It seems to me, that there are many significant things that happen in our lives that we don’t recognize as a special event, at the time it occurs. Taking a trip to the boundary waters with my daughter is special and I knew it, as soon as we began to prepare. There are a lot of personal experiences that make this trip special. My wife suggested a trip to the boundary waters for our honeymoon. (Talk about testing a new relationship!). She had been on wilderness trips many times and had led groups during her college years. My first experience was, love at first sight! We have returned a number of times and I have made a couple of solo trips.
As time passed, we got caught up in the work world and the responsibilities of a new baby girl. As my daughter, Elizabeth, was growing up she would look at my pictures of the boundary waters and listen to my stories. As she was approaching her 16th birthday she told me she would like to make a trip with me. The one thing I have learned about the experience of going into the boundary waters, first with my wife and then with a friend, is that someone has to ‘want’ to make the trip. So; over the next few months, we began to plan our trip. I decided that my daughter’s first experience would be the Quetico - Sarah Lake area. I contacted the Williams & Hall Outfitters to set the date and let them know our requirements. Let me say right here that the Williams & Hall folks are a group of outstanding professionals, in every sense of the word. I have used their services numerous times for almost a decade. Each time, my requirements were different, including a couple of last minute changes that were challenging for them as well.
On the drive to the boundary waters I was again reminded of how fast time passes and how quickly my daughter is growing into an independent young lady. Of course, the good news is that she has her driver’s license and shared some of the driving! After a restful night and a hearty breakfast at the outfitters, we took the shuttle and checked in at Prairie Portage. The people you meet at the portages is always an interesting experience. Standing in line to check in I discovered that 2 of the other 3 parties waiting were from the same area where I grew up. Small world! As we slipped out of Inlet Bay into Bayley, Bayley discovered that I had returned and quickly kicked up the necessary winds to make the pass-through very difficult. I have had difficulty with Bayley in the past and became concerned with how to respond to the quickly changing weather conditions. I noticed that my daughter, rather than being alarmed, seemed to enjoy the ride! We quickly escaped behind an island and took a break, waiting for the winds to die down.
9; Over the next few days, I discovered a number of things. Watching my daughter take in this new experience and the wonders of the wilderness area, brought me back to the wonderment of my first trip. Elizabeth noticed things and made observations about our surroundings that I had begun to take for granted. She quickly adapted to the challenges of canoeing and portaging and did more than her share in the team work necessary on such a trip. Even though the trip involved a number of windy and rainy days, Elizabeth enjoyed it all. By the third day, she asked if it would be possible to do this again. I said: "Of course. We should plan something maybe for next year". What I thought was: "Most excellent!" There are few things more exciting than bringing someone into the boundary waters and seeing them fall in love with the experience. After we returned from Quetico, we stopped in Ely to take in the ‘hot spots’ and shopping opportunities. Elizabeth had been in charge of photography and brought home many wonderful shots of our experience. Even in her pictures, I saw things that had become routine for me.
In this day and age when our children are distracted by so many things, a trip to the boundary waters is one sure way of grabbing some of that all important quality time before they have grown up and leave the nest.
copyright 2006 David McHone http://www.canoestories.com/fiction/daughter.htm