An HDT BWCA Retrospect
As the temperatures start cooling and the snow starts dropping, it's more important than ever to get your daily dose of outdoors. Even with the importance of social distancing and maintaining healthy practices, it's still possible to enjoy the sun, the breeze, and just immerse yourself in the wonder and beauty of nature.
We are fortunate to have some beautiful open spaces in our region that are just begging to be explored. Here's a list of state parks put together by MN DNR. There are untouched miles and miles of nature that are just a drive away, but extremely worth it.
Spending time outdoors has many physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Making time to unplug and get away from the chaos of everyday life, now more than ever, can provide a critical “recharge” to mind, body, and soul. Two of our staff members recently spent some time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) recharging in nature, relaxing with friends and family, and building lifelong memories. Here are some snippets from their trips!
Jim's Lifelong Experience
I’ve been paddling the BWCAW about as long as I can remember. Growing up my family would take summer vacations most every year from the time I was 8 or 10. I’ve been there in the heat of the summer and the middle of winter with temperatures of thirty below, but my favorite time has always been the fall.
Audra and I recently took a long weekend trip with our three oldest grandsons, our adult son (as a Sherpa), and Shep, the newest farm worker, who at the time was 8 week old. The weather was mixed with rain everyday, but enough time to dry out between showers. The fishing was good, but the catching was poor. Fortunately we brought plenty of food, with a menu of eggs and bacon with hashbrowns and pancakes, pizza over the fire, and chicken fajitas, to name a few. The kids adopted an “everything tastes better in the boundary waters” attitude and didn’t even complain about onions and peppers in their food. On a scouting mission for a new campsite, our son and 9 year old grandson were fortunate enough to see a large bull moose swim out of the water and run into the forest. And Shep, after jumping out of the canoe five minutes after launching, was a champ, walking all but one portage. We timed the fall colors perfectly, and like usual, it ended too soon.
When our kids were growing up we made a few canoe trips, and it continued as they became adults. A couple years ago I told my adult children I would no longer organize trips for them, that I wanted to bring people who haven’t experienced it. This year we decided that we should start with our grandkids. People, particularly children, who spend time in nature appreciate it more. And there are few places to immerse oneself in nature like the BWCAW. I’m sincerely grateful to the leaders who worked to protect this place, and those who continue to.
Unlike Jim, I didn’t grow up going into the Boundary Waters. I was 25 when I took my first trip into the BWCAW, with a relatively new friend, Bry, whom I didn’t know very well at the time. That trip gave me two things: the realization that I had been missing out on a pretty spectacular place that entire life and a deep connection with a friend that would last a lifetime. Every year since then, we’ve carved out time to do our annual girls & dogs trip, even when she was nearly 7 months pregnant!
In September, we did our first fall trip. With gorgeous sunny weather everyday (even with wind and temperatures that dipped into the high 20s at night), the start of fall colors, and zero mosquitos - we fell in love with autumn in the BWCAW. We relaxed in our hammocks, watched with admiration as the dogs swam in the frigid water (okay, Bry did, too - I hate cold water!), admired Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and the Milky Way reflecting in the glass-like water at night, sat mesmerized by the curling fog at the river’s mouth in the mornings, and soaked in the warmth of the autumn sun on the rocky lakeshore ledges. Before we portaged out, we experienced the beauty of hiking in this region for the first time, as we completed the 9 mile loop around Angleworm Lake. The views were amazing and it was great to exercise the legs while we gave the arms a break!
The only bad thing about a Boundary Waters trip is the end. You’re always left wanting a little more. So, the day I came out, I restocked and went back into the BWCAW the next morning on a second trip with my husband. By then my body was used to the routine, my soreness gone, the weather actually warmer, and the colors even more grand! Back to back trips are the way to go! I was able to spend five more wonderful days, unplugged and relaxing with the ones I love. We enjoyed the huge rocks of Boulder Bay set against the bright fall colors, paddled all the way to the Canadian border to see pictographs on Lac La Croix, spotted numerous otters playing in Ramshead Lake, and even had a fireside visitor - a Northern Saw-whet Owl!
Letting go and forgetting about the chaos of the world outside is my favorite part of these trips and the benefits stay with me for weeks afterwards. Nearly 250,000 people visit the BWCAW annually to enjoy the beauty and benefits of unplugging in a wilderness area. Unfortunately, this wild place is at risk. To learn more about the threats the Boundary Waters face and how you can take action, visit www.savetheboundarywaters.org.