Monday, July 27, 2009


Last week we hosted the 5th annual Tuscarora Triathlon. It's unofficial really, originally just for a little afternoon activity for the staff here.....and it has morphed into an event for Tuscarora friends, neighbors, guests, other staff members too, maybe about 40 or 50 people this year. Actually, anyone is welcome.

The Course:
Start from Tuscarora beach and swim to the Round Lake landing (we're guessing that would be an unofficial half mile).
Then, bike from there, do a lap around the outfitting yard back to the landing, and then back to Tuscarora (a very HILLY unofficial 3 miles).
Then run from Tuscarora to the mailbox and back. (about 2 miles). And that is ENOUGH for me.

The finish line, back on the dock, into the water. And finally, a little celebration dinner.

Some individuals completed the entire course, some competed on teams, some used noodles and flippers, some modified the course to fit their wishes---it was all OK, all very unofficial.

We did have a few official lifeguards on the dock and in canoes-- .

Monica wasn't discouraged, even though she was wayyyyy behind most of the swimmers in her kayak--where I heard she was towing a small pack of 10 year old boys.

Even a few of the coolest Grand Marais ninth graders were here chillin'

Lindsay and Mike took the team title.

Tuscarora Andrew passed up
Grand Marais Chris Hegg at some point, to win the individual competition. Although, there was a bit of an age difference, we don't have official categories in our unofficial traithlon.

Here we have Michael (Phelps) Hyde, a daunting competitor.

I heard, unofficially, that the guys from the Seagull Guard Station were still on the clock---that the triathlon counted as their fitness training for that day.

I think they have to pass some sort of pack-test, but maybe THAT test is too official for the flip flops?

Jana is a lean Lutsen machine.

Sarah looks tough, because you have to be tough in order to be on the housekeeping staff this time of year.

Can you hear Mike? He's saying "piece o' cake"

And at the end comes the finish leap...could be the best part.

And that was a wrap. Really fun, and you are invited next year. We're considering actual triathlon t shirts. Maybe tye dye. Maybe not. I can't tell you the exact date, some Tuesday or Wednesday in July probably....but....setting a date right now, that would be kind of official, and it is the unofficial Tuscarora triathlon after all....

Monday, July 20, 2009


by staffer Lindsay

We had to do it. The 515 rod portage between Paulson Lake and Seagull Lake has been calling my name for quite some time now, and after discussing a day off trip with some fellow staff members, we decided it was go time. Jen, Mike, Maggie and I left the dock at Tuscarora at 3:45 after work, and after paddling and portaging through Round, West Round, Edith, Brant, Gotter, Flying, Fay, Glee, Elusion, and Glossy Lake, we arrived at Paulson Lake just before 8 PM. That left plenty of sunlight to set up camp and make some dinner around the fire before hitting the hay.

Now we had to mentally prepare ourselves for the 515 rod portage that was lurking on the north end of Paulson, but for the time being, sleep was a priority.

After a good night’s rest, we awoke to a glistening lake complete with a fleet of loons. There were six loons coasting around the waters of our island campsite. I think they must all be old friends and Paulson is where they meet up for breakfast. All six paddled around for some time, a small cackle here and there. Then all of a sudden I looked out, and they were gone. A moment later I looked towards the sky and found the six circling above me before they split off in pairs and flew out of Paulson in three different directions. It makes me wonder if they do this often—head up to Paulson for a morning chat and a cup of joe? I might have to go back to investigate…

Well, loons aside, we hit THE portage at about 10:00 AM, and we knew in advance that we’d take our time. We made a few pack/canoe swaps and had a little snack part way through, but the 515 rod portage to Seagull was actually a pretty pleasant portage (as far as portages are concerned) with a spectacular view out across boundary country. We could see for miles, and each time we’d come up out of the next valley we could see just how much closer we were to Seagull. This portage may actually be my favorite portage. I have never seen so much of the Boundary Waters in one sitting (well, one portaging). We did it! We made our way across the 515 rod portage with our sanity still in tact. The four of us were pretty excited, however, to hit the water once again.

After the trip, we were a little tired. We did run into some not-so-fun portages and some rough spots along the way, but we felt very accomplished and pretty tough too. Now we just have to gear up for Grand Portage. What’s an extra couple of miles, right?

Man on the Moon...40 years ago.

We really like it when we get notes from people with memories of their time at Tuscarora. They remind us that the history of the place is ever so much larger than us.

Thanks to Tim from Baltimore....

All this stuff about the moon landing 40 years ago today got me thinking. 40 years ago, I was 12 years old and my family was staying at Tuscarora. We went every year for two weeks.At the time the Marks owned Tuscarora. I had never seen a TV there which of course was never a problem. But when man landed on the moon, they strung a TV antenna in a tall white pine tree so that we could get Duluth TV.We all gather in the lodge and watched the show. The funny thing is the picture was not so good and I had thought it was because of our location. Turns out that was how it looked to everyone on earth. Thanks for your time. Read Tuscarora News all the time. Makes me remember my childhood. Love the pictures, everything looks just as I remember. Hope to come back someday.
Tim D
Baltimore MD

Saturday, July 18, 2009


The other day I was picking over Daniel’s fresh strawberries. He picked them in central Minnesota, while at the cabin with Granny and Gramps. The berries were small by grocery store standards, but huge by wild northwoods strawberry standards.

There were many layers of strawberries floating in the dish tub, so I had plenty of time to sort through strawberry memories. We went picking a lot when we were kids, with my cousins sometimes. I remember nasty hot rotten ones pelted in the patch. I recall my mom sitting in our teeny city backyard picking them over so she could make soooooo many jars of strawberry jam.

I have a particular memory of visiting my grandpa (Pop) in Wisconsin during strawberry season. He ate LOTS of strawberries, as he ate sweet corn during the corn harvest, and tons of raspberries when they were ripe…. This time, his 93 year old friend Roy Jones was visiting, so Roy came picking with us. Roy had once been a hired hand at my grandpa’s farm, at least during the summers, and they were pals. Pop said when his dad would call upstairs for morning chores, at 4:30 or 5am. No matter how late they had been out gallivanting the night before, all you would hear from Roy was “Yup, BANG” (the BANG was the sound of Roy’s feet as they hit the floor). Anyhow, Pop and Roy were chatting in the strawberry field that day, and the stories of their antics would just crack them up. I remember the way they were laughing made the years disappear; they were young guys and the shenanigans they had orchestrated were REALLY funny. For a minute they felt like they could have been my peers. Then, I remember feeling a little alarmed when suddenly Roy Jones wasn’t picking any more. He was lying between the strawberry rows. Not dead though, it was just time to take a little snooze.

When we first moved to Tuscarora, the strawberries were just ripe—as they are right now. One of the first things the kids and I did while exploring was to go out picking. We realized pretty quickly that it was a little futile to try to keep any. They just aren’t that plentiful, and they’re so tiny.

A mother bear and her two cubs have been hanging out around Round Lake road this summer. Jim Colbert caught them eating strawberries on the snowmobile trail last week. He was downwind, and when he startled the mother she stood up to get a better look at him. She huffed at him or maybe to her cub in the tree before she waddled away. Jim and I have both noticed that she has been raiding the ant hills along the road as well. (Jim has tasted the ants at one time too, and liked their limey taste). I’ll wager she is looking forward to the blueberries and raspberries ripening as much as we are. They’ll make for a more abundant lunch.

As I finished picking over Daniel’s stash, I realized that strawberries have been kind of a big deal in my life, even though I don’t even like them. I try at least one every year. They look so delicious that I forget that they make me gag. They sure are pretty though, I guess I’ll keep trying ….and looking forward to when the raspberries and blueberries are ready for me and the bears to start feasting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

At the end of the day--

Tonight when Cass(housekeeping manager) was wrapping up--writing up the morning schedule in my office--we were dead tired. The entire staff has been working really hard--it has been a big week. A whole pack of happy-go-lucky teenagers blew in off the water today, feasted on lasagna and salad, and headed home.

We stopped to look out the window; Daniel was out in the boat with Jim from Cabin 5, the guys from Cabin 4 were in fish surgery--cleaning their Saganaga catch, and a big extended family (preparing for tomorrow's canoe trip) were squealing in the canoe yard. She said "Isn't it great to share this place with people who love it as much as we do?"

Yes, it really is.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Canoe the Heart

Yesterday, the kids and I had a chance to see the Canadian/US team of paddlers come into Saganaga. Check out the Heart of the Continent activities occurring this summer, in part to celebrate the 100th birthday of Superior National Forest (and Quetico...which is sort of 100 years old as well).

Wilderness Canoe Base and Gunflint Wilderness Camp came with North Canoes (the kind the Voyageur Fur traders used to travel the border lakes) and escorted the expedition members into Chik-wauk (a former lodge/historic site, future museum on the Sag channel). Local people gathered for a little shindig welcome/shore lunch (sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Histoical Society) program on the pleasant July day.

And here is our friend Jim Wiinanen, one of the US paddlers of this leg of the journey. If you've ever had the opportunity to take a trip with Jim, you'd realize that he wins the prize for really-fun-guy-to-paddle with, knows-everything-but-won't-tell-until-you-ask, full of ingenuity and playfulness, most stable/longest-lasting trails wardrobe. I'll bet you a dollar that he's got his own personal T.P. partial roll right there in his right breast pocket--can almost guarantee that. Don't be alarmed by the subtle change in his tripping attire---he is showing his pride for the Centennial Event in his best Finnish manner, by wearing the little centennial pin on his collar. (Can you tell he's one of my long time favorites?---even from when I was 16 at Wilderness Canoe Base, and he looked exactly the same and I was just a little bit afraid of him. Pretty sure he still had that green hat, but he didn't wear it when he was working, of course.) And he really does know an awful lot about camping in the Northwoods and the people...and the places..and.....

At any rate---the new crew, on the next leg of the journey, is paddling up the North Shore of Lake Superior today, back to Canada.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Middleschoolers in the BWCAW

Northridge Middle School parents will be glad to know that we welcomed an enthusiastic bunch to Tuscarora around 8pm (16 hours from Indiana).
Now they are settled in for the night-ready to head into the BWCA right after breakfast.

And the Tuscarora escort champions get a little punchy at that time of night...