It had all the makings of a good suspense film. The believable kind.
Our party met Upstate.
Way. Up. State.
Some members were old friends, others new to the fold. The sun set on our backs as we looked north into the high peaks. Word came that an important attendee would not be joining us. Disheartened but resolute, we continued off the pavement into untamed wilderness.
We had prepared well enough. Creative comps had been mocked up and competitor campaigns studied. Packs balanced, boots oiled and six-packs still sweating. Derek had fishing poles stashed and a Leatherman at the ready. We were traveling deep into the Adirondack Park to a lodge built by the Finch Paper Company. Tony McDowell VP of Sales & Marketing had assembled a team of creative powerhouses from Crosby Associates in Chicago, Doyle Partners in New York and Fort Franklin in Boston. We were all there to help develop a strategy to take Finch into 2009 and beyond, advancing the appeal of Finch's line of uncoated papers—in the midst of the very woods from which the pulp was harvested.
We wound our way up through the peaks, through the rusty swing-arm gate that had greeted us at the turnoff. Several miles up a dirt logging road, our caravan pulled off to let an enormous pickup pass, heading in the opposite direction. It was the property's caretaker, called away for an emergency. As the sun sank behind the hills it became clear that we were on our own.
Another locked gate blocked our path, and as keys were produced and vehicles crossed through, a chilly October wind shook the leaves from the birches that surrounded us. The swing-arm groaned as it clanged back into place. It sounded like a warning.
When we reached the lodge—empty, cold and eerily quiet—we took in the view and set to work, gathering firewood, and starting a dinner of steak and potatoes with sautéed peppers and mushrooms. All this against a backdrop of uneasy Deliverance wisecracks.
Mount Marcy looked on, the first snow of the season letting us know we were in for a cold night.
Yeah, I'm totally dropping the whole horror movie thing.
It's way too much work.
Cut to the end—the worst thing that happened to our Band of Brothers was leaving the woods to discover that the Dow had dropped 1,000 points. As for the rest of our time at Boreas Lodge, it was a blast.
We sat down around a warm hearth, reviewed the past year and charted the next.
Derek found a fishing hole (surprised?) and set out to catch himself a story.
Four hours later he returned, along with Bart Crosby who had joined him at the brook. They both held their hands about yay apart and looked excited. Without any sort of photographic evidence, the rest of us were skeptical. After all, these were two men that told tales for a living.
The Adirondack High Peaks did not disappoint.
Nor did the water, with it's glassy reflection of autumn.
The Finch Paper retreat was a marvelous place.
And while the road out was a little bumpy...
The way ahead was clear.