“It was a two hour flight back. It really put me in touch with how much winter I was actually immersed in… By the time I got to Great Slave Lake, there was some water on the ice. Some of the rivers had rapids and falls in them, although the quieter areas of the rivers were still frozen.” – Will Steger, May 28, 2018. Great Slave Lake, NWT. Day 70.

Black Lake: 50°F / Baker Lake: 28°F / Ely, MN: 89°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

“I expected a lot of thin ice and rapids and all sorts of adventures of that sort. But it was more of a harder slog, which is a different type of experience. I have no disappointment at all. You always get what you get whatever you do. ” – Will Steger, May 27, 2018. Day 69.

Will gets picked up in the Barrens and begins his journey home to the wilderness.

Black Lake: 60°F / Baker Lake: 28°F / Ely, MN: 69°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

“The pickup is scheduled for tomorrow. I’d say it’s about 50-50 maybe, getting the plane in here. This weather is getting a little better, but it just goes on and on… I’ll check in tomorrow. I should be at Dave Olsen’s house on the Great Slave Lake or back in th tent here.” – Will Steger, May 26, 2018. NWT. Day 68.

Black Lake: 55°F / Baker Lake: 33°F / Ely, MN: 64°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

“Had real heavy rains here, about 3 hours worth. Some of the heaviest rains I’ve ever seen on snow… It was unusual. It was raining hard, but the temperature was below freezing. It all froze on the surface. Just a spring diamond.” – Will Steger, May 25, 2018. NWT. Day 67.

Black Lake: 51°F / Baker Lake: 28°F / Ely, MN: 68°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

“I traveled about 20 miles today, pulling my sled with all my gear, exploring these areas. Within this pass in a small gorge, I found a grove of spruce trees, which is really rare on that side of the divide… I’ll be back to my small lake that I’m gonna use as an airstrip tomorrow.” – Will Steger, May 24, 2018. NWT. Day 66.

Black Lake: 66°F / Baker Lake: 20°F / Ely, MN: 65°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

“The day was just a stunning, clear, calm day – skied all day without a shirt. I regretted that actually right now. I got a bad sunburn, but it was worth it… It looks like a summer day in Minnesota.” – Will Steger, May 23, 2018. NWT. Day 65.

Black Lake: 79°F / Baker Lake: 32.9°F / Ely, MN: 72°F


 LIVE POSITION TRACKING:

Find Will Steger on the 2018 Barren Lands Solo Expedition and follow his daily progress. Will updates his position at the end of each day while making dinner, journaling, and preparing for the next day.

‌  Find Will’s Current Position

Steger Wilderness Center board chair Julie Ristau has a proven track record of clarifying a vision and then making it happen in practical terms. Her extraordinary background dovetails well with the mission of the Center.

A few of her start-up projects have included helping launch and lead Utne Reader magazine; serving as co-chair of Homegrown Minneapolis, the local food initiative for the mayor’s office; holding an endowed chair as part of the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Sustainable Agriculture; and founding Regeneration Partnership, a strategic problem-solving collaborative for communities in southern Minnesota. As current chief operating officer for The Main Street Project in Northfield, Minn., she’s spent more than two years building a research and demonstration farm.

“I definitely know what it’s like to embark on a very large project that requires concentrated focus, resources and commitment over time. That’s what we’re doing at the Center, too,” Ristau said.

She lives in Minneapolis and has worked closely with Will Steger as a senior advisor for the Center since 2012. During that time, she’s built its nonprofit platform, coordinated its communications strategy and website, assembled a public relations team to introduce the Center’s microgrid, and works with Steger and the board on strategic planning. She became board chair in 2015.

Ristau said the Steger Wilderness Center is important as a place where people can gather to reimagine the future, re-skill and reconnect to the elements. “Our future really relies on us tending to and taking care of the resources that we all must share. Will’s work is a testament to that. His commitment to future generations is inspiring.

“I believe that interacting with the Wilderness Center is life-changing for anybody who connects with it. I am honored to be playing a role to bring it to its next phase of completion.”

The opportunity to work with a hero doesn’t happen often. Wilderness Center board member Melanie Waite-Altringer has admired Will Steger from afar since she was in 11th grade. She blames her social studies teacher. Steger was on his Trans-Antarctic Expedition at the time and her teacher forced the entire class to pay attention.

“She had us follow him throughout the entire year and we were all upset at first. We thought it was going to be boring and horrible,” Waite-Altringer said. “Then we all ended up being pretty big fans of him.”

Waite-Altringer has been a member of the biology faculty at Anoka-Ramsey Community College for 20 years. She joined the Wilderness Center board in 2016. That summer she also coordinated the “Life off the Grid Energy Conference” at the Center. The conference was designed to educate teachers about how to present new material in energy fields with an eye on attracting young people to carry the technology forward.

She said being on the board enables her to connect with more people than just students at ARCC. Holding the conference at the Wilderness Center greatly expanded overall outreach.

“I’m teaching teachers. But they can then reach so many more students every year. So we’re touching and affecting many people,” she said. “This is totally something different than just coming out of a book. These are real-life experiences that you can pass on to others.”

As a result, she has a desire to help complete the Center. “The future hope for me is that it can affect all aspects of anything having to do with the environment, whether it’s a law, whether it’s education, whether it’s just experiences.”

Waite-Altringer, 43, lives in Elk River, Minnesota. She said she grew up in a nature-loving family. Their vacations were nature-based trips, and they hunted and fished. She enjoys those same activities today with her husband and children.

“Almost everything we do for enjoyment is related to the outdoors somehow. I grew up that way and I’m still that way,” she said.

For a nonprofit organization that’s all about demonstrating sustainable energy, having a solar engineer volunteer to take over its energy systems can render a person speechless.

Mechanical and solar engineer Craig Tarr first visited the Steger Wilderness Center a couple of years ago as part of a solar water-heating project. Tarr said he and Will Steger quickly developed a camaraderie that defied words. He soon asked Steger how he could “plug in” to help. After Steger explained his concerns about the Center’s energy systems, Tarr offered to take charge.

“And his eyes got big,” Tarr said. “He knew I was serious.”

Tarr began amassing his 30-plus years of expertise with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and an emphasis in solar. He noted that back in the late 1980s, solar hadn’t become popular.

“It had kind of been back-to-the-land or hippie guys doing it,” Tarr explained. “I had a ponytail and lived in a teepee, so I can say that.”

In 1994, he founded Energy Concepts in Hudson, Wisconsin, a business that develops heating and cooling systems for commercial buildings. At the time, solar systems were a hobby for him. But in 2007, he put his foot forward with solar as an add-on to his company. He said the idea exploded. Within two years, he was recognized by the state of Wisconsin as the renewable energy company of the year. He had raised the bar to a new level of professionalism, design and field execution in the solar industry. Today, Energy Concepts develops both electric and water heating solar systems.

As part of stage two in formulating the Center’s board, Tarr is its newest member. He has developed the Center’s 5-phase energy plan and will work with Dunwoody College of Technology to complete the architectural designs for the new dining hall. He will also oversee its construction.

“When I joined this board, I had very specific tasks and accountabilities, and Will is relying upon them,” he said. “The whole mission is key upon these off-grid systems.”

Tarr, 57, lives in River Falls, Wisconsin.

Steger Wilderness Center board member Kimball Knutson doesn’t soft-sell her obligation. From the Center’s inception in 2014, her name was one of the five on the documents that officially designated the Center as a nonprofit organization.

“We are the people that said, ‘if this thing doesn’t go, we will be responsible,’” she said.

But her commitment to such undertakings isn’t new. She was also a founding board member of the Will Steger Foundation, which later became Climate Generation. She served two terms on the Foundation board.

Knutson has known Steger for about 10 years. She indicated she’s developed a confidence in him and the Center’s mission during that time. “Every day I feel there’s more substance to it,” she said.

She also believes in what she said is his biggest dream—catalyzing change. “Will can do what he says he’s going to do. We’ve seen him do it,” she said. “I think that his place, what he’s trying to create, although sometimes it seems maybe lofty or far-fetched,… that it has more potential to affect people’s lives.”

She added that she finds pleasure in pursuing those lofty goals, especially considering the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. It dovetails with her interests, passions and desire to contribute.

“It’s in my wheelhouse of protecting the planet, protecting nature, environmental education, bringing people together and sustainable energy,” Knutson said. “It’s a wonderful community… and it’s an honor to be a part of.”

Her endeavors include visions of the Center as a powerful organization being run with integrity and thoughtfulness, “a topnotch, squeaky-clean, hardworking, ‘Little Engine that Could’ kind of organization.”

Knutson, 62, lives in South Minneapolis. She is the director of horticulture for Phillips Garden in Minneapolis, an innovative, award-winning landscaping company. She’s worked in the industry for 35 years and operated her own business before merging with them four years ago. Along with providing fundraising assistance at the Center, she helps with gardening, growing and forestry issues.