Unfortunately I missed Gentlemen's weekend in 2012 due to my car dying the week before. This year the weekend was scheduled a little earlier than usual, at the end of September instead of in October. Being earlier meant the weather was warmer so it did not seem quite the same. Even so, it was great, as usual. Invoking the philosophy of whatever happens during Gentlemen's weekend stays with Gentlemen's weekend, only an overview of the weekend will be mentioned here. (Honestly, what you could make up to fill in the gaps would be far more titillating than reality.)
Gentlemen's weekend was scheduled for the weekend of 28 September. As it turns out, I had a workshop in Ann Arbor at the beginning of the week. I was able to leave from there on Wednesday, 25 September, around noon. Even with stopping for some supplies on he way up, I was able to arrive while it was still light out. Since this was my third trip up in about a month and a half the Cabin was in good shape. I had time to set up my tent with natural light in my now usual location, which I have dubbed "Camp A&A Heights". Despite being early in the season, it was a slightly chilly night (the coldest night I think); I even had to zip my sleeping bag up a little!
I had plans for some hikes over the weekend. In general they did not pan out. However, since I was up there alone I took the opportunity to hike one of the back roads. Ever since the wash out of McCloud Grade over Labor day I have been looking for alternative routes in and out. There are many smaller roads, but there is no guarantee they are drivable (without a pickup truck or a Jeep). For this reason I hiked along snow mobile trail 443 (the main trail between Grand Marais and Seney) which runs along McCloud Grade before veering off and eventually reconnecting to Old Seney. Most of the road is fine and easily drivable. Unfortunately the mile or so of the road nearest the Cabin is in the worst shape. There are a few pretty rough areas which could be driven with some care. Even more problematic is the water. There were a couple of somewhat deep pools. They may be traversable, but I wouldn't want to try it unless absolutely necessary. In a very dry season they may be passable, but otherwise, it is not a good alternative route.
The rest of the guys arrived at various times on Thursday. Most importantly this meant the keg arrived! It also allowed the other projects to begin.
There always seems to be at least one project for the weekend. This year Bill planned to work on the wood shed without letting Jon know, so Jon would not feel like he had to do any (let alone all) the work. The wood shed has been in very bad shape for quite a long time. The roof had not been reshingled in decades, the posts were rotting out from the bottom and many of them were not providing much support anyway. The whole structure was skewed so making was hard to open and close the doors, such as the one to the propane tanks. The plan was to reroof it, replace the posts, square of the structure, and make it more solid.
Bill did most of the work including all of the work on the roof; removing the old shingles, putting up new sheathing, and replacing the shingles. All but the small roof over the shed for the propane tanks was completed. In the meantime, we also poured new, cement footings for three of the posts (one of the back corners has not been replaced, yet). Over Labor day Bill and I recovered some newly cut spruce posts that had been used to temporarily fill the washout along McCloud Grade. We used these to replace the existing posts. This is not ideal; they have not been properly dried so it remains to be seen how they age. Even so, we were able to nicely square up the shed and solidify it with cross supports so that opening and closing the doors was much easier. With the wood restacked along the newly fixed sides it is looking much better. There is still a little work to do on it. Even if the posts shrink as they age all is not lost. They were free and can easily be replaced again.
The usual project for gentlemen's weekend is to burn the stump. This stump complex has been around for a long time and takes up otherwise useful space. The huge pine trees fell many years ago. One of them barely missed hitting the Cabin. The burning that has been done throughout the years and the stump complex has been shrinking. This year we were able to pretty much get rid of all the main part of the complex. It remains to be seen how much more of it along the edges will be removed.
Before everyone else arrived I dug out one long root that was lying just below the surface. It stretched toward the Cabin so it was best not to burn in place. It was easy to remove and fill back in opening the area up for future use.
As others began to arrive the burning began in earnest. It continued pretty much day and night for our entire time there. I did not take a final picture of the stump (for some reason) but there is very little left. I wonder what we will find to burn in the future, ....
Meals are always interesting during Gentlemen's weekend. This is not always a bad thing. This year we had exquisitely prepared ribs for one meal. Though cooked in the oven, we used the burning stump to imbibe them with smoke flavor. A crude smoker was constructed near the stump by digging out a small area, lining it with stones, and filling it with coals from the perpetual fire. Using a grill and some tin from a previous roofing project the make-shift smoker was constructed. I forget how long the ribs were left in the smoker but they came out great.
Another perpetual exercise is wood collection. There are many dead trees near the Cabin, particularly in the marshy area behind the Cabin. I should say the formerly marshy area. The water level in it has fallen noticeably making it easier to get back and work in that area. Due to this a number of fallen trees are accessible. Further, a number of standing, dead trees exist just waiting to fall. Typically we harvest one or two of them. The process of cutting them up, splitting them, hauling the logs, and stacking them in the wood shed is a time consuming, arduous task. There really needs to be a wheel barrow at the Cabin. Some of the wood is not good for burning inside the Cabin (the soft pine) so a lot of it was used to help burn up the stump. Even so, a good bit of wood was recovered and is now seasoning in the wood shed.
Ted made it up this year so an elaborate shooting range was constructed. It is hard to describe the extent of it; there being many targets at multiple distances. A lot of shooting was done both on this range and at the "official" rifle range not too far from the Cabin.
The original plan for the weekend was to have most (if not all) people sleep outside in tents so that the Cabin could be used at all times without disturbing people. Since the weather was rather mild, we spent almost all of our time outside, so this precaution really was not necessary. Even so, on the last night rain was predicted so everyone took down their tents and moved inside, except me....
I claimed the newly supported wood shed for the night. Bill was gracious enough to let me sleep there (he actually has slept there on a number of the trips). With the walls of wood around me it was a nice place to sleep, though with the rain and wind I did have to put some plastic over the open end.
Cleanup took quite a long time; it is easy for a bunch of guys to make a mess. To finish off the event Ted had brought up a pumpkin filled with Jello and shot it with a 12 gauge slug. The explosion was amazing! Pieces of the pumpkin flew from near the fire pit and landed on the roof of the Cabin. The shock wave from the slug cracked the bucket supporting the pumpkin. The pictures do not do it justice. Fortunately Ted took a video of the explosion. It is quite impressive, showing the explosion at various speeds. It is definitely worth watching.
As always the trip was great. The general feeling was that later in the season is preferred, but either way, we are looking forward to the trip next year.