortable with the knots, we coiled up the P-cord and started to get an idea for the different things the guys want to do/see this upcoming summer on the trip! Sounds like the guys are especially looking forward to some fishing, cliff jumping, rapids, and long portages-AWESOME! We hope to get all the guys together at one of the next meetings to start putting maps together and creating our route!

Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! 

Zach F.

Countdown: 49 Days!!!

The Journey Begins!!

Welcome everyone!

Welcome to Fritz crew page! On our page you will be able to stay up to date with our blog posts, see photos, and check the Fritz crew calendar! I will be keeping this page updated as we prepare for the departure of our big expedition in June so make sure to check this page often!

I was fortunate enough to meet up with the crew before the parent meeting and I couldn't be more excited to share the Voyageur experience with this group of guys this summer. Voyageurs has been the most life changing thing I have ever done in my life. The program has taught me to be a leader, healthy risk taking, and the importance of team work. Because of this wonderful program I will be returning for my fourth summer with the program and second summer as a guide. 

A little bit more about me- I am a Sophomore at St. John's University studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecology and working with the Outdoor Leadership Center on campus. When I'm not doing stuff for school, I enjoy rock climbing, Canoeing, Kayaking, or anything outside. As the semester is winding down and the weather is getting warmer, I have been getting anxious to get back out to basecamp for the summer!!

As always, feel free to contact me with any questions you may have! I will be working on putting our schedule on the calendar in the next couple weeks! Can't wait for this summer to  begin!!