Programs at Gunflint Lodge officially began yesterday. With the lack of snow and warm temps (38 degrees today), our offered adventures are limited, however we are under a winter storm warming with expectations of 10-12 inches of snow by Sunday evening.
The warmer temps did make it easier to set up our Tipi for our Dogsledding/Snowshoe combo adventure. Erik, Points Unknown's third team member this winter, is well versed in Native culture and having lived in a Tipi for three years in the past, he lead the way when it came to our Tipi project for today.
The project began weeks ago when he harvested spruce poles from his woods and skidded them out by dog team. He then brought them to our current site on top of his dog truck and skidded them up to their current location by snowmobile, giving the dogs some needed rest.
We laid the tripod poles on the ground with the north pole and the south pole paralleling each other and the door pole crossing over the two. The three poles were then tied together with a long length of rope left hanging down the middle. One person pulled on the remaining rope while the other lifted the north and south poles and pivoted the south pole to the south to form the third leg of the tripod so that all three poles are now erect. The door pole faces east as tradition dictates.
A draw knife was used to clear the surface of each pole of anything that could cause a tear in the canvas. The poles need to ultimately be peeled but since they are still green, this will happen in the spring.
The remaining poles were then hoisted in place with one person placing the “butt” end in position and holding it with a foot while the other person raises the pole and places it in the appropriate groove created by the other poles at the very top.
Once all of the poles are in place, the remaining rope is then used to tie and cinch up the mass of poles where they come together at the top. This is done by hanging on to the rope and walking around the base of the Tipi while keeping the rope tight and cinching as you go.
The final pole is placed on the ground and the canvas is tied to it. This pole is used to hoist the canvas so that it can them be spread out to cover the entire pole structure. Two additional poles are then used to snag portions of the canvas at the very top that will be movable so that a fire can be built inside the Tipi and have adequate ventilation.
Once the canvas is in place, the two ends come together and are pinned with hand made wooden pins. The door is attached with larger wooden pins and weighted in place by the same.
The interior liner is tied on each pole. This liner goes up from the floor approximately 5 feet. This liner helps create a wind block and allows for proper ventilation. This liner needs to be weighted down on the inside so we used lengths of fallen birch trees. Once we get more snow, we will pack the lower portion of the exterior with snow for insulation and to keep out unwanted drafts.
Tomorrow we will find rocks to use for a fire ring inside the Tipi and we will haul up straw bales for our clients to sit on while warming up after during their adventure.