Many outside of the Upper Midwest have never heard of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), I'm pretty certain I hadn't before moving to Minnesota. The BWCAW is, in fact, one of the most heavily used wilderness areas in the U.S., at over a million acres, it is half again bigger than the country of Luxemburg. The are over 1200 miles of canoe routes in the Boundary Waters.
Entry into the Boundary Waters is by permit, and only at designated entry points. Each entry point has a daily quota of permits, and once that quota is met, one has to either wait or choose a different entry point. However, once you are in, you are free to travel anywhere within the wilderness.
Why am I writing about this? My wife and, plus two of our friends have set a date for a long weekend trip to the Boundary Waters this spring. I've gone camping before, many times, and I've gone paddling a few times, including a guided trip on the Upper Gauley River in West Virgina (but that's a story for another time). But this will be the first time that I've ever tried to put the two things together.
I'm very much looking forward to hte experience, knowing that I will be challenged, but believing that I will rise to the occasion My wife, I know, is looking foward to it too. She has long been regaled with stories of the Boundary Waters by her best friend, whom we hope we will be able to add to the excursion. She however is concerned that she won't be able to meet the callenge and that the rest of us will have to pick up her slack. I don't think she gives herself enough credit sometimes.
Why is the boundary waters so special? I guess I won;t really know until I am there, but it sounds like it is the fact that it is possible to paddle all day long and never see another human being outside your own party; to have a greater probability of seeing wolves or moose.
It's eight weeks until the trip, and in the mean time I have an auto race to help organize, and the largest single technology purchase my employer has ever made to coordinate. As er proceed with the planning, I'll post further updates, however, don't expect me to post reports from out there, I'll leave that to LivArneson and Ann Bancroft.