This is a post that I hope isn’t relevant for much longer but with summer approaching and most of Canada still in various stages of lockdown I thought it might be helpful. Note: I realize that this is not a helpful article for my non -Canadian readers today with the border closures but I hope that changes soon for everyone involved!
My group does a fly in trip every two years, so 2020 was a trip year for us. I wont go through all of the details but needless to say it was a very different trip than we thought it would be when we booked it in 2019 Lake St Joseph Trip Report We needed to adapt and adjust on the way but in the end its up there as one of my favorite trips of all time. Being in a remote camp for a week where life was as it used to be really a great way to unwind and decompress after that had been a crazy year.
I can break down how we managed the trip into 3 main buckets – Preparation, Flexibility and Adaptability.
We spend a lot of time planning for these trips and our 2020 trip was always going to include a new wrinkle – flying commercially. Weirdly enough the last time I was in a pub prior to the Pandemic was with my group – a planning session that was light on planning and heavy on beer and wings. Within a week we were in lockdown and had to scramble to shift our discussions. We made the move to video calls (we use Zoom but Teams, Google, Facebook they all work) and used that to continue figuring out our meal plan, our packing lists and map making. We also scheduled for a few calls with our Outfitter to understand how things were changing on his end. Ryan Ryan Runge Interview was great – he highlighted the changes he was making, walked us through the safety protocols for our stay and continually kept us updated as the season progressed. We also made sure we had our PPE sorted our for the airport, the flight and when we reached Sioux Lookout. Slate Falls had everything taken care of for us once we hit the cabin which was awesome.
If we learned one lesson leading up to the trip it was to be flexible. Our lake was changing, our rental car was cancelled, our flights changed (a lot) our options for grocery and booze were changing. I remember feeling a bit stressed by all the change and one of our members said something that really changed my attitude “Guys, keep thinking about the prize, 1 week on a remote lake fishing” So we just continued to shift with the tides. We ended up agreeing that if we could get into the lake we would be flexible in the how, even if that meant driving to our destination if flights got cancelled. We created our Plan A but layered in Plans B, C and D.
I talked about all the changes that came our way and we needed to adapt. For flight changes we checked in via email as soon as we were notified, researched our options and decided as a group how we would update. When our lake switched, we quickly found new maps, started updating again and relying on our outfitter to help us narrow down our choices (Lake St Joe is HUGE). When our rental car was cancelled we quickly rebooked (at a higher price) but set up an alert through a few online booking portals to get daily updates on any price changes for Thunder Bay. Once a week I would check travel alerts and airline websites to see if there were any travel guidelines changes, of so I alerted the guys and we planned around it.
The 3 pillars ensured that we a) got her done and b) managed our stress and wallet levels. Overall, I think we all felt safe and prepared as we left our homes to head to the airport all the way until we got to back home 8 days later. I think this trip will always stick out in my mind as memorable but mainly because it was just freaking awesome that we still did it!
To list a few of things I would recommend you and your group do
Consistent check ins with your outfitter
Check with your airline/car rental/travel agents once a month or immediately after any changes to itineraries
Frequent checks to https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid
Be prepared, flexible and adaptable