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Boundary Waters Adventure

Posted August 11th, 2013 at 7:28 PM by Anna
Updated April 18th, 2015 at 5:54 PM by Anna

I should probably actually tell y'all when I vanish ahaha sorry. Went canoeing in the Boundary Waters this time. Tuesday I got up at 8:40, got to work at 10, worked till 6, got picked up to go buy the food, went back to my house with Ian and packed, went to his house to sleep over so we could start packing up at 7am and leave at 8:30 on Wednesday. Fun fact: no cell phone service within like 40 miles of the Boundary Waters. Another fun fact: bug spray don't do crap. Yet another: I may have had a spider in my sleeping bag. My thighs are one big bite.

Our plan was to camp at Crescent Lake on Wednesday, then canoe out over Brule Lake on Thursday and set down at a campsite there. Brule Lake is massive. The map made is pretty impossible to understand the scale of things and we kept getting lost. And guess what? It was windy as hell. So you know, seven of us in three canoes with all our gear and food, trying to power through a headwind in wavy open water. That's real scary when you're like four inches above the water. I started out as the 'duffer', the extra person in the canoe, because nobody else wanted to and I was apathetic. Apathy quickly turned to terror because as the duffer, you're even closer to the waves. And I really really hate open water.

None of us who went on the trip were expert canoeists, except for Mr. Bill. So partway through Thursday's venture, Caleb and Eliot got stuck. They're not real good at turning and neither are very powerful, so they kept veering off and were unable to correct before going in a massive circle. They got frustrated and ended up stuck on the lee of an island. Mr. Bill and Ben and I went and got them and it ended up so that we kids switched canoes- me steering and Ben paddling; Mr. Bill steering, Caleb paddling, and Eliot as the duffer. The only real problem is that I don't actually know how to steer. All I can do is put down ridiculous amounts of power and then switch paddling sides when we go too far in one direction. Apparently that's good enough.

We stopped for lunch on a tiny rocky beach. The Boundary Waters are all rocks and pine trees, I swear. Incredibly different from Lake Michigan or the rivers I've grown up on. I still haven't looked up how recent they came to be- it seemed like there hadn't been as much erosion going on to create more gradual slopes and wear down the massive rocks. It's also always cold pretty much, so probably decay of animal and plant life doesn't happen as fast. Anyway. We put on our rain gear and set off into increasingly worse weather. 2ft waves that were whitecapping. And spurts of rain. Still with a headwind.

Somewhere along the line, I started panicking. Having a panic attack is not nice at the best of times. But in the middle of a large lake, being buffeted by wind, nearly being tipped by waves, and in a position where if you don't put your power down, you can't get out of the situation? Not good. I was sobbing, shaking, terrified, and weak because of it. I couldn't move against the wind and waves, I couldn't put any power down, we were getting separated from the other two canoes and absolutely nowhere near any shore. Thank god for Ben. That boy kept talking to me, kept instructing me, kept it together. Made me turn the canoe when I didn't want to because it meant going sideways. Made me keep moving. Made me actually breathe properly. Got us to a calmer bay with the rest of the group.

There weren't any campsites. We could only even find like half of them that were on the map, and of course they were taken. We had to cross the lake again. I went back to panicking. Ben got us back through. We got back to the boat landing at 6pm. We had left there at 10:30am. Canoed the whole time except for the half-hour lunch and occasional drifting together while we tried to gather our bearings. Back to Crescent Lake we went, grabbed a campsite and set up again. Stayed there the rest of the nights.

Friday we lazed around and cruised around Crescent Lake. Two of our fishing rods broke somehow. Ben and I each managed to catch a fish. We saw some loons and a gull and a bald eagle. Saturday we went back to Brule and just cruised around the east bays. That was frustrating because Brule is still massive. And very few of the islands are marked on the map. So we kept thinking the boat landing was right around the corner and it wasn't and it was very frustrating. And Sunday we packed up and drove home.

The Boundary Waters are nice. But that was not my idea of that we should be doing. None of us are really very good at "high adventure" stuff. I just wanted to take a few canoes, set down on a small lake in Minnesota or Wisconsin, make a home out of a campsite and paddle around. No worries about gear, have fun falling out of a canoe, go swimming, wander around, whatever. You can't do that in the Boundary Waters. That's high-stress, far away, and a huge amount of work and expense. It's cold and buggy as hell and the water will never be an acceptable swimming temperature. It's just... I want to play, not go on a journey.

I don't know if I regret it or not. I went with good people and had a nice time some of the time. But it wasn't brilliant.
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  1. Old Comment
    Hikamaru's Avatar
    I was wondering what happened, but glad to see you back in one piece.
    Posted August 11th, 2013 at 7:52 PM by Hikamaru Hikamaru is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Kura's Avatar
    Hey it's an experience you wont forget! I think it is very cool you went to experience it :3333
    Posted August 12th, 2013 at 4:43 AM by Kura Kura is offline
  3. Old Comment
    donavannj's Avatar
    A trip to the Boundary Waters really is roughing it. Considerably more of an outdoorsy activity than a trip to a family cabin.

    Went once to Fourtown Lake with my dad when I was 14. I got stuck with a pack that weighed nearly as much as I did for the portages.
    Posted August 12th, 2013 at 9:29 AM by donavannj donavannj is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Anna's Avatar
    @hikari thanku

    @kura aw yeah it was a bit of a rollercoaster for sure

    @don oh man how did you even survive D:
    Posted August 14th, 2013 at 7:40 AM by Anna Anna is offline

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