L.L. Bean/camping on a rock

Larry Meyer

Wooden Canoes are in the Blood
Just got in the mail a new L.L. Bean Outdoor Gear and Clothing catalague. The cover photo does their image no good. It shows two twenty-ish folk setting up their tent . . . on a rock.

Honest. On a great big exposed mountain-top rock.

Apart from the comfort issues, tenting like this is not advisable. Maybe they've got a portable lightning rod on page 12.
It's not limited to L L Bean

Speaking of the improbable, I've always marvelled at this shot from Old Town's 1962 catalog. Think about the landing here, and how you're going to toss the canoe up for the carry. :confused:


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The improbabliity of the portage shown on the 1962 Old Town catalog is even more evident when you see the larger picture below. There does not appear to be enough water to even land a canoe at the bottom of that rock. This image was also used on the cover of an L. L. Bean catalog. Ozzie Sweet took the photograph and he was known for doing unusual things to get a good picture. I believe that he also took the one at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/covers/large-67.gif which was on the cover of the 1967 catalog. There was not enough water in that stream to float a loaded canoe with two people and gear. It is actually resting on the bottom with a rope over the stern to hold it steady. He also had a substantial collection of plastic game fish and large stuffed animals that were often featured in his 'action' photos. He got some wonderful images though.



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Good one, Benson! The one thing those guys are going to need - assuming the boat actually gets by the boulders - is a genuine Old Town Canoe Repair Kit!

Any idea where the photo was taken Benson?

Forensic Geology: The granite looks similar to the Katahdin granite exposed around below Ripogenus, but there are similar granites and exposures in much of Northern New England. Another guess might be the Swift River along the Kanc in Albany, NH.
The larger photo simply begs for a caption dialogue between the two fellas, something like, "where did you say you got your guide license from anyway?"

Or, "Are you sure we need to portage that canoe ALL the way up Katahdin?"
Fitz said:
Any idea where the photo was taken Benson?

I have asked around and can't find anyone who remembers the exact location of that picture. You can learn more about Ozzie Sweet at http://www.seacoastonline.com/2001news/7_1d.htm and discover that his pictures were often 'enhanced' versions of reality. His phone and address in York, Maine is listed if you want to call or write him directly for the full story.

Todd Bradshaw said:
...and where is the dead deer that they had in the boat in other photos?

The first image below shows a dead deer from the 1970 catalog that wasn't very popular with the animal lovers. The second picture is from the 1971 catalog that probably doesn't show a live deer either.


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That photo of the archer taking a deer from the bow of the canoe is another credulity strainer. Makes you wonder how a blind, deaf, and lame deer with no sense of smell survived long enough to grow so big. About the only touch of reality is that it has no other deer for company!
Canoeing Archer

The photos vintage and style is very similar to National Geo's "red shirt" school of photography which was prevalent during the 50's and 60's.

Today with photoshop we can suspend disbelief to an even greater degree.
Another version of the improbable portage was used on the L. L. Bean catalog cover in the Spring, 1972 issue as shown below. These types of images have a long tradition.



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Campsites you'd like to forget . . .

Speaking of rock camps, here's one of ours at the mouth of Chesterfield Inlet, NW Hudson's Bay.


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Blimey, ancient paddler, prolonged camping on such a site would make ancient paddlers out of anyone. Now if that picture were on the cover of an LL Bean catalogue, their average customer would toss the catalogue aside and go looking for the Club Med brochure they got.
Ancient Paddler you used a great tent. It's a Draw-Tite tent. My brother and I bought one in 1965 from Morsan Tent (now Campmor) in NJ for $50 and used it for years. Still have it but it doesn't get used much anymore. If I recall correctly it was the first external frame free standing tent with an intergral floor. It came in a two man and four man size. It is a little heavy because it's made of cotton cloth but a great tent none the less. You can set it up in two minutes in total darkness.

Love the hat by the way.

Jim C.
It was a camp of necessity. Tides on Chesterfield Inlet were 14-16'. At the end of the day we took out at low tide, so had to pitch way above the water. Actually portaged up to the site (see photo). It rained hard overnight and all the low spots in the rock outcropping filled with water.

While DrawTites were probably the best expedition tents at the time (they were used on the American Mt. Everest Expedition), they didn't fare well in the wet - they were made of Egyptian cotton and not all that waterproof (this was at the dawn of ripstop nylon and long before full-coverage rainflies). That said, they were solidly designed, pitched quickly and fit into tight spots. Eureka still makes them today (now called Timberlines), with modfied materials and a much better fly. Although we subjected them to hard use for six months on two very long canoe trips, the DrawTites lasted for twenty more years until they literally fell apart in the late 1980s. All in all, a good tent.



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You're right about the waterproof limitations of the DrawTite. Without a fly you would get wet in a driving rain. Still better than the old heavy canvas Boy Scout tents we had prior to that. We used ours on many a trip. Slept in it every night for five weeks on a trip through the western USA in 1969 and took it on numerous canoe trips in the years following. My father still has an old tent that his family used in the late '20s & '30s it's made of silk, baker style as I recall. Haven't set it up in years.

It's all great stuff, great memorys of good times with canoes.

Jim C.
Baker tents

Once we took a baker tent (a la Calvin Rustrum and, later, Bill Mason) to Hudson's Bay. Very luxurious in a protected forest camp. Totally worthless when exposed to any kind of wind. It blew down every night on the lower Albany River. After that we switched to mountain tents.