We live much of the year at our wilderness homestead located just outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Living here beyond the easy reach of civilization requires a certain level of self sufficiency. There is no modern means by which to get building materials, or any other provision to our homestead, because getting here requires, not only a water crossing, but also a short (1/4 + mile) but vigorous hike to the top of the highest point anywhere along Minnesota's famous 40 mile long Lake Vermilion. Some of the seasonal islanders have taken to calling it "heart attack hill", but hey it's Minnesota, it's not that big of a hill. While getting to our homestead does take a little extra effort, and I will admit it is not for everyone, there is a special joy and sense of place and meaning that comes from living here, a little closer to the land, surrounded by nature, creating a hand made life from the woods, in the woods.
Many of our custom trips and courses are based out of our homestead on the 7 mile long Pine island. Life here moves a little slower than life on the main land in the absence of cars/other machinery and running water. Our only power comes from a small solar panel for running our business, and charging our visitors devices. The homestead is surrounded by forest and thousands of acres of public lands, giving us, and our visitors, plenty of freedom to roam. Our hilltop perch has an awe inspiring view overlooking one of the islands two lakes, as well as, Big Bay of Lake Vermilion, with distant views of Giants Ridge 25 miles away (the Laurentian divide).
There are many bonuses to living beyond the easy reach of civilization like solitude, peace and quiet, wildlife watching, frequent hiking and exploring trips, fishing, swimming, canoeing, gathering wild edibles and craft materials, campfires, and all the things associated with life in the Northwoods.
Ashlee and Lindy's cabin is built of logs harvested directly from their property with ax and crosscut saws. The log cabin itself was constructed using traditional tools like ax, gouge, chisel, handsaws, ropes, pulleys, and good old fashioned human power. The islands forest like much of the BWCA has not been subjected to commercial logging since the White Pine Logging Era of the early 1900's thus the forests here are something to behold, and it is not uncommon at all to come across ancient white pine and red pine that survived that early logging era.
Our homestead is still under construction, visitors can camp here for free while taking a course or before heading out on a trip with us. Our vision for this place, and indeed the vision for all of our trips and courses, is to blend the traditional handcrafts/skills taught at many folk schools with the life ways, and landscapes that these crafts evolved from and are adapted to.
When not living on Pine Island, Ashlee and Lindy make there tiny off-grid cabin in the Rocky Mountains near Montana's Big Blackfoot River home. Living a portion of the year next to the BWCA and the rest of the year within the Crown Of The Continent Ecosystem, where grizzly bears still roam, gives them incredible access to some of the lower 48 States most amazing and wild landscapes. Living simply, and having access to these public lands from their small homesteads greatly enriches their lives.
The Gallery Below is composed largely of pictures from our Pine Island homestead, and the surrounding landscape, as well as featuring some pictures of hunting in the mountains and other gathering activities etc. that are central to our way of life.