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pastorjsackett
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05/18/2022 03:51PM  
I've been tripping now for a few years with my son Colin along with my brother in-law Mike, and his boy who is the same age as mine. Colin and Alex were 14 when we started, and they'll be 25 soon.

As much as I love the BWCA, I often wonder if it would be the same without the guys I've always gone in with. Just thinking about how much I enjoy them in that setting. Looking ahead to a time when Colin will have a family of his own and other things going and he'll be less likely to be there someday I know.

In two weeks we're going in and Mike can't make it due to a work obligation. I'll miss him. That makes me the only old man on this trip.

Does anyone else ever muse over this? Do you always travel with the same, fun group? Or have you lost a partner and had to go on the market for new teammates? I imagine some parents out there might miss the trips they took with their younger children.

I'm on sabbatical now, and not working at all so I've been thinking deep thoughts lately.....

Mudro on June 3 will be something.
 
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thegildedgopher
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05/18/2022 04:01PM  
I think about this stuff a lot. My son (15) is my camping partner, my fishing partner, my partner riding mountain bikes. I basically got into all this stuff to find ways to expose a city kid to the outdoors. I think the draw will be less when his interest starts to wane, or when he goes through that phase in life when he's busy with school or starting his own family, etc. -- but I've already resolved to do everything I can to keep the fire burning so we can hopefully pick it back up when he's ready again. Because that time will come. And I tell myself, before we know it, the 2 of us will be introducing his kids to this place.
 
pastorjsackett
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05/18/2022 04:11PM  
Well put, tgg. I'm fortunate that my son is a travel nurse and he still prioritizes the trips to the point that he builds his contracts around our canoeing. That said, he's young enough yet that he does not have a family of his own.

And he's the one who keeps me going--always pushing me to stay in shape and focus on the adventures. He motivates me.

I'm glad you've got years ahead with a 15 year old!

 
MikeinMpls
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05/18/2022 05:43PM  
For some reason I've been thinking about this lately also. I haven't gone into the Bdub with a person other than my wife (or solo) since the mid-90s. I often think about which of my buddies I'd like to go there with. There is probably only one. Otherwise, it always comes down to me just wanting to be with my favorite travel partner, my wife, otherwise with my second favorite travel partner, myself. If I went with a newbie, I would feel too much responsibility in making sure everything was perfect. Maybe someday

Mike
 
pastorjsackett
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05/18/2022 06:00PM  
I always wonder the same thing, Mike. The people and the place have become tangled up together in my heart and mind.
 
GraniteCliffs
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05/18/2022 06:09PM  
I used to wonder when I was still working, if I loved Quetico or if I loved getting away from the rat race. Then I retired. I learned I may have enjoyed getting away from work but it is the woods and water that I love.
And there are the trip partners. I canoe once a year with guys 15-20 years younger than me that I used to work with. I love those trips in part because I truly love those guys and the time I get to spend with them on the trail.
And then a trip with my son and son in law. Always a grand time. Strong young men and very easy going.
Usually a third trip with my brothers or friends that cements our relationship ship with each other.
And finally a solo. But one in which I drive up and back with a friend who also solos. It allows for us to stay overnight in Ely and have a few beers together. When we leave in the morning on our separate solos is when I realize I love all of my tripping partners. But then there is the pure magic of setting off alone for a trip all of my own. Going wherever I want. As fast as I want. Exploring out of the bays and shorelines. Paddling somewhere in Quetico. Alone. In the most beautiful place in the world.
I guess it is not an either or proposition for me. I am blessed. I love the guys I go with. But I also love the woods and water and being able to immerse myself in it.
 
4keys
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05/18/2022 06:37PM  
My husband is my main tripping partner. Occasionally we’ll go with others. As much as I’d like to think I could do a solo after my husband goes, realistically my knees and shoulder issues would make that impossible.

My son has been to the BW several times, and would go again. However his current job makes it pretty much impossible. He’s a wild land firefighter and fire season is tripping season.

My daughter likes the outdoors, canoeing, camping, but doesn’t have much interest in the BW.

The few other people we’ve gone with go as tandems and are just as old or older than we are. So not much chance of future trip partners there.

 
straighthairedcurly
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05/18/2022 07:02PM  
We mostly did family trips, but as we approached our son's HS graduation, I started to transition into also doing solo trips and trips with just my husband. And next summer, we are going to take friends. I was happy my son still wanted to do 2 short trips with us this summer despite the fact he will be spending 50 days on an Arctic trip. I read with hope in my heart about those of you whose kids keep tripping with you into adulthood.
 
pastorjsackett
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05/18/2022 07:56PM  
Good stuff. I've never done a solo because it's always been a team proposition for us. And I love being with people so much. I bet a solo would be amazing, though. I'm liking these responses.
 
05/18/2022 08:12PM  
Great topic...appreciate the comments. The wilderness is my favorite place to be and it's better being there with my favorite people.

Just got back from a 6-day solo trip. Loved it. It was great to see the emerging wildlife, portage through mud and running water, paddle calm water, sit out the wind in camp, watch swans in the fog as the sun came up and burned through the mist, listen to loons all night long, etc. Definitely something about the place.

My dad and I head in for a 12-day trip this coming weekend. We've done father-son campouts since before I can remember. He's in his 70s and I'm approaching the half-century mark in a few years. Wish we could do this forever and I'm grateful for this trip now. We've been planning almost every day since last fall...and the photos, memories, and stories will continue for long after we get back.

Two of my daughters are coming home from college this summer and they can hardly wait for our trip together. Brings me great joy to plan another trip with them. They tell me there is something about the place, something about being with their dad, and something about being in the place together that is special.

My wife is excited to go into the BWCA for the first time this summer too. She does some camping and is willing to give this her best try and I am hoping to make it a great time.

Wow...lots of good thoughts thinking about this topic. My conclusion: the place matters. Who you are with matters. And both together are simply ample blessings for which I am grateful.
 
pastorjsackett
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05/18/2022 09:05PM  
Could not say it better YJ! Thanks for the thoughtful response.
 
05/19/2022 09:06AM  
Every paddling partner in all my trips were blessings to me. Loved my solos also, but paddling with family, friends and even people I barely knew was always a great time. Even the ones that did everything to ruin a trip made it all worth while when they came later and apologized and didn’t realize how good it was until they got home. I learned early on that nine (or in the early days it was ten) people wasn’t a recipe for a good trip. Four to six was always way better. Trips with our kids are pretty special... spouses too when they enjoy it is a great time. My favorite was the trips I either met people from here out there or when we tripped together. 2013 I was hauling canoes coast to coast and had the dreaded diverticulitis several times. I hadn’t tripped in canoe country all year and my good friends Suncatcher and Boppa came and took me to Woodland Caribou for like seven days. A trip I’ll never forget... very glad my doctor gave me another round of antibiotics as that diverticulitis came back a forth time. Surgery happened that October. Without friends like that I’d have not paddled that year. I did a number of WCPP trips. My last one was with magic paddler. My body was already telling me my paddling days were numbered. The next year was with Denton Doc in Quetico... one of my last trips. Health caught up with me. But you can read trip reports and even casually know these guys. But share an epic trip and you become brothers... and in a couple cases I gained another sister. The community here is priceless. We don’t have to agree on much of anything as long as we agree that paddle in hand makes for a happy day... and the outtie is king! Haha!
 
papalambeau
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05/19/2022 10:11AM  
YetiJedi: "Great topic...appreciate the comments. The wilderness is my favorite place to be and it's better being there with my favorite people.


Just got back from a 6-day solo trip. Loved it. It was great to see the emerging wildlife, portage through mud and running water, paddle calm water, sit out the wind in camp, watch swans in the fog as the sun came up and burned through the mist, listen to loons all night long, etc. Definitely something about the place.


My dad and I head in for a 12-day trip this coming weekend. We've done father-son campouts since before I can remember. He's in his 70s and I'm approaching the half-century mark in a few years. Wish we could do this forever and I'm grateful for this trip now. We've been planning almost every day since last fall...and the photos, memories, and stories will continue for long after we get back.


Two of my daughters are coming home from college this summer and they can hardly wait for our trip together. Brings me great joy to plan another trip with them. They tell me there is something about the place, something about being with their dad, and something about being in the place together that is special.


My wife is excited to go into the BWCA for the first time this summer too. She does some camping and is willing to give this her best try and I am hoping to make it a great time.


Wow...lots of good thoughts thinking about this topic. My conclusion: the place matters. Who you are with matters. And both together are simply ample blessings for which I am grateful."


Great topic that I have thought of more and more as I get older.

30 years ago it was my older tripping partner, my 8-year old son and myself. The years marched on to include my other son, brothers a few times and eventually the grandkids. My older tripping partner bowed out about 10 years ago as did my brothers because of scheduling conflicts and group size restrictions. Now it's a consistent group of my 38-year old son, 36-year old son and grandkids who range from 17 to 8. When the youngest one joins us next year we will have our crew of 8 in 4 canoes and hopefully we will be able to keep going for another 10-15 years. I know the boys and grandkids will keep going after me and that means a lot. It's in them now and always will be.

We love camping, fishing and hunting but the BW is at the top of the list. We all love bow and gun deer hunting but most of the time in stand is solo time. We all agree that the time together in camp and in a canoe (and in the truck during the drive) are special blessings that we cherish. As YJ said - the place matters and who you are with matters. And both together are simply HUGE blessings for which I am grateful and thankful.
 
pastorjsackett
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05/20/2022 10:02AM  
My godson, Alex, and I were talking about our trips last fall. We were musky fishing, remembering the good times when he turned to me and said "That's your legacy, Jeff."

Nothing more needs to be said. I love the place, love the people.
 
05/20/2022 10:11AM  
I have had a few travel companions over the years all have been great, but
I miss the group that I traveled with from 1993- 2009.
Some really good times.
Its been a lot of years since we've tripped together, and I think about those trips often.
 
05/20/2022 10:11AM  
The dreaded dbl post
 
05/22/2022 06:45PM  
My mother had "her place". She was born in 1916 in Wyoming and lived there until she was 13 years old, when her family relocated to be close to extended family in Michigan. But Mother never got over missing the mountains. It was hard for me to understand, growing up in Michigan and seeing how much she missed "her place", even after all those years. We took a family trip to Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, etc. when I was nine years old and I agreed that it was beautiful out there, but I really confess I never understood her longing for "her place". It wasn't "my place", it was just a nice place to visit.

After they had an empty nest my parents started taking a yearly trip out west, and Mother got many more "fixes" for her need. I was happy for her, but I still didn't really understand.

Then in 1971, when I was 26 years old, my husband took me to the canoe country. Just the two of us in a canoe, for six days. Crane Lake, the Loon River, Lac laCroix, the Namakan River, Namakan Lake, Sand Point Lake, and back to Crane Lake. And magically, without realizing I was searching for it, I found "my place." It wasn't mountains; it was lakes, rocks, rivers, trees, loons, and silence. (If you are interested, there is a trip report.)

Because it was so special, and because it started out to be a very specific thing for us as a couple (I wanted to conceive our second child in the "wilderness"--sort of a romantic idea, right?) we decided after that first trip that our canoe tripping would be reserved for a couple's activity. Fortunately we had good friends in Minneapolis who were willing to keep our two children, and for most of the next 4+ decades our canoe trips were a time for us to enjoy the companionship of a tandem canoe, a campsite for "just two", and beautiful peace, quiet, and privacy. I am convinced that it made our marriage stronger, that sharing this love for "place" gave us something in common that helped us survive some difficulties in job situations, health situations, and even money situations.

There were exceptions to the "just us two" rule. 1982 was the first time we traveled with friends (there is a trip report) and it was fun. We planned a ten-day trip so that we had five days with our three friends and five days alone. It was a new experience and we were glad that we did it, but we were also thankful for time alone at the end of the trip. In 1988 we took a 6-day trip with our two teenagers, and that was lots of family fun, but not nearly as relaxing for "Mom" as just going with my husband. So we decided to return to our original idea of a tandem pair, enjoying time off in the summer by spending time together in a canoe. Many of our friends and co-workers thought we were nuts. They would read our narratives, look at our photo albums and just wonder about us. But we knew we had found "our place" and we didn't care.

From 1988 until our last trip in 2013 there were 22 canoe trips, ranging in duration usually from 6-11 days, except for the long trip in 1992 (22 days.) All but one of those were tandem adventures. In 2012 we shared a fabulous trip with Bill (HoHo) and David, and that was a real highlight. (Yup, there's a trip report.) We aren't people who have a huge roster of mutual close friends, but I think I can say that our friendship with Bill and David is one of life's richest blessings.

We started sharing the canoe country experience with our granddaughter when she was four years old. She loves it, too, and she will be going to the Gunflint with us again this summer. I may talk about this topic with her and get her take on it--is it "the place' or is it "the people"?? Why does she, at age 19 having just finished her sophomore year of college, still want to vacation with her grandparents?

But to get very personal, I have been richly blessed to have both. I cannot separate "the place" (canoe country) from "the person" (my husband) because it is all part and parcel of our 54+ year marriage. It has shaped our relationship, our family life, given us friendships that are precious, and memories that are unique. It is who we are.

And now, Mother, I truly understand.

 
pastorjsackett
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05/23/2022 09:53AM  
Gorgeous addition to this post. Thank you so much Spartan2.
 
mmrocker13
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05/23/2022 02:27PM  
I have also thought about it--I have been going to the BWCA for going on 20 years now, but I've ONLY ever been with my husband...just the two of us. He, on the other hand, used to go with his family as a kid, then went with friends in high school and college, and still goes every year with his brother and buddies as well as the trips the two of us do every year.

I think it would be my favorite place on earth no matter my travel companions...but I do wonder what the experience would be like, the rituals, the trip, the how things get done, etc.
 
05/23/2022 03:04PM  
mmrocker13: "I have also thought about it--I have been going to the BWCA for going on 20 years now, but I've ONLY ever been with my husband...just the two of us. He, on the other hand, used to go with his family as a kid, then went with friends in high school and college, and still goes every year with his brother and buddies as well as the trips the two of us do every year.


I think it would be my favorite place on earth no matter my travel companions...but I do wonder what the experience would be like, the rituals, the trip, the how things get done, etc."


It always strikes me as so different when I hear someone like you who tells of multiple trips each year. Because we have always lived hundreds of miles away (Kentucky, then Central Illinois, then Michigan) we didn't even get yearly trips for the first 20 years--it was every-other-year. After my husband developed kidney disease we made a pact to go yearly for as long as we were able. But to be like your husband and you, to have multiple trips in a single year, that would just be icing on the cake for us.

Or maybe not. Maybe in time it would become less special?

Not anything I can judge, nor would I. It's all good.
 
technically_rugged
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05/23/2022 03:53PM  
My first foray into canoe country (and the BWCA) started in Boy Scouts when I was 14. We had heavy aluminum canoes and overstuffed Duluth packs, and plenty of mosquitoes to boot. I was never a big fan of the outdoors, mostly because of bugs and sweat, but I did love Boy Scouts. I didn't return until 2018, 14 years later, after several years of a slow affliction and realization of how rare and precious our planet is, and how I want to truly appreciate and immerse myself in it.

The winter of 2017-2018 was one of much planning, YouTube watching, and gear buying. I reached out to one of my best friends who was also in Boy Scouts, who had done a BWCA trip a couple times prior, if my memory served me right. I asked him if he'd want to roleplay Joe Robinet and do a 9 day trip with me, and with zero hesitation he agreed. I was excited to live out some rugged wilderness fantasies in the beautiful Northwoods. We added another close friend to the group, who had also done numerous BWCA trips in his younger years, with his dad and brother. These two guys are some of my best friends, and we do a BWCA trip every year.

Including that 9 day trip in June 2018, I've done 9 canoe trips to the BWCA, always with friends or my girlfriend. I introduced her to the BWCA back in 2019 with a short 4 day trip (cut to 3 for weather) and it went well enough that she wanted to go back. I'll be doing my 10th and 11th trips this year with the guy crew and my girlfriend, respectively.

Every trip and every moment has been shared. This is something I've thought a lot about. I've considered a solo canoe trip many times. I really appreciate the freedom to do whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it. In canoe country, this sounds like it could be awesome; I could go fishing or photographing in a solo canoe instead of needing a partner to adequately handle the tandem canoe... I could get up early and skip coffee and breakfast and break down camp as fast as I can, so I can cover some ground... I could stop early at a cute campsite with a heck of a view, even if it's several miles short of my destination, even if it means passing through my destination lake or changing up the cadence of the travel/camp days. This freedom is attractive. But it lacks something... companionship.

I could have all the freedom in the world, and see the most beautiful views, but there is something about sharing an experience with someone that makes it more real. I will always remember the quote from Chris McCandless - "Happiness is only real when shared." This is the feeling that has stopped me from really trying to make a solo trip happen. I know I will feel lonely. I know I will feel a little emptiness, a sort of longing, when showing photos to friends and family afterwards, knowing none of them actually got to see and experience those incredible moments for themselves, knowing I'll never be able to reminisce with anyone about that trip. Photos and videos only go so far (and I say this as someone who is serious about capturing both!).

So, while I am tentatively planning on doing my first solo canoe trip this year, to focus on photography, fishing, and most of all, self-reflection, I am almost certain that solo trips won't be my norm. I long for the companionship in moments of beauty and joy, and moments of hardship, when that long travel day has you worn down, or bad weather has ruined your layover day. Sharing those experiences bonds you to those you share them with.

The memories and stories I make with my friends and family in canoe country are the ones that will carry me to the end of my days. I can't imagine a more beautiful place to bond with the people you love.
 
pastorjsackett
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05/24/2022 07:29AM  
Love the quote! Thanks for sharing!
 
05/24/2022 04:31PM  
Spartan2: "My mother had "her place". She was born in 1916 in Wyoming and lived there until she was 13 years old, when her family relocated to be close to extended family in Michigan. But Mother never got over missing the mountains. It was hard for me to understand, growing up in Michigan and seeing how much she missed "her place", even after all those years. We took a family trip to Wyoming, Montana, Yellowstone, etc. when I was nine years old and I agreed that it was beautiful out there, but I really confess I never understood her longing for "her place". It wasn't "my place", it was just a nice place to visit.


After they had an empty nest my parents started taking a yearly trip out west, and Mother got many more "fixes" for her need. I was happy for her, but I still didn't really understand.


Then in 1971, when I was 26 years old, my husband took me to the canoe country. Just the two of us in a canoe, for six days. Crane Lake, the Loon River, Lac laCroix, the Namakan River, Namakan Lake, Sand Point Lake, and back to Crane Lake. And magically, without realizing I was searching for it, I found "my place." It wasn't mountains; it was lakes, rocks, rivers, trees, loons, and silence. (If you are interested, there is a trip report.)


Because it was so special, and because it started out to be a very specific thing for us as a couple (I wanted to conceive our second child in the "wilderness"--sort of a romantic idea, right?) we decided after that first trip that our canoe tripping would be reserved for a couple's activity. Fortunately we had good friends in Minneapolis who were willing to keep our two children, and for most of the next 4+ decades our canoe trips were a time for us to enjoy the companionship of a tandem canoe, a campsite for "just two", and beautiful peace, quiet, and privacy. I am convinced that it made our marriage stronger, that sharing this love for "place" gave us something in common that helped us survive some difficulties in job situations, health situations, and even money situations.


There were exceptions to the "just us two" rule. 1982 was the first time we traveled with friends (there is a trip report) and it was fun. We planned a ten-day trip so that we had five days with our three friends and five days alone. It was a new experience and we were glad that we did it, but we were also thankful for time alone at the end of the trip. In 1988 we took a 6-day trip with our two teenagers, and that was lots of family fun, but not nearly as relaxing for "Mom" as just going with my husband. So we decided to return to our original idea of a tandem pair, enjoying time off in the summer by spending time together in a canoe. Many of our friends and co-workers thought we were nuts. They would read our narratives, look at our photo albums and just wonder about us. But we knew we had found "our place" and we didn't care.


From 1988 until our last trip in 2013 there were 22 canoe trips, ranging in duration usually from 6-11 days, except for the long trip in 1992 (22 days.) All but one of those were tandem adventures. In 2012 we shared a fabulous trip with Bill (HoHo) and David, and that was a real highlight. (Yup, there's a trip report.) We aren't people who have a huge roster of mutual close friends, but I think I can say that our friendship with Bill and David is one of life's richest blessings.


We started sharing the canoe country experience with our granddaughter when she was four years old. She loves it, too, and she will be going to the Gunflint with us again this summer. I may talk about this topic with her and get her take on it--is it "the place' or is it "the people"?? Why does she, at age 19 having just finished her sophomore year of college, still want to vacation with her grandparents?


But to get very personal, I have been richly blessed to have both. I cannot separate "the place" (canoe country) from "the person" (my husband) because it is all part and parcel of our 54+ year marriage. It has shaped our relationship, our family life, given us friendships that are precious, and memories that are unique. It is who we are.


And now, Mother, I truly understand.
"


That was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.
 
05/24/2022 04:33PM  
Memories of the BWCA are almost always tied to the people I have been there with. I've gone with 3 different people over the years, but 2 of them stand out as being good trip partners, even when they weren't. I have also done a solo, which was great, but a different experience entirely.

I have loved every minute that I have spent there, and think about it every day.

Everything about the process of trip planning and execution is part of every trip, and often the times when I connect most with the people that I will be tripping with. Route planning, campsite, talking about fishing potential are all great memories.

This is great thread and I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts! I am going up with my 13 year old son for the first time this year, and I can't wait!! I am hopeful that my 11 year old twins (boy/girl) ill eventually want to go too. My wife is not a big camper, but is a great sport when we go out locally, and I totally get that. I am hopeful that my kids will carry forward the BWCA 'tradition' going forward, but life is so very different than when I started tripping in the 90's. Distractions are constant, and people don't seem to make nearly as much time for quiet moments and experiences.

I am hoping to make 2 trips this year, the one with my son, and a tribute paddle for my father. He passed just before lockdown hit, and this is the first time I am getting to go back. I will be on Missing Link in August for him, he was an anthropologist, and always looking :). While he won't be there, he wil, adn it will make it that much more special.

I guess sometimes it's not who you're tripping with, but who you're tripping without..

Brandon
 
pastorjsackett
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05/25/2022 03:57PM  
Thanks Brandon!
 
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