Nine of us embarked on a Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Trip a few days ago. Nine of us (thankfully) came back out a few days later. High winds, swamped canoes, physical ability questions and extremely rugged territory redefined our plans. It’s one thing to look at a map and plan your adventure; quite another to look at the 40mph gusts driven whitecaps on a big lake you want to cross with your canoe. We opted to live longer and enjoy wherever we were. It was a good choice!
Surrounded by high rock cliffs we still had plenty of adventure, fish fry’s and extra lively discussions around the campfire. There was always hot water for hot chocolate, coffee, teas, apple cider and even instant latte’s from a pouch.
In 55 trips I had seen one tipped canoe from high waves. Trip #56 had four unplanned baptisms. Severe wind gusts would change directions and drive the canoe sideways to the big waves and the laws of physics took over.
We can now tell you that you will sprain your ankles walking on the rocks when you cannot feel from the knees down from being in cold water too long. We were reminded that we were only visitors (very prepared ones for most things) in the wilderness.
Nature doesn’t go out of it’s way to help you when things don’t go as planned. We concluded that God doesn’t either ( God was with us…maybe laughed a little?).
Let me share something I have learned in 56 trips into this wilderness. It Doesn’t matter. The important part of being in the wilderness is that you are there so enjoy it. On my very first trip we were sleeping (OK trying to sleep) in old borrowed leaky tents while it rained three inches one night. The teenager in the middle of our tent finally voiced his thoughts between thunder crashes in the strobe lit night. “The water is dripping on my head, there’s mosquitoes everywhere, I’m wet, I’m cold, all my clothes are wet, I love this! This is great!” I checked his fore head for a high temp (and then mine) and went to sleep in my wet bag.
Nine of us are reflecting on what we consider now to be a great trip. The astounding scenery was bigger than we could contain. The friendships we made were beyond the normal “guy trip” stuff. The insights into ourselves about our own expectations of God and nature yielding to our plans (it normally works out) came to light.
We fished and explored a couple lakes rarely visited by humans. Insects that don’t exist live back there. A nectar sucking moth that hovered like a hummingbird thought my ear was a flower. Two ants were hiding a moose bone from the bigger ants. We left when the water started vibrating from heavy thuds and thought we might start imagining things if we stayed. I could go on but you might not believe me.
Just being there challenges our tension to be constantly on the go and still enjoy all the nature around us. I ask myself “why do I always need to be “Doing” something? Can I actually sit on a rock and ponder the wonders before me? Can I just sit and acknowledge the rugged beauty and have a long contented talk with my creator? Can I just be there and be content? Is it enough? What is enough? When will it be enough? Do I need another dunking?”