Thursday, June 19, 2008

Boundary Water Canoe Area Part 2

Beside getting "married" we also had a very serious experience: One day we were doing a portage when 3 boats approached the same portage that was there to avoid some serious rapids. The first boat landed ok, but then it happened: The second boat got into the current and went down the rapids. It was really scary and looked more like a stunt out of an action movie than a real event. But it was very real! The boat, 3 guys and all their equipment went down the rapids. Luckily the guys let go off the boat which then got stuck between two rocks right in the middle of the rapids. All their stuff was swept down the rapids, but luckily we could retrieve most of it later. 2 guys were washed ashore, but 1 guy was stuck on a rock right in the middle of it. This is when Raru went into action. The guy was too far away to grab his hand so Raru stuck out a big tree branch. The guy threw himself into the current again and was swept towards the branch. He grabbed it and Raru could pull him ashore. I bet the guy was pretty happy to be in "Raru's arms" then... Luckily there were 3 boats and 7 guys in this party so they had dry clothes and enough people to retrieve the boat. We paddled on and had a lot to talk about...


Most of our time paddling was spent reading and discussing literature. Raru is an English teacher and it tried to help him prepare next year's lessons. So we read and discussed Steinbeck's "Of mice and men" and Jack London's "To build a fire". Of course I gave him the feminist view on the books.... He also gave me the text of my favourite English songs and so we were happily singing "Rawhide" all the time. And I learnt that most rock songs don't make much sense...

After 2 weeks of seeing no car, no house and no power lines at all we headed back into civilisation. We were both pretty happy - it had been a very nice trip despite rainy weather and lots of mosquitoes. And I learnt a lot. If I have the chance again, I would definitely go paddling again, but I realised that I need a paddling partner for that (and a backpack to carry the stuff on the portages)...

The BWCA had been a great spot for a first long canoe trip: Despite some minor hassles with permits and boat registration things are very well organised. You are only allowed to camp at designated campsite - but you would not be able to camp anywhere else anyways because everything is so overgrown. And these primitive camp sites are everywhere - even if one is occupied you usually do not have to paddle much further to find an available one. Each camp site offers flat clear ground for camping, a fire grate and some rough seating plus an outdoor toilet (which usually is not much more than a hole in the ground). Because all those lakes and little streams are interconnected you can make up any route from a day trip to week long expeditions. We spent 2 weeks there and saw only about one third of the park!

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