A Pound Of Flesh: Camping on the North Shore

Our midsession break is this week, and Phil and I decided to make use of this extended time off by going camping.  Our friends Daniel and Rob where more than happy to join us and our merry band set off early Wednesday morning for the North Shore of Minnesota.

Our first stop was our favorite army surplus store in Duluth where we made a series of last minute purchases for the trip and we got Rob a gloriously awesome hat.












We then proceeded to drive the one and a half hours north of Duluth to Grand Marais, a small town on the North Shore mostly used as a source of supplies for people hiking or staying in cabins on the Gunflint trail and other BWCA attractions.  The campsite we were staying at was 10 miles north of Grand Marais, a little place my friend Drew Henry and I found several years ago.  We were relieved when we finally found it and took many pictures.
































That night we made a delicious meal of Peas and Pasta, and saluted the end of the day with a ceremonial firing of the cannon.




That night we were awoken to strange sounds surrounding our tent.  The yelps and moans of these strange creatures reverberated around us.  Our solution to chasing away these creatures was simple and effective…the power of Osahno Woh!  Our tribal chanting convinced the coyotes that there were creatures in the woods more ferocious and lethal than they, and they ran with their tails between their legs.



The next day we hiked up the Brule River, home of the famous Devil’s Kettle.  Although it turns out the Kettle freezes over in the winter, here’s what it looks like when you can actually see it.


Devil's Kettle during summer


Devil's Kettle during winter


























Not so hot NOW are ya!

Although the main falls were frozen over, the smaller falls just downriver were still going strong.  More chanting resulted.

After hiking the Brule it was only 11:00, so we figured we’d go over to the Cadence River and see what we could see there.  There were a good 3-4 inches of ice over the river, so we decided we would just walk on it until we ran out of river.









































While hiking a particularly narrow section of the river, we discovered the body of a deer that had recently fallen from the top of the crevice.












In what I will always look back on as certainly one of my odder moments camping, we decided there was no need to waste fresh meat…







































After hacking off a large part of the deer’s leg and cleaning it in the river, we made a quick foray into Grand Marais to buy some extra supplies, and then went back to our campsite.  There, we cooked up a grand feast of Peas and Pasta while Phil marinated the venison, wraped it in tin foil, and let it bake over some coals.












All inall, this trip was a great success.  In three days of camping we managed to:

-Almost get eaten by coyotes

-Walk on a series of frozen rivers

-Fish for unpurified water from said rivers

-Find a dead deer and eat it

Never a dull moment.


I have an ethical question for our readers: Is it alright to leave this deer in same area it died, or should we have moved it off the frozen river?phil-serious

In my post above I disclosed how fresh the water is and how I am willing to drink it straight from the source. I will stand by this statement even when this trip proved to us that there dead animals in the river. One side of the argument is the deer will most likely be mostly eaten by birds and yotes within a week. This  eases my mind in the sense that all that will remain is the bones and dangly bits. The vast amounts of water flowing in a few weeks time should in theory wash all this away, leaving any nasty remnants to be diluted enough to the point that our immune systems can handle the trace amounts of death, not to mention these dangly bits and bones are an essential source of food in the rivers own Eco system.

The other side of the argument is that since we found the animal we are obligated as stewards of the land to remove it. There have been documented historical accounts of disease from  carcasses in the water and people have gotten seriously sick from too much exposure, in fact people have died.  So once again the question remains, should we allow nature to take its course and allow animals to rest where they fall where their body’s will be disposed of through natural order, or do we intervene and relocate the carcass to an area not so close to the water in hopes to preserve human health in a place where we are the guests. 

100_1231  100_1327This is a question I am almost certain will come up again as we make our way south, so speak up! what is your opinion on the matter?  It just might influence our next decision. 


5 Responses to “A Pound Of Flesh: Camping on the North Shore”

  1. […] March 7, 2009 (See ethical question at the end of “a pound of flesh”) […]

  2. Aunt Maggie Says:

    More common than dead animals are pooping animals. Most of the contamination Up North is from the latter, doesn’t matter if spring fed or not. I’ve heard that beavers are a major source of Giardia, but I have no references to back me up on that.

  3. huckleberryfinn09 Says:

    I don’t have a source to confirm that either, but I have heard from multiple people that beavers do indeed contribute to Giardia, and fecal matter is indeed present in any/all wilderness watersheds. But the question for the matter of poop is the same as decaying critters, is it as much of a concern as it is made out to be?

    Just because it can be seen in water samples under a microscope does not mean that we will get sick from it. When I was taking Wilderness Instructors training, I discussed this point with the head ranger of the Quetico National park(Canada) over dinner and he was very neutral on the subject, he did not confirm nor deny that water is safe to drink unpurified, but he did say that many of the veteran canoe guides in the area don’t bring water bottles with them, they just have a cup that they paddle out to the middle of the lake and dip it in and take a drink.

    Even Mark Twain suggested in his book “Life on the Mississippi” that all a person needs to do is let a class of the water sit for a half hour to let the sludge settle and the water is pure enough to drink. Of course I don’t think I am bold enough to try this with the Mississippi today, but I still question the claim that drinking unpurified water can and will make you sick. Of course…there is no better way to loose weight that 3 weeks with Giardia or a good tape worm =).

    I guess I am looking at all the bad stuff as if it were poison. The treatment to curing most poisonings is dilution. The variable is how much dilution is needed. So how many gallons of water would it take to dilute one ounce of poop to make it safe? Obviously the more bad stuff in the water the more good water is needed but does the natural filters help balance all of this stuff out. I don’t expect that there is an actual answer to this question, but I am still curious about it.

  4. Well… if it was warmer outside, I’d have moved it off of the river, but honestly? I wouldn’t be surprised if that carcass had been dragged off & eaten by scavengers shortly after you left it. Some lucky carnivore (other than you guys) had a feast as well that day, I bet!

  5. Hey phildelton. I wouldn’t have moved it no one else would have noticed it anyway let alone no one drinks that unfiltered water but us epic people that actually go outside without a rv. So that water contamination nothing to worry.

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