Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When Honor is lost....

Memorandum Part II…re.: Duluth to Ely Official Trip Report

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From: Winston Churchill; DBD Historian

To: Public

Basic facts—

Team: Eric Peterson & CPFarrow

Departure from Duluth: Farrow residence Saturday, 2/25/2012, 9:27 a.m.

Arrival in Ely: Softball/baseball complex, 2/26/2012, 6:42 a.m.

Special Gear/Equipment notes: Peterson was on top of a custom steel frame take he himself crafted. Farrow brought along a newly acquired 1913 Webley Mk IV revolver. This pistol represents the standard issue DBD pistol-type. This particular model is a 9mm calibre weapon and has proved to be immensely reliable (and consequently popular) in use for the northern latitudes by generations of DBD members. For some odd reason, Mr. Farrow's previous revolver seemed to routinely misfire, so he was issued a new one.

As stated below in Part I, a mechanical had forced these men-of-action to go their separate ways. Peterson perhaps bearing the heavier psychological load for his new assignment was multi-faceted and complicated. Farrow had only to push his way northward and to battle the demons of self-doubt that await every man that ventures alone into the darkness. The trail became softer and thus harder to negotiate. The old man grew weary and his mind began to wander. He recalled happier dayz when as the undisputed leader of the local chapter of the DBD, he enjoyed the full loyalty of his men and the Club was at its pinnacle in terms of global status and influence among the adventure communities. In those dayz the DBD Adventure Society enjoyed no rivals and entry into itz exclusive membership was the goal of every aspiring adventurist.

The sun’s rays continued to transform the snow into energy sucking mash potatoes. He was forced to once again stop to let more air out of the tires. He soldiered onward, only a couple miles out from the Northshore parking lot north of Two Harbors…the extra work acting as a negative force on his fragile psyche—he began to obsess about the sad state of affairs regarding the current DBD’s living membership; Sir Eki’s mind gone from the ravages of Job-like sores upon his backside, Sir Buffington gallivanting with skinny runner-types, Praman’s mind still sharp, yet physically broken from his effort in Alaska two years hence, the youthful Kershaw passing up the acquisition of a snowbike in favor of a camera, and his own pathetic effort in the recent Arrowhead 135 where he curled up like a little school girl on the trail and slept for eight hours…Oh the shame of it all was hard for him to fathom. Suddenly the realization that his front tire was completely flat jolted him back to reality.

A quick review showed that he had forgotten to tighten down the valve which had in turn caused the tube to leak out. As he began pumping up the tire, a pack of snowmobilers arrived onto the scene. As luck would have it he knew one of the sled-necks and so any potential for a showdown involving fisticuffs was quickly averted. Once Farrow was clearly established as the Alpha, engaging in friendly conversations, the snowmobilers let it be known that they were en route to a “wild-game feed” at the bar in Brimson and that our man would be welcome. The draw of a cold beer is a powerful aphrodisiac for our kind and the old man was low on fluids, so he inquired as to the route and length to the bar. The information he received, combined with a perusal of the map, lead him to conclude that to ride to the bar via the Brimson trail was clearly an option. The other option was to stay on route and get water from the Gooseberry River. The Gooseberry option was obviously the most expeditious, but it meant that he would have to forgo a hot meal as the stove and fuel were with the lad. After a couple miles or so, the Brimson trail heads essentially in a western path off the Yukon Trail and from the map it looked to be about an eight mile detour. Without really weighing out the implications, he took off up the Yukon Trail with the intention to make the detour to the Brimson bar for a beer and a warm meal.

The idea being that with his stocks full, he would be all set to make the final big push to Ely, which he surmised to be about fifty to sixty miles away. It was still light out, yet the sun had lost itz power, and thus the trail was setting up. He rode for perhaps forty minutes when he decided to add air to the tires. He pulled over and to his utter dismay— realized that he had left his pump back at the parking lot! He was crushed! His first thought was to leave it and hope for the best, but as he rode on he began to consider that if he got a flat or broke a chain he would be stranded (extra links are stored in a small compartment in the pump). So he turned and made the trip back to retrieve the pump. Finally well after dark he pulled into the bar in Brimson. A spot that is well known by many of our people.

As implied above, the bar was hosting a fund-raising party for a poor fellow that was stricken with some kind of vile cancer. The old man was welcomed in and with a purchase of a five dollar raffle ticket to show solidarity, he hoisted his tired bulk onto the bar stool and relished a couple of Leinies combined with some kind of roast beast on a bun with chips to round off the entrée.

It is at this juncture that our man’s honor comes into serious question for the first time since embarking. Rather than backtracking on the Brimson, as had been his original plan (and the right thing to do), he now hastily decides to instead head up Highway 1, which ultimately connects with Highway 2 and then intersects with the Yukon/Tomahawk Trail. This deviation of course would negate Farrow’s claim to a first ascent of the full trail complex from Duluth to Ely. He reasons that given his time constraint he must get to the trail as soon as possible so as to not miss Peterson who will be heading south down the trail. I will leave this issue to be debated in the near future by our panel of ethicists, but there can be no doubt that as soon as his bike started up that asphalt his efforts were tainted and will come under an Honor Board Review.

In any event, he felt revived and made the trail proper in good time, perhaps spending two hours on the tarmac. To his disappointment the trail was very bumpy, erratic, and it had begun to snow. The good news was that the trail had set up in most places. The Tomahawk is exceedingly hilly (as is the entire course) and he was at this point walking every incline. At this segment of the route, the evergreen forest is tight along the narrow trail and one is treated to a real sense of myopic remoteness that is both exhilarating and taunting. Yet with about thirty miles to go we must remember that he had been on the bike now for something like fourteen hours. He was greatly fatigued and constantly looking for the lad to show up. Suddenly he felt a rumbling deep within his aged bowels. To his chagrin he realized that he was going to have to relieve himself sans proper tools for the job. Snow would be his only option.

His tottering legs were simply too fried to allow him to squat down and do his business. Instead he quickly set about building a crude structure out of sticks and the like, a kind of “lean-to” that would allow him to have a bit of support as he took the semi-squatting position that is required for such endeavors. In other words, a semi-leaning affair that would allow one to relieve ones self and also afford a clear pathway or fall-line, free from obstructions...With the structure complete and a few pre-made snowball at the ready, he dropped both trousers and bike shorts, exposing his private area to the elements. Perhaps half way through the exercise, the structure gave way to the man’s weighty bulk and the whole enterprise fell into the snow.

He lay there momentarily, his exposed manhood soiled and full of snow. Minuscule tears formed in his blood-shot eyes and then silently made little rivulets down his rugged face. He questioned the existence of a higher power. His next thought was to simply resign his post and thus close his eyes and fall asleep, but he then conjured the images of his body retrieval in such a state and this compelled him to move on.

By the time he had cleaned himself up and swapped out some clothing and socks, he was intellectually at the level of mature mollusk. He contemplated doing his duty, but his pistol once again jammed and he was too frazzled to make a second attempt, plus he reasoned that his corpse would make more work for the lad. For all the while, he knew that he was on the right trail and he never once questioned the youth’s loyalty or the lad’s abilities. He simply knew that sooner or later the kid would show up. And sure enough about twenty-three miles out from Ely the two were reunited.

The two arrived in Ely just as the sun was raising with little fanfare…it had taken a little over 21 hours.


  1. Really, I'm speechless. I will be seated in the back row of the review hearing, eyes cast downward. My God, the humility of it all.

  2. Oh the shame! The ongoing decline of said adventure a perfect metaphor of the author these last few years! So sad!

  3. Precipice 101: The tuck-and-roll method

  4. I think the fact that no one witnessed this trip is a good thing. I think a proper boot camp is in order.

  5. Odell accurate. We made it. Congratulations...Sidney Irvine

  6. I'm sorry, my mind is a mess. Its Sandy, you dear.

  7. where are the pictures of the "crude structure of sticks and the like" This episode will truly be "DBD lore" thanks for sharing I'd like to tag along on trip #2 to see if the route can be conquered.

  8. The "Non Motorized Vehicles Prohibited" signs all over the Tomahawk were a bit discouraging. A different route thru perhaps Hoyt Lakes may need to be addressed.