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Epic Dog sledding trip 2016

My introduction into wilderness Adventure travel.

I’ll be 54 years old this April and I’ve been a avid outdoors-man for the last 49 years. From those early memorable days fishing with my Dad and Grandfather to IMG_0862growing up in Detroit and camping out with friends in our backyards and waking up really early just to bike through the upscale neighborhoods of the Grosse Pointe to where Lake St. Clair enters the Detroit river and fish for ever we could catch. Then my two older brothers took me to the next level, canoeing and camping on the Rifle river along with some fishing and they also introduced me to small-game hunting, Bow Hunting and Rifle hunting. When I turned 18 both my brothers took me to an even higher level, First it was my brother Ronnie, a childhood friend Jeff Tuttle and our friend Jimmie Figures all 8 or 9 years older than me. They took me on my first real adventure to Isle Royale as a graduation present from high-school. It was 9 days of rain, blistered feet, Butt cramps that I still think I should’ve gone to the hospital and stories we still talk about to this day. It wasn’t soon after a lucky break on my part, my brother Johnnie called me and asked if I wanted to go Mountain climbing in Colorado for a week and I jumped at the chance, another trip we still talk about. Right there and then back in the early 80’s I knew I caught the bug…I knew what I was going to do for the rest of my life…I knew the Great Outdoors was going to be my driving force. Now many years later I’ve done more in my short life than most men ever do…I have been very lucky. Fishing and camping all over North America, Central America, a premiere guide for 8 years and now checking off trips off my bucket list at a dramatic rate.  So I guess the real reason for this introduction is to show how having the right people at the right time can influence a person in a positive way. I am very blessed to have family and friends that showed me this way of living…I know it changed this old Detroit boy forever!

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One of the greatest experience’s of my life

Dog sledding in the Boundary Waters for 5 nights and 6 days. When I first planned this trip last year and contacted Peter McClleland from White Wilderness. I thought like I usually do, I’m going to make this an epic trip because I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again, I’m a big believer in going large or go home, It’ll be another check off my bucket-list right…WRONG! After that first day I knew I’d be back, it affected me in a way I never thought was possible. There is something about driving a dog sled team across the ice and snow, over the portages and through the wilderness to places where no one has been the entire season.

On this trip It was Jim McKeon and I along with our great guides Paige and Lance. Jim sent me this trip report a few months back and after reading it again I thought it was great! My segment will be about my and Paige’s great day of breaking trail.

 

The Epic day of Breaking Trail

First of all Paige and I hit it off. I think he knew I wasn’t just going to let them coddle us, Jim and I were in it for all it was worth. On Tuesday night Paige said he was going to break trail all the way to Thomas lake about 35 miles round trip. He then looked at me and he knew I wasn’t going to let him take that epic day trip all by himself and as soon as he mentioned it I adamantly said I’m going, he smiled with this smirk on his face and said we’ll break trail in the morning. It was a glorious morning, no wind, cold temperatures with great dry snow. Jim and Lance decided to stay at camp and fish and take care of camp chores. We packed up with plenty of food, water and emergency provisions and we were off. Little did we know this would be one of the greatest days of both of our lives.

The snow was so dry we were flying across the lakes and my favorite the portages, I loved it the trees whipping across my face and trees and boulders flying by the team and sled. The snow was so deep sometimes 3 to 4 feet we would have to help the dogs up hills by running along side of the sled, but I came up with my own technique of running between the runners behind the sled just before the brake and pushing the sled up hill with pure force…it was awesome. On one of the portages we were flying and when I knew the lake was coming up I would let the dogs go full tilt and when we reached the lake there was a short hill no more than 5 feet tall and when the team hit that hill the leaped off of it like Santa’s reindeer’s and by the time my sled hit it, I was airborne on the other side, I fell to my knees all the while the team was running full speed I jumped up on the runners and looked over at Paige who was waiting for me and he yelled out are you alright and I shouted in a joyous resounding YESSS! I could see the look on his face like this guy is not holding back. Through the dozen or so portages and lakes that day we just had a blast, I had over 50 video’s just of that day. We saw dozen’s and dozens of wolf tracks along with moose and otter slides. On this day alone there were 4 different occasions where I could’ve been injured. But it was all worth it. We made it back just in time for a fire and dinner and that’s when I told Paige of all the things I’ve done, deep sea fishing for marlin, wahoo, barracuda and many other species,  Snorkeling, fishing, zip-lining in Belize for 3 weeks, mountain climbing and guiding for 8 years this was the one greatest day of my life…so far.

 

I received a email from Paige a few weeks ago and this is what he wrote:

Paige:

“Hey hey hey!!! Thank you so much Ramsey! That day breaking trail to Thomas one one of the more epic I’ve had here. I’m so glad we could share the experience of that day and the whole trip. I’m already excited for next year! Sick video, by the way. All that filming paid off!

 

Here is a great GOPRO video of our trip its only 5 minutes long but its a must see.

Now after reading this entire newsletter and watching this Video if you think you have what it takes to really get out of your element and have a truly spiritual trip. Well I’m planning another trip next February here are the details:

Next year Dog-Sled trip

Okay here’s the itinerary and the cost of the February 2017 Dog-sledding trip. Everyone is welcome but we already have a few people who have committed. Emily Dowgiallo-Anderson, Jeffrey Paul Tuttle, Jeff Tuttle. We would leave early on February 17th, show up in Ely the evening of the 17th. Have a full day in Ely on the 18th to get last minute equipment and supplies and head into the woods on the 19th and come out the 24th. So that would be 6 days 5 nights. the next day the 25th we would drive directly home. White wilderness supplies all equipment ecept your own 20 degree bag that you insert into their winter bags and clothing. They do rent winter clothing at a great price $60.00 for the entire trip. everyone will get their own dog team. The price is $1,729.25 the regular price is $2062.50. This price includes the 2 nights at a the Grand Ely Lodge before the trip and the night we come out, along with a great meal the night before with the guides at a top notch restaurant where we will talk over our itinerary, and breakfast the morning we head in. Once we come out we have dinner with the guides and the owner of white wilderness Peter McClelland where we tell stories all night long and the breakfast the morning we leave is also on White Wilderness. The perfect amount of people is 5, if we can get more people to come they’ll have to go the next week I’ll also be in that group. This is a bucket-list trip and I can guarantee you if you’re into the outdoors this will give you a lifetime full of memories that you will never forget. Personally I know it affected me like I never thought it would.

Ramsey Dowgiallo

  (734) 664-0353

info@gowildernessjourney.com

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Dog Sledding Feb – March 2016 Ely, MN

By Jim McKeon

Harnessing the dogs:

The dog harness is pretty simple.  It’s balanced around the dog’s shoulders and lies out across the back creating a tug line at the tail and collar line near the head.  It maximizes the pulling effort of the dog.   After putting the harness on; the dog is taken to the sled and attached to the gang line.  Lead dogs are attached first to keep the line tight.  As the harnessing begins and the dogs are being attached the excitement grows with dogs yipping and howling, jumping and straining.  For the dog this is a moment of pure joy, for the musher it is a really good physical exercise.

Our teams were generally 6 dogs:  2 lead dogs, 2 wheel dogs (at the sled) and 2 middle dogs.  The lead dogs are strong, but more important can stay alert when they are tired. While all the dogs pull nearly the same the wheel dogs carry a greater load.

The guides had 8 dog teams.  While we only had a single sled, one of the guides ran a freight train – a super-sized sled plus a 2nd sled.

 

How to handle your team and what to be prepared for

“Ready ….  Alright”

Is the go command.  On the flat surface of a frozen lake a 300lb sled and 6 dogs is pretty easy to control, slight turns made by shifting the mushers weight left or right.  ‘HA’ is supposed to take you left; ‘GE’ takes you right and “Everbody Now” provides extra effort up a hill, in deep snow or (usually) both.

The best experience is an established track and the dogs turn left or right as the sled in front of them does.  Across a frozen lake teams of less experienced mushers cut a lot of corners, and if one of your lead dogs is named LOLA, all corners are cut.

 

A single dog has the brain power of a robin.  A team of 6 dogs does not have the cumulative brain power of 6 robins, dog brain power is not additive, it degrades at a geometric rate with each yipping, leaping dog.

  • On level trail when the path ahead has a tree in the middle of it and the path leads to the right the probability of both lead dogs going right is not certain, the musher needs to lean the sled, standing on the left ski while applying the brake to negotiate the turn.
  • On an uphill path this is more difficult as the musher may have to run next to the sled to help the dogs and the side of the path may be in deep snow. In this situation a musher can lose balance and be dragged, forced to do a chin up to get back on the sled skis.  On a long hill this can happen a number of times.
  • The downhill path is the most difficult as the team gains speed; and generally the musher is pretty tired from a series of chin ups on the ascent. Simultaneously the dog team gets excited – the hard work is over – and now it’s a race to the bottom – forgetting that they are tied together.  In order to win the race, lead dogs will always look for the steepest route down.

 

Unfortunately there is no path with a single tree to negotiate.  All mounds of snow hide a fallen tree, boulder, stump or – near a wet bottom – beaver dam.  Once an obstacle is negotiated, another appears.  The double dodge is pretty simple, but more than 6 in a row is tough as the dog brain is provided multiple opportunities to screw up.  Surprisingly even an inexperienced musher can anticipate the hazards pretty quickly, and dodging them provides one of the great satisfactions of dog-sledding.  Eventually, however the lead dogs will split and go on both sides of the (name your favorite) Tree, Boulder, Stump.

When this happened we had top notch guides who helped us get the sled back on the path and dogs calmed down.

 

There is also no path that is simply uphill or downhill.  There are many double dodges and a full array of grades.  Rarely do uphill or downhill paths exceed a 75 degree slope.  They are generally 35 – 50 degrees.  If this sounds ridiculously steep then it should.  When the downhill exceeded 75 Degrees we belayed the teams down the hill.  Belaying uses a rope to slow the decent to a controllable speed.  Often tug lines on the dog harness are undone which reduces dog power.

 

The brake is an effective control mechanism.  Even on the uphill.  The gang line is a string.  The dogs turn the corner of the tree before the sled, at that point your sled will ram into the tree.  By braking just a little the sled will remain straight for a nanosecond – enough for the bumper to clear the tree – then by releasing the brake you simply bounce off the tree, rather than run into it.  In this manner the low hanging branch you did not see is the only thing that will hit you.

 

Brake whenever you cannot see at least 2 turns in front of you.  Brake just as you crest a hill – it is the beginning of the downhill dog race, there will always be at least 1 double dodge on the downhill, it will appear steeper than the uphill (even when you go back on the same path).  Braking gives you control.

 

Brake whenever you jump a beaver dam – generally thinner ice on the other side.

 

The Ramsey rule

If your name is Ramsey the brake is optional.  Why use the brake when you can wrestle a 300 lb. sled and 6 dogs all day?  The downside being pulled biceps and stomach muscles – nothing that Vitamin I can’t fix.

Ramsey developed the following formulas to know when to let go of the sled:

  • Downhill Letting go point = rate of increase in speed due to steeper downhill x (number of boulders + trees ahead) greater than 100
  • Uphill Letting go point = when injury is certain.

The uphill formula is less complex because gravity will work in your favor.

Due to low hanging branches suggest wearing ski googles to protect your eyes.

 

Warming up the team

The brake is used each morning to slow the dogs and let them ‘warm up’.  The idea is to prevent a dog from having a pulled muscle, tendon, etc.  As the dogs have just been fed breakfast, a morning defecation is in order.  No sled team would ever think of stopping and taking care of business as a unit.  It is an individual affair employing the following 3 styles:

  1. Squirt it out like a horse in a parade.
  2. Hop like a kangaroo while being dragged by your collar
  3. (For the bigger wheel dogs): just stop, sit, read the paper.  The whole sled stops with you.

 

Breaking Trails

This was real work.  The snow could average 3’ deep but be drifted and be more than 4’.  It was easy to lose your footing.  One morning we inadvertently crossed a running creek with thin ice resulting in Ramsey having 2 very wet feet and Jim nearly having a boot sucked off by the icy muck.  Fortunately we had a hot tent with a stove (not where we slept).  A little fire in that stove would warm the tent quickly and just as quickly make the tent a sauna.  It was always welcomed and very helpful in drying wet gear.

 

When a long distance of trail needed to opened Paige would don snowshoes, and cut the trail for the dogs to follow.  Once, when Ramsey and Paige opened a ½ mile of trail, Paige hooked his team and sled to Ramsey’s; snow-shoed the ½ mile and then whistled for his team to follow.  Ramsey drove the double team to Paige.

 

The nightly howl:

One of the pleasures of camping is the endless activity that 28 dogs provide.  Their tie-ups are long enough to sniff their neighbor – but not long enough for a dogfight.  Some mornings 6 dogs in a row might be spinning on their lines – excited – happy, ready for a new day.

After their evening meal, as the sun sets 1 dog (any dog) would start to howl, a chorus would start – 4 dogs – 8 dogs – 15 dogs – 24 dogs – then 27 dogs and 1 puppy.  A calamity of noise – barks, howls and a tiny little yip.  Then Serge (the beast lead dog) would growl and it would stop.

 

LITTER THEMES

When you have over 100 dogs and you want to keep track of their heritage while treating each dog individually litter themes are needed.  At birth – each litter is given a theme – TV shows; Movies; Constellations etc.  My team had some siblings as follows:

Dog            Theme

Lola            Movie – Blazing Saddles

Raj             TV Show – Big Bang Theory

Taurus       Constellation

Coho          Fish – Salmon

Cetus         Constellation

Leonard    Big Bang Theory

 

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Camping on Ice

This is simple but it’s worth a review:  the water in the lake turns to ice when it gets cold, the snow falling on the lake can become: water, ice, slush or snow depending on the temperature, amount of sunlight and amount of ice already on the lake.  Subsequent snow can cover that surface resulting in what looks like a frozen lake but having the following layers:  snow, slush, ice, water.  The ice being 18 – 24 inches thick.  Surprisingly you can have a frozen lake with snow on top and have slush as a middle layer.  The slush can be very wet.

We were lucky, weather conditions changed as we arrived and we did not have slush.

However all it takes is your body heat to melt the snow layer and begin melting the ice.  Our tents were dried and moved each day to get rid of the ice water developed from body heat and ice accumulation from condensation of our breath.  Even though every night was well below 0 Fahrenheit we found that sleeping with the tent doors open was best as our heat dissipated more.  With closed doors – in the morning you could be wet with a layer of ice on top of you from breath and a pool forming under you from body heat. Early on our guides told us that in if we wanted to be comfortable during the 6 days we would be outside then:  eat when you get hungry, drink when you get thirsty and keep your bedding dry.  Very good advice.

 

Food

Camp food was far better than expected.  Each day began with your choice of Starbuck’s or Coffee from a French press.  Either made a great starter.  Because of the expected calorie burn during the day – breakfast was loaded with butter.  As was dinner.  A favorite was hot chocolate with a spoonful of butter – rich and creamy when hot – and cooled to become a rich and tasty ice cream.  Fresh fish was great.  Actually frozen fish provided a north woods currency – we ran across another dogsled group and traded 1 frozen fish for 4 donuts.  The meals prepared by White Wilderness (our outfitter) were tasty with plenty to eat.

 

Firewood

Lots of firewood is a key to great campsites.  Paige would look for standing dead trees with bark and saw them into 5’ logs, tie them to his sled and return to camp; his skill with a saw and ax resulted in nearly a cord of split kindling within 2 hours.  Birch Bark was the preferred fire starter.

 

The clear night skies

Our night sky was clear, the horizon low and once the fire was out no artificial light resulting in a surreal view.  We could easily see planets, falling stars, satellites and jet planes.  The only thing we could hear –strangely – was very distant jet engines.  No wolves or other natural night sounds.  And the stars.  The number you could see increased steadily for the 1st hour you watched; after that you were probably asleep.  We had double sleeping bags – so if you were dry – you could form a warm cocoon and get a very deep sleep.

 

What was that noise?

The water in the lake will continue to freeze as temperatures fall.  Water expands 9% when frozen.  Due to the weight of top ice and snow, as the lake continues to freeze it cannot easily expand.  Pressure builds and eventually the lake expands with a lurch, crack and POW from the ice right beneath you.  A cold night can create a nearly continues expansion of the ice with all kinds of noise – near and far as well in a shift of the ice you are laying on.  Very cool.

 

 

Fishing

Lance Drilled fishing holes.  Always to the legal limit – never more.  As you fished you need to spoon out the ice – the hole could re-freeze over – to a fIMG_0793ull inch — in just a few minutes.  Landing a fish was tricky – you brought the head to the center of the hole and then a lucky bastard would reach in with their hands and pull it out by the gills.  We landed eaters.  Getting the head of a trophy size Laker through the hole would have been tough.  The fish almost froze instantly.

 

Wolves be out there

A husky paw print is 3+ inch; a wolf 4 ½ + inch.  It was eerie the day we dogsledded from camp to a waterfall cave and then saw on the fresh snow that a pack of wolves had crossed our path.

 

Shout out!

Before ending our outfitter – White Wilderness and our guides Paige and Lance deserve a shout out for a job well done.

First and foremost we were impressed by the care and attention that 28 dogs received.  These are working dogs – not pets – but they were very well cared for and clearly enjoyed their jobs.

As mentioned above Peter at White Wilderness provided varied, tasty and high quality – calorie meals, very welcomed on a 6 day trip.

Lance’s background included a number of years as a fire jumper and helicopter fire fighter resulting in real time practical field knowledge.  Currently training for the Iditarod Lance has many insights into dogs and mushing techniques.

Paige has had an extensive experience in the woods as a trapper, guiding hunts and trips like ours.  He also guides sea kayaking trips.  Paige knew our ground and could spot portages and break trail very fast.  His knowledge of animal behavior was very interesting – estimating the size of a beaver dam and how otters and beavers breathe under the ice.

 

This was a very fine trip supported by professionals with top line equipment and knowledge.  Thank you.

 

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Fishing – Ferocious Hits…Aggressive Fish and Relentless Attacks: Oct 2014 Newsletter

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Enjoy:

NEWSLETTER DIRECTORY

PHOTOS

Checkout the three photo slideshows below: Fish, Wildlife and Scenery. We think these photos are a great example of what you can expect.

Check out our “NEW” Video: Top-Water Boundary Waters Style

Top - Water Boundary Waters style!!!

   Top-Water Boundary Waters Style   

Going for a swim

 WILDLIFE PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Soaking it all in

 SCENERY PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Nicklas with a monster northern

 FISHING PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Share our newsletters with other adventurists and encourage them to join our EMAIL LIST!

Ramsey Dowgiallo

  (734) 664-0353

info@gowildernessjourney.com

 

 

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Belize a mecca for Adventurous people and cultural experience’s

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When I decided to make the Wilderness journey Bucket list trips blog, the very first trip I thought of was Belize I have been dreaming of going there for many years and the original thought of this first trip was to go alone but after careful thought I invited my niece Sarah and her husband Freddie. After all Sarah was there when I decided to start Wilderness Journey guiding and outfitting, and when that part of my life came to an end she was the first person I told. Then I told her I was keeping the website and changing it to a Bucket list blog. The day I stopped by their house to invite them to Belize I told her how much I appreciated her and that she earned this trip and tossed an unmarked file on the table in front of them, when they opened it I could see the expression on both their faces. In the file was a rough itinerary and two round trip tickets to Belize, I told her I was going for 3 weeks and She and Freddie would be going the first 6 days, the only thing I asked of her was to make the resort arrangements and I had a couple of suggestions. I wanted to be near San Pedro on Ambergris Caye but outside of town away from the party animals. Along with them a long time friend Lora would be joining me for the duration of the entire trip.

It is impossible to write everything that we experienced in Belize in one newsletter so I will break it into three different newsletters broken into the three different weeks we were there.

Week one: San Pedro, Snorkeling, fishing and one helluva great time

 

Sarah made arrangements at a great resort X’tan Ha 8 miles outside of town it is a great place, everyone from Miss Penny who ran the place to Travis who ran the desk and even the groundskeepers were all kind, gracious and accommodating. This was a 5 star resort that at first I thought this is not my style after all I’ve been guiding in the wilderness for 8 years. But that first morning when I woke up before dawn and had my first cup of coffee on the veranda on our beachfront room I knew this trip was going to be everything I thought it was going to be. I could literally see the famous Belize Barrier reef the second largest reef in the world 185 miles of meandering coral and sea-life. The famous Mexico Rocks was within eyesight and the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where the famous Shark/Ray alley resides was withing a 20 minute boat ride. If you’re into Water sports like fishing, snorkeling, diving, sailing, paddle boarding or kayaking this is the place to be.

 

San Pedro

This is what the San Pedro Town website has to say about San Pedro: San Pedro

San Pedro Town is the major settlement on the island. San Pedro’s populace has grown to 10,000 plus year-round inhabitants, with many newcomers from the mainland and from abroad as well. The original “San Pedranos” (from the 1800’s til the 1970’s or so) are Mestizo, and and speak both Spanish and English. The island has the largest concentration of visitor accommodations in Belize and its hotels, fishing and diving facilities are some of the best in the country.

The town is a picture postcard setting beside the clear turquoise sea. Coconut palms sway and rustle in the gentle cooling trade winds. Low rise hotels, guest houses and boutique style resorts & condos, from modest to magnificent, are nestled along the coast and throughout the town.

   If you want a comfortable, shorts-and-sandals seaside vacation, at a moderate price, just a bit off the beaten path but not too far, where the seafood is fresh and beer is cold, where the water won’t make you sick, an island with most of the modern convienences without the plastic tackiness, with great diving, excellent snorkeling, beautiful water and beautiful white sand beaches, where local folks are mostly friendly and hablan English (though they may speak Spanish at home), with dependably beautiful weather most of the time, then I guarantee you’ll enjoy Ambergris Caye.

Yes, tourism is the number one industry in what was once a fishing village. Now, fishing is still most excellent, but tourism has far surpassed it as a contributor to the local economy. This is not, however, the edgy tourism of Cancun, with millions of package tourists hitting the beach. No building is higher than a tall coco palm, or three stories.

This is a genuine description of San Pedro in the 21 days I spent in Belize, San Pedro and Hopkins are the two towns that I fell in love with, San Pedro is a little larger and more touristy than Hopkins but it has a lot to offer and quite of a few unforgettable memories were experienced here.

Fishing

Loras shark

Lora’s 6 foot shark

Most of the fishing here is reef fishing and November is not the best month for fishing February, March and April are the top months for fishing. However, we were still able to catch snapper, grunts, grouper, porgies plus Lora caught a 5 to 6 foot nurse shark that put up quite a battle. All the fishing trips in Belize start the same way, they’re smaller boats, this particular boat was a 20 footer with two 50 horse engines they’ll usually pick you up where you stay then head out to catch bait-fish which is always sardines using a casting net. With this type of fishing the guides expect to catch fish as soon as it hits the bottom and if we didn’t they would move within minutes once you are on a hot spot we would get one bite after another. Just keep what you want to cook for one meal and give the rest to the first mate and captain. By the way it was delicious. You can expect to pay $350.00 for a half day of fishing regardless if there is just one or up to four people.

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Sarah with a porgie

 

 

Snorkeling Mecca

I have snorkeled in Mexico and in the fresh waters in Michigan but I was not prepared for the beauty and excitement of snorkeling in Belize. I had done my research and had read that Belize is one of the best places to snorkel and dive in the world but it was much more than I could’ve ever expected. I was never really interested in scuba diving but now that this trip is over, I will be getting my PADI certification for next years bucket list trip to the Galapagos islands (where anyone that reads our newsletters is welcome to join)

So our first snorkel outing was like jumping into the fire, it was a trip to the famous Shark/Ray Alley Where Sarah, Freddie and I swam with a dozen sharks, sting rays, multiple species of sea turtles, green eels and many other fish that I couldn’t even start to name. When we approached the area everyone on the boat was excited and then the first mate tossed over the anchor and within seconds the water was literally boiling with a dozen sharks including one that was at least 9 foot long. I have no idea what came over me instead of being scared I couldn’t wait to jump in and once everyone got out of my way, I with my go pro camera were over the side and there were sharks and other fish all around us, it was definitely one of the greatest experiences I ever had. The guides were great, one is always in the water and the other mans the boat. The guide grabbed a 5 foot shark turned her over and it was as if she was in a trance, everyone could pet it and he also did the same with a 3 foot sting ray. we saw green sea turtles and a large loggerhead turtle that was eating a lobster until a sting ray came along and stole it. I got some great footage of the entire outing and while we were looking at the footage back at the resort I didn’t realize we could hear the crunching of the loggerhead eating the lobster. The guide had a plastic Pepsi bottle filled with cut-bait fish and he knew where all the marine life was, he would swim down look into the coral come back to the surface and say watch this, he then swam back down and placed a small piece of fish in a empty conch shell place it about 3 feet in front of the hole and slowly a 5 foot green eel came slithering out and took the bait. It wasn’t long before all of us felt so comfortable that we were swimming up to sharks and sting rays on our own and touching them.

 

“NEW” Video Shark Ray Alley

 

 

San Pedro is the place we ended our trip after our 21 day travel across this Central American country and it also will forever have a place in my heart. I have already decided to stop there on my way back from the Galapagos islands next year. Its mostly Mayans that reside here, everyone speaks English. The people of Belize are the friendliest and kindest people I’ve ever met. Everyone says good morning or hello and while shopping and eating at the many place’s throughout town I must of had 3 or 4 people everyday yell at me in their accent…Slow down man…relax. I have always been the kind of person that is on the go and honestly it took me about a week to start to absorb the Belizean way of life. I think we all can learn from them. The kids wear school uniforms, everyone knows each other and they all respect each other and the guest that visit their country. The food is great try the Ceviche. The trip was greatly enhanced with my travel companions Lora and especially my Niece Sarah and her husband Freddie who had proven to be very…very adventurous people.

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Our last meal together before Sarah and Freddie head back to the real world

San Pedro travel tips

1- When landing in Belize city take a puddle jumper flight to San Pedro its only $89.00 per person if you go through Tropic Air , its only a 15 minute flight as opposed to the taxi to the marina, then a two hour water taxi to the island, then a taxi to your resort. This is also the airline we used to cross the country.

2 – The currency exchange rate is simple two Belize dollars equals one U.S dollar.

3 – In most cases you can barter for just about anything.

4 – Any resort can be reached by a water taxi and they have a regular schedule Coastal Express is the main water taxi service.

5 – We stayed at a few place’s throughout Belize and two were exceptional on San Pedro I suggest X’tan Ha This is a TOP NOTCH resort and they are so kind and accommodating its unreal. They have an exceptional staff and will make you feel right at home.

6- X’tan Ha has tour service right on their dock named No worries tours with reasonable rates and their snorkel service is great.

7 – If snorkeling is your thing I suggest bringing your own mask, snorkel and fins. Some mask’s just don’t fit well and there are better snorkels available at stores in the states, also I like longer fins because you can swim deeper with ease (I know I will be buying my own gear)

 

Belize week two: The next newsletter will include stories and photos about fishing, snorkeling, zip lining on a 2.5 mile zip line with 8 platforms, stories and video of dolphins swimming right next to our boat. Along with stories about Placencia and Hopkins.

 

 

dog sledding

Our next Bucket list trip will be a 6 day dogsledding trip along the Minnesota Canadian border.

We have 3 people going Jason Lafferty, Jim McKeon and I. Jim let me know that his wife Carol is interested in going if we can get another adventurous woman to join the group. So come on folks! Anyone out there ever dream of running their own team of dogs across virgin snow in the middle of the wilderness…Then give us a call. Life is short make the most of it!

 

Customized Northwoods Passage

  • 6 days dog sledding
  • 5 nights winter camping
  • First and last night in a comfortable lodge
  • Premier style (you drive your own team for the entire trip)
  • Explore over 100 miles of the Boundary Waters wilderness by dog team
  • Our longest trip, and most physically demanding one

 

Rough itinerary:

Our arrival date is February 27th: settle in enjoy the festivities of the wolftrack classic dog-sled race.We will watch the start of the Wolftrack classic Dog-Sled race on the morning of the 28th then immediately head into the woods with our gear, guides and enthusiasm. Peter was kind enough to customize this trip for us. We will be going through areas that I have been through many…many times and many of my past clients and friends are familiar with.  Of course when traveling in the wilderness you should always be flexible that is why all itinerary’s can change but this is the rough version.

We will see 3 waterfalls, Native pictographs and some of the most incredible vistas ever created.

28th 1/2 day get into the woods.
29th Travel to Crooked Lake. (Ramsey Island)
1st Full day on Crooked.(Ramsey Island) Pike fishing
2nd Travel towards Basswood.
3rd Day Lake Trout fishing on Basswood? Note we cannot fish northern on basswood in March.
4th Travel out to landing.

 

Please Subscribe to WJ Newsletters & Posts

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new WJ newsletters… full of trip reports, events, BWCA info and up to date info! You will find the subscription application on each page here is a link to the website.

Newsletters:

For a complete list of newsletters click here.

Fishing – Ferocious Hits…Aggressive Fish and Relentless Attacks: Oct 2014 Newsletter

Wildlife – The Hector trip: We had great fishing, great wildlife encounters and we even experienced a spectacular celestial event.

Contact us to be added to the email list. Wilderness Journey newsletters are sent the first week of every month!

Enjoy:

NEWSLETTER DIRECTORY

PHOTOS

Checkout the three photo slideshows below: Fish, Wildlife and Scenery. We think these photos are a great example of what you can expect.

Check out our “NEW” Video: Top-Water Boundary Waters Style

Top - Water Boundary Waters style!!!

   Top-Water Boundary Waters Style   

Going for a swim

 WILDLIFE PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Soaking it all in

 SCENERY PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Nicklas with a monster northern

 FISHING PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Share our newsletters with other adventurists and encourage them to join our EMAIL LIST!

Ramsey Dowgiallo

  (734) 664-0353

info@gowildernessjourney.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Looking for very adventurous people

Heading off into the sun.: Sled Dogs, Dogs Sled, Sled Trips, Shared Sled

 

So before writing this newsletter I researched the meaning of the word adventurous and this is what I found:

Adventurous:

Willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences.”let’s be adventurous” synonyms: daring, daredevil, intrepid, venturesome, bold, fearless, brave, unafraid, unshrinking, dauntless; informal gutsy, gutty, spunky, skookum

Many people say they are adventurous but when it comes down to it, they just are not. I might be bias because for my entire life I’ve been traveling, camping, paddling, fishing, hunting, mountain climbing and many other adventures. After being a wilderness guide for 8 years I have seen many people that wanted to go on trips but they always backed out for one excuse or another. Its easy to back out but its hard to go for it and I’ve witnessed what an adventure can do for a persons personality and their inner strength. So that being said I am challenging everyone to take one of the trips that I have accumulated on my endless bucket list.
Coming changes to our website
Now that I am out of the Guide business we will be changing the Wilderness Journey guide and outfitting website over the next few months to the Wilderness Journey bucket list trips. There will be no extra charges…no hidden fees.  Many people will ask well what in it for me; Well when I made the decision to close down the business it was one of the easiest decisions I ever made it consumed my life and now I am free to do anything I want. The only thing that I didn’t like was not being able to show people things and experiences they never had before, along with photography and writing the newsletters. So I came up with the idea of the Wilderness Journey bucket list, where I could ask people from my contact list to join me on trips of a lifetime…where we all could experience new things together…Where I could write about all of our new experiences. One day I would like to write a book about all of our adventures. And We’re just getting started, my list is extensive.
Traveling across the lake.: Ice Fish, Dogs Sleigh, Dogs Sled

Epic Dogsled trip 2016!!!

The first trip that we are offering is a dogsled trip along the U.S and Canadian border. We have 3 people that have committed a friend Jason Lafferty, a past client Jim McKeon (You can read about his BWCA trip on this link) who is the first to take advantage of our new Bucket list format and me and we’re looking for 3 more. If anyone wants to go on this trip of a lifetime please contact me. It would be best if you contact me before November 13th or after December 3rd I will be in Belize and apparently the internet is undependable.

Ramsey Dowgiallo

  (734) 664-0353

info@gowildernessjourney.com

 

 

This trip will be outfitted by White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures

 

Here’s a little information on White wilderness Sled Dog Adventures
They have taken over Over 6,000 Mushers into the wilderness
Testimonials:
Alright, alright, alright. This trip was absolutely amazing. It consisted of many laughs and much excitement. Staff were very friendly, supportive and our tour guide, Theo rocked. The dogs were friendly and the view was incredible.
Thanks for the trip guys! Wasn’t quite sure what to expect since none of us ever sledded before. Super great guides and everyone had a blast. Want to go again. Thought the price was very reasonable concerning all the logistics involved. Would recommend to anyone, any age.

 

family

Who We Are

There are a lot of dog sledding providers out there so why should you choose us? Because Dog Sledding is what we do. We are not first and foremost a racing kennel or an arctic exploration kennel. We are a professional tour provider, which means we have dogs that are best for you, we have seasoned staff trained to lead quality mushing trips (not college kids taking a year off for fun) and we have the focus to ensure it all comes together for you in a safe and successful manner.

 

 

  • Safe comfortable hands on trips
  • Well trained, socialized, lovable Dogs
  • Great food and quality equipment
  • Trip Advisor’s #1 ranked activity in Ely, MN

 

Peter McClelland and Chris Hegenbarth run White Wilderness and Peter has been reading our newsletters for years and to help set us off on this new bucket list format he is giving everyone that books this trip a great deal! And I would like to thank him for his generosity.

This is the email he sent me last week: Your trip price will be $1955 per person. This is a 15% discount off the regular price plus the extra night and sledding.  First and last night are included at the lodge. We will decide where we want to do that later. It will either be Stay Inn Ely or the Grand Ely Lodge. The guides will go over all your clothing and the trip details then.

We provide tents, sleeping bags, and all other camping gear. We will provide tip ups, ice augers, etc. We recommend personal jigging rods, although we will bring some of them as well.
Peter
A Northern up north.:  Snoek

Customized Northwoods Passage

  • 6 days dog sledding
  • 5 nights winter camping
  • First and last night in a comfortable lodge
  • Premier style (you drive your own team for the entire trip)
  • Explore over 100 miles of the Boundary Waters wilderness by dog team
  • Our longest trip, and most physically demanding one

 

Rough itinerary:

Our arrival date is February 27th: settle in enjoy the festivities of the wolftrack classic dog-sled race.We will watch the start of the Wolftrack classic Dog-Sled race on the morning of the 28th then immediately head into the woods with our gear, guides and enthusiasm. Peter was kind enough to customize this trip for us. We will be going through areas that I have been through many…many times and many of my past clients and friends are familiar with.  Of course when traveling in the wilderness you should always be flexible that is why all itinerary’s can change but this is the rough version.

We will see 3 waterfalls, Native pictographs and some of the most incredible vistas ever created.

28th 1/2 day get into the woods.
29th Travel to Crooked Lake. (Ramsey Island)
1st Full day on Crooked.(Ramsey Island) Pike fishing
2nd Travel towards Basswood.
3rd Day Lake Trout fishing on Basswood? Note we cannot fish northern on basswood in March.
4th Travel out to landing.

A 20 pounder!

The Boundary Waters is a remote region of wilderness lakes, rivers and forests that straddles the Minnesota-Canada border. Comprised of more than one million acres of pristine lakes, the densest concentration in America, and off limits to motorized vehicles, it is a frozen maze of trail possibilities that beckon in winter. Though skiers, snowshoers and ice fishing enthusiasts explore the periphery, dogsleds are the way to get truly deep in to this wilderness.
If you light up when you make the first tracks on a lake, or enjoy the fresh perspective that comes from being away from it all, you’ll appreciate exploring a cross-section of this renowned wild place, draped in winter’s hibernating coat of snow and ice. On this six day, five night adventure, you’ll learn everything from how to care for and bond with your canine crew and how to stay toasty in the winter to how to traverse a narrow path between a fir and a spruce tree and stay upright on your dogsled. Expect to see tracks of timber wolves, fox and perhaps an otter sliding across the snow. Sleep under the stars for a chance peek at the northern lights, or certainly a star-filled winter sky. We save this rugged trip for March, when the days are longer, the dogs are at peak condition and lake travel is typically easier. This traverse of the Boundary Waters will cover well over 100 miles on a route crossing the heart of the wilderness and home to our kennel. Mush pass windswept islands with rugged glacier carved granite cliffs. Test your mushing agility as we navigate tricky portage trails between lakes. If you thrive on hands-on opportunities, have some outdoor camping experience under your belt and are craving an adventure off the beaten path, consider joining us for an unforgettable dog-sledding trip.

 Here is a great video of what you can expect

 

Anyone that is at all interested please contact me.

 

 

Please Subscribe to WJ Newsletters & Posts

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new WJ newsletters… full of trip reports, events, BWCA info and up to date info! You will find the subscription application on each page here is a link to the website.

Newsletters:

For a complete list of newsletters click here.

Fishing – Ferocious Hits…Aggressive Fish and Relentless Attacks: Oct 2014 Newsletter

Wildlife – The Hector trip: We had great fishing, great wildlife encounters and we even experienced a spectacular celestial event.

Contact us to be added to the email list. Wilderness Journey newsletters are sent the first week of every month!

Enjoy:

NEWSLETTER DIRECTORY

PHOTOS

Checkout the three photo slideshows below: Fish, Wildlife and Scenery. We think these photos are a great example of what you can expect.

Check out our “NEW” Video: Top-Water Boundary Waters Style

Top - Water Boundary Waters style!!!

   Top-Water Boundary Waters Style   

Going for a swim

 WILDLIFE PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Soaking it all in

 SCENERY PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Nicklas with a monster northern

 FISHING PHOTO SLIDESHOW

Share our newsletters with other adventurists and encourage them to join our EMAIL LIST!

Ramsey Dowgiallo

  (734) 664-0353

info@gowildernessjourney.com

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From surf to snow

fish

The Bucket list:

This is for all my friends, family, clients and anyone that has a bucket list and by the way everyone should have a bucket list. Now is the time to tackle that bucket list and mine is extensive, I am lucky enough to work at a place that is willing to give me all the time I need to check off each destination on my list. We’re not getting any younger and a bucket list should be accomplished right now! not when we are too old and in poor health, therefore I will try my hardest to get everyone to start checking items off their list. If I can get just a few people to do this then I will feel as though I made a difference and now I am going to start to ask people to join me on trips to enrich their lives, and now wilderness Journey is going into the next phase…not to make a profit but to change peoples lives for the better. One day when we are old and near death we won’t be counting our money or what we accumulated over the years but we will be talking about all the things we have seen with our family and friends…Go for it!

 

TarponBelize here we come:

Coming up on November 13th we will be taking an epic 3 week vacation to Belize during which we will be sending a weekly newsletter of our adventures from Belize. We will be starting off in Ambergris Caye where we will be snorkeling in Glover’s reef which just so happens to be Jacques Cousteau’s favorite dive destination. Then its onto tarpon and deep sea fishing expeditions along with cave tubing and of course laying on the beach. The next destination will be on to Placencia where we will be snorkeling, fishing and checking out Cockscomb Jaguar preserve. Then our last destination will be Dangriga for an epic Zip-lining adventure where we will be zip-lining 2.5 miles from platform to platform and the longest zip-line will be 1/2 mile. and we’ll finish up our adventure back on Ambergris Caye for a couple of days to decompress before the flight home on December 2nd. Real time newsletters and GO-Pro footage to come.

Ziplining-1

jaguar 1

dog sledding

Dog Sledding

Now the real reason for this newsletter, This will be the first newsletter where we are trying to recruit people to test themselves…to check that box off their bucket list so read on and book this trip. This trip will be outfitted by White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures

We will see 3 waterfalls, Native pictographs and some of the most incredible vistas ever created.

We have 3 people committed to this this 5 night 6 day trip and are looking for 3 more. Everyone will run their own dog team.  We will ice fish 2 days for Northern Pike and Lake trout. Our arrival date is February 27th: settle in enjoy the festivities of the wolftrack classic dog-sled race.

Northwoods Passage

  • 6 days dog sledding
  • 5 nights winter camping
  • First and last night in a comfortable lodge
  • Premier style (you drive your own team for the entire trip)
  • Explore over 100 miles of the Boundary Waters wilderness by dog team
  • Our longest trip, and most physically demanding one

 

Rough itinerary:

Watch the start of the Woldtrack classic Dog-Sled race on the morning of the 28th then immediately head into the woods with our gear, guides and enthusiasm.

pike
28th 1/2 day get into the woods.
29th Travel to Crooked Lake. (Ramsey Island)
1st Full day on Crooked.(Ramsey Island) Pike fishing
2nd Travel towards Basswood.
3rd Day Lake Trout fishing on Basswood? Note we cannot fish northern on basswood in March.
4th Travel out to landing.
A 20 pounder!

A 20 pounder!

The Boundary Waters is a remote region of wilderness lakes, rivers and forests that straddles the Minnesota-Canada border. Comprised of more than one million acres of pristine lakes, the densest concentration in America, and off limits to motorized vehicles, it is a frozen maze of trail possibilities that beckon in winter. Though skiers, snowshoers and ice fishing enthusiasts explore the periphery, dogsleds are the way to get truly deep in to this wilderness.
If you light up when you make the first tracks on a lake, or enjoy the fresh perspective that comes from being away from it all, you’ll appreciate exploring a cross-section of this renowned wild place, draped in winter’s hibernating coat of snow and ice. On this five day, four night adventure, you’ll learn everything from how to care for and bond with your canine crew and how to stay toasty in the winter to how to traverse a narrow path between a fir and a spruce tree and stay upright on your dogsled. Expect to see tracks of timber wolves, fox and perhaps an otter sliding across the snow. Sleep under the stars for a chance peek at the northern lights, or certainly a star-filled winter sky.

Gathering firewood for the evening by dogteam.

We save this rugged trip for March, when the days are longer, the dogs are at peak condition and lake travel is typically easier. This traverse of the Boundary Waters will cover well over 100 miles on a route crossing the heart of the wilderness and home to our kennel. Mush pass windswept islands with rugged glacier carved granite cliffs. Test your mushing agility as we navigate tricky portage trails between lakes. If you thrive on hands-on opportunities, have some outdoor camping experience under your belt and are craving an adventure off the beaten path, consider joining us for an unforgettable dog-sledding trip.

Anyone that is at all interested please contact me.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When one door closes, another opens

Assenmacher incredible photo

The Decision

After 8 years guiding in the wilderness and careful consideration I have decided to close this chapter in my life and start a new one. I had been thinking about this since the spring of 2014. Then after my brother had a serious accident in June, I had to cancel a trip drive back to Detroit and make sure he was going to be out of the woods then return to Ely, where I took out trips the entire season wondering if he was going to be alright while in the wilderness, without a phone or anyway to know if he was alright or not. This was just one of many reasons for my decision. At the age of 53 I started to lose many friends from October 2014 to just last month I have been to 7 funerals, I know death is a part of life but it was the not being with my family and friends for 5 months a year and not knowing who was next that wore on me. Life is incredibly short and there are many other things that I wanted to accomplish. When being in the guiding business it is basically a 24/7 job 5 months a year and in the off season working in the flooring business 5 days a weeks and performing presentations and shows just about every weekend, I haven’t had a vacation in 8 years. And when reading Facebook and seeing my friends and family traveling all over the world I thought to myself…I deserve to do that…I have my own bucket list then I realized that I would never be able to  check off the many trips on my bucket list if I kept up the work schedule I had been doing over the last 8 years. However, the decision wasn’t written into stone till April of this year when the flooring business I worked for closed its doors and of course I was a little worried, We were forewarned a few months in advance and I struggled through the shows and presentations not knowing where my future laid. Then when the very last show was over I put the word out that I was looking for a job. Well within the first 4 days I had 4 offers and with the help of my brother John and his friend Mike Lafferty they hooked me up with a great company that was willing to let me guide and my job would still be there waiting for me. But after working for them for 3 weeks I knew I found my place. They have treated me with great respect and were thrilled to have me working for them, When April came I had made my decision and called the one person that had helped me from the beginning my niece Sarah D’Agostino and as I told her she wept over the phone because she knew it was one of the hardest decisions I had ever made but I consoled her and told her that once the decision was made it was like a great weight lifted off my shoulders and I was so sure it was the right decision that I didn’t even have any regret’s about it. When I told my boss I was thinking about quitting the guide business and wanted to work for them full time they were excited, I had to immediately let them know that I still wanted some major time off because of my bucket list they were more than glad to accommodate me. Because of my work ethic and always striving to be the best at whatever I do within 4 months I have risen through the ranks at my new job to the top of the food chain. Without making enemies try doing that! but after each employee worked with me they knew I would rise through the ranks fast and they would all agree it is well deserved.

 

don resized1

New Chapter

Four months into this new chapter has reawakened the adventurer in me and now its time to work on my bucket list. Last week was my first vacation in 8 years I went kayaking with 11 friends on lake Superior, in November I will be going to Belize on a 20 day trip that will include deep sea fishing, Tarpon fishing (which is on my top 10 list) a 5 day kayaking trip off the coast of Belize on a string of islands, a camping trip in the jungle and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m actually going to lay around on the beach for a few days without a cell phone, laptop or iPad. And the most important trip on my list for 2015 is my sister, brother and I are taking a trip to Kentucky to visit my Mom and dads grave which we haven’t done since they both passed away 22 years ago.

 

 

Tarpon

The Bucket list

The new plan is every year I will be taking several trips trough the year to check off trips from my extensive bucket list.  Before I go any farther I looked up what exactly Bucket list means and when I read it I chuckled because they have it all wrong, It said that a bucket list is a list of accomplishments that one tackles when one retires…WRONG! we are all getting older and the time to enjoy the great outdoors and all the things on your bucket lists is NOW! not when your body is worn out and its to late. I will keep up the website and a quarterly newsletter. Because I will invite anyone on the email list to come along on these trips, especially past clients. I will not be the guide, I will plan the areas and general itinerary but it will be up to each individual to obtain their own plane fare and accommodation’s. Just to give you an idea of what is on my bucket list and like I said everyone is welcome to join.

Here are a few examples

2015

November 13th through December 2nd – Belize 20 days, of course I don’t expect anyone to go on a 20 day trip but the itinerary is broken up into three different trips.

2016

August – Galapagos Islands

Early January – Amazon river  (Peacock Bass fishing)

2017

Madagascar

Along with these trips will be trips throughout the U.S and Canada

Grand Canyon, Washington D.C, Florida bass fishing, White water rafting in West Virginia and a 7 day rafting trip in the Grand Canyon, Brook trout fishing on the Sutton river in Canada and of course the Boundary Waters.

Rams_and_Sarah

To all those that supported me and all my past clients

I have been very lucky my family and friends have supported me in my guiding business from the get go, not one person try to talk me out of it. But the one person I really want to thank is my niece Sarah she was there from the beginning to the very end and I could of never accomplished this business without her. She was there for me when I was struggling and she was there when I was overwhelmed with bookings. She has taught me so much about business I just can’t say enough about her.

 

 

photo 3

My clients

When I made this decision I had one friend ask if I regret the last 8 years. I laughed and said are you kidding me I have caught more fish than dozens of hardcore fishermen have caught in their entire lifetimes. I have taught hundreds of people how to fish, camp, travel in the wilderness. I have had so many wildlife experiences that I can write several books about my encounters and experiences. How many people have been charged by bull moose several times, I have seen more wolves than I can count, I’ve seen them chase deer into the lake a couple of times, I have had them trot through camp, I have seen Eagles fight and swim the list can go on forever. But one of the most surprising experiences I have had over the last 8 years are the clients that I have had the pleasure of taking out into the wilderness and give them experiences they never knew existed. Many have become friends of mine. I could mention all their names but I don’t think I have too…They know who they are. That is probably the one thing I will miss, to teach people about the wilderness, wildlife, how to catch fish and travel under the most extreme conditions. I don’t think I have had one person who has come away from a trip with a regret as a matter of fact I think every person came away with a feeling of accomplishment…a feeling of if I could make it through that I can make it through anything.

 

In Closing

I’ve had five articles written about wilderness Journey, one TV show and a Radio show what else do I need to prove to myself. I know some people will unsubscribe to the newsletter, but this is a big planet with many more adventures to experience. For those of you that want to experience the many other places on this planet please keep reading the newsletter or even better come along on one or more of these bucket list adventures. I promise you will not regret it!

Ramsey with a hog

Nature is my religion and the wilderness is my temple

Ramsey Dowgiallo – Adventurer

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