Pre-trip Planning Planning for a 2 or 3 group trip that may include up to 20 people begins about the time the previous year’s trip ends. This is done for an organization that is similar to the scouts for our church. Besides the regulars who have gone on the trip for several years including my brothers and some nephews, along with others, this year would include two teen-age brothers from Kentucky, both first-timers. Around January we will pick the week, when one of the regulars has to pick his vacation time. It is usually the week before or after Father’s Day. This year it would be the earlier week. Next we pick an area, one that we would be able to put together 2 or 3 loop trips from, without being too challenging. Seeing how it has been a few years since we have been up the Gunflint, this area became the consensus choice. Reservations were made for our put-in for June 12 at Lizz-Swamp, Round-Brant, and Seagull Lakes. But we had to change that when work commitments and a wedding forced us to move to a Sunday, June 13 entry. But no permits were available for Lizz-Swamp that day, so I added another Seagull permit for the third group. About two weeks before the trip. the final number of people was finally set at 18. Probably the most difficult part of the pre-trip planning was organizing who was in which group. Some wanted to stick with the same small group or partners they always went with, others wanted to focus on fishing. Some wanted to base-camp while others wanted more adventure. One thought he might want to take his kayak. I just wanted the groups as even as possible. As it was, I wound up in the group that did more exploring than my knees would have chosen, and a week after we’ve been back, they still ache. But it turned into a great choice. My group was the one that put in at Round. It included my brother Greg and 12 year old nephew Wylie, Brian, a guy who I got to trip with a couple of years ago and has been on many trips over the years, and Austin and Brett, the two brothers from Kentucky. The biggest job of the pre-trip would have to be organizing all of the gear and buying the food for all three groups. For gear I had to get water filter cartridges, propane canisters, batteries, restock some kitchen gear, and other miscellaneous stuff, plus set aside packs, tents, sleeping bags, paddles, etc. for those who did not have their own. For food, we eat pretty well. Breakfasts included waffles, pancakes, French toast, bacon, Canadian bacon, eggs, cereal, plus beverages. Lunches are the usual on-the-go type of stuff including crackers, sausage, cheese, GORP, fruit and snack bars, etc. Suppers were steaks, brats, spaghetti, jambalaya, and pizza torties, plus the sides and desserts. Ahead of time I dehydrated 10 lbs. of hamburger, 5 quarts of Ragu spaghetti sauce, 3 bags of frozen beans, 3 bags of frozen blueberries, and 2 bags of frozen pepper stir fry. On Friday and Saturday we started organizing all of the stuff at the high school I teach near Wausau, and where most of the people would be gathering Saturday evening for the drive up to Grand Marais. Saturday afternoon I had to go and make a couple of last minute purchases and as the people started showing up, we began to pack up the kitchen and food boxes, one cold, one dry for each group, plus a small condiment pack. About 10:30 the last person arrived and we left where we would hook up with two more cars in Superior and a brother and nephew in Grand Marais. The last thing I did before leaving Wausau was to change our permits to be picked up at Tuscarora Outfitters instead of the Grand Marais Ranger station. I figured we could get breakfast at the Trail Center, our permits right after that and then hit the water quick.