James Lunning “Walker” from Minneapolis who completed Triple Crown of hiking (Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails)

I finished the last bit of the Pacific Crest Trail in February, and made it to the West Coast, completing my objective to go coast to coast. Then I walked through the desert of the Southwest and spent time hanging out and rock climbing in Utah. I thru-hiked the Continental Divide Trail, and ended up hitchhiking home shortly after I finished in September. Since then I have been laying low. My big plan for 2018 is to thru-hike with my mother the John Muir Trail in California. Afterward I’m planning to try to climb as many of the West Coast volcanoes as I can before the weather shifts for the year. In 2017, I hiked somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,500 to 5,000 miles, bringing the total mileage for my walk to a bit more than 16,000 miles. (Back-story here)

Seth Feider Professional angler from Isle, Minn., whose star rose after winning the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship in 2016 on Mille Lacs

My main goal for 2017 was to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, which I did thanks to a 14th-place finish on the Bassmaster Elite Series. After the fishing season ended, I did a lot of duck and grouse hunting around Lake Mille Lacs. I also spent a few days in December hunting ducks and fishing trout along the Missouri River in the mountains of Montana, and after that turned my attention to next year. I’m fishing the Elite Series again, but I’m really focused on the Classic, which is March 16-18 on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. My mindset is that it’s pretty much a winner-take-all tournament, so I’ll take the biggest risks I can to try to win it. Then after that, it’s back to the stressful fishing where every ounce counts for the whole season. (Back-story here)

Nick Hoffman Musician and Outdoor Channel star

In 2017, I spent a lot of time traveling around the world filming for “Nick’s Wild Ride” on the Outdoor Channel, and in the studio recording my first solo record (which will come out in 2018). As part of the show, next year I’ll be hunting for ibex in Spain, alligators in Florida and whitetail deer in southeastern Minnesota. I’ve also gotten involved with organizations that are involved in protecting our public lands, which are under attack. I’m really happy to be able to use the platform that “Nick’s Wild Ride” gives me to bring attention to that issue. So I guess if I have a New Year’s resolution, it’s to focus on doing whatever I can to bring attention to the threats our public lands face. (Back-story here)

Ruth Hoefs Ducks Unlimited chairwoman

This year marked my first as Ducks Unlimited state chairwoman for Minnesota. It was exciting to be in that position as we celebrated our 80th anniversary and crossed the 14 million-acre threshold of habitat conserved across North America. One highlight was spending three days in Washington, D.C., working with our conservation policy team. Next year will be important as Congress writes a new farm bill. We’ll be working hard on that and making sure conservation is well-represented. I’m also excited to continue working with our 3,285 volunteers in Minnesota to conserve and protect habitat, and make sure we have clean water. (Back-story here)

Erick Harcey Renowned Twin Cities restaurateur

Fishing was great in 2017 — I found new spots and spent a lot of time in the boat with the kids. We did a little walleye fishing, but it was mostly bass, crappies and sunfish. Next year, I look forward to bigger-fish fishing with my older boys, and also to taking some longer trips. I definitely want to get in a sturgeon trip to the Rainy River. We got a dog a couple of months ago — a springer spaniel named Hank — so I hope to have him really well-trained for bird hunting by next season. I also learned this year that I’ve underestimated the number of deer on our land near Cambridge. I’ll be putting out more stands for next year’s deer season. (Back-story here)

Courtney Dauwalter Elite ultramarathon runner and Minnesota native

I ran the Moab 240 Mile Endurance Run in mid-October in about 58 hours. This was farther than I had ever raced, and I spent the remainder of October resting, eating and getting out for short runs around my neighborhood in Colorado. In November, I was able to get in some solid weeks of training in order to prepare for my last race of the year at the beginning of December: the Soochow International Ultra-Marathon 24 Hour Racestyle, held on a 400-meter track in Taiwan. At the 24-hour race, I set a new American women’s record of 159.3 miles. Looking ahead to 2018, I am really excited to continue to push the limits of what is both physically and mentally possible by competing in many ultramarathons ranging in distances from 50 miles to 200-plus miles. (Back-story here)

Tony Roach Minnesota fishing guide

In 2017, we saw a huge uptick in people coming to Minnesota to fish bass, which was really cool. That’s a whole new sector of tourists coming here to experience our quality bass fishing. For the coming year, I see a lot of changes in the demographics of the outdoor industry. We’re seeing a lot of younger anglers in their teens and 20s. I was worried a few years back that we were losing a whole generation of sportsmen and anglers, so it’s really nice to see them getting into it. And I see continued growth in ice fishing. I’m getting a lot of calls from people who live outside the Ice Belt and haven’t ice-fished before, but are coming up next year to try it. (Back-story here)


Nick Blanco Featured in reality show “Building Alaska,” a Minnesota native who is building a hunting and fishing lodge

We had a big setback this fall. The main building burned down on Oct. 19. It caught fire through the roof, where the stove went through. It sucks, but it was a learning experience. Fire prevention is important. I’m getting an industrial pump to use as a fire hose, and I think the three cabins I’m going to build will have electric heat. But nothing I did was in vain. I learned a lot, and think I can rebuild in half the time it took me. I’m going to rebuild and I still have the Quonset hut, and hope to have deer hunters in there this fall. Being on “Building Alaska” was fantastic. Everything was really positive. There’s talk that they might come back for my rebuild this summer. I’m still going to build what I said I would — I’m putting my money where my mouth is, I promise that. (Back-story here)

Blake and Jen Freking Sled dog mushing family from Finland, Minn.

Everyone at Manitou Crossing Kennels has been busy training and preparing for the upcoming racing season. The dogs are healthy and strong and have covered hundreds of miles of trails since August. There is a good base of snow on the trails now, and we have been able to make the transition from running teams in front of ATVs to sleds. Our first race of the new year will be the Gunflint Mail Run on Jan. 6-7 in Grand Marais, followed by the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon (Jan. 26-31). Mid-February, we will have two teams at the UP200 in Marquette, Mich. Ely’s Wolf Track Classic is Feb. 24-25. In early March, we may be traveling to Fort Kent, Maine, for the Can-Am 250. We hope for more good snow and cold weather to make safe ice for the races. (Back-story here)

Scott Bush Disabled paddler in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Our Boundary Waters trip was more challenging than I anticipated but a great experience. My boys have talked about it several times, and we really enjoy watching our little video diary on YouTube. My wife, Jessica, and I went to the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., this fall and did two great hikes: Tent Rocks and the La Luz Trail. We also went to Scottsdale, Ariz., in November with a group of around 20 friends to hike Tom’s Thumb Trail. In 2018, we’re taking the overnight Amtrak for skiing in Winter Park, Colo. For spring break, we’re traveling with our kids to China to climb the Great Wall, see the Terracotta Army and visit Haikou in the Hainan province. In August, we’ll visit Kennebunkport, Maine, for a week of golf and hanging out on the beach. (Back-story here)

Cindy Dillenschneider Inventor-outdoorist, One-Arm Freedom Canoe Paddle

In 2017, I hit 60 and passed a two-year, cancer-free milestone. In gratitude for good health, my husband, our Australian shepherd and I spent 17 days canoe-camping in the remote wilderness of Ontario. As usual, we left behind all electronics, buried our watches, and immersed ourselves in the rhythms and sacred space of nature. We live near national forest lands and Lake Superior, and spend a lot of time hiking, paddling and foraging for wild foods. This winter, we look forward to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Scott Bush’s trip with his sons in the BWCA last summer inspired me. In 2018, I’ll distribute the One-Arm Freedom Canoe Paddle more broadly to help others access the outdoors. It is my hope that providing access to canoeing helps others find value in wildness and will help preserve public lands for future generations. As Henry David Thoreau stated, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”


Frank Taylor Falconer and North Shore raptor-bander

My final tally for the 2017 banding season was 132 birds. Last year we caught 170. We got fewer birds this year because of a skunked weekend and a weather-called weekend. Our ninth and last weekend of banding was canceled due to the snowstorm in late October. We’ll be starting up again the first weekend of September 2018. We get lots of birds visiting each year, but we also get a good number of relatives, friends, falconers, birders and students coming up to share in the fun. I did a tally again this year of individuals who were up enjoying our banding activities. I counted each person only once, even if they came up multiple times. We had 64 individuals and seven organized groups with 56 people. A total of 120 guests were able to have an exceptional hawk-viewing experience up at our site this year! (Back-story here)

Jerry Stenger Videographer for explorer Will Steger

Through working with Will Steger, I was fortunate to acquire a piece of land outside of Ely years ago where our family has been building a hand-scribed log cabin. The Boundary Waters border is 100 feet from the front door. It’s offered an amazing opportunity to fish, kayak, cross-country ski and share wilderness experience with my son, Landon, 11. This year, he completed his first cycle of catching, cleaning, cooking and eating walleye. He’s hooked. Each year brings the excitement of planning the next series of trips into lakes and woods. For nearly 35 years, I’ve been part of a men’s group we call the Lost Boys of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It’s a wonderful experience to raise our kids so close to a large wilderness area and teach them the importance of stewardship. My goal for 2018 is to sneak more of my gear into my son’s backpack on those long portages. (Back-story here)

Mishka Vertin Director of Mile in My Shoes, a Twin Cities running mentorship program

By the time our 2017 season ended with our last race on Thanksgiving morning, Mile in My Shoes (MiMS) had helped 89 people experiencing homelessness run their first mile toward transformation. Thirty-four of them went on to complete at least one 5-kilometer race, and five ran the Twin Cities Marathon — all 26.2 miles! Watching our new runners get hooked on something so positive and healthy is what keeps me inspired, both in this work and in my own personal running. But the greatest gift I receive is watching these incredibly fierce bonds grow between people who live in shelters and people who have never been inside one. Looking to 2018, I understand better each day that Mile in My Shoes is not a charity that “saves” one group. We are not teams of haves and have-nots. We recognize that every one has something unique to share, something to offer to others. MiMS morning runs are the catalysts for those exchanges, until we find ourselves transformed. Everyone has the opportunity to experience this when we run a mile in someone else’s shoes. I hope to bring this experience to as many people as possible in 2018, because we can unite our communities one person at a time. (Back-story here)

Garrett Mikrut Minnesota grouse hunter

I was really anticipating the 2017 grouse season after hearing reports of the strong spring-drumming counts. The woods were thick and hot the first few weeks of the season, making for tough conditions for hunters and dogs. There were plenty of local woodcock around, but grouse were more difficult to find. My most memorable bird was one I shot in open hardwoods over my German shorthair. It was a long shot, but I hit the bird, and Surly made a nice retrieve. With mild weather in November and December, hunting improved later in the season. I’m already thinking about next year and planning a sharp-tailed grouse hunt on the Montana prairie. I also am looking forward to my annual ruffed grouse hunt in the Great Lakes states. (Back-story here)