In the summer of 2011, the Northern Wilds office in Grand Marais had two surprise visitors: Gaby Würth and Werner Bahner of Freiburg, Germany. Longtime readers, they have been visiting the Gunflint Trail since 1996. Here is their story:
“In summer 1996 we traveled through California, where we bought a magazine about cross-country skiing in the USA. There we saw an advertisement for the Golden Eagle Lodge. We phoned and rented a cabin for the first week of January, 1997. We didn’t know anything about Minnesota. For preparation we watched the movie “Fargo” and hoped to find as much snow as we saw in the movie. We celebrated New Year in New York, flew to Duluth, rented a car and drove to the Gunflint Trail.
“We were convinced we would stay at a resort with breakfast, lunch and dinner, spa and all comforts of life. We arrived at Golden Eagle Lodge at night. There was no snow, and at the cabin we realized that we had to be self-suppliers. We tried to make a fire, but all that happened was the smoke detector made an unbelievable noise. So we slept in the cold cabin.
“At the next morning we woke up and had a look at the trails: Nearly no snow, a lot of ice. We drove to Grand Marais to have breakfast and try to get the next plane back to Germany… Back in the cabin we were successful in making fire and it was warm and cosy. We had a great dinner at Trail Center and during the night it was snowing and snowing. The next morning there was one foot of fresh-fallen snow! We went out for skiing, it was gorgeous!
“If you do cross-country skiing in Germany, you have hundreds of skiiers at the track, it is overcrowded, and the snow is often heavy and wet. But here in Minnesota it is powder and you are nearly alone on the trails. At this moment we fell in love with this part of the world.
“Since this time we come nearly every Christmas/New Year to Golden Eagle. Starting the day with feeding the birds and watching them during breakfast, reading a good book, skiing on the well-prepared tracks or skating on the lakes or going for a snowshoe walk or hiking to the frozen waterfalls—that all is a wonderful experience. And for all our activities, Northern Wilds is an unrenounceable adviser.
“Every year, when we arrive at Golden Eagle Lodge, giving a hug to Dan and Teresa (Baumann,) it is like coming home. In 2003 we came for the first time in summer and started with canoeing, but that is another story.
“We have been travelling all over the world, but we come back to Gunflint Trail twice a year because it is such a special place.”
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in the 2012 February-March issue of Northern Wilds Magazine.