Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 6

The packs are packed, the straps are tightened and all but our frozen steak, tortilla shells and gorp have been purchased. A dream –  265+ days of pure obsessive bliss in the making.

I’m feeling a bit like a bride just before the wedding. Knowing that soon all of this endless planning will be put into action and will be over before I know it.

But unlike a bride – if I love it as much as my heart and soul are telling me I will – I will get to ride that horse of planning for the next trip soon! [Oh yes – we are planning on hitting up Mudro or heading far east to East Bearskin & Caribou Lakes in October!]

I laid out under the stars two nights ago around midnight. It was a very clear night and I saw a few shooting stars and reflected what this trip has meant to me, and for me so far.

A trip of distraction. A trip of happiness. When my life had been turned on its axis last July, I’ve had something real and tangible to be genuinely excited about. Instead of being quagmired in the day to day sadness that comes with loosing a parent, unexpectedly, at an early age I poured all of that emotion into planning for this trip. Was God and my dad leading me towards this trip as I’ve said many times for the end result – or for the planning? After all – as my dad has ALWAYS said – planning is half the fun!

Regardless, I laid under those stars the other night and felt deeply connected. Connected to this earth, connected to God and connected to my dad on a level I haven’t felt in a while. The tears came, and I let them. I let myself feel everything I’ve wanted to feel, but have been too terrified to feel. The only thing wrong with the entire scenario was the neeeaaawwwmmm of the cars going down the road and highway. I imagine myself on the far north lakes along the Canadian border in pure silence. Perhaps a splash in the lake of a Walleye getting comfortable for evening, or chipmunks trying hard to figure out how to eat through our food pack… but those are the sounds of the earth.

I cant wait to lay out on the ground in the night and stare at the heavens and let them speak to me without all of the distractions of society.

Last October I had started the countdown to the BWCA as a way to express my excitement, list off my laundry items of what to do to prepare for such a trip. 265 days ago I had visited the library to get a few books on Indian Lake,  a place that we were going camping for Labor Day in the southern arrowhead region. Next to those books were a few books on the boundary waters. I had no clue what the boundary waters really were besides being in a canoe and portaging in the woods. I had no interest in forgoing luxuries for a wild trip into the woods with minimal gear. Plus I didn’t even think anyone would be up for it.

Then I started to think about it constantly. I tried to use fear to “scare” the idea out of me, and imagined rabid wolves and bears coming into camp, or getting terribly lost in the woods, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that was being stirred up inside of me urging me to go. Finally mentioning it casually to my husband – like, “hmmm… I guess the fishing is pretty epic in the Boundary Waters…” My husband replied something to the effect of, “yeah – why not, check it out!” all nonchalant. I couldn’t believe it. I expected pushback, but instead I was met with open door after open door.

I began researching everything you can about the boundary waters. My first introduction ever into the bwca was a book Lost in the Wild last June by Cary Griffith which is about two lost people in the BWCA and Quetico. Determined I was not going to be unprepared like Jason Rasmussen from the book, I began relentlessly pouring over information on gear, fishing, location, wildlife, and maps and maps and maps. I watched You Tube video after You Tube video, and went to numerous expos in the process.

My biggest help has been the website bwca.com. Without it I would be dead in the water. The fine people on that website and on those message boards welcomed me with open arms, and provided me with top notch, kind advice. Never once was I made to feel stupid, or inferior, and the people I have met along the way want truly nothing more than for you to have an amazing experience.

I can’t wait to share a top notch trip report with you next month! Thanks to all of you who have helped with this journey! I’ll see you on the other side!

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 12.16.18 AM

 

Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 4

Well February just went SCREAMING by! Maybe because there were only 28 days in the month – but really – screaming by!

In the past month we did a lot of research on bwca.com (my favorite website) and purchased a LOT of BIG items.

1.) We bought a canoe! After firmly deciding that we were not going to haul the beast of a fiberglass canoe that our friends had borrowed us, we were thinking about renting a Kevlar canoe from the boundary waters. We poured hours upon hours into which brand and model canoe we wanted and landed on the one below.  When doing the math – after just two or so trips we would have an entire canoe paid for – so we ended up purchasing a 2013 Wenonah Boundary Waters Canoe from Dan Waters up at Canadian Waters Inc. in Ely. It was a used outfitting boat that’s in great condition. He is storing it up at his place until we come.

Boundary Waters-Menu

2.) After a co-worker borrowed me his #4 and #3 Duluth Packs I determined that I would rather have a portage pack, so I returned my awesome purple Crestrail 65L for an even more awesome CCS Pioneer Hybrid pack (in Red). This sucker takes the practicality of a portage bag and marries it with the convenience and comfort of a framed hiking pack and BAM! You have a CCS Hybrid bag. The best part is that it’s not only made in the USA, its made right down the road from me!

I had the luxury of visiting CCS headquarters and meeting owners Dan & Karen who are avid paddlers, and know a thing or two about the BWCA! While I was there I got loads of free advice, and picked up a Pathfiner Thwart Bag as well to hold our map, bug spray, sun screen and anything else we want to keep handy in the canoe.

hybrid600

thwartpathfinder-md

What else happened? We reserved our bunkroom with Canadian Waters, Inc. as well, and it seems like a very very good deal. We plan to head up to the bwca on a Friday and put in on a Saturday – instead of waking up around 3am to drive up to Ely and get in [the entry point] early enough to avoid canoe traffic at the major portages.

It is $20 per night for a room (per person) of private bunk beds, and Sadie can stay with us too – and breakfast is included at Britton’s Cafe across the street. If you ask me – thats one heck of a deal!

In this next month we will be purchasing sleeping bags for both Miss K’s  and myself and three Exped or Thermarests mats to get us up off the freshly thawed ground and a few more clothing items as needed.

Jason did discover there is quite a few items of interest at Fleet Farm at a pretty good discount. Dry bags which are in the same fashion as our REI purchased ones, and these super awesome flexible ties. He also purchased a handful of bungee cords and a handful wool sox as well.

One other website that I found is this awesome one: Paddle Planner. You can put in your entry point to your desired daily location and it will tell you (in miles) how far you have to travel and the estimated time it will take you to get there. They also have campsites listed with photos and reviews! I already have my eye on several campsites I would like to make my home for a few days!

This next month we should have everything fairly buttoned up in terms of the majority of our supplies. Here’s to more “hunting and gathering”.

~ Till next time.