A week on the water

I sit here on my couch looking out the window over a calm lake vermilion.  You can see the reflections of the trees on the opposite shore in the near still slightly ripply water.  The only waves are created by the occasional boat passing by.  We truly live in an amazing area.

I just got back from our second trip into the Boundary Water Canoe Area.  This was our long trip of the summer.  I think I’ve talked about it in previous posts, but we started on the eastern edge of the BWCAW in a lake called Little John Lake.  From there we headed west traveling through 31 lakes and 6 rivers covering approximately 94 miles.  This brought us to about the half way point on the Voyagers Highway.  This “Highway” is the same route the fur traders used to transport their winter catches from as far north as Athabaska country all the way to Grand Marais where there was a substantial trading post. When deciding the location of the international border between the United States and Canada they agreed that this commonly used route would be the dividing line, and that all of the lakes and portages (the hiking trails connecting the lakes) could be used by people of both nations without the need to pass through customs.  So on our entire trip the shoreline on our right was Canada and the the shoreline on the left USA.

As we paddled and hauled our gear over this historic route, it was amazing to think about the individuals who passed over the same ground we did years ago.  Also to think about the equipment they used and the weights they had to haul really made us appreciate the struggles they would have endured.  There is one portage we encountered along the way that was 660 rods long and aptly named “Long Portage”.  Portages usually range in the 30 – 170 rod range, and there are 320 rods in a mile.  So needless to say a 660 rod portage is quite the undertaking.  This is where you take all your gear out of your canoe and carry it across including your canoe to the next lake.  A two mile hike doesn’t seem that difficult if you are on a backpacking trip, but the packs we use are designed for canoeing.  They are wide to fit in the canoe nicely and one feature that hiking packs have that these packs do not is the very important waist belt to help carry the load on your hips.  These are strictly shoulder packs and at 60 – 70 lbs they are a bit to lug around.

We got to see some cool wildlife.   I was filming a loon swim across the lake when Matt nudged me and pointed out a beaver dragging a green leafy branch down the bank towards the water.  I quickly began to film him doing his work.  As he began swimming with his branch I was zoomed in relatively close on him when the loon popped up right in the frame.  It was pretty cool.

The first few days were kinda chilly and a little rainy, but then turned to sunny blue skies.  It was nice to dry out and feel the hot sun on our faces as we paddled across these lakes.  One of the difficult things we dealt with on the trip was a constant head wind the entire 7 days.  The wind apparently tends to blows out of the North West and since we were heading West for our trip it made for some difficult paddling at times.  Luckily when we were crossing the bigger lakes it wasn’t too strong and we were able to avoid the large waves that often accompany gusty days.

I’d like to at some point do the entire Voyagers Highway through the BWCAW, but that will have to wait for another year.

Oh Matt (Erin’s cousin) was with on this trip.  He is a math teacher down in the cities.  He helped figure out that we each paddled approximately 20,911 paddle strokes.

For now it’s nice to be back hanging out with Erin.  It feels like I’ve been on a dead run since school got out on May 29th.  I had the 4 day BWCA trip on May 30th, two days after returning from that trip Erin and I flew to Australia for three weeks, four days after returning from that trip I took this 7 day BWCA trip.  So now I’m looking forward to some down time.  Maybe sleeping in and not doing much.

Here are a few pictures from our Voyager Highway Trip.