Well, you may have noticed that I've been completely off the grid for a few days. At least, you must've noticed that your internet was slightly less clogged with my nonsense. That's because I've been camping, canoeing, and hiking the boundary waters with Josh, Chris, Will, Scott, and Cal.
No phone service, no internet, no toilets, no running water, no electricity - just straight wilderness. In fact the area we were in doesn't allow motorboats or even wheels on land. Add in a few of our own rules like "no watches" and paddling miles a day - you start to question whether or not you're really on a "vacation."
So last Wednesday we started our adventure by driving to Voyageur Outfitters
in Cook County, MN. Josh's sister and her boyfriend both work at Voyageur, and Josh used to work at what you could call Voyageur's sister outfitter. That said, we got mad hookups - the first of which being hooked up with their cabin for the first night. Immediately after throwing our gear into the cabin we jumped into the river
out back. The clarity was ridiculous - I could see my feet while swimming in a river. A river!
So after swimming for a bit we headed to dinner at the Gunflight Lodge, saw a moose
along the way, then checked out the meteor shower from the dock by our cabin. I've never seen such an amazing view of the sky. Crystal clear night, zero light pollution, and a couple dozen meteors. It was amazing - you could see the Milky Way so clearly.
We woke up early to get our tow
out to American Point - where we'd start our canoe journey. Once at American point we got into the water and continued a tradition of Josh's old BWCA group - 5 minutes of silence. You just sit in the water for ~5 minutes and listen to complete silence. It's pretty awesome. After that, we paddled out to deep water, dipped our SIGG bottles into the lake
and drank fresh lake water.
We then paddled and portaged til lunch, enjoying the scenery, clean waters, GORP (Good Ol Raisins 'n Peanuts), and remembering that we forgot all of our lunch meat and cheese in the Voyageur cabin fridge. The only sandwich ingredients we had were peanut butter, onion, honey mustard, and Tabasco sauce. All were combined to make sandwiches
... You'd be surprised how good a peanut butter onion sandwich tastes after a morning of paddling.
Also, if you don't know what portaging is - it's what you call hauling your gear
and canoes across land
to get to lakes that aren't connected by water.
So after lunch we paddled until we found a campsite that we liked, swam for a bit, setup camp, waited out a storm, then made dinner
- which consisted of Beef Stroganoff, Corn
, and Pudding. It was a great day.
We woke up, had pancakes
, packed up the campsite and started canoeing again. Much of the trip is pretty repetitive... just canoe, camp, and enjoy the wilderness.
So we made our way around Knife Lake stopping to hike to the top of Thunder Point for lunch
We then paddled til we found our second (and amazingly awesome) campsite. It was really setback, open, had an awesome swimming hole
, and a shitter
with a view
. I loved it. So we swam
, goofed off
, and I got to use my first latrine. We then had dinner
, saw some otters
, almost got landed on by a golden eagle, and watched the sunset
Oh - and we also saw a few bald eagles, lots of loons, and no other humans. it was a really good day.
We cleaned up the campsite and took off with 1 goal - to get the awesome campsite with a beach on Saganaga Lake.
So we paddled, saw more bald eagles, loons, another moose
, and more beautiful wilderness.
While we were stopped for a quick peanut butter/onion sandwich break
, we noticed another group of canoers passing us. So we quickly got back in our canoes and the race began. In fact, at the next portage, Will overheard that the group that passed us was also trying to get in early to grab the awesome beach site. So Josh and Chris took off while the rest of us portaged the gear. The only problem was - Josh and Chris forgot the map.
When the rest of us caught up to Josh and Chris, we noticed they were going the wrong way; the other group was 50 yards behind them looking at their map. It was a good accidental distraction, but the other group wound up taking the lead... until the second accidental distraction - a moose.
So while they were looking at the moose we caught up, admired the moose, but also quietly kept paddling past them. That's when they knew it was on
. Both of our groups just bolted - it was the most childish, awesome thing ever. We weren't talking to each other, we were just in an all out race to the beach... All probably about 20 yards apart.
There's one point, at the bottom of Saganga Lake where the lakes get incredibly narrow with lots of rocks. 1 canoe can safely fit through at a time... But Josh's dad (Cal) and Will slammed through the rocks at the same time as the other group, haha. They literally crashed into each other while fighting to get through the rocks. Cal even pushed off of the front of their canoe with his paddle, haha.
The race ended with Scott and I in an all out battle with 1 of their canoes. We'd both left the rest of our groups behind - paddling as hard as we could; we barely
won the 3.5 mile race to the beach
... only to find out the campsite had already been taken.
So after all that work, we decided we were gonna swim there for a bit anyway - so we did. It was really nice. But while we were swimming the group we were racing got the last campsite between there and the outfitters. Seriously.
We then had to paddle the rest of the way in, across giant waters
, after a 3.5 mile race - missing our last night of camping. It sorta sounds like a story your grandpa would tell you, but we literally canoed 22+ miles with either crosswinds or headwinds - all in 1 day. It was ridiculous, hilarious, and I never want to do it again.
So after the amazing race, we made our last camp dinner
, had some beer, showered, and checked out The Windigo
- a bar Josh used to visit when he worked there.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. It was hard work, short - and inadvertently got cut shorter, but it was really beautiful and a lot of fun. We've got some ideas for next year... I'm excited to do it again.
Here are the rest of the photos