Our trek began at Seagull Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marias, Minnesota. Our adventure team consisted of my sister Lori, friend and colleague Beverly, family friend Catherine and me. With the most outdoor experience, Lori was our guide. It had been many years since Catherine or I had enjoyed the beauty of the wilderness, and Beverly had never done anything like this before. Although she had fears, Bev decided to “feel the fear” and do it anyway. Her two primary concerns were toilet paper and bears.
We assured Bev that in all the years we have ventured into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, we have never seen a bear, and we always bring toilet paper (used sparingly and properly in the woods). Just as we were explaining to Bev that there was nothing to worry about, a bear crossed the road in front of our vehicle. It was a humorous beginning to our trip.
GETTING OUR FEET WET
The trip was designed to be moderate in difficulty and slow to start. We planned to get our feet wet the first day by paddling two lakes, taking two small portages and finding a campsite early. It was a lovely sunny day with mild temperatures and easy paddling. Unfortunately, when we got to the lake we planned to camp near, there were no sites left. We pushed on to the next lake, and the next and the next. We ended up paddling across five lakes and taking five portages before we found a campsite just before dark.
On that first day Beverly came up with a chant that helped us to persevere through all our portages. “My footing is secure, and my pack is light.” We chanted this to ourselves and to support one another (and laughed a lot). The portages were wet, muddy and rocky, including many large boulders, which made footing interesting. We accepted each challenge as it came, with grace and perseverance.
The next day was Sunday, so we decided to honor it as a day of rest. After all, we had already traveled two day’s distance in the first day. We went fishing, ate lunch on the water, using a paddle as a cutting board for cheese and sausages. Catherine stayed back at camp because she wanted to spend the day in quiet reflection. We supported each other’s choices and made decisions together about how far we would push ourselves each day.
On Monday, we woke to a misty rain that continued on and off for the next two days. This is when we became “the women of the mist.” Despite this, our spirits were high from great conversations around the fire, qi gong in the morning and afternoon meditations in the peace of our natural surroundings. We saw very few other people on the rest of the journey but enjoyed our time together. “Adventure forward” became our mantra each day, as we arose to the beauty and faced the day ahead.
On our last day, no one was anxious to get back. Each of us kept a journal daily of our adventures, although each read differently. We had details and snapshots of inspirational moments or funny stories. Another mantra that sticks with me is “you gotta go to know.”
If you would like to engage in this type of experience, visit transformationaltreks.com for upcoming dates or LuAnnB.com for other opportunities to transform.
LuAnn Buechler, creating events that inspire people to achieve the life they desire, www.LuAnnB.com.