Boundary Waters Canoe Trips

Uncommon Seminars
May 2020

Birding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
A Canoe Camping Adventure in Northern Minnesota

(as featured in the Spring 2018 Boundary Waters Journal)

Birding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, A Canoe Camping Adventure in Northern Minnesota, May 2019Join Wilderness Canoe Guide Rob Kesselring and Naturalist Sue Plankis on the 9th Annual Birding in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Adventure. This year the experience will be lodge-based with overnight accommodations at the luxurious and historic Bearskin Lodge located off the Gunflint Trail on the edge of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. During the days, by canoe, we will explore the BWCAW seeking breeding birds in this astonishing wilderness area. For seven years participants have averaged looks at over sixty bird species. Birds we have seen in previous years? Many warbler species including the Black-throated Blue Warbler and Northern Waterthrush; Great-Horned, Barred and Northern Saw-Whet Owls; Loons; Black-backed Woodpeckers; Boreal Chickadees; Winter Wrens; Veerys; Merlins and Bald Eagles. Back at the lodge there are hiking trails, a sauna and a magnificent whirlpool bath overlooking East Bearskin Lake. After a wholesome, and healthy supper, the evenings will be spent by a campfire or the fireplace. There will be time to chat about the day’s sightings and enjoy informal presentations focused on the fauna, flora and history of the BWCAW – and maybe we will catch a good look at an owl.

The blend of birding, paddling a canoe, and living in the wilderness for a few days makes this experience unique, exciting and memorable.


Session 1:  May 19-22, 2020, 4 days and 3 nights
Session 2: May 26-29, 2020
Maximum group size: seven participants


$1047 – Absolutely all inclusive***
•  ultralight canoes and canoeing equipment
•  all meals
•  permits and taxes

***The only expense not included are alcoholic beverages which may be brought to, or purchased at the lodge.


Rob Kesselring,  (952) 432-8884
Sue Plankis,  (952) 201-6062

Rob has led 32 Arctic canoe expeditions, 88 BWCAW/Quetico trips.  He has paddled 150 rivers worldwide and is a Licensed Wilderness Guide and popular outdoor writer.  Sue has been a Canadian Style and Freestyle Canoe instructor. She is an expert birder, has an incredible ear for northern forest bird songs.  She has assisted on many scientific naturalist studies.  This is her 8th year leading the Birding in the Boundary Waters Wilderness Adventure.

click the image at the right for a pdf version of the flyer

The following are comments from participants who traveled with me:

Rio Grande: Thank you so much for the great time together, you’re a wonderful man. Our trip and friendship really brings me sweet memories. I am on my way home to the Netherlands and will start reading one of your books. I early look forward to staying in touch with you. Warmest wishes,  Didier Maclaine Pont

Rio Grande Thanks again for a highly memorable experience.  I’d always fancied myself too seasoned and experienced to do a guided trip, but I learned a lot.  About running rapids, lining boats, and eating something other than freeze dried camping meals, among other things.  I liked your low key approach to guiding.  I felt part of a team and not just like a paying tourist. -Bill Turner

“Notice how Rob gets more and more excited the closer we all are to death?” Frank Clifford,  LA Times

The Kopka River was, by far, the most complete and enjoyable wilderness experience I have had to date.  Rob’s leadership and expedition experience was a big part of making this a successful trip, I would highly recommend traveling with Rob if ever you get the opportunity and I know I will look forward to 
DSC04931-Version-2my next chance to do the same! – Michael A. Branham

From time to time, we all have experiences that change who we are and how we look at life.  The paddling adventure that was led by Rob Kesselring was this kind of experience for me. I came away from that adventure with a refreshed sense of life, my heart and mind were reshaped. – Darlene Patterson

Rob’s competence and steadiness and his being one with the waters and the surrounding nature allowed a physically and emotionally challenging men’s trip to become an exhilarating adventure of self exploration – Peter S.

No other class has influenced my teaching philosophy as profoundly as the BWCA class did. This course placed me into my students’ shoes and reminded me of the excitement, apprehension, and sense of accomplishment my students experience daily. The whole structure of the class reinforces the role of teacher-leader: As educators, we cannot passively do what we are told but instead search out opportunities to strengthen and challenge ourselves just as we want our students to. – Diane Temple

On a recent canoe trip down the Rio Grande River in Texas, my friend Rob Kesselring prepared what I think is the world’s best traditional bannock.  – Cliff Jacobson, bestselling outdoor author

You are a great story teller, and have created a wonderful way to incorporate your experiences into your work, and then touch the hearts of so many. I’m certain you continue to make a difference in many people’s lives. You have in mine.  –  Deb Harley

I appreciated the organizational aspect of the trip, your experience was obvious and evident, but not pushy.  I liked your leadership approach/style. You let us participate in every aspect of decision making, but when tough decision needed to be made you stepped forward to make the choice.   An interesting memory was, shortly after Paul mentioned he had never seen a Moose, you went on a mission to find one for him.  Within what seemed like 20 minutes you spotted the Moose and her two calves, who we then noticed were being stalked by a black bear.  -David Lasslett

Aside from his canoeing competency Rob really likes people. I look forward to my next trip with him.  – Dave Burkhart

Rob has taught me the nature of balance
And the quiet joy of solitude and silence
I’ve also learned that the balance of nature
Cannot be entrusted to any human legislature

– Terry Weare

Any trip into the wilderness has potential to become arduous or even somewhat risky. Rob’s lifelong experience has taught him to foresee these potentials and skillfully, safely adapt to whatever arises.  If you are looking for a wonderful, safe adventure don’t hesitate to trip with Rob! – Ken Wood

The Canyons were awesome (Rio Grande) – Darrell Foss

I’ve also concluded that what the co-instructor in the bird ecology class, Rob Kesselring, said is true: that preservation of the wilderness depends on knowledge and experience, “You’ve got to know it and to live it!” Discovering the birds of the northern forest has enriched my wilderness experience and has drawn me closer to nature, which is really my purpose of going to the BWCA. – Julie Neitzel Carr

Rio Grande again? Yes, I’m In,  thanks for thinking of the old Cap’n  Also thanks for the great photos.  Already in frames.  Way cool. Good to hear from my old trip leader.  Take care.  See you in February for my third trip with you.!!!!  – Paul Grondin

Rob, a lot of my leadership qualities have come from you! – Mat Mahoney 


Rob’s canoe trips are light
He’s witty and bright
When his energy runs out
I’ll never figure out
To paddle with him is a delight.

-Carl LaPlante

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