June 22, 2005


We are currently enjoying a fine day off in the lovely-yet-tragically-overpriced town of Grand Marais. Last night we finished up our rock climbing break-in trip, which was a four-day whirlwind tour to most of the crags on the North Shore.

Before rock break-in, we had a few days in camp following our five-day canoeing break-in trip, which took us along the border route from Saganaga to Bearskin. A couple more days in camp here and there, a tour to Duluth and Minneapolis and Madison, and ya’ll are pretty much caught up.

I have been living in the woods all-but-exclusively since this wild trek began back in late May, and these brief sojourns into civilization are awkward. We are all dirty and stinky, and when a group of us goes into a restraunt they fire up the ventilation system to retain the other customers. I haven’t shaved since Memorial Day, and with my unkempt hair I look like a scraggly-ass crag rat, who sneaks leftovers off other people’s tables.

My clothes and body have attained an equilibrium of filth, a symbiotic relationship with the wilds that ensures no more dirt and stank can be added or removed from the system. My skin reacts violently to black fly bites, and after climbing at Mystical Mountain my neck, legs and elbows are now covered with swollen red bumps, each the size of a quarter. I call them my Mount Saint Fly Bites.

A few days ago, a bunch of us dirty climbing hippies went on a foray into Silver Bay to grab more cheese. Matt and I found a smashed box of powdered doughnuts in the Zup’s parking lot, which we consumed without hesitation.

Time to fly. My 30-minutes of looking at the inter-web are up, and the line is getting anxious. Cheers, ya’ll! The kids show up tomorrow, and then the real challenge begins.