Photo by Rhonda Silence
Proud new owners of the Gunflint Pines Resort are (L-R) Bob Baker and Wyatt, Shari Baker and Jaret; and Bob's parents, Sharon and Bob Baker, Sr.

Coffee's on at Gunflint Pines

By Rhonda Silence
Bob and Shari Baker are the new owners of Gunflint Pines Resort and Campground. But they are certainly not newcomers to the Gunflint Trail. They both held positions at Gunflint Lodge for ten years. Before that, they worked many summers at the Lodge. As they prepared for a "Resort Warming" party on November 8, we visited with them about their new adventure on the Trail.
Working at Gunflint Lodge is a family tradition - Bob's parents, Bob Sr. and Sharon Baker have a cabin on Birch Lake. Bob Sr. worked for Justine Kerfoot at the Lodge when he was in High School. He said the family returned every summer and as soon as the younger Baker was old enough, Justine's son Bruce Kerfoot hired him.
Bruce Kerfoot hired Shari Baker as well. She started a year earlier than her future husband, hired without experience as a "pot and pan washer." She laughed and admitted the Kerfoots took a chance on her. In addition to no experience, she was in a cast. However, she proved Kerfoot's instincts were good and by the end of that summer, she was a cook. She eventually supervised Gunflint Lodge housekeeping.
It was during her stint as cook that she met Bob. "I saw him when he walked into the resort for lunch one day," said Shari.
Her friend, Sheryl Hindermann, helping prepare snacks for the resort warming party chimed in with a laugh, "He was a 'dock boy!'" Bob worked his way from dock boy to premiere fishing guide.
It's obvious that friendships are strong on the Gunflint Trail. As Hindermann kidded Bob about his start on the lake, the Bakers whispered that the "resort warming" party was also a cover for Hindermann's surprise birthday party. Unbeknownst to her, the food she was busily preparing was for her own party too.
Sheryl Hindermann has been a fixture at Gunflint Lodge as long as the Bakers. She is the manager of the Gunflint Lodge Outfitters. And it was she who talked Shari and Bob into moving back to Minnesota from Seattle.
The couple had left Minnesota - Shari to pursue a degree in Resort Management and Bob to work in construction. Shari served an internship with Holiday Inn and was hired as a Manager for Hyatt-Regency in Denver. A short time after a transfer to Seattle, Bruce Kerfoot decided to keep Gunflint Lodge open year-round. Hindermann let Kerfoot know the Bakers may be interested in returning. He called to ask them back. They accepted and drove through the Halloween snowstorm of October 1991 to get "home."
At the first Gunflint Lodge management meeting after their return, the couple was asked to state their goals. Shari recalled, "We said within ten years we would have a Bed and Breakfast or Resort of our own."
Mission complete. Bob, Shari, Jaret (3 1/2 years) and Wyatt (almost 2) are settling in their new home at Gunflint Pines, the resort next door to Gunflint Lodge. Not too many changes are planned for the immediate future. "There may be some small changes - upgrading beds and some décor changes, but nothing major." Long-range plans include building some "Canoe Cabins," or bunk-style buildings on the hill overlooking the resort.
The Bakers are quick to thank the many people who helped them reach their goal. Bob Sr. and Sharon have been pitching in as much as they can. They will eventually be building a home nearby.
And they add thanks to good friends, like Hindermann, the Kerfoots and other resort owners. They are especially thankful for the help of Richard and Ronene Smith, the owners of Gunflint Pines for 25 years. The Smiths stayed on for a few months after the September 14 closing to help with the transition. They are on their way to sunny Arizona, now, but will always be welcome at the Pines.
Shari reminds everyone that they are now open year round. The wooded campsites on the lake are closed, and there probably aren't too many takers for icecream, but the cozy snackbar is open for hikers, hunters, skiers or snowmobilers. The potbellied woodstove is the perfect place to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or even pizza or a burger. "Stop by and visit," said Shari. "The coffee pot is always on!"

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