July 2008 - Vol. 21

Revelation in the Boundary Waters continued

The drive from Lansing, Michigan, takes about two days. This part of the trip was actually one of the most challenging for my husband, since he drove the 15-passenger van the whole way,  full of singing, talking, shouting, and laughing girls. Bathroom stops averaged over 30 minutes! His patience was tested many times. 

The first night we stopped at a ski lodge in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and arrived at Gunflint Outfitters for our second night. Gunflint rents out canoes, tents, backpacks, and cooking equipment. We also paid for them to pack our food for the entire adventure. 

One of their staff showed us how to carry the 65-pound canoe on our shoulders and how to set up the tents. It all looked pretty straightforward to me. Of course, I hadn't actually tried to lift and carry a canoe or our big packs, called Duluth Bags. These packs contained all of our personal belongings and weighed about 35 pounds when packed. We would also need to portage the equipment bags.

Ah yes portages. The only portages I had ever done were on flat terrain and were very short.  We were told that we would all need to take 2-3 trips each per portage, back and forth, between lakes. Again, it didn't sound too difficult to me.

On the third day the outfitters drove us and our stuff to the place where we would enter the park. Each group entered at a different place and were not supposed to travel together. This supposedly keeps the noise down, but with junior high girls, you can imagine that most any wildlife would hear us coming miles away! They put our canoes into the water, we all got in, and off we went. This was the life! Beautiful scenery, easy paddling for about five minutes. 

By that time we had reached the portage site to the next lake and we all got out. I looked up at the steep, rocky path that we were supposed to transport our canoes and gear over. Suddenly I wanted to call somebody to come and take me home. This wasn't what I had expected at all. But of course, once dropped off, you have to carry on to the end, since there are no phones or taxis in the Boundary Waters. This is precisely what Rick and Yvonne want for the girls. What the trip is all about is challenge. But as a 52-year-old grandma, I didn't feel like being challenged quite this much. 

Continued next page > | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

Dave's biggest challenge - 9 of the 15 girls in our van

Mary, aged 14,  steadies her 65 pound canoe for the portage


one of the rare easier portages - we could wade through it



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