Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Wanderings

BWCA 6 editThe wilderness calls often. I answer yes when I can. I send out an invitation e-mail to friends, family, and others who can one man carry a canoe and a pack over rough trail. I get e-mails back like “Yes, but when and where are we going? Can I catch a fish this time or will you hog all the action? last time you tried to kill us with all those portages so do not ask me again! Can I bring my brothers friends nephew who needs to get off drugs?” And the questions keep coming. By trip #58 one would think I would have learned to invite the three people who will call me the boss and then tell me what to do. BWCA 1

My personal gear list is simple and so are the instructions: Pack personal gear in heavy duty garbage bag.  Pack sleeping bag in a stuff sack and in a separate garbage bag (all of which goes into a #3 Duluth pack with another persons gear so pack light).
Put fishing tackle in pocket tackle box or fanny pack.

    BWCA Personal Gear List: Rain gear, Sunglasses, Eye-wear strap, Cap, Bandana, Shoes – wet & dry pairs, Sweatshirt – hooded, Shorts/swimwear, Long pants, T-shirts, Underwear, Socks,  Towel/washcloth, Toothbrush-paste, Slingshot, Sunblock, Insect repellent, Lip balm, Gloves, Camera/batteries, Flashlight-batteries, Compass, Pocket knife, Fishing license, Fishing rods & tackle, Fish stringer, Sleeping bag, Wool sweater, Warm jacket, Ground pad, Life jacket, Mug (unbreakable), Fanny pack, Handkerchief, Clean clothes to leave in truck for return trip, Check fishing rods & tackle before trip, Extra garbage bags, Soap, deodorant, Bear repellent.

nice fish for lunch Tim
nice fish for lunch Tim

More questions: Where do I find bear repellant? Oh my word they took me serious, that’s what the sling-shot is for.     Do I really need to pack my gear in garbage bags? No, wet bags will work unless you to do the teenager thing and just chance your gear not getting wet (that would be considered a miracle in youth director circles).                 Can I use tennis shoes for wet shoes portaging? Yes but leeches can suck the blood out of your foot through the shoe (not really but they won’t believe that sharp rocks can maim their feet for life). I have some plastic rain gear, is that OK for this trip? Yes, it will last about half-way across the first portage so bring 20 pairs and hope it only rains a couple times. I don’t have a compass but I always know which way is north, do I still have to bring one? I have fourteen reasons do you want to hear them all so you can decide? BWCA 3 Will we catch fish? Probably; I know I will.BWCA 5 Do you plan

on fishing?BWCA 2

Can we eat some fish with our meals? Do you solemnly swear to have the time of your life come wind, rain, cold, mosquitoes, black flies, bear, stair-step portages, and Sasquatch noises outside your tent in the black night when you can’t hold it any longer from your five cups of hot chocolate?

We just came back from fantastic trip #58….and yes, all survived except for not a few fish. I also think my clothes absorbed half the campfire smoke. two ticks died trying to cross my smoke filled sweater.

Check out the BWCAW and plan a trip. Look for some pictures of Boundary Waters.

Be sociable and comment as well. By the way; A portage is the trail between two bodies of water that a canoe cannot go (around the rapids or between lakes) so you hoist the packs and canoes on your shoulders, grab rods and paddles and carry everything you brought over to the next canoe-able body of water. 

fiberglass canoe, food pack, front tackle bag, mile long portages, 30 miles into uninhabited wilderness...
fiberglass canoe, food pack, front tackle bag, mile long portages, 30 miles into uninhabited wilderness…

Published by Gary Fultz

Outdoors Man, Hunter, Fisherman, Guide, Writer / Author, Photographer, Public Speaker, Musician, Song Writer, Story Teller, Follower Of Jesus. Love God and family and total strangers

4 thoughts on “Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Wanderings

  1. Sometimes one has to learn about rain proofing your sleeping bag and gear the hard way. My first time up I went up with another adult who was “experienced” and four adolescent boys. We neglected to pack our sleeping bags in a water resistant way and it proceeded to rain on us the entire time.

    Out of the six of us we had two semi- dry sleeping bags so we put one beneath us and one on top of us and slept on our sides, four kids sandwiched between the two adults. When I would feel the chunky kid next to me starting to shiver in his sleep I would wake everyone, light the lantern and warm ourselves up enough for another attempt at sleep.

    It rained the entire trip and we spent at leased 70% of our waking time drying out and gathering wood and tending fire. Funny thing is while we did learn a hard lesson our first trip out; we all wanted to go back and have many fond memories of our oyster lake trip back in 1987


    1. Ah great memories of things to never do again.
      My first time with a group we had borrowed leaky tents and I had no raingear. I wore a garbage bag with holes for my head and arms. No ground pad and slept in a dip. A cotton sleeping bag which picks up moisture out of the air even if it’s not raining. I loved every minute of it and know what you mean about wanting to go back. Now I am a spoiled old guy with good equipment smiling at the few people I meet up there on their (obvious) first trip.
      I did however take a new groom (who thought a honeymoon in the Boundary Waters would be a nice suprise for his new wife) aside on a portage trail and show him what packs and portage pads looked like as his bride was crying loaded with about 10 grocery bags full of their stuff. I told him it would be his last portage married if he went beyond the next lake.


  2. Thank you for the inspirational story. As you described life in the BWCA it brought back fresh memories of the canoe trips I was on when I was a teenager up in that area.


    1. Such memories are good. I think every teenager needs a Boundary Water Trip. Most adapt very well and learn they get out what they put in as well as some camping skills involving critical thinking. I think it is the hardest on Vidiots who for a short time are directly involved in reality then back to the video games.


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