Before There Was Snow

There is a period of time between fall and winter that gets a lot of people antsy. It’s that time after the leaves fall off the trees and the temperature drops, but the snow has yet to come. It was during this time when most of the staff decided to take a trip to the big city of Duluth for some indoor rock climbing.

Matthew has been rock climbing for at least 11 years and MandJintroduced me to the sport a little over two years ago. Although I was incredibly scared most of the time while climbing, I strangely fell in love with fear. I loved the challenge of facing my anxiety and the mental stories that came along with it. I love the adrenaline, the physical, mental and even the emotional challenges of climbing. It is an amazingly beautiful and powerful sport in so many ways.

When Matthew and I lived in Minneapolis we hit the (null)_3climbing gym at least once a week and spent as much time in the spring, summer and fall climbing outdoors in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Living on the Gunflint Trail means the closest gym is a lengthy 2 ½ hour drive to Duluth. The conditions, however, were finally right for the trip: cold, slow, and antsy. So on our next day off, Kate, Jordan, Tammi, Matthew and I all managed to get a day off together and decided to make the trek to Duluth for a day of climbing at Vertical Endeavors.lindsey2

 

It was somewhat difficult for both Matthew and I to shift from outdoor to indoor climbing after not being in a gym for months and spending most of the summer climbing outdoors. It is surprising how different indoor and outdoor climbing can be. It is always mesmerizing to watch Matthew climb. He moves up the wall with gra(null)_4ce and attempts some pretty unique moves, which is always entertaining. Tammi, Jordan and Kate all have climbing experience but had not climbed in quite some time so it was fun watching them transitionTammi2 (2) back into climbing mode and find their strengths. Tammi is one of the most determined climbers I have ever seen! She seemed to love the mental stimulation of projecting and trying a problem over and over again in order to complete a climb. Jordan admits to not enjoying heights so it was awesome to see him push himself both mentally and physically to finish some of the hiKate4ghest routes in the gym.

 

Kate is an intuitive climber with natural technique and was attempting and completing some pretty challenging routes.

 

Group

 

Climbing is often considered an individualistic sport; however if you take a closer look it is a highly relational experience.  It builds trust and is based on solid communication with your belayer (the other person holding the rope). The opportunity for encouragement, mental and emotional support, and swapping tips is all a part of it. This was our staff experience.  Climbing is really just like winter on the Gunflint Trail: you can’t do it alone.

-Lindsey

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Visiting friends up the trail

Last Tuesday I headed up to Round lake to visit with a couple friends up the trail. Round Lake is the home of Tuscarora Outfitters, now owned by former Bearskin mainstay Andy.  Andy has more spare time in the winter these days and is making the most of it.

From Round I strapped on the skis and headed a few miles into the BWCA to find Bear from Northstar Canoes.  He’s made the BWCA his winter home since the New Year, and it was great catching up and seeing his setup.

It was a beautiful day, and I was blown away by the difference in these lakes in the winter season.  Gotter Lake is beautiful?  Who knew.  Skiing with only a pack on my back, instead of a canoe and gear, made the rapid succession of portages enjoyable.  The contrast of dark rock and white snow exposed cliff faces that would go unnoticed in the summer.

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I didn’t get any photos of Bear’s camp, because I forgot.  And I didn’t get any of Andy, because I didn’t want to risk breaking an expensive camera.

-Quinn