Canoe Trip with Broadwing Adventures guides Doug Fitzgerald and Jack Drury - August 30 to September 13, 2012
Likes and learns from the trip
give the reader an idea of what we are left with after the journey.
Our canoe - In 2007 we had Swift Canoe from
Ontario make us a 16’6” Kipawa tandem touring canoe. It is light, but has a limited payload.
This works fine for us, because when we need a light canoe we also carry a light load. We ordered bow and stern skid plates, which were a definite plus for protecting the boat from the rocks in the BW. On a couple of previous local
trips I have overloaded this boat and have been nervous about how it handled, on this trip the boat and load were well matched and it performed well.
Navigation – In all three canoes we used the National Geographic, Trails Illustrated Map, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness West.
There is also an East version. There are at least 3 different makers of maps for the BW, but I am used to the NG maps and like how they represent the area. Jack, Ed and I also use GPS units, Jack prefers to use the GPS as his primary navigation tool, while I rely more on map reading, as I like the larger perspective it provides. I use the GPS to set waypoints, track time and distance to destinations and to record distances traveled. My 10 year old Garmin tends to lose signal under tree cover, while Jack and Ed’s newer units work better in poor signal areas.
Even with a restrictive permit system we saw a number of people, especially near the entry points. On the southern end of Lac La Croix we struggled to find an empty campsite, but we spent 3 nights on remote Pocket Lake and never saw anyone. Like in the Adirondacks, the farther you are willing to travel away from access points, the less people you will see. Even after days of travel in the BW you will likely see more people when your route comes near other entry points. Almost everyone we saw carried fishing gear and there were many serious anglers out there. For us the fishing was an added bonus to the canoe trip, for some groups the camping is a necessary part of a fishing trip.
technique known as Leader Of the Day. Not everyone was willing to accept the role, but this leadership style was fairly successful. Jan and Phyliss did a
great job when each of them was LOD and Phyliss’s skit to start her day was hilarious.
In my July blog about the NPT, I expounded on the simplicity of living and traveling in the wilderness. Instead of repeating myself here, I thought I’d use a couple of excerpts from The Lonely Land, by Sigurd Olson. He wrote extensively about paddling in the Boundary Waters and Quetico and is considered to be one of the nation's best nature writers.
... “One more camp, perhaps two, and we would be at Cumberland House. It became increasingly hard to realize that the trip was drawing to a close and that this was the end of many things for all of us. ... At the moment it seemed as though we had always been together, that our old life was nebulous and unreal. This way of existence, living in tents and traveling together each day, seemed the way life should be. We had shared wind and storm, rapids and portages, and all of that had been good.”...
... “By the time I reached home the whole expedition had begun to seem a little unreal. I spread the equipment out in the yard to give it a final airing before putting it away. ... As I worked over the outfit, the Churchill River seemed far away, ... I knew it would soon be hard even to imagine the music of huskies around the Indian villages or the wild calling of the loons on the open lakes.
I also knew there were some things that would never be dimmed by distance or time,
compounded of values that would not be forgotten: the joy and challenge of the
wilderness, the sense of being part of the country and of an era that was gone, the freedom we had known, silence, timelessness, beauty, companionship and loyalty, and the feeling of fullness and completion that was ours at the end.” ...
Sigurd Olson expresses these sentiments so well.