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Rides: Mike Hofer’s Bell Magic Canoe

Dec 23, 2017 09:54AM ● Published by Editor

Mike Hofer’s Bell Magic Canoe. Photo courtesy Hofer

Real people and the boats they love.  By Katie McKy - Canoe & Kayak - December 21, 2017

Robert Frost wrote, "Freedom lies in being bold," but had the
 David Yost-designed and Ted Bell-built Magic been beneath Frost's porch, Frost might have written, "Freedom lies in being bold and owning a Magic." Mike Hofer, 56, of Maple Grove, MN, leverages his Magic to reach remote Quetico and Boundary Waters lakes. Even though the Magic has little rocker, it also negotiates the twists of meandering streams with aplomb. 

"I really enjoy the small, intimate streams that exist in the Quetico such as Lonely Creek or Cutty Creek,” Hofer said. “Such streams can lead to a lake that's off the beaten path with no established portage and requires some bushwhacking to get to." 

The Magic is light and short enough for bushwhacking portages and in keeping with its craftsmanship, Hofer built his own thwarts and a portage yoke out of quilted maple and walnut. But it's the speed and tracking of the Magic that frees Hofer. Three years ago, he was sitting on Walter Lake and had a hankering to fish Pickerel Lake the next day before leaving Quetico. It would entail 27 miles of paddling and three portages, one quite long, with a full complement of fishing and camping gear, just to reach the fishing hole and exit the park before dark. The Magic helped him do just that, as he averaged 4 mph, fishing a couple hours for lake trout, and even had time for a shore lunch of fish. 

Hofer said, "I pulled up to the Nym Lake dock about ten minutes after sunset, leaving me enough time to unload and carry my gear to the truck before it was completely dark. From periodic checks of my GPS during the day, I saw that I was maintaining my paddling speed without feeling strained at all. That day is one of the most enjoyable days I've ever spent on the water, and I remember feeling totally one with my canoe as I paddled. I may have been able to make that run in one day with another canoe, but I know it wouldn't have been nearly as enjoyable."


Mike Hofer on a northern canoe trip. Photo courtesy Hofer.

Hofer is a Director of Operations for Beckman Coulter's medical device business in Chaska, MN, but his cabin near Grand Marais, MN, gives him a good springboard for trips to the BWCA and Quetico. Sometimes he gets the itch to paddle shortly after ice out. Most wilderness paddlers have a harrowing tale or two of high wind and waves, but Hofer has a cautionary tale of just getting to his canoe trip:

"Most of my trips are in early spring, targeting that time period right after ice-out. For me, it's always dicey when you're paddling alone in water temps that are in the 30s. In spring of 2011, I experienced what it's like to have death stare you in the face. I planned a trip to Quetico that began with a tow to Hook Island on Saganaga Lake, which is very large and has an expansive east/west exposure to the wind. The ice had just come off the lake and the forecast was for rain and gusty winds of 30-40 mph. I questioned the wisdom of going out into this maelstrom, but the tow driver insisted that once we were behind the shelter of Hook Island, it would be fine and I could wait for the wind to die down to begin my trip. 

“We found ourselves out in the main body of the lake recovering some canoe packs from another tow boat that had completely overturned about 45 minutes earlier in the same area and whose occupants we had just rescued. We were in the same style of tow boat and I questioned why we were here. I argued with the tow driver that we needed to forget the packs and return to the islands, but he either didn't hear me or wasn't listening. 

We did recover the packs out in the open water, but as we turned around into the east wind to make our way back the 2/3 mile to the shelter of the islands, we began taking on a lot of water directly over the bow of the flat-bottomed boat. With every roller, the bow rode up the wave and then slammed back down into the trough of the next wave and in doing so plowed head-on into the crest of the next one. My life flashed before my eyes, and I was convinced we were going to end up in the water a long way from shore with little chance of rescue. I bailed water as fast as I could while we crawled forward and tried to minimize the water coming in. It seemed like it took forever, but we made it to the islands with several inches of water in the bottom of the boat and literally within an inch or two of submerging. That experience taught me a lesson that's etched in my mind: canoeing in cold water is always dicey. It illustrated for me why discretion is the better part of valor when going solo."

Another time, there seemed the possibility of being submerged by a moose due to Hofer's knack for mimicry. 

"I was trolling along slowly about 40 yards from shore and heard a ruckus directly to my right coming straight at me - closer and closer - until I saw two young moose appear right at the shoreline. We looked at each other for a few seconds, one of them making the sound of a young moose in distress. I called back similarly and instantly, they both took to the water, swimming directly at me. Our eyes were locked onto each other's for a few moments until I realized I probably didn't want them to join me in the canoe. As they reached about halfway to my boat, I said ‘No!‘ and they stopped swimming for an instant. Then, they turned around and headed back to shore where they scrambled out of the water and ran into the woods from the direction they had come." 

However, such moments are the exception.

"If you haven't experienced the song of a winter wren or veery, the sound of a grouse drumming in the background, and the whisper of a light breeze filling the space in between, you don't know what you're missing."

Such experiences are heightened for Hofer by going alone.

"Solo tripping provides a challenge, a sense of accomplishment, and I am in charge. I fish when I want, paddle when I want, and can slow down and take in the wilderness without distraction. I absolutely love wilderness - it's where I feel whole and connected with creation. It's existing in harmony instead of always consuming, always wanting more. Being instead of doing. I believe in the Thoreau saying: ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world.’ My hero is Richard Proenneke.”

And the Magic not only takes Hofer into the wilderness, but does so in style.

"Mine is the carbon Kevlar layup with wood trim. Aside from some of the practical reasons such as its lightness and efficiency in the water, I really enjoy this canoe for its graceful lines and beauty. It fits in well with the wilderness areas that I paddle. The wood trim offers a nice blend of simplicity to go along with the carbon fiber technology. It feels effortless to paddle, tracks very well, and is really nice to look at."

-READ MORE ON OUR RIDES HOME PAGE-

Have a canoe or kayak you love? Want it to be in RIDES? Contact Katie McKy at katemcky@hotmail.com and put "RIDES profile" in the subject line. You will have to provide photos of you and your beloved boat.


Read more at https://www.canoekayak.com/canoe/rides-real-people-and-the-boats-they-love-mike-hofers-bell-magic/#5...
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    Co-Dependents Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healt...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    01/29/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...


  • The 100DayProject

    01/30/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    01/30/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Story Time at the Library

    01/30/2018
    10:30AM — 11:15AM

    Every Tuesday, January 9-February 27, story times are open to all ages and feature songs and othe...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    01/30/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Open Faced BBQ Beef/Mash Potato/Corn Pudding/Milk


  • The Cook County Community Center outdoor ice rinks and warming house will be staffed and open (we...


  • Bible Prophecy

    01/30/2018
    04:00PM — 05:30PM

    National and International speakers presented by DVD. The DVDs will be shown at the Community Ce...


  • Kids Eat Free

    01/30/2018
    04:00PM — 09:00PM

    1 free kids meal with any paid adult meal Available after 4pm


  • Colvill All-Levels Yoga

    01/30/2018
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Join us for yoga. Vinyasa-style yoga set to world music. Come rest your mind and energize your ...


  • Men's Yoga at Cobblestone Cabins

    01/30/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    Iyengar style yoga class for men interested in a well rounded yoga practice.


  • Ojibwe Language for Beginners

    01/30/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    January 9, 16, 23, 30. 5:30-7pm Cost:$80.00 This 4-session class will provide students with a ...


  • Intro/Beginning Iyengar Yoga at Cobblestone

    01/30/2018
    07:05PM — 08:20PM

    Class suited for introductory or beginning students. The basics of Iyengar style yoga will be tau...


  • Learn to Dance!

    01/30/2018
    07:15PM — 09:00PM

    Learn to waltz, two-step, foxtrot, and swing dance. Tuesdays at the 4-H Building, 7:15 to 9:00 PM...


  • The 100DayProject

    01/31/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    01/31/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Anxiety/Depression Support Group for Women

    01/31/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Weekly support group for women. $2.00 suggested donation. No registration required. Please joi...


  • Gentle Yoga at Cobblestone

    01/31/2018
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    For all with health concerns such as arthritis, high blood pressure, pregnancy or those who just ...


  • First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, inviting community conversation… Aging...


  • 1/2 Price Bottles of Wine

    01/31/2018
    11:00AM

    1/2 Price Bottles of Wine


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    01/31/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Creamy Chicken Casserole/Broccoli/Fruit/Milk


  • Women's Yoga at Cobblestone Cabins

    01/31/2018
    05:15PM — 07:00PM

    Continuing class for all women interested in Iyengar Yoga. Walk-ins allowed with permission from ...


  • Beginning Spanish

    01/31/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    January 17, 24, 31, & February 7, 2018 | 5:30PM-7PM START LEARNING SPANISH or HELP REGAIN LOS...


  • Beginning Spanish

    01/31/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    January 17, 24, 31 and February 7th on Wednesdays 5:30-7pm Focus on vacation and travel languag...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    01/31/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/01/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/01/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Lunch At the Senior Center

    02/01/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Meatloaf/Baked Potato/Peas/Dessert/Milk


  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    02/01/2018
    06:30PM

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and ho...


  • Film Night at North House

    02/01/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Winter Series returns every Thursday in February at North House with film nights. We’ll revisit f...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    02/01/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/02/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/02/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/02/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Brats/Sauerkraut/Mash Potato/Dessert/Milk


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/02/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Brats/Sauerkraut/Mash Potato/Dessert/Milk


  • The 100DayProject

    02/03/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/03/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Voyageur Brewing Company Brewery Tour

    02/03/2018
    11:30AM — 12:30PM

    We offer tours on most Saturdays beginning at 11:30am but you need to reserve your space online i...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    02/03/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/04/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/04/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Alcoholics Anonymous

    02/04/2018
    06:30PM — 07:30PM

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and ho...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/05/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/05/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Band Instrument Drive

    02/05/2018
    08:00AM

    The Cook County School band is looking to expand our program and include all 5th graders. Current...


  • 1/2 Price Burgers!

    02/05/2018
    11:00AM — 09:00PM

    1/2 Price Burgers at Moguls Grille and Tap Room


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/05/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Sloppy Joes/Baked Beans/Coleslaw/Fruit/Milk


  • Overeaters Anonymous

    02/05/2018
    04:15PM — 05:15PM

    Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and...


  • Co-Dependents Anonymous

    02/05/2018
    05:30PM

    Co-Dependents Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healt...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    02/05/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/06/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/06/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Story Time at the Library

    02/06/2018
    10:30AM — 11:15AM

    Every Tuesday, January 9-February 27, story times are open to all ages and feature songs and othe...


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/06/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Soup/Sandwich/Dessert/Milk


  • Bible Prophecy

    02/06/2018
    04:00PM — 05:30PM

    National and International speakers presented by DVD. The DVDs will be shown at the Community Ce...


  • Kids Eat Free

    02/06/2018
    04:00PM — 09:00PM

    1 free kids meal with any paid adult meal Available after 4pm


  • Colvill All-Levels Yoga

    02/06/2018
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Join us for yoga. Vinyasa-style yoga set to world music. Come rest your mind and energize your ...


  • Men's Yoga at Cobblestone Cabins

    02/06/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    Iyengar style yoga class for men interested in a well rounded yoga practice.


  • Intro/Beginning Iyengar Yoga at Cobblestone

    02/06/2018
    07:05PM — 08:20PM

    Class suited for introductory or beginning students. The basics of Iyengar style yoga will be tau...


  • Learn to Dance!

    02/06/2018
    07:15PM — 09:00PM

    Learn to waltz, two-step, foxtrot, and swing dance. Tuesdays at the 4-H Building, 7:15 to 9:00 PM...


  • The 100DayProject

    02/07/2018
    12:00AM — 12:00AM

    January 21 - April 30, 2018 The 100DayProject is an effort to motivate participants to commit ...


  • Terra Bella Floral fall hours

    02/07/2018
    12:00AM

    Monday and Tuesday Noon to 5 Wednesday through Friday 10 to 4 Saturday 10 to 2 Sunday Closed


  • Anxiety/Depression Support Group for Women

    02/07/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Weekly support group for women. $2.00 suggested donation. No registration required. Please joi...


  • Gentle Yoga at Cobblestone

    02/07/2018
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    For all with health concerns such as arthritis, high blood pressure, pregnancy or those who just ...


  • 1/2 Price Bottles of Wine

    02/07/2018
    11:00AM

    1/2 Price Bottles of Wine


  • Lunch at the Senior Center

    02/07/2018
    12:00PM — 12:30PM

    Chef's Salad/Fruit/Dessert/Milk


  • Women's Yoga at Cobblestone Cabins

    02/07/2018
    05:15PM — 07:00PM

    Continuing class for all women interested in Iyengar Yoga. Walk-ins allowed with permission from ...


  • Beginning Spanish

    02/07/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    January 17, 24, 31, & February 7, 2018 | 5:30PM-7PM START LEARNING SPANISH or HELP REGAIN LOS...


  • Beginning Spanish

    02/07/2018
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    January 17, 24, 31 and February 7th on Wednesdays 5:30-7pm Focus on vacation and travel languag...


  • Square Dance Lessons

    02/07/2018
    07:30PM — 09:00PM

    Modern Western Square Dance Schedule for January 4 through February 15. Time: 7:30 – 9:00 PM ...