Extended Offer

Since I love the outdoors and do one to two backwoods trips a year, I thought it would be fitting to offer the following service. If you manufacture gear for the great outdoors and are looking for someone to test a product that you manufacture, I may be able to help. Please contact me using one of my contact forms at Northern Branches. I am well versed in GPS’s, mapping software, solid modeling (currently a design engineer), wood canoe/kayak building, and digital photography. My plans for a spring ’08 trip into the Boundary Waters are underway. The route will be a 35 to 50 mile loop probably in the northeast corner of the park. Again, contact me via Northern Branches with any questions.

NorthernBranches Photos

Since we have received such a positive response to my wifes BWCA give away I have decided to create my first photos available for purchase. You will find the page here I will be adding more this weekend as well as my paypal account.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm nearly out of time so I'll be brief. NOT!

This was my seventh backwoods canoe trip. It was a 16 mile loop - where you start on a lake and portage and canoe in a big circle. The loop included about 6 miles of portaging and 10 of canoeing. The trip was taken in September of 2006 and lasted 5 days. This was the shortest of all of my trips. I traveled from SW lower Michigan around the bottom of Lake Michigan through Chicago entering Wisconsin above Rockford IL. Then we travel completely through Wisconsin entering Minnesota at Duluth. From there, we travel all the way along the coast of Lake Superior to Grand Marias. Man, is that a long trip. The next morning, we drove another 65 miles down the Gunflint Trail passing the Lurentian Divide which I thought was cool. At the entry point, we were only about 2 miles from the Canadian border.

Total time I have spent doing this is about 55 days. Oh, my wife and I rented this cabin for a week and did the same type of canoeing/hiking. All this for our honeymoon - what a girl! Having said all that, over the years I have trimmed things down quite a bit so the list is short but here goes.

1.) Five Gallon buckets: They are for: mainly carrying food and breakables like the gas stove and water filter. I think they also cut down on the food smell as to not attract bear and other animals. They also come in handy for washing dishes and carrying water for bathes.

I will leave them behind next year because they are a little awkward to carry and on the longer portages (anything over 1/2 mile) they start cutting through your hands. They are a whole lot of fun to hang at night when it's dark and someone says "hey, we going to have to hang the food". This is usually done for me about 1000 feet from camp and that walk at night can be pretty scary at times. These will be replaced maybe with a sea bag-type duffel which is waterproof so it should be smell-proof.

2.) I also have a paddle that is bent so it is more ergonomical to paddle. You can see it sticking out to the right of the white 5 gallon bucket that is laying horizontal. This paddle cost me $125.00. It is very pretty but it is very useless in my opinion.

I will leave it behind next time because it is shaped in a very subtle way. And, when you are portaging your canoe, the goal is to take as much as you can in as few trips possible. Well this paddle is like trying to carry a sheet of plywood on the roof of your Ford Focus. You can do it but it is a pain.

3.) As for boots, I think I will just get a pair of portaging shoes or a sacrificial pair of tennis shoes ( NOT CHEAP ONES) they are much lighter than boots.

4.) I will also try to leave my jeans behind. These are heavier than nylon or a light cotton pant and just don't dry out very fast despite being very durable.

5.) I never take these items:
a. Fishing gear
b. Books
c. Friends who you really don't know
d. A comb because I'm bald (Hint for next weeks WW)

6.) Things you can't leave behind.
a. First aid kit
b. Maps (I use Topo USA Parks version): They have all the contour lines and can be printed to any scale you want. So every boat gets a set of custom maps showing route and waypoints for campsites.
c. Route programmed GPS unit. I use a Garmin III Plus which works well for navigation.
d. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (I can't stress this enough) get into a canoe without a life jacket! "You may not make it if you dump but at least they'll find your body" was my brother's saying
e. Water filter and water storage bag
f. A good camp cook! Not including yourself. Although I enjoyed it, cooking for three people on fire and camp gas stove with no refrigerator is not a lot of fun.

For the comments on my canoe, I built this one back in 1999 and it has been on all my BWCA trips with me. I have a total of about 150 miles on it. I paddle solo as to avoid getting peeved with a paddling partner. It is 13'-4" inches long and doesn't paddle worth beans but it makes for a very interesting trip. Its best quality? It is very maneuverable. You aso have to be two steps ahead of the wind. It is a Laker design built out of the book from Gill Gilpatrick. The canoe is made from western red cedar strips cut 5/16 thick x 3/4. They are beaded and coved, then glued with white glue, sanded, and then fiber glassed. I hand cane all of my seats.

Anyway, I'm leaving for the U.P. at 3:am on Friday morning and it is now 12:21 am Thursday and I need to get up at 5:00 am.

Hope you enjoyed this post. If so leave a comment and please forgive me if I haven't left any comments on your site as I'm kind of just learning this blog environment. I had my moderate comments turned on and now it's too late. This will be my last computer entry until Tuesday of next week.


BWCA said...

Great write up. I would have to agree with you on several points.

1. Everything must be in a pack, that goes on your back. No carrying anything by hand.

2. Jeans are for home. I bring one pair of pants (Mountain Hardwear convertibles).

3. For the maps I use Mckenzie, they are waterproof, durable, and have portage/campsite info on them as well as some lake depth info.

Edward T. Cook said...

Nice Web site, Neebish Island has a wonderful history. On the South/East tip of the Neebish is the remains of the old Cook homstead.
Enjoy the island and it's beauty!

Ed Cook
Author of "Guiding The Way From Middle Neebish"