For my father being an outfitter was much more than simply selling his brand of adventure. It was about sharing an intimate love of wild places with like minded individuals. About knowing that each paddle stroke was a joyful release for each trip participant. In close to thirty years I have never seen him return from a season, not happy to have shared the river and himself with guests from around the world. The hundreds of stories told and countless cups of coffee as much the tools of his trade as a canoe, a paddle and a lifejacket. He made memories with his guests that would remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Each fall his return was cause for celebration in our house. Not only was he home to wrestle and adventure with, but my brother, sister and I knew he had new stories. As we helped unpack, clean and repair equipment these tales would begin to be shared. Whether it was the one about the pack of wolves that silently watched the group paddle by on the upper Nahanni. Or his account of a woman in Kugluktuk who sold him an ulu, the traditional utility knife used by Inuit women in their daily tasks, with the handle of musk-ox horn matted with the blood of the caribou. The wildlife, landscape and people expanded our minds and increased our anticipation of the day we too would lead groups into the wilderness.
With the arrival of spring I find myself reflecting on all the North has given my family over the years. The expedition season is close at hand and these memories have me looking forward to the creation of many more.
See you out there,