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Into the wild
by Mollee Francisco
Jul 20, 2011 | 2215 views | 3 3 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sean Bloomfield, Sam Evenreiter, Blake Spanier and Colton Witte have prepared for their month-long adventure in Montana by doing plenty of hiking.
Sean Bloomfield, Sam Evenreiter, Blake Spanier and Colton Witte have prepared for their month-long adventure in Montana by doing plenty of hiking.
In 2008, neighbors Sean Bloomfield and Colton Witte graduated from Chaska High School early to take off on a 2,200-mile canoe trip starting in Chaska and ending at York Factory on the shores of Hudson Bay.

When the arrived back in Chaska after their 49-day adventure, the two couldn’t help but think ahead to what they could do to next. Three years later, they’re ready to challenge themselves again- both physically and mentally – by spending a month living off the land in the wilds of Montana.

Bloomfield and Witte, now 21, headed out into the wild on July 10 joined by fellow 2008 CHS grad Blake Spanier and 2005 Minnetonka High School graduate Sam Ebenreiter, 24. The quartet of Minnesota State Mankato students expects to return to Minnesota on Aug. 11.

The Herald asked the group about what they can expect in “Big Sky Country.”

Q. What is your new adventure?

Our latest escapade is a hiking trip to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, in southwestern Montana. The wilderness is a non-developed area approaching one million acres.

Q. How did you come up with the idea to spend a month in the Absaroka-Beartooth range?

We've all separately wanted to do a long hiking trip in the Rockies.

Ebenreiter: Sean and I made the decision while sitting in class that we would actually commit to going in the next year or two. That was in the fall of 2009.

Bloomfield: From there we started researching wilderness areas on the internet, looking for the largest, most remote ones in the continental US.

Q. What do you hope to get out of your month in the wilderness?

I'm trying to use the trip to get away from society, where everything is handed to us. We like the Christopher McCandless quote, "To live in the most basic of human conditions."

Q. How have you been preparing for this adventure?

Since conception of the trip, we've been researching our chosen area, while at the same time physically training. To do so, we have been hiking in the Mankato area, including Minneopa State Park and various county parks, as well as a hiking trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Q. What are you packing to bring with you? 

Bloomfield: We are packing relatively minimally. We're planning to hunt and fish as our food source, in order to minimize weight. Other than that, the large items are one four-man tent, minimal cooking gear, minimal clothes, two fishing poles, a .22 caliber rifle, a notebook, first aid gear and emergency food (a Nalgene bottle filled with rice).

Q. Have any of you been to the area before? What is the terrain/landscape like? How will you get there? What wildlife do you expect to encounter?

None of us have ever been to the area, though I went to school and lived in Missoula, Mont. for one semester of college. The landscape is mostly high-elevation mountains, along with forested foothills and plateaus.

We will be driving out there in Colton's Chevy Malibu. We expect to encounter small game like rabbits, squirrels, coyote, fox, up-land birds like partridge and grouse, and the possibility of larger game like grizzly bear, mountain goats, big horn sheep, mountain lion, wolves, mule deer and elk.

Q. What do you think will be the biggest challenge for your group?

The biggest challenges will surely be the terrain and hunger. Though all of us have spent time at high elevations, we have not done more than a few days of hiking in the thin air. That being said, I think we're all most leery of the hunger. If the hunting and fishing is bad for a day or two it will be very demoralizing not being able to eat meals.

Q. Sean and Colton, how do you think your previous adventure canoeing from Chaska to Hudson Bay will help you on this trip?

I think that the lifestyle, though not having a constant destination like the HBT, will be similar. Living without basic comforts or large amounts of food won't be shocking.

Witte: I think that those similarities, along with having already faced miserable conditions for so long once before will allow Sean and I to provide a positive perspective for Sam and Blake when things really get tough.

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August 11, 2011
Looks like the quartet had to abandon their adventure a few weeks early. According to their website they "returned earlier than anticipated due to snow in the mountains and passes being closed.

"They had a great time and pictures will be

posted soon. The locals have said summer is approximately 5 weeks behind a typical year.

"Also due to the snow and ice, there was a lack

of small game and difficult fishing, resulting in a collective weight loss of about 85 lbs. over 3 weeks.

"They all have said they would do it again!"
July 22, 2011
The quartet last checked in yesterday (July 21) from the shores of Rainbow Lake in the heart of the Absaroka-Beartooth wilderness. You can check out their current location here:
July 20, 2011
Read up on Bloomfield and Witte's previous adventure here:
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