Outdoor Adventure Kicks Off 25th Anniversary Season


Scenic trails, lakes and rivers throughout the Northwoods will soon take center stage in Nicolet College’s Outdoor Adventure program as the series prepares to kick off its 25th anniversary season. 

From May through October the program will feature more than 30 different offerings, said Terry Rutlin, Outdoor Adventure coordinator. 

“Everything is geared toward giving people new outdoor experiences and creating the opportunity for individuals to learn new skills,” Rutlin said. “All the way around it’s a great way for people who share a common interest to get together to do something they really enjoy. Now more than ever people are enjoying time outside on the trails and on the water.” 

Classes last anywhere from a couple hours to almost a full day. 

Upcoming offerings will include a number of kayaking, canoeing and paddleboard classes, mountain biking, hunting and fishing offerings, classes that focus on permaculture land ethics, outdoor photography, slacklining, and one on dog-powered silent sports. 

“What’s interesting this year is a trend towards instructors incorporating a food element into several of the classes,” Rutlin explained. “In one class we’ll paddle the Manitowish River and then learn how to make camp pizza from scratch at one of the campsites. In another we’ll paddle the Willow Flowage and then have a cookout with healthy food on one of the scenic islands.” 

Other food-oriented classes include Wild Game Cooking, On the Hunt for Wild Mushrooms, How to Grow Your Own Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms, Foraging in the Northwoods, and Wild Cranberry Foraging. 

Click here a complete list of classes, details on each, and to register, or call (715) 365-4544. 

Rutlin also noted that the college is still following COVID-19 safety guidelines. 

“While it appears we are nearing the beginning of the end of the pandemic, student safety remains priority number one for everyone at the college,” he said. 

At this time face coverings are required during indoor components of classes and are recommended when outside as much as practicable. Physical distancing of six feet or more is also required both indoors and outdoors and class sizes are limited to a maximum of 12. 

Details on upcoming classes are as follows: 

Baker Lake to Tamarack Flowage Paddle 

Join local naturalist Troy Walters for an evening paddle on two remote lakes in Vilas County. We’ll paddle across the 37-acre Baker Lake, through a short, narrow “river” channel into the 236-acre Tamarack Flowage. Historically, there has been an eagle nest on this lake and loons are often spotted. This time of year will also provide views of a variety of aquatic vegetation, notably white and bullhead pond lilies. This paddle is a true Northwoods experience with little shoreline development and boat traffic. Participants need to bring their own boat, paddles, life jackets, bug spray, water, and rain gear. Instructor Troy Walters, 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, August 2. $40 

Loon Paddle – Iconic Birds of the North 

Not only is the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage one of the most scenic bodies of water in Wisconsin, it’s also home to the most pairs of nesting loons in the state. Join research biologist and loon expert Terry Dalton and her husband, Jeff Wilson, a consulting biologist, as we paddle the flowage and learn about these birds from a researcher’s perspective. During the journey they’ll share interesting facts about loon behavior patterns and habitat, all the while instilling a greater understanding and appreciation for this iconic bird of the north. Instructors Terry Dalton, Jeff Wilson, Dan Clausen, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday, June 25, Turtle-Flambeau Flowage (Exact boat landing will be determined after Terry scouts the flowage to determine the best location to view nesting loons). $70, $90 with canoe or kayak rental. 

Canoeing with Style 

The grace of quietly slipping a paddle into the water to confidently move a canoe across a lake or down a river is a quintessential Northwoods experience. By learning the finer points of a few different paddling strokes, you’ll be able to steer the boat where you want instead of having the boat take you for a ride. We’ll start on the Lake Julia Terrace overlooking the lake on the Nicolet Campus and then take to the scenic lake to practice the techniques learned on land. Instructors Terry Rutlin and Dan Clausen, 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 19, Lake Julia Terrace, Lake Julia Nicolet College Campus – Behind the Lakeside Center. $35, $55 with boat rental. 

Introduction to Kayaking 

Slip into a kayak and a whole new world opens up to the abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers that help define the Northwoods. You’ll be able to get the most out of your outdoor kayak adventures with the basic skills, tips, and techniques taught in this class. Instruction will be oriented toward those new to the sport as well as those with some experience looking to sharpen their skills and take them to the next level. Instructors Dan Clausen and Terry Rutlin, 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 19, Nicolet College Campus Lake Julia Terrace behind the Lakeside Center. $35, $55 with kayak rental. 

Kayak/Canoe Cookout on the Willow Flowage 

With limited development and access, the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area has long been one of our favorite places to explore as its more than 4,200 acres of water offers a paddler’s paradise with more than 100 islands and backwaters. Its sense of remoteness, wildlife, and natural shoreline beckon the paddler. Not being in any hurry to get anywhere on this paddle, we’ll cruise the waters, take in the scenery, view the abundant wildlife, and get a little exercise before making our way to a gorgeous island for a late afternoon cookout featuring an abundance of healthy food. Instructors Martha Schouweiler and Dan Clausen, 1 to 5 p.m., Thursday, August 5. $55, which includes the cookout. 

Camp Pizza on the Manitowish River 

Have you ever wanted to make an amazing meal over the campfire but didn’t know where to start? Take a canoe trip with two people who love to eat well in the backcountry and learn how to make your own wood-fired pizzas in the wilderness. This paddle trip is all about leisure and good food. We will be paddling from Boulder Junction to a wonderful campsite on the confluence of Johnson Creek and the Manitowish River. Beginning- level canoeing skills and experience are required for this trip. Instructors Krystal Westphal and Tina Breister, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 26, Boulder Junction, confluence of the Manitowish River and Johnson Creek. $50 

Beginning Stand Up Paddleboarding 

Up the fun factor with this stand up paddleboarding class designed to impart all the skills necessary to get the most out of this fun and enjoyable activity. Class will take place on the scenic waters of Perch Lake in the Washburn Silent Sports Trail Area west of Rhinelander. Expert entry-level instruction will include how to get on a board (they’re much more stable than many think), proper stance for optimum balance, essential paddle strokes and turning techniques, and how to get back on your board if you happen to fall off - or jump off, which is great fun particularly on a hot day! Instructor Andrew Warner, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, August 7, Washburn Lake Trailhead – Perch Lake Parking Area. $30. 

Next-level Stand Up Paddleboarding 

Anyone who feels comfortable on their paddleboard and is looking to take their skills to the next level will get what they are looking for in this two-hour session on scenic Trout Lake. Designed to take beginning-level paddlers to the intermediate level, students will learn a new set of skills that will allow them to feel comfortable paddling in a wider range of conditions with greater confidence. Instruction will focus on the finer points of forward acceleration and also include tips on off-side paddle strokes, the pivot turn, how to use the brace stroke to prevent falling off your board, and how different foot positions affect board performance. Depending on the weather, students will also learn how to paddle assertively in wind and waves and how to use these elements to your advantage. Instructor Dan Clausen 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 24, Hwy. M Trout Lake South Beach and Boat Landing just south of Boulder Junction. $30. 

Beginner Mountain Biking 

Would you like to learn to be more comfortable riding your mountain bike or fat bike, and perhaps ride off-road on some of the amazing mountain bike trails in our area? This course is designed for beginning riders, and will give you skills in bike fit and position, and the confidence you need to ride safely and comfortably, whether you are on paved trails, logging roads, or single track. A mountain bike and bike helmet in good condition are required to attend this course. Instructor Val Foley, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., two consecutive Thursdays, June 17 and 24, Minocqua Zipline Trails, 7849 US-51, Minocqua. $50 

Dog-Powered Silent Sports 

Do you enjoy silent sports like trail running, hiking, or mountain biking? Well now you can enjoy them even more with your dog! Learn about Canicross, Bikejor, and Scooterjor from 2019 Dryland Dogsledding World Championship Team USA Co-Captain, Niina Baum. She will demonstrate how your dog can participate in your favorite silent sports with you. Topics will include harness sizing, equipment needs, best practices and techniques, commands, and dog-friendly trails. Participants are invited to bring their dogs to class to try the sport of their choice. Instructor Niina Baum, 9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, September 25, Oneida County – Washburn Lake Silent Sports Trails Trailhead. $30 

Primitive Fire Starting 

By learning the ancient bushcraft skill of primitive fire starting, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively make a fire in any weather condition. We’ll cover various materials for preparing the best tinder and the proper technique and equipment used for ferrocerium rod flint and steel fire starting. After this course, you’ll have all the means to get a blaze going wherever and whenever needed. Everyone will receive a ferrocerium rod flint with striker to keep. Instructor Andrew Warner, two classes. Same material will be taught in each class. 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, July 23. Second class 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, September 17, Nicolet College Campus – The Point – Meet at the Red Oak Center entrance. $35 

Grow Your Own Shiitake and Oyster Mushrooms 

Bring the flavors of the forest to your kitchen and dinner plate in this introductory hands-on workshop covering the cultivation of gourmet shiitake and oyster mushrooms. You will learn the basics of substrate selection, treatment methods, and growing requirements for these two mushroom varieties. After discussing these topics, you’ll inoculate your own oyster straw bag and shiitake log to take home. Instructors Pete Zambon and Tabitha Bennish, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, June 6, Nicolet College Campus – Lakeside Center and Lake Julia Terrace. $65 

Foraging in the Northwoods 

Nature’s bounty is all around us – if you know what you’re looking for. Join long-time expert forager Kevin Schmitz as we take to the woods in search of any number of plants that provide sustenance as food and can be used for other purposes such as easing physical ailments. The focus will be on identifying a collection of the more useful plant species that can be found in yards, roadsides, and along the forest edge. We’ll go into more depth on the choice edibles and give you a few delectables to look for and enjoy this summer and early fall. Instructor Kevin Schmitz, 9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, July 17, Nicolet College Campus – Meet at the Fieldside Center Parking Lot. $30 

Fall Wild Cranberry Foraging 

Enjoy the experience of harvesting your own wild cranberries in this class which will teach you where to find this delicious fruit, how to identify it, and prepare and store your cranberries. We’ll venture to a sphagnum moss bog to search for and pick cranberries and also see and learn about other bog plants, including carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants. Note that we will not be standing hip deep with waders to get our cranberries like commercial growers do. Natural sphagnum moss bogs are a moist environment with reasonable footing and can be readily traversed with waterproof hiking boots or rubber boots, if you want to stay completely dry. Be sure to bring something to carry your berries. Instructor Kevin Schmitz will scout area bogs in the weeks before class to find the best producing area.  After you register we’ll notify you of the exact location, which is expected to be within 10 miles of Rhinelander. Instructor Kevin Schmitz, 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, October 16, Rhinelander-area Sphagnum Bog. $30 

On the Hunt for Wild Mushrooms 

Dig into the secretive world of wild mushrooms as we take to the field to hunt for the broad array of native mycelium that grow in the Northwoods. The focus will be on which mushrooms are absolutely scrumptious in culinary dishes and which ones need to be avoided. Along with venturing into the woods to collect wild mushrooms, the day will also include some indoor lab time to learn a little about mushroom biology, and what habitat they like. Participants may want to bring a basket to carry their bounty. Instructors Emilymae King and Sherry Behn, two Classes. Same content will be taught each day. 9 am to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 14, and again Saturday, August 28., Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 207 and 208 and Trails. $45 

Spring Nature Hike at Minocqua Winter Park 

Minocqua Winter Park has reawakened after a long winter slumber with the songs of birds and frogs, colorful flora, and rushing water. Join us for a leisurely interpretive wander through woods and along wetlands to discover the natural beauty that typically is unseen to winter visitors of the park. We will journey approximately 2 to 3 miles and will make frequent stops to talk about the many natural wonders we will discover, including many spring wildflowers, and the natural dynamics that are taking place in the spring woods. Meet at the Minocqua Winter Park Chalet parking lot rain or shine. Instructors Barb and Erin Blow, 9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 22, Minocqua Winter Park, 7588 Squirrel Hill Rd, Minocqua. $35 

Introduction to Permaculture 

What’s all of the buzz about? Permaculture is growing like a (useful) weed around the world. This integrative design process works with nature to provide abundance for human needs and beyond. From beginning gardeners to experienced farmers, urban to rural homesteaders, concerned citizens to self-sufficient enthusiasts, the site-specific strategies allow everyone to grow more productive landscapes. Using these sustainable principles at home contributes to food, energy, and water security. Learn about the ethics and principles of permaculture, see your site with new eyes, and allow the founding principles to guide you in your personal step-by-step design process. This workshop includes an outdoor component and a hands-on sketching activity. Please bring a notebook and an 8 ½" x 11" site plan of your property, if possible. Instructor Aimee Heavey, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 24, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209. $35 

Ecological Intelligence and the Permaculture Land Ethic 

With a greater understanding of ecological systems, we can apply similar patterns and system thinking in our own lives and environments, including in our permaculture designs. Nature is always conserving energy, maximizing yields, and interacting in wondrous ways; we have much to learn, from increasing garden productivity to reducing energy losses within our own homes. Learn core ecological concepts that will expand your permaculture perspective and deepen your understanding of nature. Instructor Aimee Heavey,  10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 26, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209. $30 

Toward a Deepening Connection: Land Ethics 

Awareness is arguably the most important component for survival in wilderness situations, successful hunting, gardening, and efficient homestead design. In this class, we’ll explore tried and true techniques for quieting the mind and enhancing the powers of observation and awareness. How to leverage these observations for your specific needs will be discussed. Walk away with the ability to maintain presence and awareness in any situation. This is an outdoor practicum; dress accordingly. Instructor Aimee Heavey, 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, July 31, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209. $30 

How to Find and Hunt Ruffed Grouse 

The ruffed grouse is one of the most challenging game birds to hunt in the Northwoods, but you can stack the odds in your favor with the field-tested tips and techniques presented in this two-hour session. Topics will cover the best places to find grouse; what to look for in grouse habitat, including where to find online habitat maps; hunting with and without a dog; and staying safe in the woods. Gun handling; gun, shot, and choke selection; and shooting techniques will also be covered as we prepare to hunt these birds that can literally launch from 0 to 25 mph in the blink of an eye. Ruffed grouse season opens Saturday, Sept. 18, in the Northwoods. Instructors Terry Rutlin and Scott Biscobing, 9 to 11 a.m., Saturday, September 11, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 207 and 208. $30 

Wild Game Cooking 

Savor in the delights of learning exquisite wild game cooking techniques from three individuals who excel in this culinary arena almost as much as they do out hunting in the field. See what it takes to make outstanding dishes with everything from goose to wild turkey and venison to pheasant. And perhaps the best part is after we’ve learned to make these delectable, gourmet-level dishes, we’ll get to sample each and every one. If you are looking to up your culinary game, this class is for you! Instructors Todd and Veronica Berg and Joe Hein, noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, September 11, Nicolet College Campus – Culinary Arts Kitchen, Northwoods Center $65 – includes food tasting. 

Introduction to Fly Fishing and Casting 

This is a great beginner’s course for anyone interested in fly fishing. You’ll learn about terminology, equipment for different species and situations, different kinds of flies and their use, plus different fly fishing techniques and casts. You will practice the basic forward cast, sidearm cast, wiggle cast, and roll cast, along with the flopping mend.  Although all equipment will be provided, if you have your own fly rod setup, please bring it to class. Major emphasis in this class is on casting practice. Instructor Bob Paine, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 10, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209 and Nicolet Field. $40 

Fly Fishing for Various Species 

This course covers fly fishing for the following species: trout, salmon, bass, pike, musky, crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, and other sunfishes. We’ll cover optimal equipment for each species for different size bodies of water and stream characteristics; top trout dry, wet, nymphs, and streamer flies for the local area; top salmon flies; top floaters, divers, suspenders, and streamers for warmwater species; top dry, wet, and nymph flies for bass and panfish; strategies for choosing flies and matching the hatch; presentation positions and strategies; casting, mending, and retrieval strategies and techniques; how to identify and interpret rise forms and how to fish them. Note that there is no casting practice in this course. Instructor Bob Paine, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 17, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209. $35 

Advanced Fly Fishing and Casting 

This is a great course for individuals who have mastered the basic forward cast to the extent of being able to consistently and accurately cast at least 30 feet. If you cannot meet this criterion, please do not sign up for this class. It is also helpful if you have also mastered the other casts covered in the Introduction to Fly Fishing class: sidearm, wiggle, curve, and roll casts. You will also get one-on-one instruction on the following casts: pile, reach, steeple, and tuck casts, as well as the double-haul and advanced mending techniques. Although all equipment will be provided, if you have your own fly rod setup, please bring it. Major emphasis is on casting and mending practice. Instructor Bob Paine, 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 17, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 208-209 and Nicolet Field. $35 

Jewels on the Water: Photography in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore with Jeff Rennicke 

The constellation of 21 islands and the 12 miles of stunning Lake Superior shoreline that make up Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has been called our “Jewels on the Water.” The blue waters of Lake Superior, steep wave- carved sea caves, sandy beaches, and maritime history make up a unique place in the Northwoods, a landscape of stories and beauty. In this unique half-day photography tour we will be offered an introduction to the jewels of the national lakeshore with award-winning photographer and writer Jeff Rennicke, author of Jewels on the Water: Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands and Executive Director of Friends of the Apostle Islands. Jeff will provide tips for creating inspiring landscapes, capturing details, and other types of creative shots to maximize your photography along the mainland lakeshore. We’ll also tour an historic Lake Superior fish tug and the National Park Service’s new $2 .7 million Little Sand Bay visitor center, walk the sandy beach at Little Sand Bay, photograph the blue waters of Lake Superior, and hike the Lakeshore Trail above the famed Mawikwe Bay Caves, all with a renowned Lake Superior photographer and storyteller who knows the beauty and stories of these “Jewels on the Water” called the Apostle Islands. At this time, COVID protocols are in place in federal buildings and on federal properties so please come prepared with a mask and to follow social distancing requirements. Instructor Jeff Rennicke, 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday, August 21. $55 

Photography: Seeing the Outdoors in a New Light 

There’s a big difference between simply clicking the shutter and taking a picture and creating exquisite photographs that tell a story and are pleasing to the eye. You’ll understand the difference between the two after this class geared for beginning outdoor photographers who are looking to take their skills to the next level. Topics will include basic camera functions, aspects of composition including leading lines and the rule of thirds, and – perhaps most importantly – the many different types of light we encounter outdoors. During the second portion of the class we’ll head outside for a short hike to practice what we learned in the classroom. Instructor Jack Flint, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, August 7. $35 

Next-Level Outdoor Photography 

Outdoor photographers with a grasp of the basics who are seeking to expand their skills are invited to take this class which will dive deeper into the different techniques and settings to add more visual elements to images. You’ll learn how to imply motion with panning, how to freeze motion, and how to use aperture to manipulate the depth of field in photos. These techniques can be applied in many outdoor situations, from birds flying through the sky, deer running through a field, beautiful wildflowers discovered in the woods… the list goes on and on. Students will need to bring their own Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera to class. Instructor Jack Flint, 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, September 18, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 207 and 208. $35 

Introduction to Fall Photography 

The splendor of Fall in the Northwoods will come into sharp focus in this class designed for beginning outdoor photographers looking to master the basics. The morning will start with about an hour in the classroom. We’ll cover camera settings, how these settings interact with each other, principles of composition, how to read light, and what settings work best for the outdoors. Then we’ll head outside and tour a number of locations on Nicolet’s scenic Lake Julia Campus to refine our outdoor photography skills. Ample one-on-one instruction will be available. It is recommended that students bring a Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera. Instructor Jack Flint, 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, October 9, Nicolet College Campus – Northwoods Center 207 and 208. $35 

Intro to Slacklining 

A keen sense of balance is vital to many recreational and daily activities. Without it, we tip over. You can hone and sharpen your balance skills – and have a great deal of fun along the way – with this introductory slacklining class on the shores of picturesque Buck Lake. Similar at first glance to walking a tightrope, slacklining is accomplished by stretching and tensioning a one-inch to two-inch wide length of nylon webbing between two anchor points, most often trees. Originating within the rock climbing community as a way of honing balance and passing time, it also has many benefits including maintaining concentration and increasing fitness, core strength, and balance skills. This introductory course will cover all the techniques, tips, and equipment you’ll need to learn how to slackline quickly and easily, one step at a time. Instructor Andrew Warner, 1 to 3 p.m., Sunday, August 1, Almon Park, Buck Lake Beach Area, just south of Rhinelander. $30