Ruminations on autumns, past and present–and a “thank you” to our great employees

Overall, this has been a very nice fall on the Gunflint Trail — we’ve had a few mediocre days, but when it doesn’t snow 6 inches or rain nonstop in October, it qualifies as a good autumn.

We will always consider the fall of 2007 to be the low mark by which all autumns that follow will be judged. We were relatively new to the resort business, we were dealing with staff transitions, Bob was still teaching during the week and commuting to Bearskin on weekends, and to top it all off, it rained constantly. Serious “Noah’s Ark” consistent rain, creating the highest lake levels since 1976. Share our memories of 2007 by clicking here.)

Fall, 2007 -- a low point for autumns and a high point for water.

This summer’s sudden flash flood created similar temporary high lake levels, but after 5 summers of running Bearskin we were better equipped in 2011 to make good decisions about a fast, appropriate response. This year we had $700 worth of lumber delivered ASAP and staff members worked nonstop to build sturdy, wide ramps to every cabin within 24 hours.  

We didn’t have the confidence back in 2007 to tell entrenched Bearskin employees that expecting guests to wade through 6 inches of water to access a dock was ridiculous. We may not have started with a great deal of hospitality business experience, but even back then we weren’t comfortable with leaving problems unsolved. Bearskin is about providing a quality experience and sometimes that costs money, along with agreat deal of staff effort and time. We’re in the business of helping guests make great memories on their vacation.  We try hard not to forget that.

Which brings us to us to the point of this post:  the remarkable staff that Bearskin has gradually acquired. When we arrived in 2007, we did not initially start with a staff group that was uniformly enthusiastic about serving Bearskin guests. We inherited some fabulous employees, but also a few with serious attitude problems. Our long-time guests still enjoy retelling all the good reasons for those problems, but from our standpoint we are very grateful that isn’t the way it goes now. 

Our current staff is young, energetic, and capable.  They’re well-educated, live healthy lifestyles, maintain positive attitudes, and enthusiastically embrace the challenges of life on the edge of the wilderness.  We can ask anything of them — “Quick, build 11 bridges by tomorrow!”–and they embrace the challenge. Guests repeatedly compliment us on the quality of current Bearskin employees.

So here’s a big “thank you” to the great group of people who actually make Bearskin Lodge possible.  Rain or shine, high water or deep snow, 90 degrees above zero or 50 degrees below, they cheerfully build ramps, shovel snowdrifts, retrieve dead animals, clean up wads of chewing tobacco, do mounds of  unwashed dishes, trap intruding mice, answer inexplicable e-mails, toss out dirty diapers, rescue canoeists, collect endless bags of trash, retrieve escaped boats, and solve all the other daily problems of resort life.  They do so in a drama-free way, with a positive attitude that makes working with them a pleasure. They are appreciated!


A group of Bearskin staff members dining at Trail Center restaurant courtesy of a much appreciated gift certificate from Jan, Bill, Mary and Rick.

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