One word to describe my trip into The Sylvania Wilderness. Vast. The rain dripping on the leaves (a lot), the canoe paddle stroking through the pristine lakes, and the wings of a bald eagle gliding through the air.
This trip had many ups and downs. From the constant rain and wind on the first couple of days that caused all of our gear to become very damp, to the middle of the trip that was filled with bright sunshine rays and crisp fall days, and all of the other days in between that brought peaceful moments of gratitude laying in my hammock. This is what made the trip such a wonderful experience.
Our trip brought some challenges on the second day. Heavy winds had us land ridden and unable to continue our travels to Clark Lake. We ended up spending the day on the portage from Loon Lake to Clark Lake, doing whatever we could to stay warm. Our group brought all of our gear to one side of the portage, we waited it out to see if the wind would die down enough so we could continue our travels, but decided it was too windy to continue so we portaged all of our gear back and found a site on Loon Lake for the night. Our group decided to step back and let mother nature run her course. It was a very smart decision in the long run.
The next morning we woke up early to chilly temperatures and incredible traveling weather. Getting through the challenge of the wind was very triumphant for our group. Moods went up and people started to get the hang of traveling through the lakes and portages each day. We packed up camp and continued on to Crooked Lake. We also got to experience the greatest beach in Sylvania, The Clark Lake Beach. Little waves crashed up on the shore creating an ocean vibe. It was magnificent.
The rest of the trip brought lots of relaxation and reflection. On our layover day, a group of us traveled to a couple of secret lakes on Mountain Lake. They both were surrounded by bogs that had tamaracks with needles that were just about ready to turn to smoky gold and fall off for the season. It was amazing to see the changing of the seasons right in front of my eyes. The lakes were tricky to get to, as we had to paddle through a narrow inlet with lots of brush and rocks to enter them. These lakes were one of the highlights of the trip for me. The conversations I had, the small gusts of wind that slowly blew our canoe across the lake and the reflection on the lake from the stillness was like nothing I had experienced before.
This trip taught me something that I will take with me forever. Not every trip into the wilderness will bring strenuous physical challenges. Sometimes you have to find ways to challenge yourself to mentally better yourself. I went into Exploration Week with the hope of physically challenging myself, I came out in a better mental state, with a better appreciation for life and some lifelong memories with some pretty rad people. And I found ways to challenge myself physically as well, like portaging as many canoes as I could each day (ask my group, I was a little wild when it came to that).
Being from Northern Minnesota, I have been to The Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area many times. This was my first time traveling in The Sylvania Wilderness. It was a humbling experience.
Photos contributed by Jeff Rennicke, English Teacher and Trip Leader.