Podcast: Ashley Bredemus – Living at the Edge of the Wilderness

Picture of Ashley Bredemus in a canoe with a dog in the snow in the BWCA. Text: New Podcast Season - Episode 1 - Ashley Bredemus - Living at the Edge of Wilderness

Ashley Bredemus, owner and co-director of Birchwood Wilderness Camp, gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the wilderness full time, and how it’s different from enjoying it recreationally. She describes some of the joys, the challenges, even simple things like water and heat that many of us take for granted, and how someone who lives in the north woods of Minnesota connects with wilderness on a daily basis.


Instagram: @ashleybredemus
Youtube: @pennybillingsly
Birchwood Wilderness Camp (website)


On this podcast, Ashley Bredemus, owner and co director of Birchwood Wilderness Camp gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the wilderness full time, and how it’s different from enjoying it recreationally.


Ashley Bredemus  00:02

You’re totally immersed in the wilderness here. There’s no escaping it. It’s at your door. If I were to step outside right now you would hear nothing. Nothing. It’s amazing the winter here. You just hear your own heart beating.


David Meier  00:19

Welcome to Big Red canoe, the podcast from Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, where we introduce you to captivating people and intriguing stories from America’s treasured wilderness. I’m Dave Meier, grab a paddle and hop on in.


David Meier  00:39

Those of us who traveled in the Boundary Waters are drawn to the wilderness and I think it’s safe to say that many of us who visited have wondered what it could be like to make our lives more close to the wilderness. So I’m joined today by Ashley Bredemus us who spent much of her life living near the Boundary Waters and is an owner and co director of Birchwood Wilderness Camp, which is past the end of the Gunflint Trail. Ashley is going to give us a glimpse of what it’s like to be in the wilderness full time, some of the joys, the challenges, even the mundane things that people might not expect or think about. So, thanks for joining us, Ashley. It’s great to have you with us.


Ashley Bredemus  01:14

Thank you so much for having me. This is such a fun. Like, I’m so excited to talk about what it’s like to actually live here because there is such a difference versus recreating here. So I’m so happy to be here.


David Meier  01:24

So before we get into your life at the end of the Gunflint, tell us a little about where you grew up and the path that brought you here.


Ashley Bredemus  01:31

So I grew up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota originally, and then went to school for mechanical engineering. And that took me to the south Florida, Alabama, spent a lot of years there. And then my dad was a retired school teacher at the time, still still has retired. He invited me up, he said, Why don’t you come spend the winter with me up at the boys camp that has been in my family since ’68. Nobody’s spent a winter here before and I said, “Dad, you do know I have an engineering job. Like, I work I live in a different part of the country.” But it was just I always wanted to get back to Minnesota. And he said, Well, you can find another job to come spend the winter with me. And then you can find a job in like Duluth or Minneapolis or something in the spring. And I thought, yeah, that’s a good plan. Let’s do that. And so I moved up and spent the winter and then during that winter, my uncle was looking to sell this camp. My grandparents had originally started it in ’68. And then it’s just kind of like gone through the family directors, my cousins have been directors, my uncle’s the owner for many years, and he was looking to sell it my dad and I thought, well, we would love for it to stay in the family, would it be possible for us to buy it. And so we, you know, sold the farm so to speak in Grand Rapids, the house I grew up in and everything and put all our all of our eggs into one basket, which is the camp. And it’s now where my husband and I live year round 66 acres here on the Seagull river just before a second ago, and we had shared a property line with a Boundary Waters, and we run the boys camp.


David Meier  03:08

So when you came back, were you thinking that it was temporary? And you’d go back to Florida? Was there a specific point that really made you say, I’m going to do this and I’m gonna make my home here again?


Ashley Bredemus  03:18

Yeah, I mean, I when I moved up here to spend the winter with my dad, I thought, Well, I’m not gonna go back to Florida, or Alabama or anywhere else. But Minnesota, I’m gonna stay in the state because I love Minnesota. So that’s what I thought was gonna happen. And then as the winter progressed in this, this possibility of buying the camp came up, I thought, Well, boy, I mean, I can always fall back on engineering, if it doesn’t work out. I felt pretty comfortable with that. But it was the first time that I really made a big leap, you know, that that hypothetical, jump off the cliff and hope that the thing that you want Catches You and it did it worked out. And so when we bought the camp, I thought okay, this is what I’m going to do with my summers. And I’m going to live here year round until I’m like in a stable place the business is going well. And then I will probably live in a place like Duluth for my winters. And then as the years go by, it just kind of inched closer okay, maybe you know, I live in Grand Marais from the winters and then it just got to the point where I thought why would I want to live anywhere else? I love it here. This is home. And now my my husband and I who we met at this camp, he and I are building a house on the property. So right now we live in a 250 square foot cabin. It’s just four walls it’s a dry cabin, no running water, no bathroom, a bed a couch, a wood stove, a desk, very primitive simple, which was great for me when I moved in and I was the only one here and then it got a little bit smaller when I got a big shepherd dog but got even better because she was there. And then my now husband moved in and it got even smaller, but even better. And now we want to welcome a little one in the coming years, and it’s just as time for house. But yeah, we’re here to stay.


David Meier  05:06

So what’s been different than coming in as an adult and being around Birchwood and kind of being on the other side of running the camp?


Ashley Bredemus  05:13

It’s been so different. I mean, none of this was ever in my plans, right? Like, owning I remember, as a kid, some family member asked, like, would you ever want to own one of the camps? No, never. It was never on my radar. Never in my plans, it’s just as a fate kind of intervene. And I’m glad it did. Because owning this place, you know, it’s a different experience than being a camper here, I’m not, I’m not going on the trips, I’m not going to the archery ranges and participating. I’m a business owner, right. And I’m responsible for at any given time, 46 boys and 20 plus staff. So there’s a ton of responsibility that comes with that. But it’s, it’s an interesting, you know, I view myself as the steward of this place, not so much the business owner, and the steward of the land here of the business of the experience that these kids have in it, it gives my role here more purpose than when I was just, you know, building the waterslide with my dad, or at archery ranges, or paddling, whatever it is as a kid. So it’s just, it’s, it’s made the experience even richer and more full and more fulfilling.


David Meier  06:33

That’s a cool concept, both the jumping off into a dream that catches you and embracing stewardship and the responsibility that comes with that. What’s been the hardest thing that you’ve done as an owner and leader at the camp?


Ashley Bredemus  06:47

No, so the hardest things are the most rewarding things as well. And they directly mirror that the hardest and most rewarding things for our campers and our staff, because like I said, I feel very tied to being a steward of their experience here, I want it to be a especially for our first time campers a positive experience in the Boundary Waters in this beautiful wilderness. And so that inevitably, is going to come with challenges for them, whether it be homesickness, or there’s a another camper in their cabin, they’re not getting along with or the mosquitoes are getting to them. And they’re just, you know, they’re encountering all of these little micro adversities, and these challenges that are uncomfortable, but are the moments of growth that are gonna last the rest of their lives, right. And so those challenges become my challenges, because I’m so entwined with stewarding their experience. And the same goes for our staff too. So those are the hardest parts is trying to be that, that mentor with patients and listening to understand and trying to make this the most positive, beneficial outcome for them. And in turn, those are the most rewarding things as well when they leave here at the end of two weeks or four weeks. And they made it through that crippling homesickness, and they stayed, and they’re so proud of themselves, you know what I mean? And they’re talking about next year already, and they’re hugging their friends, goodbye. It’s really, really rewarding.


David Meier  08:27

It’s great to see those turnarounds.


Ashley Bredemus  08:30

Yeah, it’s just an especially with the pandemic, I think so many of our campers, they got really comfortable at home. And in the city, and coming to camp was very confronting, for them, not just the social aspect of like being around kids again, but then also, you know, being in the wilderness where it’s not always comfortable. And sometimes I you know, I like to let our campers and our staff kind of sit in that discomfort a little bit, because that’s when I’ve noticed that the biggest growth happens with them. So yeah, I mean, there’s all sorts of challenges here in this wilderness.


David Meier  09:17

Yeah, as a trip leader, and someone who takes on that responsibility of bringing new people to the wilderness, you can find yourself trying to bridge the gap sometimes of why is this worth it? Why are we doing this and getting to that point of the rewarding feeling that you get, but in the end, I think it usually takes care of itself.


Ashley Bredemus  09:36

It’s you never want to go into the trip that’s going to be like raining the whole time. Like that’s never the trip that you want. But those are always the ones you hear people like regaling stories of right and that Ivan Choinnard, the owner of Patagonia, he I remember a line from him. That was what was it that adventure doesn’t begin until things start going wrong. You need a little element of that sometimes for the adventure to really set in. My very first trip into the Boundary Waters I don’t remember where we put in it was my dad myself and our little Jack Russell Terrier Sparky and we were going to end our trip here at the boys camp. And goodness I can’t remember where we put in though maybe like West Bearskin or something. It wasn’t like a big trip, but we got to Gunflint lake. And right before Gunflint link, we had to pull over to a campsite because it was storming and we set up a tent and it’s just pouring rain and I’m thinking oh my gosh, what am I doing here? And my dad is making me eat SPAM. I’m like this is this is felt so weird. And we’ve the the storm passes while the rain passes, but the wind is still just going and we get on a Gunflint Lake and any of our campers or staff listening or anybody who’s paddling Gunflint, like can no Gunflint like, is long and the wind can be horrible. And so we’re paddling up wind and I am just ready to give up. I’ve had it with this trip and we’re maybe like halfway through it. And I tell my dad, like where can we pull out of this situation. I’m done, and we get to Gunflint Lodge. And I’m like, right, I’m giving up. I give up and say I’m done. Let’s go. Let’s figure out how to get out of here. And somehow we get a car and we’re like driving back down the Gunflint and I’m hanging in my head low thinking, I’ve just given up. I felt bad about it, you know, and I said, Dad through gritted teeth, dad, turn this car around, and we turned around and we got back in the canoe on Gunflint, like and we finished the trip. And I felt so good about myself, right? I’m just like, little nine year old kid. So those are never the trips you want. But they’re always the ones that make you grow exponentially. Right?


David Meier  12:04

Right. That’s amazing. I’m glad you turned around and that you have that treasured memory with your dad. So we’re gonna take a quick break here and be right back with Ashley Bredemus.



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David Meier  12:49

You know you mentioned your cabin where you’re living in this did you say 250 square foot cabin? So what are the challenges of living there? I imagine it’s not all cozy.


Ashley Bredemus  13:00

Yeah, it’s definitely not all cozy when it’s February and there’s been two weeks of like negative 30 and you wake up and the cabin is 35 degrees and you don’t want to get out from under the covers and get the fire going in the wood stove because that’s how we heat our cabin is just the wood stove. So yeah, there’s definitely challenges some of those challenges are why we’re building a house like I would like a bathroom with running water and like a heated space, you know what I mean? So yeah, live it anytime you’re gonna live in a primitive situation like this. And especially it’s it’s compounded by the fact that we can’t get here with a car. And the nearest town is Grand Marais, which is an hour drive away after a, you know, five minutes, snowmobile drive or boat ride. So if you forget, like, the cream cheese at the grocery store, you’re not going back for it, you know? So there’s definitely a bunch of challenges with it. But those challenges just pale in comparison to the things that I don’t miss. You know, winter here is my favorite season. It’s the offseason for us. I mean, we’re still working. But if I want to sit on this couch behind us in front of this wood stove and read a book all afternoon, I’m gonna do it. You know what I mean? And there’s no, there’s no road noise in front of the cabin that I’m hearing. If I were to step outside right now, you would hear nothing. Nothing. It’s amazing. The winter here. You just hear your own heart beating. So yeah, there’s definitely challenges. They’re all like very basic challenges, like where you go to the bathroom. How do you keep your space warm? You know, getting the firewood for the season, stuff like that. But those are all simple.


David Meier  14:49

Yeah. So yeah. And you mentioned you don’t have water. So how do you get water?


Ashley Bredemus  14:53

So my dad has a cabin up the hill. And that cabin has … We’ve got, we’ve built an aquaduct down to the river so we can pump water into a 200 gallon tank in his cabin to do dishes, runs through a filter. So that’s drinking water. We’re gonna have a shower. But in the winter, there’s no septic. It’s all just carry and carry out sort of situation for water. So that’s how I get water. I go to my dad’s cabin up the hill, and he lives he likes to joke and say I move south in the winter, he moves down to Duluth, where his sweetheart lives in the winter. And so that cabin is kind of vacant, but it’s the camp office as well. So that’s where I spent most of my days is in his cabin.


David Meier  15:43

You mentioned getting firewood for winter. What do you have to do to get firewood? And then what about the other seasons? Are there other things, kinds of things you have to do to get ready for them?


Ashley Bredemus  15:53

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when you own 66 acres that have a bunch of buildings on it, there’s always something to do to get ready for something right, whether it’s getting ready for winter or getting ready for summer. There’s always something but for us to comfortably enjoy winter. That means every fall we’re getting between six and eight cords of firewood. That that we have it delivered to the end of the Gunflint Trail already split and everything is just dumped off there we have a huge barge. So we haul all the firewood onto our barge, bring it back down the river, put it onto a four wheeler in like you know, it takes a ton of loads on the four wheeler, drive it up the hill to the back of the cabin, stack all of it and then that’s ready. So we’ll spend a couple of weeks getting firewood and then fire wising for the wildfire season. We’ll process any of that too. And us that. So yeah, firewood is a really big thing for us. And then at the end of the summer, well, end of fall really, we’re winterizing everything, meaning that we’re, you know, shutting down the water systems, basically, and setting up our winter water just for that one cabin, and shutting down all the other buildings. So there’s always something to do. And then when summer is coming, it’s just like even more stuff to do. tree fell on this, we’ve got to repair this or, you know, a mouse got into this or there’s always something but firewood is the the main thing.


David Meier  17:28

And that spring, the stuff you talked about it, you know, getting getting things repaired and getting things going before the campers show up, I suppose.


Ashley Bredemus  17:37

Yeah, correct. And it’s things are like we’re we’re building stuff right now. I mean, we will be working on projects all winter. It’s just limited what we can do. As soon as that river opens up, it is nonstop, all hands on deck, we’ve got to get ready. Once that river is clear of ice, we can put the water trampoline in and the log roll and you know, set up the waterfront and get the water going and all of that. Yeah, there’s a ton of setup in the spring.


David Meier  18:08

So I’m going to switch gears here and just ask about the edge of the wilderness and you know, the joy that we find in the wilderness and nature when we’re camping or hiking or paddling. But here you are, you know running a business and very, very busy. I’m sure it must be something you still want to seek out. Do you find yourself being intentional about making room for wilderness or is it just a part of your day to day life?


Ashley Bredemus  18:33

So you know, in the summer, I think if you asked any business owner along the Gunflint Trail, you’re not getting to go paddling. Like you know, the the folks that are recreating are I’m not going on any overnight trips. When my husband and I were just on the staff and we were owners, we would take our 24 hours off every week. And we would go like to Rose Lake and do an overnight. We need to be in camp now in case there’s an emergency, so we’re not going anywhere in the summertime and if you ask my husband this question, he would say yeah, I wish I had more time to go fishing in the summer. But he makes up for it in the winter. I mean he was just up in Canada fishing yesterday took the snowmobile snowmobiles up with some of our neighbors and like fishing. So we do we make up for things and in the in the wintertime, which is my favorite season. I mean summer is beautiful. There’s no doubt about it, but winter is just my season. I love winter so yeah, it’s whether it’s I’m looking out the window right now and taking in a beautiful wilderness so it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort or you can put in a ton of effort. We used to go winter camping every winter we didn’t we didn’t go last winter. We haven’t gone this winter but I mean if you want to go full tilt maximum effort, go winter camping. It’s unlike anything else. And then there’s everything in between right I was just snow snowshoeing, with a bunch of my girlfriends who live along the Gunflint Trail last week, we go out snowshoeing and then we pile into somebody’s cabin and have a charcuterie board and chit chat, drink wine, you know, I mean, or just go for a walk. My neighbor just yesterday from Voyager canoe outfitters was going making a track on the river for everybody to ski and walk on. So it’s, I mean, it’s just like walking around the block but on a river in the wilderness. Yeah, there’s all sorts of little ways in which we let the wilderness and it’s it’s more so the opposite like what are the ways in which the normal life kind of creeps in? Because it is it’s inevitable that you’re you’re totally immersed in the wilderness here. There’s no escaping it. It’s, it’s at your door at every moment. Does that answer your question? What more can I say on that?


David Meier  20:55

Yeah, I think so. And I think it’s it kind of seems like it’s fortunate that when you say winter is your favorite season because that’s when you have the most time it sounds like that summer you know, camping and doing recreation is kind of a no go for you. Does that mean you try to squeeze in something in the spring or in the fall?


Ashley Bredemus  21:12

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I usually will go on our staff training trip, which is just an overnight in the Boundary Waters. And then in the fall usually in the fall my husband and I go on a trip somewhere else like to a city because this is our life here in the wilderness you know. In the summer, I just take it it might I get so much joy in the summer by helping others really enjoy recreating in a Boundary Waters all of our campers and our staff. And living here at the edge of it and my little cabin, you know kind of scratches the itch for me. But yeah, in our in the fall, we do a ton of hiking and haven’t been on a you know, a week long trip in the Boundary Waters in a while though. It’s just different. When you live here versus recreating here. It’s not that I take the Boundary Waters for granted that is quite the opposite. We spend a lot of time in the Boundary Waters. I mean, who else on a Tuesday just decides after lunch, I’m going to we’re going to snowmobile up on the second and go on the Boundary Waters and go fishing for the afternoon. We do stuff like that. Just like incorporated into our daily lives as opposed to some big trip that we plan. I


David Meier  22:31

I think it’s nice that you’re into winter. I feel like every year I’m trying new strategies to get out and enjoy it and just to get through it.


Ashley Bredemus  22:40

Yeah, yeah, I’m, I’m, I’m the obnoxious person who’s like, not ready for winter to go. I know so many people that are the opposite. At the end of the summer. They’re like, No, please, I don’t want to see the snow. And I’m just the opposite. I love winter, because it is just so the opposite of what our culture is. Our culture is just like the pace of summer all year long, there is no chance for like the renewal. And rest. That is winter. I’m all about that. I love that. And I’m also all about, you know, kind of redefining what it means to be an outdoors person. You don’t have to be the person that like Summit’s Everest, you can be an outdoors person by just sitting out here on your porch and taking in the wilderness. There’s all these different ways in which you can be an outdoors person. And I think winter really teaches you that it’s it’s quite confronting, if you’re used to being the person that’s, that’s moving all the time, and just going at this fast pace. So I understand why it’s not for everybody.


David Meier  23:41

So I’m thinking of how you share it back with new people who have an interest but don’t quite know how to do it and the ins and outs of it. And so I’m wondering as that type of outdoors person that you describe how do you set about cultivating that ideal and sharing that with others.


Ashley Bredemus  24:00

So the obvious way is through through our camp. Throughout the summer, we’ll see 200 campers and staff here and a lot of them it’s their first time ever having done anything like this. So having having a positive experiences for them is a big priority for me. And it’s something that I, I, I talk with parents all winter on the phone about this about, you know, really fostering a positive first experience for our campers because then that just as they grow older, they have a strong bond with a place like the Boundary Waters, right and that’s our goal here is to pass the torch to another generation that really cares about this place. So stewarding that experience for these kids is very important to me. And then sharing it online on Instagram and a little bit on YouTube is important for me to share with other women, especially other other women, who maybe don’t consider themselves outdoors, women, but it’s totally within their realm, you know what I mean? So sharing what it’s like to live here and this cabin, you know, the whole cabin life deal and also at the edge of the Boundary Waters, what it means to live in this particular region with this beautiful, pristine wilderness in my backyard. I don’t consider myself some like, really experienced, impressive Outdoors Woman. I’m just here. Like, I can, I can paddle a canoe, I can do all those. I can start a fire, you know. But I’m just an average Jane. And I like to show other women that you can do this. If this appeals to you. It is totally within your reach. So online, I do that Instagram, some YouTube and then camp for the kids.


David Meier  25:57

That’s so cool. That’s what it’s all about. And have you ever had any women share with you, you know that, that they’ve come back and done a big trip or any campers that have come back to you as adults?


Ashley Bredemus  26:09

Yeah, yeah. Um, we saw at the end of every summer, we host a yoga retreat, a women’s yoga retreat, with a women owned yoga retreat business called boreal bliss yoga retreats. And that is like one of the highlights of my summer is, is having these women come here. And I remember, after there was one gal who she just keeps coming back every summer to these yoga retreats. And every summer, it’s like something new that she’s taken her husband on a Boundary Waters trip, just the two of them now, and it went really well. And now they’re planning a bigger trip, you know, like a week long trip or something. But really, it’s like, I love having women come here to camp, because we will send them on, like a short little Boundary Waters trip like a day trip. But just seeing them be like kids, and men and women alike, is just so magical to see we’ve got a big tree swing here, seeing adults we’ve had, we had a 70 plus year old woman go off the swing a couple summers ago. And the look in her face look just the same as like one of our seven year old campers going off of that swing. And so they discovered this like childlike play here in the wilderness that is just timeless. And then they go on a day trip, and they get the chance to portage a canoe and they come back, just feeling like Wonder Women. I mean, it does wonders for a woman’s confidence to realize, oh, my gosh, I can Portage a canoe, you know. And then we all gather around the campfire on the last night and share our stories. And then that just really ties it up with a bow of like, wow, we all feel this similar way. And they bond over that. So I don’t know if that answered your question. But yes, it’s wonderful having women here and see how that impacts them once they leave.


David Meier  28:08

I think yoga and meditation in the Boundary Waters is kind of, you know, underrated. I think it’s something that more people could probably clue into. Like, let’s stretch it out here.


Ashley Bredemus  28:20

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, that’s what the Boundary Waters is. It is. I mean, when you go out there, the moments that I recall, when I’m out there are those moments where you don’t you don’t feel like an individual, you just feel like you’re part of the landscape. And, and time stops. You know what I mean? So yoga meditation, and the Boundary Waters are like peanut butter and jelly. Those go so well together.


David Meier  28:47

Yep, yep. And then a little bit of yoga. Also, just physically, you can kind of take care of yourself after, you know, getting crunched under a canoe on a cordage, especially if it’s aluminum. Yeah, definitely are that to lose pack, or if you try to double up, you know, then kind of kind of Uncompacted those disks that have probably fused together in your back. So well, well, this has been a great conversation. And I’m just curious, kind of what’s what, what’s coming up for you what’s on your list for 2023 as a business person, and as a as a recreational list or even for vacation?


Ashley Bredemus  29:27

Yeah, a lot. 2023. We’ve got big plans. I mean, Wednesday is permit opening day. So I don’t know when people will be listening to this, but we’re going to be on Wednesday, we’re going to be buying all of our permits for the summer. So we’ve got our trips planned. Yeah,


David Meier  29:43

you’ve got to do that. I didn’t even think about that as a – you…. You need those permits.


Ashley Bredemus  29:49

Correct. So yeah, we’ve got all of our trips planned. We’ve got some exciting trips because Canada is open now. So we before the pandemic hit, we used to send Quetico trips a lot as well, I mean Boundary Waters trips are our bread and butter, but the Quetico trips, we had a handful of those. So we’re excited to send those again, we’re excited to send some (inaudible) fishing trips again to, of course, our Boundary Waters trips. One of our classic ones is from camp to Ely, paddling the Voyager highway along the border there. I believe we’re going to be sending some of our senior campers on the Grand Portage. So from camp to Lake Superior. So we’ve had a lot of really great trips that we’re excited about. We’ve got two assistant directors this summer, we’re excited to have them staff, we haven’t had those before, since my husband and I have been directing a couple of really great people. And that will free up a little bit of time for us to work on building our house. We’re so excited about that. That’s a huge project, my dad built the house that I grew up in. So it’s He’s helping us it’s just us building. So that’s a big project. And then you know, in the fall, we always go somewhere who knows where we’re at last year, we went to Normandy, France. And that was amazing. It’s funny, when we go on trips we like will fly in the big cities. And we’re just itching to get out of these big cities. And we always find ourselves in these tiny little towns that like emulate Grand Marais in some, some form. So we were in all of these little French, like seaside towns, and then our honeymoon near before that we were in these little Italian like seaside fishing villages. And so I don’t know if we’re really ever escaping home, or just looking for it in different places. But


David Meier  31:39

You know, for some of our people who would be listening to this podcast, they might not have a chance, or be near to the wilderness as you are. And so from where you sit, what are ways that people can bring more Boundary Waters and more wilderness into their lives?


Ashley Bredemus  31:54

I love that question. Because you’re right, inevitably, there are so many people that aren’t going to be able to go for a trip in the Boundary Waters, or not consistently anyways. And maybe you live in a big city with a lot of noise and just a lot going on in busy schedules and, and how do you kind of distill some of those values of being in the Boundary Waters and bringing them into your day to day life. And I think there are definitely practical ways in which you can do that. I mean, most places you can at least get outside some park, some little nature scape. But even if you can’t do that, I think the thing that I love the most about the Boundary Waters is the perspective that it gives you because it cuts out all of the noise of like a very modern lifestyle, you know what I mean? So, I’m not saying that you need to meditate. Meditation is great, but I’m saying find a way to cut out the noise, cut out the road noise, turn your phone off, log out of social media for two weeks. Just find a way to cut out all of the noise and be present with the things that you find fun or enjoyable. Like I like spending time with my dog. Okay, so if I was in a city, my dog Arlo and I, we would just like log out of everything, close the laptop, turn turn the phone off. Arlo and I would just hang out and and not we would just shut out the rest of the world close out the noise. You know what I mean? Because there’s so much noise. That’s one thing when I moved here, if I could feel a relief when you get on the Gunflint Trail, there are these giant white pines that you pass about 10 miles in. And funny enough, as if you’re going through like the wardrobe into Narnia, cell phone service cuts out right there. If you go through those trees, and you can feel it, it feels like a giant relief, like Oh, nobody can get a hold of me. There’s no billboards, there’s hardly any other cars. It’s just such a relief. So anything that you can do that brings you that relief, I think is just a slice of the Boundary Waters in your day to day life.


David Meier  34:07

Fantastic. That’s great advice.


Ashley Bredemus  34:10

Awesome. Aced it!


David Meier  34:14

And I’m just wondering if you can tell people where they can find you online. And if there’s anything else like to tell us about about your life, your the Boundary Waters wilderness.


Ashley Bredemus  34:26

You can find me on Instagram at @ashleybredemus just my full name, and I believe it’s the same on YouTube as well. And then our website is birchwoodwildernesscamp.com. I think the one thing that I want to share about birch wood is that we’ve finally got a nonprofit organization for scholarships for low income and bipoc kiddos that wouldn’t otherwise be able to come to camp. So we’ve got a place on our website where you can you You can donate or if you’re looking for a scholarship you can apply for one, we’ve got a handful this year that we’re going to be giving out. So yeah, I just like for everybody listening if you’ve got some kiddos in your life, consider that.


David Meier  35:13

Ashley, thank you so much for joining me and for you know, kind of sharing your life with our listeners in your view out the cabin window. I appreciate it.


Ashley Bredemus  35:21

Thank you so much for having me. This has been a really great chat.


David Meier  35:24

And thank you everyone for listening. If you enjoyed the show, please share it with a friend and leave us a rating wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be covering a wide range of recreational topics this season, from hiking trails to the tips and tricks, and we’ll meet some great personalities from the BWCA along the way, so be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing. Big Red Canoe is a presentation of Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Original Music by Surge and the Swell. I’m Dave Meier, and we’ll see you next time on Big Red Canoe.



Almost 50 years ago, a group of friends met at a diner and began to organize a movement. They formed a group dedicated to preserving the pristine waters and forests of Northeastern Minnesota. through grassroots organizing, they helped pass the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act, which protected the Boundary Waters for future generations. Today, that organization, Friends of the Boundary Waters continues its work to protect, preserve and restore this cherished wilderness. Whether it’s through fighting toxic mining proposals at the edge of the Boundary Waters or introducing the next generation to the wonders of the BWCA. Our strength is in our members. It is in you to learn more and find out how you can join this community today. Please visit www.friends-bwca.org.


On the Friends of the Boundary Waters podcast, we bring together people who share a love of the incredible BWCA wilderness in Northeastern Minnesota. The podcast will features scientists, political figures and experts in outdoor recreation and wilderness skills to help you learn new facets of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the most visited wilderness in the United States.

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