New canoe day on the Gunflint Trail
You probably know by now that Bearskin is getting back into the canoe outfitting business, after an absence of several decades. Some days we certainly wonder why we keep trying new things. Doing business exactly the same way over and over would surely be easier. But noooo, we have to keep venturing into new territory, complicating our lives with new ideas.
Quinn spent all winter shopping for the best possible gear for Bearskin Wilderness Outfitters. Now all the gear he ordered is arriving and he's in St. Cloud for 2 months, coaching the St. Cloud Cathedral girls ultimate frisbee team (2nd place last weekend in the Western National High School Championships–they will be formidable in the state tournament, but that's off topic…) This is a little like letting somebody else unwrap all your Christmas presents while you're out of town — we get to open all the new boxes of gear, while Quinn only hears about what he received from afar.
Yesterday the new canoes arrived. Such excitement. This is how the canoes traveled to the Gunflint Trail:
Needless to say, most of these canoes were for other outfitters on the trail. Just imagine driving from southern Minnesota on a windy afternoon with this baby in tow!
You don't just dump a pile of canoes like this and drive off again. Removing the individual canoes is a painstaking process. Here's Andy precariously balanced on a beam, untying Kevlar canoes with Andy Ahrendt of Tuscarora and Mike Sherfy of Rockwood.
Down comes a Kevlar canoe. It's a team effort.
Kate, from Bearskin, is waiting below to carry a canoe away.
Now Kate happens to be very, very strong, but one of the beautiful things about Kevlar canoes is how light and easy they are to carry and move. Once Kate mastered the art of seeing where she was headed, she had no trouble easily manuvering these light canoes.
Dave Tuttle was along for the ride. Dave suggested that I take a picture of him demonstrating his "take charge attitude" during this process. You can see by Nancy Seaton's face (behind Dave) how seriously Dave's leadership skills were taken.
We spotted all the other outfitters smirking a bit when this is how Bearskin transported our new canoes back to the lodge. Pffffft. Our canoe trailer is not done yet, so this approach required a few redundant trips.
Of course, an inaugural paddle was a necessary end to the day. Bob and Kate took a quick spin around the East Bearskin Lake bay. They both liked how nicely this canoe handled. Bob's back was very appreciative of how easily he could pick it up and flip it over. We've paddled thousands of miles in aluminum canoes and Bob has never been a wimp about portaging a heavy canoe on a long trail. But oh yes, he did enjoy the simplicity of moving these new boats around.