It’s been a busy summer season Up North, not only with work but with exploring the area. We had certain activities we wanted to complete right away to avoid mosquito season so our first adventure was going to the Boundary Waters.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area only allows non-motorized watercrafts, aka canoes and kayaks. Since most people visiting the BW stay for multiple nights, canoes are used more as they hold a lot more gear than a kayak. The BW are huge! They start in Northern Minnesota and stretch up to Canada (called Quetico Park) and cover 1.1 million acres, contains 1,200 miles of canoe routes, almost 2,000 lakes, and 12 different hiking trails. We rented a canoe from an outfitter for the day and received almost an hours worth of canoe how-to’s and general BW information. The canoe was loaded on top of our car and off we went.
There are hundreds of different access points to the BW and we decided to use the Hegman Lake Canoe Access as it was only an hours drive and the trail to the lake was only a 1/4 mile. We parked, got out of the car and were greeted by hundreds of mosquitoes so there went our great mosquito avoiding plan. Lol. 🤣
We went as fast as we could untying the canoe and lifting it off the top of the car. We started the walk with our gear and canoe on the now very long quarter mile trail. The canoe we rented was Kevlar so apparently it’s was lighter than traditional canoes but carrying it down a hiking trail sure didn’t make it feel that way.
Once we got to the lake, we placed the canoe in the water and had to figured out a good way for us to both get in the canoe without getting too wet, the canoe tipping over or making sure the canoe didn’t scrape the million rocks along the shore. We completed that task without fail and starting padding away.
And oh wow! It was so quiet and peaceful. The only noise was our paddles touching the water and the gentle breeze through the trees. The dense forest surrounded the lake and stretched as far as the eye could see. The sun was shining, the clouds were fluffy and as long as we kept paddling, the mosquitoes stayed away.
After we canoed around the lake, we were ready to move on to the next lake. The lakes here are not connected by water but by walking trails, called portages. So, to get from one lake to another the canoe is beached, we get out, take out our gear and carry the canoe plus gear to the next lake. Plus, not worrying about tipping the canoe or scrapping it against rocks.
It was a quick walk to the next lake and we set off again canoeing in the peacefulness of the wilderness. We ventured over to a rock formation that had 500 year old pictographs. The pictographs are the most visited pictographs in the State and there is much controversy if the pictographs are as old as they say.
There are over 30 pictographs within the BW and the Native Americans mostly used red pigment and the drawings are 2-5 feet above the water, as if they were painted while standing in a canoe. The pictographs we saw symbolized the Ojibway peoples close ties with their natural surroundings and animal “brothers”. The pictographs were bright and bold in color and looked very neat.
Below is a photo of the pictographs so we’ll leave it up to you if you think they are over 500 years old.
After seeing the artwork, we canoed passed tall cliff walls and through a narrow marsh channel which is home to carnivorous plants. We saw another portage but instead of taking the canoe, we left it safely on shore, walked around and had lunch.
It was calm and tranquil there, we could understand why people visit the area. It’s a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and just reflect on what’s important and self reflect.
We decided if we were both taller and a big younger and stronger, this wouldn’t be so bad. Would we do this again? If we had a tall person carrying our canoe, absolutely! Any volunteers out there? 😉
Remember earlier we had multiple activities to complete before mosquito season? Well, after the BW trip we realized there is no getting away from mosquitoes until the fall so our other big adventure was put on hold. But there will be another blog post about our other adventures. Until next time, happy trails!