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Wind River Wilderness Excursion with the Saint John Institute

  • Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020 5:00 PM - Sunday, Aug 9, 2020 3:00 PM MDT

Eagle Eye's 2020 Summer Excursion will be a unique partnership with the St. John Institute and COR Expeditions. Participants in the excursion will join Fr. Nathan Cromly and students from the SJI master's program on a two-week backpacking course led by COR Expeditions. This course will take place in the breathtaking Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, which are considered one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the entire United States. The course is similar to NOLS wilderness survival courses (which are typically double the cost of the course we offer) with the added benefit of the sacraments and spiritual formation.

Over the course of the two-week trip, all participants will benefit from spiritual formation, daily Mass, and Adoration led by Fr. Nathan as well as the leadership programming facilitated by COR. Each participant will take a Wilderness First Aid course as part of this trip, and will have the opportunity not only to hone their leadership skills but also to develop the technical skills of effective back country living. Based on skill development, the group will have the opportunity to travel independently of the instructors for the final days of the trip. Prior backpacking experience is not necessary, but adequate physical fitness is a must to function effectively while backpacking at high elevation. The majority of gear needed, including backpacks, tents, and more, can be rented from COR and is included in the trip's cost. Questions concerning the course itself can be directed to Sarah Carlstrom (, while questions concerning cost and registration can be directed to Kalene Morris (

There is a formal application process for this excursion due to its intensity. Participants should plan on exercising 3 days a week for several months leading up to the excursion in order to be prepared to participate fully and comfortably in the excursion. A suggested workout plan is given in the informational packet below.

How to apply:
  • Carefully read the informational packet below
  • Contact Sarah Carlstrom at COR Expeditions to set up an interview (
  • Upon approval, proceed to registration in brushfire using the code you receive from Sarah

Standard REQUIRES CODE Have an Access Code?
The minimum age for participants is 22, maximum age is 35.
Until Jul 1

Selections are not reserved until order is complete.

SJI’s Vision and COR’s Wilderness Expedition


There is a new sphere of education – an Experiential Leadership Program focusing on immersion in the reality of nature. It was created as a corrective to the modern world’s over-emphasis on technology and virtual reality, and as a glorious opportunity for deepening every student’s knowledge of the world created and sustained by God. You will be living in surroundings that provide encounters with the true, the good, and the beautiful in God’s “first book”: the natural world. This will reinvigorate your imagination and help you examine the moral and material laws which will be a catalyst for opening your mind and heart to the rest of what this program has to offer. By being in the outdoors, you will be taken beyond your normal comfort zone and into an environment where you must make decisions that have real consequences. By doing this repeatedly, you will learn many virtues such as prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. You will then bring these virtues back from the wilderness into everyday life and help you become more successful at your studies and, in general, a better man or woman.

Because God’s creation is not man’s creation, the dangers and discomforts it imposes are real and unavoidable. Any wilderness expedition requires organization, thoroughness, preparedness, and the careful calculation of risks—in a word, prudence—and punishes their absence. You will mature quickly in the knowledge that this is not a game, not a drill, but real life.

Choosing the right means to the right end in the wilderness often requires a temperate ability to get along on less. Inability to control appetites does not fit with limited supplies and unexpected, difficult situations. To persevere in achieving an arduous goal requires both physical and mental strength; from the Latin word for strength (fortitudo) we have the word “fortitude.” Finally, members of a wilderness expedition need to cohere as a group, to treat one another with consideration and fairness, to handle one another’s failings equitably, and everything else implied by the social virtue of justice.

This last point brings out the special role of COR’s Wilderness Expedition as opposed to just any outdoor activity. Beginning with Plato’s Republic, Western political philosophy has sought to discover the virtues of man and the nature of society by imagining the smallest community possible. Also beginning with Plato, philosophers have tied the beginning of society to the fact that human beings are not self-sufficient but need one another to survive. In a wilderness expedition, far from the nearest civilization, this smallest community is not imagined but lived. It is a microcosm of society. The need to balance individual and common goods, often masked in large cities, emerges clearly; the value of true leadership and of active following, distorted by partisan politics, becomes clear; lastly, the supreme importance of human virtue for the good of society stands forth in stark relief. While the outdoors offers contact with God’s creation, the expedition in particular offers clear contact with the pinnacle of God’s creation: human society.

On the other hand, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has argued in Handing on the Faith in an Age of Disbelief, the indoors, the self-made world of man, is whatever man made it to be and it could be any other way he chose to make it. Because the world is not a given but something made, there is no “way things ought to be,” no nature—and hence no morality. While contact with God’s creation promotes virtue, lack of contact with God’s creation destroys it’s very root.



Countdown Checklist 

This expedition is physically demanding. In order to have a successful expedition and to avoid the discomfort of physical exertion, such as sore feet or an uncomfortable back, please follow this checklist. You will be hiking at elevations between 8,000 and 12,000 feet. Even if you live at a high altitude (5,000 ft. +), you still should follow this checklist. If you live at lower elevations or at sea level, you should intensify your physical preparation. The more effort you put into your pre-expedition fitness, the more enjoyable your course will be.



o      Review this course packet.

o      Start purchasing outdoor gear.

o      Begin workouts according to the Workout Plan (next page).



o      Purchase your boots and start wearing them and breaking them in.

o      Continue acquiring outdoor gear.

o      Continue the Workout Plan.



o      Continue the Workout Plan.

o      Continue breaking in your boots.

o      Continue acquiring outdoor gear.


Four Weeks Prior to Trip

o      Be disciplined about working out three or four days per week.

o      Begin hiking with a weighted (20-30 lbs.) backpack. A school backpack will suffice if you do not own an expedition backpack.


Three Weeks Prior to Trip

o      Continue to work out three or four days per week.

o      Continue hiking with a weighted backpack, increasing its weight.


Two Weeks Prior to Trip

o      Finish buying the last, small pieces of equipment (toothbrush, hand sanitizer, etc.).

o      Continue to work out three to four days a week

o      Continue hiking with a weighted backpack, increasing its weight.

o      Begin to be more conscious about your diet, drink 3 liters of water each day, avoid soda and sugary drinks, etc.


One Week Prior to Trip

o      Continue working out three days this week.

o      Continue hiking with a weighted backpack (around 40 lbs.).

o      Organize and take an inventory of your gear to make sure you have everything.

o      Eat a healthy diet, avoid excessive sugar, and drink a lot of water.


Workout Plan


The following is a workout plan that you should begin in April, as prescribed by the checklist above. Make sure that you adequately stretch before and after your workout to prevent injury. It is important to wear your hiking boots during some of the workouts to help break them in and to accustom your feet to a stiff boot.



Day 1: 30 minutes Stairs, squats, and lunges

Day 2: 30 minutes Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit ups

Day 3: 1-2 mile walk


Day 1: 30 minutes stairs, squats, and lunges

Day 2: 30 minutes running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 1-2 mile walk


Day 1: 30 minutes Stairs, squats, and lunges

Day 2: 30 minutes Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 3-4 mile walk

Four Weeks Prior

Day 1: Consider P-90X, Insanity, or Crossfit workout

Day 2: Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 4-5 mile walk with boots/weighted pack (Approx. 20 lbs.)

Three Weeks Prior

Day 1: Consider P-90X, Insanity, or Crossfit workout

Day 2: Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 5-6 mile walk with boots/weighted pack (Approx. 30 lbs.)

Two Weeks Prior

Day 1: Consider P-90X, Insanity, or Crossfit workout

Day 2: Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 6-8 mile walk with boots/weighted pack (Approx. 40 lbs.)

One Week Prior

Day 1: Consider P-90X, Insanity, or Crossfit workout

Day 2: Running, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups

Day 3: 6-8 mile walk with boots/weighted pack (Approx. 50 lbs.)


Safety and Risk Management

General Information

This Course Packet is critical in terms of preparing you for your Wilderness Expedition. Please read this entire packet carefully so that you are adequately prepared for your trip. You are responsible for knowing and adhering to the information in this packet, including standards for the purchase of critical equipment. Proper and adequate hiking boots are essential to your personal health and physical safety when going deep into wilderness environments.

Proper Expedition Behavior

COR Expeditions reserves the right to remove you from the Wilderness Expedition should you demonstrate behavior that is unsafe, disruptive, or distracts from the mission of the Saint John Insitute. We will not tolerate harassment, use of drugs, theft or misuse of property, low motivation, or disregard of instructors. It is paramount to the welfare and well-being of everyone on the expedition that you follow the instructions of the COR Expedition leaders. If you do not comply with these instructions you will be removed from the expedition. If you are removed, there will be no refunds of any kind and you (or parent/guardian) will be held responsible for all expenses related to evacuation and travel out of the backcountry.

Evacuation Fees

If you are evacuated from the expedition for any reason you may be charged a $500 per day evacuation fee. Removal from the expedition is determined at the discretion and decision of your instructor team. If you are removed for a medical reason, it may be possible for you to recoup the evacuation costs through your medical insurance policy. You will be responsible for submitting any claims to your insurance company.

Medical Insurance / Adventure Advocates

If you are interested in purchasing insurance for this trip or if your policy does not cover wilderness and backpacking trips, you must purchase supplemental insurance coverage. COR recommends Adventure Advocates (

When you check in, you will be asked to present your medical insurance card to be scanned. This copy of your card will be kept on file by COR. It has been our experience that students do not always have their insurance card with them or know where it is when they must seek medical attention. By having a copy of your health insurance card on file, the Registrar can print off a copy of the card for you or fax it to your medical provider. If you do not currently have personal medical insurance, consider looking into low-cost policies from Esurance ( Supplemental insurance policies such as Adventure Advocates and AFLAC cannot be substituted for medical insurance.

COR Registration Packet

COR Expeditions will send you a Registration Packet which will contain certain documents that must be returned by the assigned dates. Please contact us at with any questions.

Gear Issue

Gear issue will take place just prior to leaving on your Wilderness Expedition.  At that time, the gear you brought with you will be inspected by the COR Instructors and the items checked on your reservation form will be issued to you. COR only charges a rental cost to students for certain items rented for expeditions. COR accepts cash, checks, and credit/debit cards.

Gear Information

Finding and purchasing the right gear for your Wilderness Expedition is critical. The following are explanations of specific gear items that are essential for a good expedition.



Boots are the most important gear item that you will purchase for your course. They will be your mode of transportation over meadows, creeks, brush, boulders, and alpine territory for two weeks. Therefore, you must choose a pair that fits you properly and will withstand two weeks of intense use. In the packing list below, we have included a list of boots that are appropriate for the Wilderness Expedition. Do not purchase any boot that is not very similar to the boots on the list. When you go to purchase your boots, wear mid-weight or heavyweight hiking socks to ensure that you find the proper fit.


It is critical that your boots are broken in before you arrive for your course to prevent blisters and sore feet; broken in means that you have hiked in them regularly with a weighted pack. If you should happen to have a pair of boots that are already broken in, please contact Dr. Zimmer or Ms. Kristin to discuss the condition of your boots. Please note: if you do not have the proper footwear, you will be required to purchase boots from a local outdoor store – which is likely to be expensive – and you will not have had the opportunity to break them in beforehand.



It is not necessary for you to purchase a backpack; COR will have backpacks available for rent if you do not wish to purchase your own. However, should you desire to use your own personal backpack, purchase one according to the following specifications.


Backpacks should be at least 4000 cubic inches (60-70 liters). Fit is of crucial importance. Internal frame packs are required. If you are purchasing your pack, seek professional assistance. Make sure that you put weights into the pack while at the store. Manufacturers such as Dana Design, Gregory, Osprey, Deuter, and REI® provide high quality packs.


Rain Gear

The Adidas rain jackets that are available to purchase through COR are pretty tough to beat when it comes to a balance between cost and quality of product.

Rain gear is an important piece of equipment in mountain climates. It not only keeps you dry when it counts, but it also acts as a protective outer shell against wind and cold. Rain pants and rain jackets must be rated waterproof by the manufacturer and be lightweight for backpacking. Ski jackets are not acceptable. Single layer, waterproof, and breathable fabrics (such as Gore-Tex® or Conduit®) are ideal. Jackets should only have two or three pockets and pants should have an ankle or knee-length zip on the side for putting them on over boots. Light weight (maximum of 16 oz. each) and tight compression are recommended.



Clothing should be lightweight, durable enough for backpacking and cannot be made of cotton. All clothing must be made of polypropylene, capilene, wool, or fleece. While wool is more expensive, it does not retain body odor like clothing made from synthetic materials. Your synthetic pants should have ankle zippers or Velcro so that you can easily pull them over your boots. It is recommended that they also are convertible - i.e., that they zip at the knee to convert into shorts.


Money Saving Tips

High performance outdoor gear is typically very expensive. However, the following websites sell such gear at deep discount prices. Note, too, that high performance outdoor gear also can be purchased from thrift stores and secondhand stores for much less than buying new. Once again, keep in mind that you will not need to buy everything on the gear list, as some things will be available for rent.


Discount Gear Websites:



While we want you to save money on your purchases, we recommend purchasing the following three items from a reputable outdoor retail store with professional assistance. You should not purchase them from a mass-market retailer (e.g., Walmart, Target, etc.)


1.     Boots

2.     Backpack (should you wish to purchase)

3.     Rain gear






















Contact Information
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