Haunts & Jaunts: Return to the Boundary Waters

Return to the Boundary Waters, and I’m getting older.

“Countless paddle strokes disappearing into clear waters.” *Photo by Rick Hinton

   I enjoy ghost chasing. The process addresses questions I have asked myself since childhood, although I’m no closer to any type of resolution than when I started. I do, however, enjoy doing other things. That’s important! A variety of activities is said to keep one well rounded. Just concentrating on one hobby only will make your eyes spin like pinwheels. It’s not healthy. I needed a shot of the wilderness—and took the family.

   In 2005, my son Kyle and I signed on for a trip with the Boy Scouts to the ominous Boundary Waters in the north woods of Minnesota. It was a life changing experience! For the first couple of days I had a very grumpy 16-year-old son, not used to those kind of shenanigans. The experience took one beyond their daily comfort zone, and rather quickly introduce to the purest wilderness experience I could ever imagine. I wrote a book about it, Scouting the Boundary (available on Amazon), and believed it was over. Not! Now 12  years later and Kyle wanted to go back. Maybe it’s to exorcise some demons? Maybe, to prove something to himself since losing a massive amount of weight? He made all of the arrangements. We were on board.

“Our island patio that became our homestead for several days.” *Photo by Rick Hinton

   On Sunday, July16, Kyle, I, my wife Laura, and her 14 year old son John, hit the road for the 12 hour drive to Ely, Minnesota.We were on the water the following morning. Kyle had planned an ambitious route, however it was not to be. One needs to be flexible—rain, terrain, and physical limitations change any preconcieved notions. Our plans certainly did! We base camped on a northern site at Fourtown Lake, taking daily excursions and returning from our jaunts to our wilderness home. The Coleman stove hummed as it burnt dinner. The Sawyer water purification system produced fresh water every 15 minutes. We drank a lot of tea. Mosquitoes and deer flies were of upmost importance! We set camp chairs on our rock ledge patio and stared out over the lake as evening slipped into night. A good time to be alive!

   Ghosts? I saw a few, but they were all in my mind as I observed the mist settling among the trees on the far shoreline: visions of past Voyagers portaging through the area, carrying goods, canoes, and a way of life long faded from memory. And from our tent, the loon call slipping into that last moment before sleep. These are events that define, giving a sense of our mortality, yet also the possibilities.

   I need to write another book!