Hitting the Water: Into the Wild
3-Day Journey into the Boundary Waters
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Whether or not you’re an avid outdoor junkie you’ve probably heard of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
How much do you really know about the area, its rich history and endless list of thrills?
Pristine miles of unchartered territory, the Superior National Forest covers 3–million acres and within it lies a protected gem.
“So out of that the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is about 1–million acres, so it’s about one–third of the forest,” said Superior National Forest’s Public Affairs Officer Kris Reichenbach.
The Boundary Waters rich history dates back to the 1960’s when the United States Congress designated it as a national network of wilderness areas.
“So it has been part of the system for a long time and people have been enjoying it a,” said Reichenbach.
It has grown to become a local, national and international attraction.
In the BWCAW there are more than 1,200 lakes and at least that many miles of canoe paddling routes.
Known for its reflective, clear–blue waters, it’s a paddler’s oasis.
Reichenbach said how we know the wilderness today, as a peaceful place for reflection, was once very different.
“Some people don’t realize there was logging and some development early on before it was designated wilderness,” explained Reichenbach.
At one point there were resorts and motorized float planes.
Now, guidelines only allow for limited motorized boat use in certain areas.
It’s a slower pace of life now, one many flock to.
“I think what probably brought me to the Northwoods is that I had a desk job working in an office managing some people and towards the end I just liked the freedom of being out on my own and in the Northwoods and running my own business,” said Rockwood Lodge and Canoe Outfitters Owner Mike Sherfy.
Sherfy has owned the lodge and outfitter for 13–years.
It’s quite the piece of history built in 1926, sitting just 15–feet from the original Gunflint Trail.
“It was probably one of the original buildings built on the Gunflint Trail, still in existence,” said Sherfy.
It was originally a deer hunting camp, which has evolved into a BWCAW Outfitter.
In 2014, Sherfy put out 382 groups with canoes.
The lodge, located on Poplar Lake, is truthfully a gateway to the wilderness as it has three entrances into the BWCAW.
“There are a little over 2,000 campsites inside the BWCA. They are very primitive. They consist basically of a fire grate, a little primitive wilderness toilet down the trail and then a tent pad,” said Reichenbach.
It’s fair to say a trip into the BWCAW isn’t for the faint of heart.
“We have actually ran into a few people who don’t know what they’re getting into or their expectations are different. They think it’s going to be like a city park. There’s going to be a picnic table, a trill and a porta–potta at every site,” explained Sherfy.
For those desiring a combination of nature and home style amenities, you can day trip into the wilderness.
Rockwood Lodge is just one of your many options, as they offer seven cabins.
“They’re pretty nice. They have all the amenities you’d come to expect. Refrigerators, stove, heat, everything is there in the cabin for your comfort,” said Sherfy.
No matter what your level of comfort in the wilderness it is all about being prepared.
It’s a journey that shouldn’t be feared but instead embraced.
Join us Wednesday as we take a look at outfitters in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and how they can make your trip, whether it’s the first of fiftieth, easier to plan and more feasible.