Renowned Polar Explorer Tackles NWO Wilderness

Will Steger’s Winter Hike: Wabakimi Park to Ely

atikokan-progress-170x108By Susan Bourne

On Thursday, March 31, I was enjoying a sunny break at the Dawson Trail Campgrounds. As I rounded the corner, I spotted of all things, a canoe. At first I thought that it was a mirage, when a slender man dressed in green also appeared (not a Leprechaun)…

After introducing myself, I determined that he would be grateful for a lift into Atikokan where he was to meet with the staff at Souris River Canoes. I thought, “It’s not every day one finds a canoe on snow”, and offered to “rescue” this man. How very presumptive of me to assume that he needed rescuing…

Will Steger, as it turns out, is a very famous person. In 1986, he led the first team to successfully complete a polar expedition across the Arctic without re-supply (a 1,600-mile traverse across Greenland). He followed up this formidable accomplishment with another landmark journey, being the first to cross Antarctica (a 3,741-mile International Trans-Antarctica Expedition) by dogsled.

His exploration of the polar regions has inspired him to front many climate change causes including his own foundation, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy, and education centre in Ely, Minnesota.

This year, he started out from the Allanwater Bridge railway station, at the southern end of Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, on March 5. He hiked south to Ignace, then Dawson Trail (where I met him), tackling very unpredictable terrain and conditions. Did I forget to mention that he is 72 years old?!! Here is an excerpt from his website:

“I am leaving earlier this year with the hope of catching the mid-winter cold. I will be hauling a custom-made 10-foot toboggan with a 160 pound load of food, fuel and supplies. The country is especially challenging because of its remoteness, deep snow, and flowing water. There are stretches of rivers where the danger is obvious but the challenge will be on many of the lakes with currents that creep through them. It looks like the break up will be early this year so the travel conditions will be a wild card.”

Will rested in Atikokan to prepare for the next leg of his journey which is from French Lake, through Quetico Provincial Park to Ely, Minnesota. While in town, he sought to connect with fellow outdoor enthusiasts and on Friday, April 1, a group of five Atikokanites met with him for dinner to swap tales and share. It was a mixed group of adventurers including: Tom Nash, Bridget Antze, John Bartol, Janice Matichuk, and Robb Martin. All who attended were smitten with Will’s charm, knowledge and candor. Hopefully, we will see him again in neck of the woods.

To keep up to date on Will Steger’s progress, visit:

Read the full article online here.

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