Groomin’ (on a Monday afternoon)

I did the evening drive to Voyageurs at, shall we say, warp speed. In fact, as I navigated northward the lightning bugs glancing off my windshield could have been phaser blasts deflecting off my force field. If, you know, such things were real.

The following morning I rendezvoused in International Falls with Craig Halla of Forest Capital Partners, an investment firm dedicated to sustainable forestry and sponsor of SCA’s Voyageurs crew. An affable, high energy guy, Craig closed the office for the day and led his staff on a field trip to meet up with the SCA crew. But first they loaded two coolers with sandwiches, drinks and ice cream and then we all hopped a park boat for a 20 minute ride on Kabetogama Lake to Cruiser Trail. From there, the FCP team hauled the cumbersome coolers over a half mile in stifling heat, over rugged terrain, and through insatiable insects. Suffice it to say they broke out the cold pop as soon as the introductions were over.

The effervescent crew eagerly shared details of their innovative bear-proofing strategies at base camp (think “open air fruit market,” 10 feet up), a recent visit to a bird of prey handler (estimates on the size of the eaglet they saw ranged from eight inches to three feet), and an excursion to town where they gleefully devoured every no-redeeming-value snack they could find (“Whoopie Pies, Cheetos, Gummie Bears…”).

With lunch out of the way, the crew and Forest Capital team set to building a series of trail cairns. Once the high school kids realized their visitors were willing to hunt and haul rocks for them, they — the crew — quickly settled into the enviable role of supervisor. Soon the job was done, everyone posed for a group photo and then, not afraid to show their simian side, the group sat down picked ticks off one another.

Too bad they couldn’t have just zapped the buggers with phasers.