Interwoven: Wide Open Studios Summer Immersion

July 18- August 10, 2021

Location: Blue Mountains (PNW Rockies Sub-Ranges Ecoregion) / Umatilla, Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Nez Perce territory

Meetup: Portland, OR or Pendleton, OR

Application: January 5 – April 15

Instructors: Kerri Rosenstein and Ryan Pierce

Cost: $3600 (includes food, transportation, camping and entry fees). Two partial ($1000) scholarships are available.

Activities: backpacking, day hiking, base-camping and car camping

Level of Difficulty: Moderate to challenging. This course includes an introduction to backpacking in remote and rugged terrain.  Our guides will teach backcountry skills from the ground up, and we welcome and encourage folks who have never been backpacking or camping to learn from us! Participants should have a level of physical health and ability that enables them to carry a 40-50 lb pack for an average of five miles each day. The instructors will be available to offer training advice prior to the experience.

Description: What can the power of the invisible teach us about our own resilience and the resilience of our communities? Interwoven illuminates hidden threads that bind together the culture and ecology of Eastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains. This, our 8th Summer Immersion program, will examine subjects both fundamental and overlooked, such as the traditional food systems that sustain the cultures of the Columbia Basin, the animate communication network taking place in the soil, the regenerative movement of minerals in geological time, and the intricacy of the nocturnal activity at play while we sleep.

The Blue Mountains are the westernmost sub-range of the Rocky Mountains and offer pockets of wild beauty that rival anything in the Pacific Northwest. Home to the Umatilla, Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Nez Perce peoples, this area is still sustained by strong tribal and rural economies working close to the land. The mosaic of mountain ranges embraces stunningly diverse landscapes, including “Oregon’s Alps,” North America’s deepest gorge, and expansive native prairie, all within a day’s drive. The forests are home to elk, bear, and the rare grey wolf, recovering from near extinction.

Participants in Interwoven will travel together for nearly four weeks of backcountry excursions, backpacking and car-camping, sharing meals and making art. A broad curriculum of daily readings and prompts, along with visiting presenters and site visits, will support group discussions and individual artistic responses in any media.

The structure is intimate and engaging, shaped to catalyze creative growth. In addition to visiting remote places, community-based travel, and the intensive nature of the content, we also include time for solitude and reflection as we consider ways to integrate this experience into our daily lives and practice. This course is intended for those without any prior backcountry experience as well as seasoned campers. This course is open to anyone 18 and older, and may be available for academic credit if current students arrange it through their home institutions.

COVID considerations: Signal Fire designs safe programs in coordination with rural and tribal communities, trip leaders and participants, outdoor recreational industry leaders, and regional and national health guidelines. This rigorous evaluation applies to seasonal risks such as wildfires, as well as novelties like COVID-19. Signal Fire maintains open communication with program participants and emergent needs will be addressed transparently. We are grateful to our trip leaders, staff, Board, community and program partners who tirelessly collaborate with us to manage these risks. To learn more, contact your trip leader or Our Director of Field Programming,