Mankato Free Press July 4, 2011
Mankato Free Press Mankato Free Press 07/04/2011 D: Sports (0-20110704_d1.pdf.0)
Group of MSU students planning to Live off the land
Foursome to spend a month hiking in Montana
By Shane Frederick
In the 1990s, the late writer David Foster Wallace released a collection of his works
called, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” If they could, Minnesota State
students Sean Bloomfield and Colton Witte might try adopting the same title for accounts
of their adventures.
You might recall three years ago when the high school friends canoed more than 2,000
miles from their hometown of Chaska to Hudson Bay, following the difficult water- and-
wilderness path that Eric Sevareid made famous in his book, “ Canoeing with the Cree.”
They made it, but … “( It) was the most miserable two months of my life,” said
Bloomfield, an MSU junior. “ It was also very satisfying.” Bloomfield said he wouldn’t do
that trip again — although he has no regrets — but other wild adventures are never out of
“ Colton and I speak at libraires ( about the Hudson Bay excursion),” Bloomfield said. “And
people always ask what the next trip is.”
The next one is planned for later this month, and he and Witte are taking two college
buddies, Sam Ebenreiter and Blake Spanier, with them this time.
The foursome will be spending one month hiking in the AbsarokaBeartooth Wilderness
in southern Montana. Their plan is “ to live off the land,” relying on fishing and small- game
hunting and “ foraging for berries for sustenance.” Each will pack in a Nalgene water
bottle full of rice, but it will be for emergency use only, they insisted.
Ebenreiter is engaged to get married in the fall but said he hasn’t been fitted for his
“ I figure I’m going to lose 30 pounds on this trip,” he said. Other supplies the group will
bring include: a four- person tent, sleeping bags, camp stone, fishing poles and a .22
Drawing some inspiration from the movie “ Into the Wild,” Spanier said, the group’s goal
is to escape society for part of the summer.
“ We want to get a way from all the pressures of college for a month and try to survive
and live on our own,” Bloomfield said.
Said Ebenreiter: “ We don’t need the conveniences of everyday life.”
Spanier said he also was inspired by Bloomfield’s and Witte’s canoe adventure.
“ When I first heard of their trip, I thought they were nuts and that it was not going to be
fun,” Spanier said. “But when they came back and I
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HIKING: Doing nothing while doing something
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heard them talking about it and their sense of accomplishment, I wanted to do something
“ The Montana thing is not always going to be fun, but once we’re done with it, we’re going
to feel like we accomplished something.”
Bloomfield said that while the trip will be a challenge, it has a chance to be a little more
relaxing than the trip to Hudson Bay. That excursion was constant moving and work, he
said, with 16 hours a day of paddling, including a rough go against the Minnesota River
current while going through Mankato and a constant state of being cold and wet on the
final leg in northern Manitoba.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been preparing, though.
The group has hiked around Mankato with full packs, walking the Red Jacket Trail to
Rapidan and the South Route Trail to Minneopa State Park.
They’ve also cut down on their food consumption to get used to the efficient eating they
will experience in the wilderness.
They are also taking safety precautions. Unlike the protagonist of “Into the Wild,” their
families and friends know their plans, and they already have spoken with a ranger. They
will also use the spot messenger Bloomfield and Witte had on their Hudson Bay trip. The
GPS device sends a signal that plots their location on the web through Google Maps. It can
also be used to send a distress signal, if necessary.
“I wanted to do nothing, while doing something,” Spanier said. “ We’ll be eating and
sleeping and trying to survive every day.”