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Here is a typical camp set-up… there was normally a metal fire grate in each campsite and rocks placed around it to control wind, and usually large logs set up in a seating area.  I always hoped for some flat rocks or stumps to use for setting plates, cups, etc.  Unfortunately not all campsites were in good shape.  Some folks just did not care and we found many where the logs for seating had been thrown in the fire or rolled down to the lake, dog feces all over, even tell-tale signs of fish cleaning (which is a big bear no-no near camp)  Sometimes we stayed and tried to fix, sometimes we just turned our backs and went on to another site.

Dan always constructed a tarp over the cooking area and grate.  He was a professional at this… no kidding…  we never got caught in the rain and could always start a fire or make coffee… As you can see we have a small gas stove… is it long-standing traditional?  No.. but it was worth the extra weight and I am not fond of cooking over a fire.. (Too dirty and uncertain) We carried one big pot for boiling water… We had a plastic bag shower and a hot shower felt wonderful after a long day of paddling.   One night the only tree to hang that shower on was close to the lake, nobody will come by in the middle of the wilderness right?  Wrong!  A canoe with a couple came right close to shore going around our island, and she made sure her husband kept going when she spotted a naked woman taking a shower not 25 feet from their canoe.

There are many more details I will relate on a later day, but I thought you might be interested in seeing camp…  I get a little nostalgic looking at this picture… many happy days and nights spent in this setting… Memories… They last a lifetime…

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We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!


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It was not very big.. we zipped our sleeping bags together so we could be close and warm.. our muscles were sore and we were tired… it felt so good to stretch out.. it was only 7:30pm but we didn’t care… our flashlights were in place.. water within reach… we listened to the night noises… we read our books and talked about tomorrow..  I was naive enough to think there would always be more tomorrows for us…

Peace to you my friends…..


John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you; let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid…


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Pictographs are prehistoric rock art spread throughout the BWCA/Quetico on sheer granite cliffs.  Very popular stop for travelers because you can bring your canoe right up to the edge and view the assortment of images painted there 300-400 years ago by the indigenous Ojibwe (or Chippewa). Pictures of moose, hand-prints, canoes – some very clear – some faded.  I found it amazing that they had survived so well in all the elements.  The paint is reported as being a mixture of  red ochre, sturgeon oil, and bear fat.  You could almost picture them in their birch bark canoes documenting their hunt or exploits.  There was one rock face that had hand prints all over it and it seemed as if they must had a contest about who could have the highest print… they are an awesome part of the history of the area….



Our fingerprints don’t fade from the lives we touch… Judy Blume




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This was a common sight for me… Dan carrying the canoe plus a pack and often in his hands were those incidentals I talked about…  He kept a steady pace, leaving me behind.  I would stop to rest – take pictures – adjust my pack – drink water… He would make one stop, if it was a long portage… Those final years were tough for him… his back just could not handle the weight…

There is generally no noise on the trails, just you and your thoughts (and heavy breathing) I was thinking about this today – saw a quote  “you carry your packs alone”  How true… that even though others are sharing the trail it really comes down to you and God… am I right?  How lonely a portage for those who don’t have Him at the end of that long carry…

Bless you guys….


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Psalm 119:114   You are my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your word to renew me……

Goodnight Moon

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We never planned it, but sometimes we would hit a full moon on our trips… this particular year it was a magical display for several nights in a row… it was such a joy to have our tent door looking out towards the moon as it rose on those evenings…  the journal entry on this day was “Full moon rising over Quetico”


Psalm 104:19  He made the moon to mark the seasons, the sun knows it’s time for setting….

A drink of water….

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As you know water is heavy and you cannot carry enough water for an extended trip into the BWCA/Quetico…. so plan B… you can boil your water, which we did for coffee, just take it right out of the lake and be sure it perks for a while, or you can just drink right out of the lake like some folks do, or you can use a pump method like we did. (see photo)  It took a lot of trial and error with different brands but we finally found the one that was efficient and removed most of the icky taste.  Plus it was a safe-guard against many bacteria that had a tendency to tear up my sensitive colon.  I would drink about 32 – 48 oz. a day but Dan would drink gallons!  We were constantly pumping..  (funny right there)  Thus he was never dehydrated and I never learned my lesson….

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Psalm 23:2  He leads me beside still waters…

Unfold the Maps


Winters found Dan and I pouring over the new maps to plot the destination we had chosen.  Those long cold nights were cozy as we would chart our route for the following fall.  Then as soon as the entries were posted we would book our entry date.  (They allow only so many parties to enter each entry point per day)  Some points were  more popular and you had to be on your toes to get a spot.  But at the dates we went in early fall, we rarely had a problem.  The McKenzie maps show all the portages and how long they are, elevation, lake depths, pictographs, and campsites!  Through social media and word of mouth you could find out how good or bad a site or trail were.  Excellent sites commonly were called “mansions.”   We always marked those on the map in case we came back… I still have those maps… even though the journeys for Dan and I are over I guess I still think in the back of my mind I may want to go back someday… or at least pass them on to another voyageur…  BWCA 2004 095

You cannot change what’s over – but only where you go – Pilgrim, it’s a long way to find out who you are… Enya

The Plain Facts


Well I did say we would talk about this back when I told you about Dan heading to the stool in the middle of the night. ( blog entry Pen to Paper)

What you see friends is what you get in the BWCA.  And it is usually the first thing you look for after landing at a campsite because you have been paddling for hours and frankly just need it!  Some sites you can smell it long before you find the little trail that takes you there…  just being honest here… The rain can put a damper on things however, especially storms.  We would hang a ziploc bag of toilet paper at the head of the path.. If it was gone, you knew it was occupied… some are high on a pedestal atop rocks and you really do feel like you are on the throne.  Quetico has very few if any stools and you are “on your own” as they say and are expected to take care of things by burying it like a kitty…. Yes, that’s what I thought….

After I became accustomed to the commode I found they can be quite an experience… (tongue in cheek) but truly, I have seen deer pass within yards of me not knowing I was sitting there – saw a pack of young wolf pups wander right up the trail – watched the light filter through the trees – the intricate spider webs shining in the sun – observed the comical behavior of squirrels and rabbits – and listened to the wind through those awesome pines…

Friends, no restroom in the world can match it!


I can’t think of a single bible verse appropriate for this entry….

Not even a relevant quote…



Life’s Storms



Ok I admit it, there were times I was scared to death during storms…  There is something about being in a tent among hundreds of huge trees, (though Dan always checked for dead ones when we were picking a camp site) pitch dark (I mean you cannot see your hand in front of your face) and intense thunder and lightning and unbelievable wind, that can make you whimper like a baby…  I have gone so far as to put my rain-jacket, boots, and flashlight by the tent door so I could escape.  Dan would laugh and say “Where are you going to go?”  I didn’t know….  Those big storms seemed to go on forever lasting most of the night….  I would lay there scared stiff as a board praying for deliverance while Dan gently snored away….

I’ve had some big storms in my life… you know the ones… where you are almost too frightened to even breathe… fearful  and terrified of the future…  but like the severe storms in the wilderness eventually the thunder and lightning fade away, and the wind though it continues doesn’t seem as bad in the morning light….


Peace I leave with you.. My peace I give you.. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid….

John 14:27