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mnfishingal

trip of a lifetime

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Dear Friends,

I just returned home from spending six days/five night canoing Quetico with my brother, nephew and friends from PA and wanted to share what an amazing experience it was. Something I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys being on the water and the quiet beauty that can only be found in a wilderness that has been so incredibly preserved as the BWCA and Quetico.

The trip was also a tremendous gift to me because it has been something I have wanted to do for more than 20 years and since I was diagnosed with Young Parkinson's 6 years ago, I thought it would be one of those things that was just left undone in my life. After much thought, we decided to also use the trip as an opportunity to raise awareness about Parkinson's as well as funds for research and for a local non-profit here in Fargo that provides a variety of services to people in the Fargo/Moorhead area including those with PD and other neurological disorders. I will try to attach a couple links on some articles that were done by local newspapers if I can figure out how to do it.

As for the trip, it was the most physically challenging experience I’ve had in my entire life. The location was more remote than I had anticipated. We had two days when we saw no one and one day when we saw only one other canoe. My brother was reading about the pictographs one evening and found a notation indicating that on the route we took, only two groups are allowed to enter per day. I think what was most beautiful is that we all genuinely had a deep sense of the love, support and prayers that were being sent our way and at the beginning and end of each day we were greeted in some small way by something that had graced our path - a single purple lady slipper, a butterfly that seemed to hover around us, a penny on an island where we set up camp that wasn’t a designated camping site (our family gives special meaning to pennies as they remind us of our grandma), a group of five eagles that gathered on a rock close by one morning, a water lily we came across only once, and many more small but neat little gifts.

We depended on the good map reading skills of the guys to keep us going the right direction on the large lakes and to find the portages that often seemed hidden along the tree filled shorelines. The portages were incredible! When we initially checked in at the ranger station going into Quetico the ranger advised us to change our route because one of the portages )by Kashahpiwi) was nearly ¾ mile much of it armpit deep moose muck. As it was, we had one portage that was nearly waist deep in moose muck, another that involved wading down a rumbling stream stepping from rock to rock across slippery moss covered rocks. It was for me the most difficult of the portages.

We had many portages through mud and places where we stepped carefully from boulder to boulder both up and down steep hills. The paths were narrow and the trees so thick that the guys carrying the canoes often got stuck between trees unable to turn very well on the narrow path. We often found ourselves crawling over trees that had fallen across the path. The guys carried heavy packs (60-80#) plus the canoes. Teresa (the other woman on the trip) had a heavy pack as well. I had the smallest pack (about 30#) and had all I could do to manage it. There were times when the guys had to drop the canoes and then double back to get them after getting the packs to the end of the portage. There were many times when I thought I couldn’t go any further. We were all exhausted by the end of each day, but in a good way. We had fresh fish two evenings but the fishing was slow. I fell only three times and fortunately only scraped my knees which was really nothing compared to being covered head to toe with poison ivy and mosquite bites.

The paddling itself was generally easy. My brother had brought two kites with that he taped to the inside of the canoes. We were all curious about what he had up his sleeve and on the third day as we were about to canoe more than 6 miles down a long lake, he pulled out the kites and since the wind was at our backs, we used them as sails. It was fun and funny and sure saved on the paddling for the day. Another fun day was standing under the COLD water tumbling down Louisa Falls.

The last day was the most difficult for paddling. We had one portage into the last lake we were to paddle. It was a large lake and we had about 6 miles to go and of course there were strong winds that stirred the waves into white caps. At the shore line, the waves we encountered were 1-2’ high and as we paddled out into the lake we paddled against waves 3-4’ high. We watched in amazement as the other canoe would hit a wave and the front end was more than 2’ in the air and when they dipped down into the swell, the canoe looked like it was swallowed by the lake. We had to paddle non-stop to keep the canoe from capsizing - it was what I imagine white water rafting to be like. At one point, one of the guys said he went to put his paddle into the water and there was nothing beneath him. Our canoe had a lot of water in it from the waves rushing over the side. I think we were all relieved to arrive safe at our destination and yet a little sad that the trip was over. The days since have been filled much gratitude for the experience. Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters were awesome. They provided the canoes, packed out food and provided the transportation from Ely to Moose Lake to Prairie Portage. What an awesome gift! My brother, who is a Boy Scout leader in PA brings a group of scouts from PA to canoe the BWCA every 2-3 years. He asked if I would be ready to go again in two years and I would love to think that I can. The others in the group are all excited about the possibility as well.

I know such a trip isn't for everyone. I questioned my sanity many times over the course of the trip (mostly as we were trudging along the portages). But I certainly am a stronger person for it and I know that the memories of the experience will sustain me for a long time to come.

Thanks for letting me sahre.

Denise

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That was an awesome story Denise! There's something magical about being up there that you can only understand once you've experienced it. I'm glad that you had such a great time and that it was the realization of your powerful sense of self!

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Now that is definitely a trip of a lifetime. Just reading about it takes me there in my imagination. My dream trip would be to spend a week or two in a log cabin on a remote lake with no one else around, just me and the fish!

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mnfishinggal - awesome trip. It feels good to push yourself to the extreme, doesn't it. You had some great accomplishments.

Very cool experiences grin

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