Everything Moves in Waves: A First Timer's Solo Trip into Boundary Waters
I was up early and saw a nice doe and her fawn then later a gray wolf as I drove to my entry point on Lake One. This was my first time in a canoe in over ten years and a few hens splashed out as I paddled away alone. I made it through Lake One and its easy portages with no problems but when I reached Lake Two the sky darkened and the wind and waves picked up. By the time I reached Lake Three where I planned on making camp, I was struggling against the wind and as I moved south around a small island the wind had me sideways. With everything in me I tried muscling my way straight to no avail. The rock studded shore of the island was getting closer and for the only time on the trip I was really scared. This is when I had no choice but to give in and I learned a big lesson: sometimes you need to have faith and let nature take you where it will. Luckily for me the winds pushed me to the sheltered north side of the island where I regrouped then moved on to another island for lunch and a break. The winds died down later and I found a nice campsite upon a 20' rocky cliff on the southeast side of the lake. That night it thundered and rained like I have never experienced before in the wild.
When I returned back I sipped on some whisky keeping my eye out for the full moon. It was still cloudy but for a few moments its rays shined through. That night I fell asleep quickly waking several times to a bull moose calling from the south.
That night as I layed in my small solo tent, two loons talked to each other from each side of the lake. I fell asleep dreaming and again woke to a bull moose calling and then later the howl of a lone wolf. They were telling me how good it is to be alive.
The next morning Horseshoe Lake was calm and clear. I packed up quickly and headed off back to Lake Three with my eyes on an island campsite. When I reached Lake Three, not a soul was to be found which felt odd since I had seen several boats my first few days there. I paddled on smoothly with the light breeze and the site I wanted was open. The site was on the east side of a large island in an area where several smaller islands converge and it pointed out to a wonderful view of the north and east. I set up camp and wandered around the island a bit before spending the rest of the day on the water fishing. The day was sunny and breezy and very hot and I sunburned my face and hands. The fishing was great but four days of hard work was making me tired and sore.
I had oatmeal and tea for breakfast and then packed camp. Once the sun rose, the winds picked up and while looking at my compass I knew they were going to battle me all the way out. I sat and read from Ivan Turgenev's "Sportsman's Sketches" hoping the winds would die but the horizon showed no signs of change and I knew it didn't look good. I battled the stiff north breeze through all of Lake Three and then again through Lake One before finally making my way out through where I entered. Four men were on shore ready to embark on their own adventure and a beautiful young black lab with a red bandana around its neck swam out to my canoe and welcomed me.
I pulled my canoe on shore exhausted yet content and took my time packing things up. An older gentleman and I spoke a bit about fishing and the weather and it really felt weird to have an actual conversation with a person, but being alone for five days sure made me a good listener. Time alone with nature can do wonderful things to you if you let it. It doesn't often come easy or without a price though, but then again, nothing worth a lick ever does.