The Wenonah Canoe staff is asked all the time for paddling advice. What’s the best canoe for our family of 3 to paddle the lakes in Madison? What’s the best canoe for the upper Mississippi River? What is the most versatile lightweight canoe for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail? What is the best solo whitewater canoe for the Grand Canyon? When you guys do a Boundary Waters trip, how do you do it? All these questions are answered weighted with experience, opinion and insight. What’s the best way to give an up to date answer on the BWCA question? Declare this an excuse for another canoe trip and document what transpires from beginning to end!
Adopting the common American vernacular “this is how we roll” - This is How We Paddle!
Photo: Wenonah Canoe
Chapter 1- The Bristish Are Coming!
The British are coming! Again? Who? Really? Why?
Late last summer I received an email from my friend Richard in the United Kingdom. Richard and a friend were coming to Minnesota to visit Wenonah’s home offices and they wanted to experience their first Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) trip. Great, and for better or worse, they wanted me lead the trip; more about me later. For several years we’d talked about a BWCA trip but like a Harry Chapin lyric, we didn’t know when. Somehow, between the daily grind, trade shows, business travel, vacations and holidays, we found amenable time in our calendars and made a commitment for a full week trip in the week bridging September to October 2011.
Committing to dates turned out to be the easy part. The burden of delivering a first-class BWCA experience to friends from over the pond fell on me. The Brit’s would be flying from England and with airline baggage fees what they are, I further agreed to equip not only them but anyone else who’d sign-on to the yet to be planned trip. My promise was simple, “trust me, all you need to bring is cloths and personal items”. The shocker was Richard did “trust me” even though I allegedly took him to dinner a few years ago and somehow managed to stick him with the bill; something I’m rather proud of. Would the paddling trip provide opportunity for an encore?
Okay, time to get serious and make this happen. Canoes and paddles would be easy but the remaining gear was a very energetic offer. So, taking direction from the comedic Pointy Haired Boss, I “leveraged our suppliers, our customers and other industry partners” for gear and advice. In reality this amounted to calling and emailing my many industry friends. After all, if I invited the right team and tested some new gear, I’d have more than enough ammunition to label the entire trip “business and R&D”. In future chapters I’ll have no shame in pointing out specific products and services we found exceptional and explain why, regardless of borrowed or purchased. With the exception of Wenonah Canoes and Wenonah bent-shaft composite paddles, all other gear selections were made after discussions with retail partners, sales representatives and industry professionals.
Check back often for new installments, suggestions, ideas, discussions and photographs. Future chapters will cover the aspects of planning, equipping and executing a BWCA trip with style, efficiency, safety and fun.
Up next: Uncorporate-Like Team Building.