A Paddling Partner for Life
Finally! What a feeling it is getting into the car early in the morning for the ten hour drive up to the Gunflint Trail. The anticipation is over. The trip has begun! Many thoughts enter my head along the drive. How will the fishing be? Will we get that campsite on Alpine Lake I've been dreaming about? Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Am I doing the right thing bringing a four year old into the wilderness? What will the wife do to me if anything happens to her baby? Will Lauren enjoy the trip? Have I prepared enough?
I am confident in the outfitter selection. Debbie Mark and the crew at Seagull Outfitters have always taken good care of me on past trips. I know the equipment I will be renting will be top quality. I hope the equipment I have purchased this year will work out which includes: a new CCS Pioneer Pack, a MSR Windpro stove, and a Tigger sleeping bag by the North Face and a pink Duluth Pack for Lauren.
We left our house at 0230 and arrive in Duluth by 0900. Now the fun part of the drive begins: the North Shore Drive and the Gunflint Trail. We make stops and Gooseberry Falls and Temperance River State Parks. It is nice to get out and stretch the legs and see some good scenery at the same time. We hike a couple short trails, check out the falls and dip our feet in the water.
We arrive in Grand Marais by noon and start heading up the Gunflint Trail. Lauren and I stopped at Trail Center for a quick cheeseburger and fries and then continue on to Seagull Outfitters. We arrive a little early, so we spend some time wandering around the shores of Seagull Lake, looking at the used canoes for sale, and soaking our feet off the dock. By then the outfitter was ready for us. We then did the routing session with one of Deb's staffers, Chris and went over the gear and menu and watched the BWCA video. We tried out a Penobscot 16 and a Bell Northwinds in the bay before deciding on the Bell as it sits a tad lower in the water and felt more stable. Plus it was brand new this year. We then got settled in the bunkhouse and did some minor gear arranging to condense our gear into two packs: the CCS Pioneer back and a 60L Bear Barrel. Once settled we head for the Trail's End Cafe for some cheese pizza and sodas. After dinner we fished a little catching one bass from the dock at the outfitters before heading off to bed. I was a very hot and humid evening, but a late storm cooled the air as we drifted off to sleep.