Monday, June 22, 2009

WCB: Passing It On

At the end of May, I made my way up to Wilderness Canoe Base to volunteer for 3 weeks. After spending the past 6 summers working there, it was a natural place for me to kick off the summer. While the staff worked hard to get in all of the requisite training, I managed to find myself incredibly busy setting up the beautiful new Trailshack for the summer season. Trailshack is the outfitting building, home to lots of camping gear and dehydrated foods. The old TS was one of the many victims in the 2007 Ham Lake Wildfire. For two summers, it has been operating out of a tiny, insufficient building, but as of this spring it has a beautiful new home on the beach. It truly is gorgeous.
View of Trailshack from Canoe Beach Dock.

The grand finale of staff training is always the staff trip: 4 nights out in the Boundary Waters with a handful of fellow staff members. I jumped for joy when I was invited to tag along. It was a new role for me to not be the guide of the trip, but I enjoyed the trip immensely. Our route was familiar: Kek, Cherry, Sag, Seagull. Highlights of the trip were spending nearly 16 hours straight in our sleeping bags on a particularly cold and rainy day, witnessing an ungraceful duck fly into a hole in a tree, countless fits of giggling, learning that dehydrated veggies are not a good addition to trail pizza, and visiting a favorite place of mine - Benny Ambrose's site on the Ottertrack.
Typical June weather on staff trip.

Right before departing, I witnessed the first camper groups of the summer head out on trail. It was hard to digest the thought of not canoe guiding for the summer, and even more difficult to acknowledge that my chapter as a staff member has ended. But, I also have found joy in the thought and act of passing on my love for the place. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to share what my summers there have taught me with the staff and volunteers who find themselves there now.

Grandpa Onkka, the day before his 87th birthday, made the trek up to WCB with mom and dad to pick me up.

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