I don’t really remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a love for the water. Some of my earliest memories are of playing in brooks near my childhood home in the Vermont mountains and that love has never waned. In fact, it’s pretty much followed me (or I’ve followed it) throughout life. My summers in Alaska commercial fishing for salmon, my time in the Marine Corps, my professional career in the water feature business and of course my life-long adventures in fishing all reflect my love for the water. More recently you can add kayaking to that list, but before that I was more of a canoe guy.
My love for canoeing definitely developed through my mother and was something we’ve often done together. This summer when I realized that our travel schedule was going to put us within reach of the Canoe Area Boundary Water in northern Minnesota, I quickly called my Mom to see if she and Bill could somehow join us. The timing of this trip just didn’t workout for their schedules, but Marcy, the kids and I had an amazing canoe adventure.
We pulled into Voyager North Outfitters on Tuesday afternoon with plans for a Wednesday morning departure by canoe. Although we have a ton of camping gear, we decided to use and outfitter and choose a completely outfitted package for this trip. They provided the canoe, paddles, tent, sleeping mats and bags, food and all cooking essentials. Overall we have nothing but good things to say about Voyager North Outfitters other than the fact that we had way too much food. They definitely didn’t skimp on the chow.
Wednesday morning we woke ready to wrap up loose ends and get on the water. Unfortunately the extremely slow internet and phone connections delayed our departure for a couple of hours, but in the end it didn’t matter. We left Brienne behind and headed out with our new form of transportation, a 19′ kevlar canoe packed for 5 days of backcountry adventure.
Getting on the water was breath of fresh air. Literally, after a couple of deep breaths, the world of roads and automobiles faded into the distance. Now it was just the four of us and Mother Nature.
Ma nature was good to us for the first several hours as we familiarized ourselves with our gear. Then, she let loose with a good dose of rain just as we approached our first portage. What are you going to do? Get wet that’s what. Luckily the sun came back out and started the drying process soon after.
We portaged (carried) our gear and canoe across the land to the next little lake and repeated the process again to get onto Lake Two. At that point we realized that we had lost a bag containing a GoPro camera, two sets of binoculars, and Marcy’s phone. I retraced our path, including the portages, but found nothing. After a few curse words and a couple of deep breaths we were back to our new reality of water and wilderness. We’ll deal with our lost gear later…
That night we found a campsite in a cozy little cove on Lake Three. We filtered water for cooking and drinking, pitched our tent, ate dinner, hung up our bear bag and drifted off to sleep with the sounds of loons echoing across the lake.
We woke to a cool but comfortable morning. I quickly made a fire and cooked a fine breakfast of fried eggs and hash browns. See, I told you they didn’t skimp on chow. After washing dishes and breaking camp we loaded up the canoe for another day of paddling. We made much better time that we expected and were soon in Lake Four exploring campsites. We finally settled on a beautiful site located on a a rocky pine covered point. This would be home for the next two days.
From this home, we made several day trips and did quite a bit of fishing. I would usually wake before the rest of the gang and silently slip the canoe into the water for a morning excursion. I was rewarded with bald eagle and beaver sightings as well as lots of fish. The early morning topwater action was exciting and productive for both largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as, northern pike.
We continued to eat like royalty and enjoy our uninterrupted time together. Five days wasn’t enough and we were quickly retracing our footsteps (paddle strokes) on our way back to reality. The final night we had a difficult time in finding a campsite and after striking out repeatedly we finally struck gold with the last site on Lake One. It was an amazing site overlooking a calm cove next to a rushing rapid that connected two lakes. What a great place to spend our final night in the Boundary Waters.
After a short paddle and a quick van ride we were back in town. The kids hugged and kissed Brienne like a long lost sister. They were excited to be home. I was too, but I already missed the adventure of the Canoe Area Boundary Waters. We’ll definitely be back.
Until then, we’ll keep on enjoying each day in our amazing lives. Hasta Luego Ely, MN.
As for our lost gear, a nice gentleman from Duluth had picked up the bag and mailed the contents to us. Good karma all around.