Our Dogsledding Staff

Wintergreen guide Amy FreemanOur Dogsled Staff and Expert Guides

We are very proud of the "Wintergreen Team," which includes founder/director Paul Schurke, our dogsled guides, our chef, food service and housekeeping staff (and of course our "4-legged" kennel staff!). They are dedicated professionals, most of whom have been with us for many years.

Our guides are not only superbly skilled instructors, but are also gifted naturalists and educators who enjoy sharing northwoods lore with our guests -- about timber wolves, moose & bear, winter stars, northern lights, the Ojibway Indians of this region and the French Voyageurs who once traveled these woods.  Time and again, our guides have been ranked "best in the business."  In fact, our guides Dave & Amy Freeman are rated National Geographic "Adventurers of the Year" and were featured on the NBC Today Show for their "Year in the Wilderness" trek & have authored a new book on their wilderness advocacy adventure.

Our guides are multi-talented: LynnAnne is building her own timber frame home.  Ellen & friend Van run a Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA) to provide vegetables for our northwoods community (& host a summer "picnic operetta" in their fields!). Becca also runs a CSA with help from guides Meagan & Elliot. Christina is an ordained minister who serves inner-city congregations.  Brian guides summer bicycle trips in Alaska and biked back to Wintergreen from Juneau last fall. Courtney's family lives off-grid deep in the woods. Bria guides mountain climbing trips for the National Outdoor Leadership School. Peter is an Arctic guide in Svalbard, Norway. Wintergreen guide Brian Kaeter

Paul's schedule allows him to spend time with most Wintergreen groups and he is often able to share stories about his arctic expeditions. He is the lead instructor on most of the advanced dogsled camping trips and all of the arctic programs.  Paul received the Explorers Award from the International Center for Exploration, the "Adventurer of the Year" award from Outside Magazine and the Environmental Hero Award from the National Wilderness Society. Paul is also a nationally-recognized speaker whose motivational and adventure talks have been featured by the National Association of Campus Activities.  Learn more about Paul's speaking presentations HERE

In their post-trip evaluations, our Wintergreen guests repeatedly rave about our staff -- and rightly so! Here are a few of the accolades: "our guardian angels," "exhibited the utmost professionalism, skill & good cheer," "extraordinarily caring," "extremely attentive and caring," "totally interested in our having fun & being safe (and never making me feel like a nervous urban mom)," "catered to our every need," "very passionate about what they do," "very respectful of each other, the guests and the dogs," "athlete, educators & entertainers and great cooks too!," "great role models for my kids."

Wintergreen guide Ellen Root

Wintergreen Guides:

Paul, Susan, Bria, Peter & Berit Schurke with Dave Freeman, Amy Voytilla Freeman, Ellen Root, Meagan Jaskela, Isaak Ridge, Brian Kaeter, Joe Gleiter, Luke Kaneb, Virginia Wightman, McKayla Bull, Elliot Diana, Tristan Weisz, Summer Goebel & other occasional staff, interns and guides-in-training.

Guide Profiles:

ELLIOT DIANA Woods craft & camping came naturally to Elliot Diana growing up in New England.  In 8th grade he paddled his region’s “Boundary Waters” counterpart – the Allagash, Maine’s renowned wilderness river system.  At the University of Vermont, he secured an ecology degree and crafted his guide skills leading rock climbing, backpacking and mountain biking trips for the college outdoors club.  He interned with the Wintergreen team the past couple seasons & gained his ‘wings’ as a fully fledged guide this winter.  When he's not in the woods, he's plucking strings -- Elliot plays a mean mandolin and commands an impressive repertoire of folk songs & bluegrass tunes. His favorite sled dog is Pingo and his favorite ice cream is Moose Tracks with it’s irresistible combo of fudge & peanut butter.  

LYNNANNE VESPER  In 1993, when LynnAnne Vesper joined us for a January Interim wilderness dogsled & ski expedition during her senior year of Gustavus Adolphus College, she had no idea how the experience would define her life.  Smitten by the Northwoods & winter, she carved out a life here that (in addition to guiding for Wintergreen for over 20 seasons!) includes an eclectic mix of talents & interests: crafting her own timber frame home from the ground up; learning & teaching Swedish, French & Finnish; performing both wind & string instruments including the nyckelharpa chordophone; writing a newspaper column on low-impact “green living” and, currently, preparing for her next career as a speech-language pathologist. Her boundless curiosity has brought a refreshing, innovative and engaging edge to our ‘end-of-the-road’ community and her superb trail and people skills have made her the “go-to” guide for summer & winter adventures in our border country.  Her favorite Wintergreen dog is Larry, our kennel partriarch, and her favorite ice cream is Rocky Road.

MEAGAN JASKELA made her way to Ely from Spring Lake Park, MN.  Her first big adventure was in high school on a “Survival Trip.”  They did everything wrong, even eating oatmeal for every meal for 7 days.  To this day, Meagan still hates eating oatmeal. Despite this ridiculous experience, Meagan found a passion for the outdoors.  She graduated from VCC in Ely with a degree in Outdoor Education. Her first ever winter trip was a 3 day solo on Disappointment Lake in the Boundary Waters.  Meagan joined the Wintergreen team in 2012, first as a part time guide, then as a full time, full season guide. Her first camping trip with Wintergreen was a cozy -43 degrees, with an encouraging wind chill of -63.  Somehow, she still came back for more. She now guides with her two pet dogs, Tovo and Hugo, who can be found joining Meagan’s groups, playing with the sled dogs, and napping on couches after a long day’s guiding. Her favorite dogs are, of course, Tovo and Hugo.  Her favorite sled dog, on the other hand, varies depending on which dog deserves some extra affection, and her favorite ice cream is snow.

JOSEPH E. GLEITER is all the way from Oregon - Oregon, Illinois that is.  In first grade, he went kayaking with his dad for about an hour. It was magical.  It got him hooked, and he knew that he wanted to continue seeking new adventures. In 2016, he through hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  On his way home, he stopped at Wintergreen, picked up a week of work, then another. Now he’s in his second year as a guide. Last summer, he backpacked across Israel, picking up a taste for the local cuisine and seeing life in a new perspective.  Next up, he’s preparing for a cross continent bike trip starting in Germany. His favorite sled dog is Alice, and his favorite ice cream is all ice cream.

McKAYLA BULL hails from Indianapolis, IN, on the southern edge of the Midwest.  Her first time at Wintergreen was as an excited 9 year old on a Parent-Child trip.  There she met her all time favorite sled dog, Tamarack. Now that she’s guiding at Wintergreen, she feels like she’s completing a circle, bringing children into their passion for winter and the outdoors as her guides did for her.  In all, McKayla took 5 or 6 trips here as guest before working as an intern for 2 short seasons while in college. Now that she’s out of school, she’s in her first season as a full guide. McKayla graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies.  She delivered the student commencement speech to 3400 of her peers at her graduation ceremony. Her next step will be moving to Miami to work as an English teacher. McKayla’s favorite dog will always be Tamarack, but she’s picked up a fondness for our yearlings Bob and Mullet, and her favorite ice cream is Vanilla.

LUKE KANEB started his adventures in the Northeast.  He was born in Massachusetts, and in 6th grade he went on his first winter camping trip in the White Mountains.  There he went ice climbing for the first time. Luke later headed all the way to California to earn his degree at Santa Clara University.  Last summer he was guiding scuba diving in the Bahamas. Now he’s back for his second season as a guide at Wintergreen. This summer, he’ll be working with llamas as a guide in the Utah Rocky Mountains.  North, south, east, and west, Luke is seeking adventure in every environment and region, handling the heat of Florida and the freezing temperatures of Northern Minnesota with ease. His favorite sled dog is Hendrix, and his go-to ice cream is coffee cream.

ISAAK RIDGE is originally from New Brighton, Minnesota.  His first big wilderness experience was in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area just outside of Ely.  He and his family paddled to Big Moose Lake. Isaak remembers discovering a spider web that stretched four feet in diameter and finding crayfish in the stomach of a bass they’d caught.  His fascination for wildlife is still strong today. He spent summers while in college as a float plane canoe guide in the Atikaki Provincial Park in Manitoba. Isaak graduated from Michigan Technological University with a degree in Biology.  He’s now in his fifth season at Wintergreen. Isaak loves getting hands on and into the nitty gritty parts of backcountry living. He can fix a canoe; he can repair a dog sled - in the woods or in the garage. He’s always looking to be a part of the solution to any problems that arise.  Isaak’s favorite dog is always the dog that is behaving best the day you ask him, and his favorite ice cream is chocolate peanut butter swirl.

BRIAN KAETER is from Shoreview, Minnesota.  He came up to Ely for his first Boundary Waters trip when he was 14 years old.  His group ended up wrapping their canoe around a rock, and had to get creative. They banged it back into shape and wrapped it with duct tape.  It’s no surprise that Brian came out of this experience with an ability to turn around any negative situation. He went to North Dakota State and earned his degree in Geology.  He’s been at Wintergreen 3 years now. In the summers, he travels up to Skagway, Alaska and guides bicycle tours. There, he’s picked up a passion and a skill for bikes, whether it’s road bikes, mountain bikes, or fat tire bikes for riding in the snowy Ely winters.  Brian’s enthusiasm for biking carried him on a bike touring journey of over 2,000 miles from Skagway, down the Alcan highway, all the way to Montana. His favorite dog is Finnegan, and his favorite icecream is Moosetracks.

AMY FREEMAN Minnesotan born and raised, Amy Freeman started out in St. Paul.  She was 13 on her first Boundary Water Canoe Area trip. She recalls making all the classic rookie mistakes: bringing too much gear and routing across too many portages, but she loved it all the same.  She attended Macalester College in St. Paul for her undergrad before getting her masters at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Now she’s witnessing the wilderness in fantastic ways. In 2014, Amy and her husband Dave were awarded National Geographic Adventurers of the Year for their North American Odyssey.  By sea kayak, dogsled, and canoe, Amy and Dave crossed North America. From Washington up to southeastern Alaska, across Canada to the Great Lakes, and down the east coast to the Florida Keys, Amy and Dave traveled through the wilderness for 3 years. Amy has been part of the Wintergreen team on and off since 2006. Her favorite sled dog is Inuk.  She doesn’t eat much ice cream, but her favorite dessert is the mocha frosted tres leches cake made by Dave Gossage, the Wintergreen chef.

TRISTAN WEISZ is from Grand Forks just across the Minnesota-North Dakota border.  He took his first ever Boundary Waters trip in the east side of the wilderness area, catching his first ever lake trout on Gunflint Lake.  From there he was, well, hooked. He’s finishing his degree at VCC here in Ely in Wilderness and Park Management with an additional backcountry guide certificate.  This is his first season at Wintergreen as an intern. Tristan enjoys finding new ways to cross the border into Canada in the BWCA - he’s canoed, he’s swam, he’s even skinny dipped to Canada.  He hasn’t managed to choose which sled dog his is favorite, but his favorite ice cream is definitely double fudge cookie dough.

DAVE FREEMAN Originally from just outside of Chicago, Dave Freeman had his first major trip at around 13 years old.  He and his family took on the challenge of a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It was a classic trip except when a black bear wandered into their campsite, and they had to scare it off by banging pots and pans.  Undeterred, Dave has become an adventurer, taking on amazing challenges time and again. Most recently, Dave and his wife Amy spent a year living in the Boundary Waters, drawing attention to the importance of protecting this area from copper sulfide mining.  After spending a year bearing witness to the wilderness, they wrote a book titled Year in the Wilderness that came out September 2017. Dave has been working with Wintergreen on and off since 1999. His favorite sled dog is Sage and his favorite ice cream is the sweet taste of mint chocolate chip.


Wintergreen's 4-Legged Staff -- "Our Beloved Doggers!":

Acorn, Agnes, Alice, Alfy, Basil, Bella, Bernie, Betty, Bob, Bowie, Bugsy, Carrot, Cashew, Cedar, Cinnamon, Charlotte, Chill, Chive, Curly, Domino, Douglas, Ethyl, Finegan, Franky, Frazer, Gabriel, Gracy, Hendrix, Hillary, Hobbs, Inga, Inuk, Isis, Jack, Joplin, Juno, Jupiter, Kale, Kayuk, Kazan, Larry, Lena, Lewis, Lomi, Louisa, Lucy, Luna, McKenzie, Millie, Mishka, Mudro, Mullet, Okra, Ole, Pak, Pecan, Pingo, Pippy, Ramona, Ricky, Sage, Sisu, Stoney, Sven, Taiga, Thomas, TinCanMike, Toby, Viggo, Willow, Whoopsy, Yoik (plus 2 new puppies, Frodo & Baggins!)  





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