Monday, May 17, 2010

Maggie's Story (by staffer Maggie)

As summer quickly approaches, my ability to focus on school work declines. May 21st cannot come soon enough.

I first began working at Tuscarora last summer. I discovered the job opportunity online and it became increasingly evident to me that spending another summer in a city simply would not do, so I took it. A three month long experience to fish, camp, canoe, and swim [and yes, Sue, work] in one of the most pristine areas of the U.S. could not passed up. Within the first few weeks as an employee, I had listened intently to the eerie sound of wolves howling to one another at dusk and had seen moose calves trot by the Dining Hall. When living in the woods 40-something miles from any town for a summer, these things are expected. After all, I took this job because in order to experience this on a daily basis.

Now, as I sit at my small desk attempting to study the “Strategic Planning for Wildlife Conservation”, my mind begins to wander: right onto highway 53 north, right onto highway 61 north, left onto the gunflint trail. Never has the Boundary Waters meant so much to me. As a twenty-year-old college student, I have had the wonderful pleasure of venturing into the Boundary Waters 25 times. 25 times. I cannot be thankful enough for these opportunities-most women will never get this chance and if they do, they will choose not to take it. In a world where makeup, parties, and gossip rule in the lives of young women, I have chosen fishing and camping, kayaking and hiking. Now, don’t get me wrong-as a sophomore at UW-Madison, I have experienced and actually enjoyed the makeup and parties. But, what truly makes me happy is being woken by the sound of a calling loon, or by a bright moon shining through the vent in my tent. This is something that cannot be explained to someone who has never experienced it. “Cool” they might say, but with very little recognition of the fact that this place I am describing to them is wild; it’s actually happening. The sound of the loon is not coming from a recording in a museum or a National Geographic special, and the light shining into my tent is not the product of a street lamp outside. And this is why I will be returning to Tuscarora for another summer: to experience all of these wonderful things yet again.

The Boundary Waters is a place of solitude and peace. It is where I have learned the most, grown the most, and seen things that not even National Geographic can capture. It is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

To all families: Children are never too young for canoeing, fishing, and camping, so start them off early in life!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Releasing and Remembering: Gunflint Green Up 2010

Last weekend we participated in our 4th Gunflint Green Up event—where the friends, guests, and neighbors gather to celebrate the renewal of the forest after the Ham Lake Fire of May, 2007. We planted little pine trees during 2007, 2008, 2009. This year we were charged with releasing them—cutting away other vegetation, giving them room to grow.
I like it. We get together for meals in a big white tent in a parking lot at Gunflint Lodge. Those events feel sort of like casual wedding receptions. Our family doesn’t get to many wedding receptions together, so two in a row is a bit of a bonus. On Friday night, we were trying to to ditch out on the Owl Presentation. We couldn’t figure how to get all the lunches we were to transport for the next day, and politely sneak away so we shrugged and settled in. An unexpected pleasure! That guy was really entertaining and likable, so now we know a little more about owls.
On Saturday morning the kids and I went to the Kekakabic trail to join a gang releasing that bunch of trees.
Who knew? It turned out that releasing was possibly more fun than planting. Our friend Lily called it searching for buried treasure, only with an upside-down map. (you know--sort of inverted?). Hanging out with kids in the woods having a treasure hunt, and then cutting out the competing vegetation made for a great morning. In a world where our economic market almost freefalls when somebody accidentally types “billions” instead of “millions” --the task of tending to little trees with kids….being distracted by the chatter and the pinecones and the sunny day--- all seemed very real and right and a good thing to do. Those kinds of simple tasks often become my favorite experiences of life.

Later in the afternoon, the kids were done, and I took my clippers to the back of Tuscarora property—where trees were planted just a couple weeks after the Ham Lake Fire. You know, the Green Up event is so (appropriately) focused on regrowth and renewal, and it is such a flurry of people and action that I appreciated that quiet moment alone to remember that there was also an element of tragedy in that Ham Lake fire. I had a little tinge of melancholy, thinking of the beginnings and the endings, of people and the passing of time, of events that change things.

The memories were flitting through my head (these are now 2007 photos)—mostly the people involved, Nancy the original green up elf, Kjersten, Mike, Megan/Mike/Brandon/Kaylee crew, my kids, Jake, Noah, a friendly tomboy named Summer whose dad drove up to help for the day….and also the details of that fire.

And the little trees (recent photo---3 years later) --the way they twisted around and grew anyway they could. The way these guys survived the nibbling of the deer the snows, the heavy rains, the drought. It was an honor to help them find the sun. They are feisty and strong, and hopeful. It was a good day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fishing Opener 2010

"No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn"
(Jim Morrison?)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ham Run Half Marathon on the Gunflint Trail by Shelby

On Sunday May 2nd, the Gunflint Trail hosted the 3rd annual Ham Run Half Marathon.

It's a good run, a little hilly--Shelby and I helped out with the start. She's a little bit injured, so running wasn't a possibility this year, which drove her nuts. As for me, I was completely happy checking in cheerful runners on a beautiful day--and shuttling race bags. Nice day, good people.

Shelby videotaped it, with our little Flip camera.

Consider a visit next year--it really is a good run.