Big Wild Adventures Founders

Howie Wolke & Marilyn Olsen
Founders, Guides/Naturalists

Howie Wolke has led well over five-hundred multi-day treks since the mid 1970s. He is probably the most experienced backpacking guide in the Western U.S. He has been the subject of various magazine articles and is also a nationally-known advocate for protecting wilderness. He has written two books on conservation, including Wilderness On the Rocks and the Big Outside (co-authored with Dave Foreman), a historic inventory of America’s remaining wilderness lands. His various articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications. Howie has addressed college and other groups across the country, where he struggles to keep his irreverent sense of humor in check. For a few years Howie designed and taught “The American Wilderness” class at Montana State University-Billings. He has also served two terms as the President of the national conservation group Wilderness Watch. Howie has a particular affinity for wolves and grizzly bears, is an avid hunter, back-country skier, river-runner and bird-watcher, and has a B.S. in Conservation and Wildlife Ecology.

Marilyn Olsen has explored wilderness from the Everglades to Alaska, from Africa to the Arizona desert. She is a registered nurse with expertise in wilderness medicine. She is a former trip leader for the University of Montana’s “Wilderness and Civilization” program, and in that capacity led canoe trips on Montana’s wild and scenic upper Missouri River, as well as various backpack treks in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. A long-time wilderness advocate, Marilyn’s efforts in conservation education for young people are particularly innovative. She also has valuable insights on group dynamics, and her ability to see and explore the often overlooked intimacies of the wilderness environment are unique.

Howie and Marilyn live in southern Montana in the foothills of the Gallatin Range, just north of Yellowstone National Park.

Annual Trip Calendar


Capitan Lake - photo from one of our backpacking treks

List prices include our complete gear package and there is a $300 discount if you bring your own (see our Canoeing List, Backpacking List, and/or Questionnaire for details – found here). Also, we offer a $300 discount for the second trip in a calendar year. Scheduled trips are for persons ages 14 and over. Exceptions to the age requirement will be made by us on a case-by-case basis.

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