Friday, May 14, 2010

Boundary Waters - Minnesota's finest outdoor gem.

A couple of weeks back, I finally went canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Three glorious days of canoeing, portaging and camping. It was an absolutely chilled out weekend just before the end of the semester.

Canoeing was the essence of the trip. Sit in the canoe and paddle splash-splash-splash. It was very relaxing. The serene lake, the gentle lapping sound of water and the rhythmic paddling. The trees were just coming back to life after months of hibernation. The scenery was stunning. Places so beautiful are only seen on calendars and wallpapers. We saw a couple of otters and a few loons too. It was a paragon of wilderness. We didn’t see any other human during the time we were there. I especially enjoyed canoeing in the marshy narrow lakes. We got to see a few beaver homes too. I liked watching the vortex shedding from paddles and tried to paddle in the most efficient way by applying my susupect fluid mechanics knowledge. Mech E \m/

Portaging was kind of a pain. But it was much easier once I got the hang of it. I felt like Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I didn’t know I had such good upper body strength. I guess lifting those feather weight dumb bells helped after all. And then there was the wind which was against us for most part. Sometimes it got a little too strong. If you stopped paddling you were going backwards! We rode the waves. It was hard work. Paddle paddle paddle. Full steam ahead. My 0.1 horsepower paddling coupled with Jon’s 0.1 hp was just about enough I think to keep us going. I think my biceps grew by an inch in 3 days!

And the wind is even worse when it is from the side. So there was this one time when I was steering, my first time. It was quite calm when we set out. Then out of nowhere the wind picked up. Suddenly we were broadsided by white crested waves. We almost overturned. Water actually came inside the canoe. The wind and waves tossed us around like a paper boat. I had a hard time orienting the canoe in the direction of the waves. In the mean time we were blown off course towards the rocks. We just about managed to beach among rocks without damaging the canoe. After waiting a while we set out again in the lake with Jon steering us. Finally we managed to ride far out enough and cut back in towards our destination. What an adventure. I should have carried some of my Mech E text books for ballast.

And then there was the camping part. We camped on an island. Isn’t that the coolest thing ever? The whole process from setting up camp, cooking dinner, hanging our food above the ground, etc. was sweet. As far as camp talk goes, I must mention a good joke. It must be noted that there were four Mech Eng grad students in the group. “So if a girl asks you for your number, and you say Rho, V, L by Mu. And then she exclaims, are you Reynolds?! Then that girl is a keeper.”

We sat by the lake at dusk. It was kinda eerie to see the inky black water and the silhouettes of the trees against the dark sky. It was soothing to hear the gentle lapping of the water against the shore. We turned in for the night when it got too dark. I liked the idea of sleeping at sunset and waking at dawn. The sleeping bags were cozy. It was pitch dark and the only sound to be heard was the rain against the tent. Good night and sweet dreams.

The days dawned bright and clear. It was amazing to be awakened to the songs of birds and rustling of leaves, the sweet smell of the wet pine forest. It was heavenly. All in all an awesome trip. Aah I miss the Boundary waters. Hope I get to go back in the summer. The Boundary Waters certainly lived up to its reputation.