Boundary Waters, Trip Reports, BWCA, Stories

Bushman goes back to the BWCA
by Bushman

Trip Type: Paddling Canoe
Entry Date: 07/27/2019
Entry & Exit Point: Moose/Portage River (north) (EP 16)
Number of Days: 7
Group Size: 3
Trip Introduction:
2019 found me back in the BWCA but this time with a new addition. Entering at #16 Moose River we paddled our way up into LLC and enjoyed nature's splendor and generosity for a few days and paddled out the same way with a layover on Lake Agnes
Day 1 of 7
Saturday, July 27, 2019

The alarm clock rang it shrill whistle just as I had finally closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep. A long sleepless night of laying in bed thinking about all of the stuff I was forgetting and all of the stuff I was taking that I did not need, coupled with pure excitement had left me with only a handful of hours rest. No problem though, adrenaline would carry me to Minnesota!

It was 3 am Saturday morning July 27th. The truck was all packed and all that needed to be done was to take the steaks from the freezer and transfer them to the small cooler full of ice packs. A quick shower and I woke the rest of the crew.

My intro to the BWCA was the year prior when just my son and I went. This year I had invited a few more. Unfortunately they both backed out. I received a phone call from my father a few days after my older brother backed out due to health reasons.

A little history on my father... Dad and I have spent hundreds of nights together in the wilderness be it up at deer camp in northern Michigan for a week straight, deep in the state forest of which we never left until we departed for home. Eeking out a week or more survival in a freezing cold pop up camper or horsebacking the mountains of Montana in search of the elusive Rocky Mountain Elk. A trip to Quebec for an amazing caribou hunt coupled with some of the most amazing lake trout fishing I have ever witnessed or stalking the plains and canyons of Wyoming after the Pronghorn Antelope or in the past decade one of our fly in fishing trips to Canada. We have done so much and always together.

Dad lives in Florida now and has been through some very serious heart complications of which one was a major heart attack that left him without a pulse for over ten minutes while en-route to the hospital. They were able to get his heart going again but he had lapsed into a coma and the doctors kept him in a coma and induced him into a state of hypothermia to hopefully combat the long duration of no heartbeat. After a few days of laying in a bed ice cold to the touch they started to bring him off the coma medicine and began warming his body up. The staff at the hospital told us to not hope for much. The chances were very slim that he would wake or for that matter be a cognitive individual if he did.

True to Bushman form and on Good Friday none the less he awoke from his coma, responded to commands and walked out of the hospital a week or so later. With some minor short term memory loss that lasted for several months he had miraculously came back for another shot at life.

Dad spent the next couple years combatting the effects of that heart attack and suffered from massive bouts of A-fib but the doctors kept working and he had several surgeries and at least for now has his heart back under control.

During those few years our adventures ceased and I yearned for the days of the backwoods and the feeling of animosity among the trees. It was these times that I discovered the BWCA and my step son Joe and I went on our first big adventure alone.

Back to that phone call.... "Hey Pops, how's it going?" "Good son and you?" "Great, just busy and all with work and getting ready to head for Minnesota in a few weeks." "Yeah, too bad about jr. backing out." "Yep, it sucks but it is what it is. His health comes first." "For sure. I was talking with Mom the other day about me taking his place. What do you think?"

So there you have it, our third voyageur was to be my Dad. After so many years in hiatus he was attempting a comeback. So after changing a bit of the route and making the trip more of a basecamp style trip we nailed it down.

All three of us were very excited. Perhaps me most of all.

I awoke dad and Joe and shortly after that we were loaded in the truck and headed for Minnesota. A long 14 hour drive up through the upper peninsula of Michigan and around the tip of lake Superior and we found ourselves in Ely, Minnesota. Right smack dab in the middle of the Blueberry Festival. The town was packed.

We checked in with VNO. Loaded up our Wenonah Seneca and other gear and headed to town for supper and a cold beer. We were sound asleep by 9pm in the VNO bunkhouse.