The Boreal Snowshoe Expedition

2017 Course Info
· Length: 12 Days
· Sessions: 2
· Max. Size: 8
· College Credits: 5
· GI Bill: Yes
· Americorps: Yes
· Tuition: $2050

Winter Bushcraft, Guide Training
And Hot-Tent Snowshoe Expedition
College-Accredited, GI Bill Approved

2017: Our 18th Year Of Snowshoe And Toboggan Expeditions

Course Calendar · Apply Now

Experiential Learning, Expedition-Based

Winter in the boreal forest is a magical time, when all the bugs and people have settled down for the season and the mercury is pooled in the bottom of the thermometer. The waterways and low-lying areas, when frozen and covered with snow, make ideal routes for travel. Snowshoes are the means of travel, and burdens are transported by toboggan much easier than by backpack. The increased capacity allows the traveler to become nomadic, carrying a woodstove and canvas tent and several weeks worth of food. Home is where you set up camp, and while the cold and storms rage outside you can be snug and warm with the right knowledge, experience and a few well-chosen pieces of gear.

“Really deep powdery snow, lots of animal tracks, and the method of camping was beyond compare. We hauled all our gear by toboggan, which, after you pack down a float with your snowshoes, glide almost effortlessly over the snow. We were able to carry in much more weight than a heavy backpack, using only a fraction of the energy. Our tent was a 4 oz. cotton octagon that looks like a big circus tent, with standing headroom. We laid a bough floor over the snow, which kept everything inside smelling fresh, and dry, and made for a nice springy bed. The wood stove inside the tent heated the inside up to a balmy 80 degrees or so at ground level (despite it being -20F. outside in the mornings), and we cooked all our meals on it. The food was absolutely fantastic! We would spend an hour or so each day felling dead spruce and bucking them into firewood, haul a few pots of water from a hole in the ice, and that was the extent of our work for the day. The rest of it was ours to enjoy! We would track and learn animal habits, go for a snowshoe hike, read, cook, and look at the stars and observe the weather.”
– Peter Frost, Boreal Snowshoe Expedition, 2004

Snowshoe, Toboggan And Hot-Tent Winter Living

Our techniques and philosophy for the winter trail come from those who routinely spent entire winters in the bush, and differ dramatically from what is currently known as winter camping. It is better described as winter living. It isn’t carrying everything you need for a short sojourn in the backcountry. Instead, it’s learning the skills and techniques for an entire winter in the bush, and doing so in style. It is understanding winter’s wisdom, and living in the cold with a grace and economy unheard of in the modern, high-tech style of camping that has spilled over from mountaineering.

But winter can also be cruel to those who don’t know its ways. It is a season of narrow margins, and the effects of mistakes and bad judgements are magnified exponentially. Learning traditional winter bushcraft skills is the antidote to such events. Knowledge gained from experience guides you and keeps you safe.

The Boreal Snowshoe Expedition is a twelve-day immersion into these skills and lifestyle. Students learn traditional living and travel skills of the northern forest, not in a static classroom setting, but by actively living them on the trail.


7 Elements Of Jack Mountain Programs

Skill – Journey – Craft – Nature – Culture – Sustainability – Self

Drawing on the philosophies of bushcraft we’ve developed over almost 20-years of field courses, the traditions of Maine Guides that go back generations, the Cree concept of miyupimaatisiium (translated as “being alive well”) and the Scandinavian idea of friluftsliv (translated as “open air life”), the following seven elements comprise the components of our semester and yearlong programs.

1. Skill – Learn by doing. Too much of modern education is theoretical, abstract and sedentary, where the head is engaged but the hands are not. We depart from that norm with a tangible, hands-on approach that emphasizes being an active participant in the natural world and in life. Our 21-point curriculum focuses on necessary skills for the professional outdoors person.

2. Journey – Travel through remote parts of the north woods alongside professional guides, directly experiencing what you’re learning. Live in the bush for extended lengths of time where the focus isn’t simply how-to, but living with efficiency and grace that come with extensive experience.

3. Craft – Explore the world with your hands. Build useful items from materials gathered on the landscape. Man needs tools to live. Making these necessary items from materials gathered from the landscape bonds you to the land and makes you self-reliant.

4. Nature – Learn the language of the world around you. Study the weather, edible/medicinal plants, fungi, mammals and their tracks, birds, fish, mollusks, insects, amphibians, reptiles, rocks, minerals, soil, water, ice, celestial bodies and ecology.

5. Culture – Culture is the human element, or soft skills, which make or break an expedition. Learn management and leadership skills crucial to the professional guide and outdoor leader, as well as how to instruct effectively.

6. Sustainability – Life is different with minimal infrastructure. Learn the techniques of living a simple, low-tech life with minimal inputs by living them every day. Compost everything that will rot, grow food, reuse and repurpose resources, care for the land and leave it healthier for future generations.

7. Self – Learn your specific needs and boundaries. In a world of generalizations, it’s important to know exactly what you need to function well. How much sleep do you need to function? How much water? How much of a bed do you need to make in order to sleep well? This is about intimately knowing yourself and what you need to do to keep your body alive and well. The only way to learn it is to live it.


Course Calendar  ·  Apply Now


Snowshoes & Stovepipe

Snowshoes & Stovepipe

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