YEAR OF THE WOLF!

There is perhaps no greater symbol of wild spirit than the wolf. Once hunted to near extinction in the United States, wolves are making a tremulous recovery due to reintroduction efforts and public education about the vital role that predators serve in a healthy ecological system.


Signal Fire declares 2014 to be the Year of the Wolf, and we’re celebrating by organizing three linked expeditions to areas where wolves are rejoining the wild. We’ll backpack in New Mexico’s Gila, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the world’s first formal ‘wilderness’ area and the site of reintroduction for the Mexican Gray Wolf. Our July trip will travel to Eastern Oregon’s stunning Wallowa Mountains, the frontier of wolf recovery in the west. We’ll conclude the trilogy with a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. Throughout these trips we’ll seek the essence of wildness and its link to the creative process.


On each journey, we’ll meet with a wolf advocate to learn the details of the recovery process and the political and cultural challenges it faces. A special publication and exhibition will highlight the work made in response to these three expeditions.





Wolf Design by 2013 Outpost Resident Merrilee Challiss.

Year of the Wolf T-Shirts Available on our merchandise page.



YEAR OF THE WOLF #1:
WILD BLUE BACKPACKING 
April 13-20, 2014
Location: Blue Range, Arizona
Meetup: Tucson, AZ
Guides: Amy Harwood and Jillian Vento

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the world's first wilderness area with Signal Fire! The Gila is revered for its diverse forested ecosystem that falls in a transition zone between the Chihuahuan Desert to the south and the Rocky Mountain region to the north. It’s also the site of many cultural touchstones; a site of one of the most intact cliff dwelling, the birthplace of Apache warrior Geronimo, the first designated “wilderness area,” and the inspiration for the ecologist, Aldo Leopold.


The Gila has been the site of Mexican Gray Wolf reintroduction for several decades and, on last year’s trip, the fresh paw prints in the muddy river bank near our camp inspired us the entire week. We’ll also walk amongst Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, elk and the largest population of Mexican Spotted Owls. On the trip, one of the areas' most noted wolf advocates will meet up with us for a campfire chat.


Difficulty: Moderately challenging- up to six miles per day of on-trail hiking with packs on. Appropriate for anyone in good health regardless of previous outdoor experience.


Activities: Backpacking, day hiking, camping.

This course involves backpacking and backcountry camping in rugged terrain and numerous river crossings. Weather and temperatures in the Gila can be extreme and unpredictable.


2014 applications have closed. Be among the first to learn about future trips by joining our email list here.


YEAR OF THE WOLF #2:
WALLOWAS PACK-N-PARK
July 20-27, 2014 
Location: Wallowa Mountains, Oregon
Meetup: Portland or La Grande, OR
Guides: Daniela Molnar and Nina Montenegro

The 'pack-n-park' combines the adventure of Signal Fire’s backpacking expeditions with the relaxing model of our renowned Outpost Residency. For the first four days our group will trek through Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness, a dramatic subalpine wonderland.
 After our initial four days on the move, we’ll make a base camp for relative luxury camping with ample time to generate self-directed work. 

The Wallowa Mountains are the Pacific Northwest’s worst- kept secret: Eagle Cap, Oregon’s largest wilderness area, protects the core of this dramatic range, which rises abruptly from the plains to over 10,000 feet. Inside the boundary you’ll find glacier fed lakes, looming granite crags, and some of the most pristine country around. This is the arena where gray wolves began their return to Oregon.


The Wallowas are the ancestral home of the Nez Perce tribe. Despite years of ranching, logging, and mining, many of the more remote reaches are as pristine as we’ve ever seen. Our group will learn about the human and nonhuman history of this special place, with an emphasis on the effort to reintroduce gray wolves. Signal Fire guides will provide instruction on safe and comfortable backcountry travel and facilitate activities that support a meaningful creative engagement with the wild.


Difficulty: Moderately challenging- up to six miles per day of on-trail hiking with packs on. The Wallowas are notoriously steep.
Appropriate for anyone in good health regardless of previous outdoor experience.

Activities: Backpacking, day hiking, camping.

This course involves backpacking and backcountry camping in rugged terrain.  Weather and temperatures in the Wallowas—even in July— can be extreme and unpredictable.


2014 applications have closed. Be among the first to learn about future trips by joining our email list here.


YEAR OF THE WOLF #3:
AFLOAT THE BOUNDARY
September 7-14, 2014
Location: Boundary Waters Canoe Area, MN
Meetup: Minneapolis or Duluth, MN
Guides: Kimo Nelson and Amy Harwood

Our grand finale to the Year of the Wolf is a week spent paddling the glassy lakes of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. The Boundary Waters is a vast wilderness of hundreds of linked lakes spanning the US- Canadian border. It provides habitat for moose, caribou, lynx, a vast diversity of birds and, of course, wolves. The area has long been a home for Sioux and Ojibwe peoples, and also harbors a history of French fur-trappers, cross-border smuggling, and a more recent legacy of conservation and recreation.

This is Signal Fire's third annual 'Afloat' expedition and our first sojourn east of the Mississippi. Like past trips, Signal Fire will curate a reader of texts related to our region of travel, providing an entry point for discussing and discovering the myriad layers of the landscape. We will make time for optional day hikes and relaxation amidst the daily rhythm of paddling and portages.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging- the canoeing part is not so hard, but the Boundary Waters involve portaging between lakes, carrying canoes and gear for up to a half-mile. Appropriate for anyone in good health regardless of previous outdoor experience.

2014 applications have closed. Be among the first to learn about future trips by joining our email list here.


TRINITY ALPS ALUMNI BACKPACKING & GUIDE TRAINING
July 6-12, 2014 
Location: Trinity Alps, California
Meetup: Weaverville, CA
Guides: Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce

When we started Signal Fire, we never imagined it would be possible to meet so many amazing artists and creative thinkers through our trips. For years now, we’ve watched our alumni continue to collaborate, support each other, and engage in the growing community of artists inspired by our remaining wild places.


This year we’re offering our first trip expressly for Signal Fire alumni. We’ll be meeting in the emerald forests of Northern California and traveling into the Trinity Alps. The rugged peaks and blue alpine lakes of this high Klamath wilderness are renowned among backpackers. Like all things worth getting to, it’s not the easiest path there. Along the way, though, each meadow is another botanical smorgasbord.


This trip is only open to past participants. Concurrent to the trip, we will be offering a two-day guide training course for any alumni interested in becoming a Signal Fire guide. This training is optional.

For more information on the training, email ryan@signalfirearts.org.


Difficulty: Challenging- up to eight miles per day of on-trail hiking with packs on in famously steep terrain.

Activities: Backpacking, day hiking, camping.

This course involves backpacking and backcountry camping in rugged terrain.  Weather and temperatures in the Trinity can be extreme and unpredictable. 

2014 applications have closed. Be among the first to learn about future trips by joining our email list here.