Our third Boundary Waters wilderness camping trip, in July and August, was more of an adventure than the prior two, mainly because we went in with a much more ambitious itinerary which didn’t quite work out.
The plan was a circuit of eight lakes in the northeast BW Canoe Area Wilderness, close to the Canadian border. We planned to travel west through four lakes, turn north and work our way back east.
Two factors threw our grand design off the rails. Lakes which we chose for their remoteness turned out to be unexpectedly popular, and we ended up paddling against the waves for the first three days because we didn’t set out early enough, before the winds rose. A good learning experience, but challenging.
The tough part, besides fighting waves which toiled against us, was the unexpected difficulty of finding available campsites. On our second and third days, we had to paddle much further, and later, than intended, in order to find a site. On Day 3, it forced us off course and we only found a campsite on the second lake in.
It worked out in the end, but three long days of fighting the wind and waves, and worrying if we were going to find a campsite at all, was defeating the purpose. This was supposed to be a vacation!
So we set aside our ambition, which would have entailed moving camp almost every day, and stayed on Moon Lake for four days. Then we simply returned to our entry point, along the route we had taken in. We allowed an extra day for this, remembering well the unpredictability of weather (and, being off the grid, we had no access to forecasts).With the wind at our backs, the return leg was much easier and more enjoyable.
As usual, we encountered a nice variety of creatures. The highlights were an eagle, a hummingbird, a hare, lots of beavers and loons, and … Chipmunk Thug, our constant companion at the Moon Lake campsite.
Gorgeous sunrises and sunsets can almost be taken for granted in the wilderness, as well as a wonderful bright moon and breathtaking starscapes. This is all part of the mode-of-goodness attraction of being out in nature. Getting away from all the noise of city life, slowing down, relaxing and listening to nature, getting grounded in body and mind – all of this feeds the soul like nothing else.
As usual, it’s a severe austerity to return to the city after the joys of a wilderness trip. Hopefully we’ll be able to relocate to Minnesota, near the Boundary Waters, one of these years. My dream music studio is a forest cabin’s screened porch overlooking a lake.
Hi lovely, compact travelogue. Reminds me that I need to get out and do this stuff. I got my kayak out onto Lake Ontario last summer, but it’s been 41 years since I paddled in true wilderness.
Thanks, Jonathan! Get on out there… 🙂