Friday, June 17, 2011

Artistic Trails: Painting the Superior Hiking Trail

"Boney's Meadow" 8" x 10"
      For a long time I've been hemming and hawing about putting together some sort of painting project. Something to get me out of the rut of driving to a spot, pulling over and doing a painting.  I wanted it to be different and not located in one place. I thought about doing a trip around Lake Superior, partially inspired by a couple who walked around the entire lake last summer.  Or maybe I'd paint a series of the Gunflint Trail in northern, MN. I also had been harboring, for a long time actually, a crazy idea of  backpacking along the Superior Hiking Trail and doing paintings along the way. The Superior Hiking Trail is a 277 mile trail that travels along the north shore of Lake Superior from Duluth, Minnesota to the Canadian border.
      This spring I decided to start that trek. It would be unique in that, to the best of my knowledge, no one has ever hiked AND painted the whole trail before. It would get me out of the rut I had been in. I would be able to  do some camping and it would get me into shape.  All goals I had been wanting to accomplish.
     Initially I thought I'd through-hike the trail (through-hiking is starting at one end of the trail and hiking until you reach the other end)  with paints in tow picking up supplies, dropping off paintings, picking up new canvas' along the way. A trip I figured would take about a month or so.  But timing is everything and the timing wasn't right for a through-hike type trek. It would have probably required quitting my job, which I couldn't afford to do. Plus, there is no way I would have been in good enough shape to do a through hike without burning out. So I'd have to section hike the trail on my days off. I was kinda disappointed by that idea because it would have been way more macho and romantic to do the whole trail at once and in a short time have a pile of paintings. But after having done around 30 miles so far this spring, I've been able to capture the transition of the seasons. That is something appealing that I hadn't fully considered while contemplating a through hike. So now, instead of a bunch of paintings of one season on the trail, I'll have, most likely, canvas' capturing the trail from spring to summer into fall and through winter. That fires me up!
     So that's it. One man, one backpack, one pochade box, one tent, one sleeping bag, 277 miles, some oatmeal and hopefully some good paintings to boot (no hiking footwear pun intended).