Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 5

Seriously – I’m posting part 5 today! It seems as though I was just at the local library picking up a copy of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Western Region book almost as a joke to see what the big fuss was about the BWCA, and now just 8 months later I am dreaming wildly of my first paddle stroke into the wild.

Everything is starting to run together now, but all that we really have to procure now is paddles and new fishing poles – because – eh – why not.

I recently purchased an Exped mat at the recommendation from my new friends over at I asked the kind folks of REI if I could “play” with one before I purchased so I pumped it up like I was giving my mat CPR (kind of wondering if all of this CPR pumping was worth the Exped) and then it was finally to the desired firmness, and I laid on it. I instantly was sold and probably laid in the store on that mat for far longer than I should have. (Later that evening I had a 12 hour drive ahead of me to Oklahoma) so I was taking advantage of the five minute snooze fest on the floor of REI. I’m sure they’ve seen far worse but I digress.

Nature is releasing its grip on winter down here near the cities with all of the snow gone, and ice out on much of the lakes. It is making me crave the wild places with an increased and renewed hunger. I recently spoke with some people from Ely who said the snow is gone-baby-gone (Hallelujah), but alas there is still two feet of perfect glass ice that is holding fast. Each day I am checking the Ely weather forecast to see if it will be warm enough to melt that ice – but ultimately I have to let nature do its thing and not worry about it. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” ~ Luke 12:25. My worrying about it won’t make the ice melt any faster. Well said Jesus. Well said.

At the end of this month I’m heading to the Outdoor Adventure Expo at Midwest Mountaineering and can’t wait! We went to the Sportsman Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center last weekend, and it was pretty underwhelming. Mostly RVs, big boats, and lodges. We did run into a few canoe outfitters, and I did purchase a subscription to the BWJ so I can dork out with a magazine too!
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I think that’s it for now. Minimal things left for the month. To do’s include buying my 48″ bending branches espresso bent shaft paddle – leaving the fishing pole stuff up to the husband, and watching lots of videos on how to pack your canoe pack. The way I have it now I nearly tipped over like Reece Witherspoon in Wild.


Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 3

I’m half way through this series and with every post the anticipation is pregnant with excitement that I can hardly contain. Wednesday January 28th was permit issuing opener beginning at 9:00 a.m. My co-worker [who is also scheduling a trip this year] and I logged into respectively on our computers at 8:45 a.m. and waited like children on Christmas morn waiting for their sleepy parents to arise from their slumber so that we could open our presents!

As soon as 9:00 a.m. rolled around I clicked submit and just like magic we have a permit reserved!

Suddenly the trip became all too real – we are no longer collecting ridiculously fancy camping equipment from REI, but are going on a real life wilderness adventure.  We began going over the list this past week on what we still need, and tasks we need to complete.

After some research on an outfitter for a canoe of course (because who wants to hump an 80lb canoe in? ) and perhaps lodging for the night – we found both through Canadian Waters Inc. Dan Waters and his wife Cathy have been in business since 1964 – and have been going on trips to the BWCAW since the 40s. Clearly they are qualified to take care of a little family 3 pack (plus a Jack Russell).

Canadian Waters not only rents/sells canoes, but also has a bunkhouse and will allow our JRT to bunk with us since we plan to take her on our adventure. After talking it over with my husband – we are planning to flat out purchase one of their 2013 models providing there aren’t too many patches on it, and that the gunwales are still in great condition.

After crunching the numbers – and because we plan to take possibly a summer trip and almost assuredly a fall trip – it would be foolish to us to rent, because in just this year the canoe would be basically paid for through rentals.

We’ve settled on the Boundary Waters We-Noh-nah canoe for its stability factor (since we are avid fisherman (and woman). Further our 1984 beast mode fiberglass canoe weighing in at 80lbs borrowed to us by our good friends has the exact same dimensions as the Boundary Waters model – and we’ve been in that several times with 3 adults and had an amazing time.

We’ve purchased some more food, and I plan to actually pack them in the bag to make sure that I don’t need to upgrade to the Granite Gear Quetico – over my current pack. (Mine is purple) (The difference of 20L).

Other than that – we’ve relented to the fact that we would be better off with individual sleeping bags (as opposed to humping our queen sleeping bag) and purchasing Thermarests with foam to keep us warm (and cozy) as well. Going over our list I realize we still need to purchase a few things over the next few months.

Here’s what we still need to purchase:
-2 Sleeping Bags (Miss K has one – so as long as its R rating is good – we only need 2)
-3 Thermarests
Thermarest pillows for whoever wants one. (I do – I do)
-1 Boundary Waters Canoe from Canadian Waters, Inc
– 2 Paddles (I prefer the bent shaft)
Lifeproof Case for my iPhone so I don’t have to carry in my “good camera” since i’m shooting a wedding 2 weeks after our trip and hello the iPhone 6 takes awesome photos
Dog Lifejacket for Sadie our JRT – yes she can swim – but water temps will probably be in the 50s.
Dog bowl travel system
More Paracord (can you even have “too much”?
– SAT phone which we will rent from Canadian Waters. (For emergencies)
– New Fishing Poles (because who doesn’t want and excuse to buy new fishing gear?)

Now checking just today at the available permits – I’m so glad that I was on the ball as there are only 3 permits left for the time that we were planning to go (There were originally 8).

So – lots to do this next month. We need to reserve our bunkhouse, purchase the canoe (or at least put a deposit down on it) and finish packing to determine if I need to upgrade my pack since I am carrying the majority of our gear since Jason will be carrying the canoe – and we don’t expect our 7 year old to carry too much beyond her sleeping bag and thermarest.


Nights are filled with gear lists, timelines, unrelenting research on the area we are going to, the general Ely area, and reading trip reports of others who’ve gone on the same route, and watching video podcasts and you tube videos for inspiration. To say I am obsessed may or may not be an understatement! I have no idea how I am supposed to wait another three months, but I’m up to a challenge, and would like to apologize to everyone around me for my boundless excitement lest I annoy you that is not my intention.