The men and women who work at University of Wisconsin-Stout are more than their titles. These employees have diverse personal lives and interests.

Witness Chancellor Bob Meyer and Provost Patrick Guilfoile. They both recently took a break from their busy office lives to pursue their love of the outdoors by taking their families into nature this summer.

‘We are avid canoeists’

Meyer’s love for fishing, canoeing and camping are rooted in his childhood, but he truly began refining his outdoor skills after attending UW-Stout in the late 1970s. Meyer then took those skills into the wilderness, building a cabin on the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota and molding what would soon become a family tradition.

Over the Fourth of July, Meyer, his wife, Debbie, daughter, Erica, and family friends entered Quetico Provincial Park in Canada north of the Gunflint Trail, spending a week canoeing, camping and fishing on wilderness rivers and lakes.

Meyer becomes absolutely disconnected from campus during his travels, and after a few days of adjusting he said he no longer stresses over office duties.

“One of the purposes for our trips has been mainly just to paddle and see as many lakes as we can and get as deep into the wilderness as we can,” Meyer said.

Fishing for big and plentiful walleye was their primary goal this year, the chancellor said. Meyer added that the group had successful fishing despite arriving after a large mayfly hatch.

The trip allows the family experiences wildlife in its natural environment, catching sights of wolves, coyotes, fox and larger animals. Meyer reflected on a memorable experience from past trips: “We came upon what we thought was a rock; It was the shoulders of a moose that was underwater finding weeds to eat.”

He also recalled hearing the breathing of a bear outside his tent one year. Luckily his family was sound asleep. Otherwise, he noted, “I think they would have been terrified if they were awake.”

Meyer said that work can become consuming, meaning it is to untether from the office, enjoy leisure and simply unplug.

70 miles, 20,000 feet

Washington’s North Cascades National Park is “designed for people to get away from the roads,” Provost Guilfoile said.

The rugged, low-oxygen and high-elevation hike was an escape for Guilfoile, his wife, Aubrey, and son, Steven; they backpacked 70 miles with an elevation change of 20,000 feet up and down for seven days.

“Our son, it was really his first backpacking trip, and we are really happy that he joined us,” Guilfoile said. “A little much maybe for a first backpacking trip, but if his 50-something parents could do it ... you know.”

Guilfoile and his family also had a problem with bugs: biting black flies. “They were really in prodigious numbers on some of the trails that we went on,” Guilfoile said.

Other than black flies, there was a surprising lack of wildlife in the park. The family saw mostly squirrels, marmots and a few mountain goats.

Guilfoile has an undergraduate degree in outdoor education and has applied those skills in whitewater rafting, where he casually noted running over a waterfall or two, backpacking, kayaking, canoeing and more. His trip to the North Cascades was a challenging but not unfamiliar experience.

Guilfoile also works to ensure students at UW-Stout have an opportunity for outdoor experiences as well. He encourages students to find an escape in nature, and he often joins Stout Adventures on outdoor excursions. He also encourages his colleagues to “get away.”

However, Guilfoile added: “When you go on vacation the work doesn’t necessarily stop, so when you get back, there is a little price to be paid in terms of catching up.”

The price for Guilfoile was 200 awaiting emails.

Nevertheless, Guilfoile detaches from work and lets his mind wander in the outdoors. He said getting away is an opportunity to reflect on life in and out of the office.


Dunn County News Editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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