Dear Teen Expedition Participant and Parents,
Thank you for registering for the 2023 Teen Wolf Tracking Expedition with Wilderness Awareness School! This course is running from Saturday, July 29 until Saturday, August 5, 2023.
The wolves have returned to the Cascades in Washington, and we are traveling to Teanaway River Valley to track the Teanaway Pack.
Please read this letter very carefully! You will need the enclosed information in order to prepare thoroughly and appropriately for this expedition, and to make travel plans to meet up with us in the Seattle area. Our base camp for this expedition will be over an hour from the nearest town. Making trips into town for items you forgot to pack is not easy! So, please plan ahead and pay close attention to the gear list and tips included in this packet.
I can’t wait to see what new magic is created in this 23rd year of Wolf Tracking!
If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you this summer.
To warm summer days,
|Dan Corcoran – Program Director||Nicole O’Byrne – Summer Program Manager|
Wolf Tracking Expedition Information
Saturday July 29th, 1pm – Meet WAS staff and other participants at Preston Athletic Fields
– WAS Airport Van Pickup at SeaTac at Noon
Preston Athletic Fields and Park
Preston-Fall City Rd SE
Issaquah, WA 98027
July 29 – Aug 5: Base Camp in the Cascade Mountains, likely in the Teanaway Community Forest
Saturday August 5, 1 – 1:30pm – 30 minute closing Circle with Parents at Preston Athletic Fields and Park
-WAS Airport Van arrives at SeaTac Airport by 3:00 PM
Getting to and from Base Camp: Participants will meet us at Preston Athletic Fields and ride in School or rental vans from there to our base camp location. (~2 hr drive). More details about travel arrangements are included below.
Our base camp is located in the Cascade Mountains. We have a 2 – 4 hour drive from Preston depending on the site we select. The exact basecamp at which we stay will be determined in early summer based on local conditions and research information on wolves and other wildlife. The Wilderness Awareness School office will have information on our exact location for emergency purposes (such as wildfire or participant injury). There is likely to be limited cell phone reception in that area. Program staff know the closest locations we can drive or hike to where we can call out in case of an emergency.
The elevation is likely between 2,500 and 3,500 feet depending on the site.
Weather in the Cascades in August is variable. It is usually hot and dry during the day, with potential for temperatures in the 80’s or 90’s and occasional thunderstorms with rain and hail in the afternoon. At night, temperatures can sometimes get cold!
What to Expect:
Daily life will center around our base camp, where meals and lessons will take place and where we will set up our tents. Each day participants will pack a lunch, water, and extra layers and travel in small groups into the field, either departing on foot from base camp or driving to nearby locations to cover more ground. Distances covered on foot will vary depending on group interests, energy, and the location of wolves and other wildlife.
In camp everyone is expected to spend some time helping to prepare meals and clean up group dishes, and each participant will be expected to clean their own dishes and generally keep their personal items in good repair and organized. Our bathroom facilities are wilderness-style port-a-potties. There are creeks for supervised wading (wonderful on hot afternoons!) but in order to protect the sensitive ecosystem, washing in the creek with soap of any kind (even biodegradable) is strictly not allowed.
We will provide all meals and snacks for participants while they are at base camp. Our first group meal will be Saturday dinner; our last group meal will be lunch on Saturday. Participants will need to bring food for their travel days. More detailed explanation of this can be found below in the section about travel options, packing requirements and gear.
We consider it important to provide healthy food, and serve organic fare as much as possible – this is particularly true with regard to meat and dairy products. Please make sure that the information you provide on the dietary form is complete – traveling to town to purchase different food during the week is not an option.
Our kitchen space is small, and there is limited room to store personal food items at our base camp, unless this is a necessity for dietary/medical reasons and has been cleared with the director. Further, since we are in bear country, keeping food in tents is not an option – do not even consider it! Participants are asked to bring food and snacks for the van ride only.
Wildfire –There are occasional wildfires during the summer season, both from human sources and from lightning. Our use of campfires is in line with Forest Service and WA DNR regulations, and our fires are monitored constantly until they are out. Typically, campfires are not allowed, following local Forest Service regulations based on wildfire risk. We check regularly with local rangers for information on any active wildfires for miles around our location.
Medical – All of our staff, and most of our volunteers are trained in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. We will have at least 3 staff members who are also certified as a Wilderness First Responder. There is usually a medical clinic 1 – 2 hours away from our base camp available for any medical needs during the week. Due to the remote location of this expedition, it is absolutely vital that we have complete medical information and history for all of our participants. The online Medical Release Form will be filled out by the parent. Please update this form two weeks before the expedition with any new information.
For our Covid-19 policies and guidelines, click here.
Communication – Instructors and volunteers carry long-distance radios for communication in the field. The Staff have mobile phones for emergency use only. Participants will not be able to call home during the trip.
Communication and Cell Phones:
There is NO CELL PHONE reception at our base camp, and we ask that participants be prepared in advance to turn off their cell phones for the entirety of our base camp experience. Please do not expect to receive any calls or texts from your child during the trip. Participants, please know that having a cell phone on in an area of no reception exhausts the battery quickly and we don’t have a way to re-charge phones at Base Camp. There are available outlets at the airport for recharging phones.
Student Groups (Clans)
We divide into groups called clans that remain the same throughout the expedition. These groups are usually divided by skill level since we have some teens who return for many summers and some who are brand new to wolf tracking. We also consider the age and interests of the teens. The teens will have a voice in which group is best for them and we do our best to honor putting friends together. We also will sometimes change up clans during the week based on interest or energy level. All teens share the same base camp and there are lots of opportunities to interact with teens from all clans throughout the day.
Our office phone will be monitored on travel days: 425-788-1301
Saturday, July 29
If flying into SeaTac Airport (SEA) and taking WAS Shuttle:
Meet at the SeaTac airport baggage claim by 12pm Noon with all bags.
Please book flights that land by 11:30 AM or earlier.
If you are experiencing travel delays en route to meeting us at the Airport, or need to reach us for any other reason on the travel weekends, please call the WAS Office 425-788-1301.
Meet at 1:00 PM at Preston Athletic Fields (Exit 22 off I-90)
Look for a group of vans at the southeast end of the parking area.
Preston Athletic Fields and Park
Preston-Fall City Rd SE
Issaquah, WA 9802
Saturday, August 5th
1:00 PM Vans return to Preston Athletic Fields & Park
1:00 – 1:30 PM Closing Circle with Parents
3:00 PM WAS Airport Van arrives at SEATAC Airport (for those who are flying)
Once students are checked in and through security, WAS staff will leave. If your child needs further accompaniment, please make these arrangements ahead of time with the airline.
Please do not book flights before 5:00 PM!
* Please email any updated travel plans to [email protected] or call the office at 425-788-1301. Thank you.
Required Gear List: Teen Wolf Tracking Expedition
- Small waterproof tent, tarp, or bivy sack – please arrive knowing how to set it up!
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad – critical to insulate your body from the ground!
- Sturdy pants
- Rain jacket and pants or poncho
- Warm jacket
- Wool sweater and/or polar-fleece layer
- Long underwear top and bottoms – not cotton!
- Cotton T-shirts
- Hiking shoes/boots – see notes below
- Water sandals or other shoes that can get wet– for creek crossing/wading
- Extra shoes or sandals just for base camp
- Swimming suit
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- Personal medication (please indicate this on your medical form)
- Spoon & fork
- Water bottles – Please bring at least TWO 1-liter bottles or a 2 liter hydration bladder
- 2 Tupperware containers – These need to be labeled with name and should be large enough to carry a hearty lunch and snacks into the field; bring sturdy containers to avoid them breaking.
- Daypack – Large enough to carry lunch, 2 liters of water, extra layers, notebook, etc.
- Journals (paper notebooks)
- Pens and pencils
- Pocket tape measure (6’)
- Large garbage bags or pack cover for keeping your pack and gear dry at camp
- Bandana (for games)
- Small personal bottle of hand sanitizer
- ID and money for meals if flying in
- Camp towel
- Wool blanket for added warmth at night – army/navy surplus blankets are warm and durable
- “Crazy Creek” type camp chair
- Musical instruments
- Bow-drill kit, other crafts for down time
- Knife – If you choose to bring a knife, it must be a fixed-blade knife w/sheath, with 4” or smaller blade or a quality folding knife with a locking blade.
- Tracking and Nature Field Guides (We bring a library and you are welcome to bring your own too.)
- mobile phone, music device (for travel needs only, not used once we arrive at camp)
PLEASE LEAVE BEHIND
– Electronic games & things with screens, etc– (We’ll take a break from electronic stimulus for a whole week!)
– Sugary snacks and “energy” drinks and other stimulants that make us all crazy
Important Gear Tips
Tent: This needs to be waterproof, with a ground tarp, and you need to know how to set it up before you arrive at our base camp… please practice at home. There will be people around who can help you, but not figure it out for you!
Sleeping Bag: It can get quite cold at night at our base camp, and your sleeping bag needs to be sufficient. Please make sure that your sleeping bag is rated appropriately for potential temperatures in the 40’s F and that it fits you. If your sleeping bag is too large for you, it will not function properly!
Clothing: We recommend clothes made of polypropylene, “fleece”, or other synthetics. Wool is also excellent. We do not recommend cotton for cool or wet weather. Cotton loses all of its ability to insulate when it is wet, and can actually cause hypothermia. We require that you bring top and bottom layers, and socks, which are not made of cotton. Some cotton clothing as per the gear list is fine so long as you have sufficient layers that are NOT cotton and bring those non-cotton layers with you in the field. Just to be super clear, cotton sweatshirts and jeans are not effective for warmth if it is wet out.
Hiking Footwear: We will be walking quite a bit on dirt roads, over rocky terrain, through grassy meadows, and possibly through marshes and swamps. Please bring at least one pair of sturdy hiking boots or shoes, and break them in (wear them around a lot) ahead of time. New footwear can cause serious blisters, which can cause serious problems for you and the group.
Water Shoes: We often cross creeks and rivers. We also walk in along the river to our wading spot. Bring closed toe shoes or sandals you can wear in the water. Flip flops are nice for laying around camp and pretty much worthless and dangerous to use in and around the rivers.
Backpacking Overnight: There will likely be a backpacking overnight at some point during the trip. If you have a large backpack, bring it. If not, practice strapping extra gear to your day pack and bring straps for that. We will travel light, and you will still need your sleeping bag, ground pad, warm layers of clothing, and food. This will allow us to travel to places that otherwise are out of reach. This is often the highlight of the week!
Please, read this carefully and follow these packing instructions! It is critical for our ability to travel efficiently and comfortably during transit from Preston to base camp.
1. You will bring TWO bags, and pack them as follows:
- Large Backpack or Duffel Bag
- This bag will not be accessible while we travel from the meeting spot to Base Camp.
- It will hold most of your gear including tent, sleeping bag, etc. except what you need for the 3 hr van ride
- Backpacks are easier to carry than duffels, please choose this if you already have one. There will also likely be a short backpacking overnight and this is MUCH easier with a full size backpack.
- Pack in it whatever you will need for the van ride including water and snacks
- This daypack will be your field bag in the backcountry, please be sure it is large enough and comfortable enough to carry lunch, raingear, water, etc.
The first meal that we eat together will be Saturday dinner. Our final meal will be Saturday lunch.
We will be meeting at the Preston meeting spot just after lunchtime. Please eat lunch before you get there and/or bring a bag lunch and snacks with you. We will not stop for food on the way to Basecamp and our first meal will be a dinner together at 6:00 PM.