Hook and Bullet Club - Traveling

We must have entered travel season.
People in my life have packed their bags and headed out of town.
My buddy Rob went to watch his nephew graduate in Texas.
My co-worker Lisa went on vacation for a week to Florida.
My cousin Susan from California came to Ely for a visit last weekend.
My friends John and Rochelle went from Ely to California, strangely enough to Susan’s hometown of San Diego. They were also taking in a graduation.
My guiding buddy Roger will be heading into Quetico Park to start his summer of guiding clients on fishing trips.
A week ago I went on a trip, albeit a short one. I packed a bag with a change of clothes, made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, threw some beverages in a cooler and climbed in my truck.
In the back of the truck I had my chainsaw, extra gas and oil, several pairs of gloves and safety equipment.
My itinerary would take me from Ely to White Iron Lake down Highway 1 to the Isabella area. Not to a sandy beach or warmer southern climates but to a trail through the woods that was nearly impassable due to a storm last winter that knocked down trees for miles.
Joining me were Neil and Terry Olson, Al Olson, Larry Favet, Dave Soular, Larry Meskill, Ron Potter and Ryan Potter.
We turned off Hwy. 1 at Arrowhead Road and drove east until we got to where the old railroad grade crosses. From there to Sawbill Landing is around nine miles. From where we started, all we could see were trees down.
Chainsaws buzzed through the blowdown and gloved hands grabbed branches to be thrown in the woods. We worked in teams, leapfrogging each other to keep up the pace. The work was steady and luckily there weren’t any big trees.
A team from Ely had already been through to open it up. Thanks to Alan, Art, Darryl and Dale our work was quite a bit easier.
Ron asked right away how wide we were planning to clear. To the edge of the grade was our goal and we proceeded with that in mind. After an hour Dave suggested we leave the overhanging trees and work our way to the end first. Good idea.
We stopped for lunch and swatted mosquitoes while we ate. We talked about trails and wheelers, about the bonding bill not passing and whether there will be a special session in St. Paul. For the Prospector Trail project, a successful bonding bill could bring an additional $1 million to help pay for construction.
Coolers were closed up and we hopped back on the wheelers. Ryan had done some scouting while we ate and said there was still work to do.
Al and I were in the lead and pushed forward to see how much was left. From where Ryan had turned around it wasn’t too far before we saw tracks. Not moose, not deer, these were Cat tracks. As in bulldozer.
A logging operation was underway toward the Sawbill end, meaning our workload just got a lot lighter. We turned around in the field and Al talked about growing up at Forest Center and coming to a cafe at Sawbill.
Al let me drive his new side by side on the way back. He’s a talkative fellow and shared his memories of not having a telephone in his house until he was 16. About going off to serve in Vietnam. About a life lived fully with more to come.
I was limping pretty good as the day went on, my knee and the nerve damage in my foot still not healed. Al told me about his 89 year-old father having a knee replacement recently and was already back in the woods cutting firewood. I figured I needed to toughen up.
By the time we got back to the trucks we were all moving slower. But the work was done and the trail can now be signed from Hwy. 1 to the Trestle Inn. Mission accomplished.
Some people get on airplanes, some portage deep into the Canadian wilderness. For me, a trip down Hwy. 1 to cut trail was the perfect getaway. I like to travel as much as the next guy. But it sure is nice to sleep in your own bed each night.