Lac Du Bois: Part 2

Two weeks down. What I didn’t realize was that the first two weeks of this intense journey served as preparation for the final two. Little did I know the tiring 18 hour days of canoeing around the beautiful area of Bimidji would turn into fourteen straight days of canoeing for 18 hours, pitching camp and making dinner just to waking up at 5am to do it all over again. What were we doing on this seemingly ridiculous schedule? We were on a trip I can only appreciate now that it’s over and I have learned more about what a feat it is to canoe the boundary waters into Canada. Breathtaking. Every island we stopped in at night, every glimmer of the stars, the blue water we tread and everything in between was unapologetically luscious. Nights were my favorite part of each day, and in the burning sun after 15 hours of canoeing I could always think about what the stars would look like, how I was going to explore the new island or what wildlife I would find. Each island seemed to have a story, each rock formation a calling card hungry for the adventurous. One night we waded into the depths of the lake to observe and better appreciate the night sky. One day we all took the call of the wild, jumping off various edges of an enormous rock structure seemingly coming out of nowhere. These rare and precious moments we were able to enjoy made the harder days a little easier to handle. Once in Canada I remember so vividly the view of Lake Superior and allowing myself to, as I did at various points throughout the journey, absorb the view and feelings I experienced. Once home, I could finally take a breath and grin at the entire month and understand that it was all for a reason. Approaching baggage claim, the anticipation to see my family builds. The moment I went to hug my mom, I will never forget her mentioning the difference she saw in me. Misadventure turned life changer. The month I spent in Bimidji, Minnesota can never be forgotten or replaced.

Content by Alex Rager

Lac Du Bois: Part 1

Pulling up to the French Chateau I was in love, the building mimicked Parisian architecture and the grounds were full of art. The bus driver stopped me as I stepped off to check my sanity – this was not my stop.  Another 15 minutes on the bus, I finally arrived in the woods to an easy up and a canoe. What the-. I couldn’t understand a word but before I knew it I had a different name, had gotten checked for lice, all my stuff was taken from me (except the five things I was actually allowed to have) and was getting into a canoe. Woah. Head rush. Campers were expected to speak or attempt to speak in French, cook French food and learn to be completely capable of survival in the woods. I had no experience doing any of this so the “French” I spoke was broken Franglish, the food I helped cook was probably mediocre at best and learning to survive in the woods was an interesting challenge (I was not as adventurous at this point in my life). We got up at 5am, went on hikes, canoed or swam all day, cooked dinner and got to know each other through the (mis)adventures we all shared. Eventually I got used to it all – the mosquitos, checking for ticks, speaking progressively better Franglish, cooking and getting too sore to move every day became my new normal. We earned beads for passing tests like swimming, canoeing, pitching tents and building a fire (from the tree you were expected to chop). These relatively little accomplishments were a big deal for me; they served as a physical reminder of my newly discovered self-worth when challenges became overwhelming. It is unfortunate that any child, under any circumstances, would discover his or her self-worth and importance in high school when it should be shared and fostered throughout one’s childhood. The challenges I faced in the initial two weeks peril in comparison to the following two weeks that changed my life forever and sparked my wanderlust.

Content by Alex Rager