Friday, 20 May 2011

Ely Minnesota - North Pole reunion and canoeing

In 8 days I have gorged myself with a smorgasboard of fascinating people, historical places, stunningly beautiful lakes and rivers. How can I forget canoeing down the Mississippi with a beavy of conservationists, historians, river planners, wizen canoeists, then the presentations our 1986 North Pole team gave to the public in St. Paul and Ely Minnesota ?

Canoeing down the Mississippi. Photo: Bob McKerrow

The drive up to Ely on Wednesday, and roaring down part of Highway 61, a route made famous by Bob Dylan’s albu, Highway 61.

Yesterday we spent a day canoeing on White Iron Lake in the Boundary Waters north of Ely, an area of a thousand lakes that stretch northwards across the Canadian border. Our hosts Paul and Sue Schurke stopped at places of interest and we walked in to see raging rapids, beaver lodges, trees felled by beavers to eat the fresh spring leaves and simply gorgous river and lake scenery.

Jeff Blumenfeld, Ablai McKerrow and Geoff Carroll canoeing on White iron Lake, Boundary Water, Ely Minnesota. Photo: Bob McKerrow

At the end of a long day we stoked up the sauna on the lake edge, had four rounds of 10 minutes in the sauna, a plunge and swim in the cold lake, and a cold beer. Being with Geoff and Paul, members of our North Pole expedition, is always enriching as Paul is a world leading explorer and Geoff Alaska/s reknowned wild-life biologist who is another remarkable explorer.

Paul has over 70 Canadian Innuit sled dogs which form the ackbone of a very successful winter adventure business.dogsledding
On Wednesday night Jeff Blumenfeld, who was the PR man for the North Pole Expedition, gave a public presentation of his recently published book “You Want To Go Where ?’or How do you get someone to pay for the trip of your dreams. Jeff has been a public relations professional for 35 years and is a delightfully entertaining racconteur.

After the presentation, Will Steger drove Jeff, Richard Weber and me back to White Iron Lake and Will asked Richard, “ What do you think now about Robert Peary, did he get to the North Pole ?”

Here were the world’s two greatest authorities with 18 trips to the North Pole between them and both have been to the South Pole on foot.. Richard didn’t hesitate, “ No he didn’t as the mileage he recorded on some days was just not possible.” Throughout the long journey home, they debated about Peary, discussing prevailing winds, ice flows, the effect climate change is having on the ice and many other fine details.

An exploreres dinner table at Wintergreen on White Iron Lake: Left to right: Paul and Sue Schurke, Geoff Carrol, Jeff Blumenfeld, Ann Bancroft, Will Steger, Bob McKerrow and Richard Weber.


Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
The Boundary Waters are an exceptional place and I hope you and Ablai had a great experience. Did you do any fishing? I am sure catching a big lake trout or battling a northern pike, or catching some tasty walleye would have been cool for Ablai. It was a big battle to get that area declared a wilderness area, probably some of the people you were with would remember that, or even have been involved. Sigurd Olsen, a great naturalist and environmentalist from Wisconsin, was the key driver, and a great man.
I have enjoyed following your trip and wish you a safe return as well. I am off this afternoon or tommorow to the Ruahine for 5 days with my teen age son who is currently exasperating Tara and me. I am envisioning in my mind him close to a precipice and a gentle shove with my Leki pole :)

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