This summer, several scouts and scout leaders went for a one-week canoeing and camping adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota and south-southwest border of Ontario, Canada. “Covering more than 1 million acres, Boundary Waters is the largest wilderness area east of the Rocky Mountains and north of the Everglades. It stretches nearly 200 miles along the U.S.-Canada border and is contiguous with Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park, which is also managed as a wilderness area.”
I think canoe trips are more exercise than hiking trips because paddling for 6 or 7 hours a day, with up to 10 portages a day (carrying either a 70-pound gear pack or a 45-pound kevlar canoe on your shoulders up to 3/4 of a mile to an adjacent lake or river) is a full-body workout (abs, gluts, shoulders, balance, stability). Portaging over beaver dams into shin-deep mud and swampy bogs then reaching crystal-clear lakes with perfect temps for swimming. The Boundary Waters region is essentially entirely pristine, fully recovered from logging done in the 19th and early 20th centuries and other environmental impacts. Now it is devoted exclusively to canoeing. It is a dense forest of pine, cedar, aspen, and many, many birch trees. We saw beavers, deer, snapping turtles, red-breasted mergansers, red-winged blackbirds, bald eagles, robins, giant swans, and loons, who make dominating honking noises in the late evening and early hours of darkness (the wilderness equivalent of “chocolate on your pillow”). The loons and the swans take a long time to achieve flight elevation, with their large, awkward wings. We watched a pair struggle to gain altitude to clear the forest that surrounds Tin Can Mike Lake.
If I go missing, now you know where to find me!