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
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
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