Who would have thought that four large backpacks, two canoes, five paddles, and a map could make up the best vacation I have ever taken. I have been to Australia, Spain, and driven across the states and none of them compare to the experience I had in the Boundary Water Canoe Area and the Quetico Provincial Park. This experience of a lifetime began in Ely, Minnesota where we had our last night in a comfy bed and a hot shower before Voyager North Outfitters sent us off into the wilderness with only my father as our guide. Voyager North set up a tow boat ride to Prairie Portage where we passed through customs into Canada. We were finally ready to set off on our own canoe adventure with no schedule, no electronics and virtually no one else around. The Quetico Park limits the number of parties to enter the wilderness which provides for an exclusive wilderness experience.
Our true wilderness adventure began with my dad, two packs and I in one canoe and my mother, brother and two packs in the second canoe. We paddled a short distance up to the first portage, the easiest portage of the entire trip as it was on the U.S. side. A portage, for those of you who do not know, is a trail between lakes that you must carry all of your packs and canoes across to reach the other side. When I say trail I don’t mean a nice graveled pathway, I mean one with huge hills up and down, logs crossing the path and muddy sections that can be waist deep if you fall in. Some of you may be thinking, who would want to do that for a vacation but I’ll let you know I thought that same thing before the trip. But that all changed after the most difficult and physically demanding portage of the entire trip, because once finished I felt accomplished and it created an awesome adventure story that I was able to bring home and tell all of my friends.
After the first day of paddling and portaging we set camp on Sheridan Lake and enjoyed gorgeous scenery of luscious green surrounded with reflective waters that go on for an eternity. We decided that the next day we would conquer the man chain which is a chain of four lakes – That Man, This Man, No Man and Other Man. Traveling across the man chain was the longest day with a total of 13.5 miles and seven portages to end up in a little lake just outside the man chain, Bell Lake. From there we began working our way back to the start traveling through Ottertrack, Emerald and Polaris Lakes. Emerald Lake, which is aptly named given the clear green color of the water, was a two night stop and a welcomed break to say the least. When we were traveling slowly we were able to fish. And when I say fish I don’t mean cast and reel in for an hour, I mean actually catching fish. We caught lake trout, small mouth bass, walleye, a few evil pikes, and even a little baby perch.
Once home, we had paddled a total of 55 miles, completed 23 portages, some easy and some extremely difficult, set up five different camp sites and were able to say we survived a six day trip in the wilderness living out of only four backpacks. We enjoyed a vacation not like any other but one that brought my family and me closer together.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.