Back from the Wilderness

This is a long one, but here it is…

As some of you may know we took a trip to the Boundary Waters. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s water (lakes) between Minnesota and the Canadian border. We went to camp, fish, hike and be one with nature. I was skeptical (petrified) at first because everyone made such a big deal about the bears and the wildlife. 

We decided to take the car instead of our motorcycles because we had the teenager with us, which it turns out was for the better anyway…

This is what it did almost all the way there.

When we arrived on Wednesday morning, we met up with the rest of the family, Dave’s two brothers and four kids between the two of them. So in all there were nine of us. We met with the couple who was outfitting us and they were wonderful. They remembered Dave and the family from the previous years that they stayed with them.

We were required to watch a video on what to do while we were out in the wilderness and then take a test in order to get a permit to go. Test?! WTF?!

The video was necessary to inform us of what to do when the bears came to our camp site, where to put the fish guts and heads after they were cleaned, what to do with our food while we were away and sleeping, and my favorite part, where and how to go to the latrine.

We passed the test after watching this insightful and educational video and went back to our home base to face our first challenge; loading the canoes with our gear and food. We had four canoes between the nine of us. As we were leaving, Doug, my brother-in-law, couldn’t wait to show me what a wolf spider looked like. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this because I was too busy running, screaming and peeing my pants. Yes, I can be quite the sissy. Now I was not only afraid of a bear coming to eat me in the middle of the night, but afraid that I would be swarmed by these cat sized spiders.

After about two hours we pushed off and started to paddle. I had to keep looking back to see why we were going in circles and it turns out Dave would stop paddling to sneak his fishing pole in the water. “What? I was just casting one time to see if I get any bites.” Yeah okay, ONE time.

We made it to our first portage where we had to unload and carry the canoes and all of our gear through the woods to the other lake so we could load up the boats and paddle again to the next portage and continue this process until we made it to our camp site. I carried the canoe on the second portage which was a mistake because it was 150 rods and mostly uphill. A rod is the length of a canoe.

Ain’t nothin’ like a smoke after carrying 800 pounds of gear uphill both ways in eighty degree heat. A cold Corona would have been nice too, but I tend to disappear when the alcohol hits my blood stream, so I had to settle for a Marlboro.
We made it to our camp site at about 7:30 p.m. Now, when I heard camp site, I was thinking camp site. Okay, well, what they really mean is a little piece of land about 8X10 in the middle of some really dense woods with no other human life form. What?! That’s where we’re staying? We’re not all going to fit there! Are you guys out of your minds? Luckily I was with four crafty and quite experienced guys who had done this before. The theme of the week was, “Ah, it’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.” This never seems to quell my fear, but it’s the standard comment when I express my concerns.
Well, we did it. We fit all of our tents and this was our home for the next three days.
The view was also quite captivating.
“Ummm, hey guys? Where do we shower?”
“In the lake.”

“Are you for serious?!”

“Uuhh, yep.”

“Well, okay then, guess I’ll be smelly.”

“Hey Gina?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you want to see where you go the bathroom?”

“Sure.”

Warning: This picture is not for the faint of heart

I quit drinking all liquids at this point and barely ate. Not to mention that it’s all the way up into the woods away from the site. That was actually a good thing because, well, I’m sure you can figure that one out for yourself.

After our meals…

we had to figure out how we were going to hang our bins of food. Did I mention that out of that 800 pounds of gear, half of it was food? This wouldn’t have been such a challenging task if any of the trees that we were surrounded by had some low branches, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

The guys spent close to an hour trying to throw a rope with a rock tied to the end of it over a flimsy tree branch that was about fifty feet up.

Once this was finally accomplished the guys got behind the rope and pulled. I was heaving the food up as to make it lighter for it’s ascent.

Then I heard a loud crack. I didn’t bother to look up,although that would have been the perfect Wiley  Coyote moment, I just let go of the food and ran like hell. It all came down including the guys.

This was what they came up with next…

While the guys were getting the food up in a tree, we would pump water through our little filtering system from the lake, or boil the water. This gave our water a nice smoked mesquite flavor. Mmm, Yum. 
Once the food was up we were able to go play in the waterfall and do some hiking…

and some fishing…

It was quite tasty after Dave marinated it in all of the special seasonings we concocted.
Did I tell you guys we were also lucky enough to experience a massive thunderstorm? It was great! We fashioned a mock gazebo for a gathering place to stay dry. Our tent leaked just a bit from the top though. I guess the fly can’t handle that kind of rain, so we had to double tarp it which kept us nice and dry for the entire evening. Not one leak.
Three days after no shower. Luckily this isn’t a scratch ‘n sniff.
And here’s the man after three days of not showering, in all his glory, my Indiana Jones/McGyver
The day finally came when we had to break camp and portage back to our home base. Finally! Woo Hoo! I was exhausted. After all of this, I was ready to see a bear but do you think they could have come to see me? Nope. Not one. I was ready to kick some ass and show no mercy. The scariest/wildest thing I saw was a wolf spider.
I have a hard time just relaxing into the unknown at first but my husband and brother-in-laws are great examples. I would go on any kind of adventure with these guys because they all have patience like I’ve never experienced and they’re so calm, kind and understanding. Each of them have their own unique gifts and combined they’re like a crazy cool super hero where anything can be accomplished and no situation is insurmountable. I couldn’t have asked for a better family to have the honor of being a part of. They make everything fun and adventurous and they’re game for anything at anytime. What more could I ask for?

Over all it was a fantastic trip and a great experience. I’d do it again, but I’d bring close to nothing next time…or almost close to nothing. I am a girl after all. 

Until next time…
~Live Happy 
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16 thoughts on “Back from the Wilderness

  1. It looks like it was an incredible trip, Gina. I LOVED the Boundary Waters area. I remember lakes with names like Kawnipi and Agnes.

    I really think I need a trip like that to clear my head. I'll bet you got some real writing thinking done, despite all the fun and adventure.

    Dave and his family sound great. Funny how we lucked out in the end, isn't it? 😉

    Thanks for the great post and the cool pictures. It was almost like being there. ALMOST.

    Glad you're back, though.

  2. Talk about living vicariously through someone else. Thanks so much for all the pics and narration! It was like a movie.

    And I would have peed my pants too if someone showed me a wolf spider.

  3. even living in MN, the most you'll see me doing is stayibg in a cabin. I'm not a tent, real camping sort of girl. Maybe when I was ten but no longer. I'm spoiled. 🙂 looks like a good time though. I was wondering if that storm last week put a damper on your trip.

    glad you're back and not missing any limbs to bears.

  4. Terry~ Yeah, we were on Hungry Jack, Bear Lake and some other one I can't remember the name of. We ended up leaving out of Grand Marais, MN.

    I think when we do something with the “intention” of clearing our heads, it doesn't work as well. That's what I found on this trip. I had no intention of anything but staying alive and in one piece, but I'll tell you the ideas came out of nowhere and at the most inopportune time, but I'll post about that next. 😉

    And yes, it is funny how we lucked out. But Terry, we do deserve all the love we get. I swear, you deserve all the goodness and grace. I missed you, I'm glad I'm back too.

    PW~ You are so very welcome. I just wish I had more adventurous things to share, it was just more work than play though. I'll pack lighter next time. 😉

    Pal~ I don't mind camping, but I like the camp sites that have showers and toilets and other people. I like camp sites that you don't have to put your food in a tree because of the bears. So I guess I'm mildly spoiled. Isn't it grand?

    It's funny because when that storm was going through I thought about you and how you were in your nice, warm, safe place with plumbing and the heat rising to the second floor apartment. It's good to be home.

  5. The closest I've ever gone to camping was the blackout that happened here in NYC a few years back, so thanks for this travelogue post! It was like being there. I'm worn out just reading it and looking at the photos, you must've been exhausted by the end! Welcome back, Kotter!

  6. Girl, you are a BRAVER woman than I will EVER be. My idea of camping and hiking ONLY includes a 5 star hotel!

    I'm SUPER glad you had a wonderful trip and a great experience. I also would have refused to eat/drink anything for fear of using that 'bathroom set-up'.

    Welcome home!
    xoxoxoxo

  7. Wow you really took us on a journey!!! I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, thank you so much for sharing!!!

    BTW your background is the coolest thing ever!!! Who doesn't love an old telephone booth!

  8. RG~ Yeah, and it was heavy. It wasn't one of those fancy schmancy fiberglass ones that only weigh thirty-two pounds. But I love a good challenge.

    Marty~ I was exhausted and very glad to be home. And I loved Vinny Boborino.

    Mel~ Uh yeah, that whole toilet thing was the worst.
    I don't think I've ever even been to a 5 star hotel. I'll have to try it sometime. 😉

    Jen~ Your very welcome, It's my pleasure. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    And the phone booths are pretty cool aren't they?

  9. Beautiful! I want to go there!

    But with no shower and that sorry excuse of a toilet, ugh! That's why I like a nice day trip to the woods and go home and sleep in my own bed. I'm a wimp.

    I was going to tell you that I have the Versatile Blogger award for you at my blog, but I see you have that already on your side bar. 🙂

  10. Amanda~ Yeah, that sounds about to me from here on out. And thank you again for the award. I'll will get around to posting it.

    Elliot~ Really? Maybe I'll have to read that now. It would have been cool to already have read it before I went though. Then I could have really scared the shit out of myself.

    Mel~ Oh, that sounds like heaven. I am so in. Will that be before the funerals and loony bin trips? Oh, I know! We could stop by no garbage guy's house too!

    Gigi~ Ah yes, the smell. And there were nine of us, six of them being guys. Pew.

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