BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA WILDERNESS


I discovered the BWCAW in 1981, quite by accident.  I had spent six summers canoeing Algonquin Park from 1962-67 as part of Camp Pathfinder on Source Lake.  My last year was spent as a head tripper or guide on trips up to 6 days.  Back then, we had can pits, cut tent stringers with live trees, cut pine boughs and had wooden Old Town canvas canoes that soaked up water and weighed up to 100 pounds by the end of the summer.  I remember vividly one camper who was sick, and I carried his pack and the canoe simultaneously down Misty River.  I’m not a big guy, and I’m not particularly strong, but I could go when I had to.

On a plane trip, I happened on a discussion of the BW in the inflight magazine.  I went up in June 1981, did a 5 day solo trip into the Quetico via Carp, Emerald and Plough Lakes, turning around on Knife. I met Dorothy Molter, and loved my time there.  Work had pressures, and it was five more years until I went up again, this time to Thomas, Fraser, Kekakabic, Knife, Amoeber and back down again.  I was hooked!

I took my wife on her first trip in June 1987, not the best time to introduce somebody who breaks out when bitten by mosquitoes!  We went up to Kahshahapiwi, a difficult trip in any circumstances, let alone what we were doing.  After that, I went with some friends or by myself.

In 1992, thoroughly burned out in private practice of neurology, I took a six month leave of absence and worked as a volunteer wilderness ranger for the Forest Service.  I took 22 trips into the woods that summer, many with the FS, some by myself, and some with others.  I spent 100 days in the woods and was in all districts of the BW except the Gunflint.  My last trip, in October, put me into Little Sag on a special night, which will be posted later.  I was six days without seeing another person, paddled in blizzards, got within 20 feet of a moose twice, and had a remarkable trip.

I returned from 1993-1999 and volunteered with the late Mike Manlove, who put up with my travels and about whom I wrote in the post The Legend, under medical society articles.  I also brought my wife back and did some solo trips. 

In 2001, we went in on 9/11 and didn’t hear about the attacks until the following day and then nothing else for 5 more days.  It was probably the best place to be during that time.  In 2003, my wife had had neck surgery and a weight limitation for carrying, so we base camped on Lake Insula, taking day trips.  Other than 2004, when we went down the Nina Moose to La Croix, we’ve spent a week on Insula every year since.  We wrote an article on the campsites in the lake, published in the Boundary Waters Journal, discovering sites that neither the Fisher nor the McKenzie maps had commented upon.

All in all, I’ve taken 57 trips into the BW/Quetico, spent 267 nights out there, been on over 400 campsites, cleaned at least 300, dug 16 latrines, and have traveled on over 300 lakes in the region.  On the last trip to Insula, I did it without a map with no difficulty, having finally figured that lake out.

So, lots of pictures and here goes!

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