Our canoe trip began from our outfitter’s camp near Ely, Minnesota. A canoe, two fishing poles, and three backpacks sat on the boat dock, along with our waterproof map. After my son and I gave our canoe a test spin, we put the packs into the canoe and slipped off into the BWCA. Our map had a disclaimer in the lower right corner, ‘Not for navigation purposes.”
That’s not a very comforting realization – “not for navigation purposes” – because the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is millions of acres of pristine wilderness. It is only trees and water as far as the eye can see, and there are no convenient road signs to direct you. Portages from one body of water to another are often obscured or hidden by the distant tree line, and we could only steer to approximately where we thought the path would be.
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