This is the final picture I took during my trip to the Boundary Waters this summer. I shot this looking northeast out on to Clearwater Lake right from the dock, and if you look very closely in the middle along the right side you’ll see a bit of an Easter Egg, so to speak. A Loon, the state bird of Minnesota, casually swimming in the chilly waters as if to bid us a fond farewell on this overcast morning.
On Tuesday night my cousins and I had a campfire roaring for several hours as we talked long into the evening, but eventually the flames died to embers and we started to tidy up a few things for the trip back home the next morning. What a time it had been–three days completely separated from society, well out of range of any road or radio signal. Just the three of us and our canoe, and we knew the trip was coming to a close. They had been to the Boundary Waters several times before but for me everything was a new first experience and I tried to take in as much as I could and enjoy, as well as appreciate, everything from the fishing to the rowing to the sitting around and talking. But when the sun goes down and the lights go out and you know it’s time to close things down, there’s not much else to be done but head for bed and wait for the morning. Soon I was in my hammock listening to the sounds of crickets…and that’s when I felt the first raindrop.
Soon a drizzle became a downpour, and it didn’t let up all night. I slept fitfully, thinking about the sort of things you might expect of a new camper like myself: did I pack everything securely? Did we pull the canoe up on shore? Will everything be wet in the morning? What if the rain doesn’t let up? And on and on it went, with me slipping in and out of sleep all night long until about 6am when I resigned myself to the forces of nature. I got up, started gathering my things and taking down my hammock, and looked for some energy bars that were in the bottom of my soggy pack. The rain was unrelenting, and the three of us slowly packed everything into the canoe and an hour later we were on the water and on our way back home.
But nature was not done with us yet.
We had to paddle the length of Caribou Lake against the wind while the rain fell in sheets all around us. It was over three miles and while I don’t know how long it took, it felt like days. We were in good spirits through it all, because we knew there was nothing to be done and complaining wouldn’t help, but by the end were simply exhausted. Then we had to portage all of our water-logged gear over to Clearwater Lake and do it all over again.
It was not an easy task. But it was one I am glad to have done, and I do not believe I have ever been so relieved to put my feet down on a sandy beach in all my life. Clearwater Outfitters, where we rented the canoes and some other gear, is in a cove that keeps the waters calm so you can’t really tell how windy it was just from looking at this picture, but my goodness it felt like mythical Aeolus himself was against us. And at the end of it all I wanted one last picture to document the events, which is what you see here. It’s a quick snapshot from my iPhone, and it might not look like a whole lot to you, but for me there’s some really intense memories wrapped up in this single frame.
And that’s why I like photography :)