This past June, Matthew and I decided to take our first BWCA trip together. Although Matthew has spent a great deal of time on the North Shore via the Superior Hiking Trail, this was his first time experiencing the beauty of an overnight paddle in the BWCA. And oh what a beautiful experience it was.
Our trip was abundant with wildlife encounters while exploring this area of the BWCA. We started from East Bearskin, paddled and portaged to Alder. On Alder we saw a loon family, two adults and a baby who was excitedly fluttering out and back from under its parent’s wing. We ended at Canoe Lake and camped at the first campsite on the western end of the lake. It is a big, secluded campsite, with good elevation that made for a lovely view and infrequent traffic from other paddlers. We set up camp and decided to explore the clear and beautiful Crystal Lake.
As we came to the end of the portage, I was in awe after seeing a large and majestic loon nesting within 10 feet of us. She and her partner had chosen the end of the portage to build their nest and wait for their young to hatch. A place we humans would not think a good choice, yet she and her eggs were somewhat hidden and protected in a bed of blue irises.
As we explored, we had the enjoyment of sitting in our canoe and silently giggling as we watched a plump beaver swim, hunt for the perfect stick, and struggle onto a rock to have a snack. As we were paddling back across Crystal, Matthew spotted something in the woods. At first he thought it was a bear but as the size of the creature registered, he realized it was a moose. All day we observed animals in their habitat and now it was our turn to be observed, for the moose was standing in the woods watching us paddle along! I could not believe Matthew spotted her, for she blended into the woods oh so well.
We spent the rest of the evening cooking dinner, sitting by the firing and sharing stories from our past. The next day was lovely and sunny and we spent the day sunning ourselves on warm rocks by the lake and reading until it was time to paddle home. As we made our way back to Bearskin, I realized how privileged I am to have the opportunity to experience the BWCA and how thankful and lucky I am to now live in this majestic place.