Journey to Voyageurs National Park

IMG-20170528-03964Have you ever been primitive camping? Not just primitive, but secluded primitive camping? I thought I had been until this particular adventure. I must say, this is one of the most character building experiences I have had as of yet. Let me start at the beginning.

 

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Mural in Fosston, MN

Our journey began as we made our way through rural Minnesota. This awesome mural was next to a gas station we stopped at in Fosston. A piece with this much work put into deserves some recognition, don’t you think? I’m not sure who the artist is.

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Cool clouds in Bemidji, MN

We stopped to stock up our coolers with ice and pick up a few essentials before heading to our first campground. As I was waiting for the others, I noticed this cool cloud formation. (Weather people: insert cloud formation name here. 😉 )

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Blackduck, MN

One more quick stop in Blackduck, MN… just because I wanted a picture of the Black Duck Statue. There are several around town. I wonder why? http://www.blackduckmn.com/

We couldn’t pass up this gorgeous view… Big Fork Falls. There is a campground attached to this view if you’re interested. http://www.bigfalls.govoffice.com/index.asp?SEC=70936E95-A121-40CA-8DBC-2B85CCCF33CA&DE=BB080280-C1A8-4A0A-945D-437E5249E239&Type=B_LOC

 

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Woodenfrog Campground, Kabetogama State Park

 

We finally reached our destination for our first night. Our destination campground was reserved by someone else for the 1st night. Luckily, this campsite was right near our boat launch for the following day.

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It was a gorgeous day, so we set up camp.

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Here’s your 1st camping tip. Don’t forget to put your tent stakes in the ground as soon as you set up your tent. A big wind came up and blew one of my friend’s tents into the trees. You can laugh, I did. 🙂

Beautiful sunset, sucky camera. (I really do need an upgrade).

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We had a little time to kill before we could cross to our campsite, so we decided to hike this trail. The view was well worth the climb, don’t you think?

Okay, onto Voyageurs National Park. This place is HUGE. Our campsite was so primitive that it was only accessible by boat! No electricity, no running water, no wifi, no cell phone service, and no cars! It took us two boat trips to get all of our stuff to our campsite.

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Camping Tip #2: Always set up you tarps FIRST! We set up our kitchen area 1st, and it started pouring before we got up all of the tarps for our tent city… this brings us to Camping Tip #3: CHECK THE WEATHER before you go camping. We were originally supposed to get rain just ONE day while we were on our island at Lost Lake… it rained 4 out of the 5 days we were there. The temperatures also dropped down into the mid 30’s at night. Have you ever slept in a tent at night with no heater when it was in the 30’s? Adventure!!!!

Do you see that metal box in the above picture? It’s called a Bear Box. I’ll let that sink in for a second. No way out, and there are BEARS on this island. I DO love an adventure! Camping Tip #4: If there is a bear box provided, keep ALL of your food inside it whenever you leave the campsite or go to sleep. You DON’T want bears to visit your camp.

This campfire became our best friend for the following 3 days. Some of our group did venture out into the rain to catch some fish for a great meal.

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Northern Pike and Small Mouth Bass

Did I mention no running water? We had a vault toilet in the woods without even a shelter over it. It was basically a toilet on a hole… in the woods. Did I mention it rained most of the time we were there? Have you ever used barely existing facilities in the pouring rain in the woods with no shelter? Yeah… adventure! Hehehe.  Notice there is no picture of the vault toilet (trust me, I’m doing you a favor- it was NOT a pretty sight). This bring us to Camping Tip #5: Make sure the toilet has been pumped from the previous year- YUCK!

More rain… Yay! NOT.

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Finally it stopped raining long enough to go hiking. I came across these wild columbine blooming on the top of a rock in the middle of the woods. Nature always finds a way, doesn’t it?

I also came upon some fiddleheads on my walk. Fiddleheads are unopened fern fronds. They are VERY delicious. I showed everyone what they looked like and we collected a bagful. We sautéed them in butter and a dash of salt and pepper. Everyone enjoyed them. Camping Tip #6: Know which plants in nature are edible and which are not.

We did manage to make it an abandoned logging camp during the break in the rain. We were exploring the cabins and I came across a bird that had gotten trapped in one of the cabins. I rescued the poor thing and set it free… I didn’t get a picture, but can you guess what kind of bird it is? (Hint: there is a picture of one earlier in the blog.) Okay, I’ll tell you. It was a Black Duck! Coincidence? I’d like to think it wasn’t. Everything happens for a reason.

Here is a little more nature we experienced while camping. A beaver and a black morel mushroom. The beaver swam back and forth every day, much to our delight. We hoped that the black morel mushroom had some friends, but we only found the one. Boo.

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Finally on our last night there, the rain broke and we were treated to the most beautiful cotton candy sunset.

What did I learn on this trip? I learned that I have no problem being away from technology- I don’t even have internet on my cell phone. I dislike being available to people 24/7. Privacy, please. I also learned that if I am properly prepared, I can stay warm and dry even when it’s cold and wet outside of my tent.  I learned that I have a wealth of herb/plant information inside my head that can be taught to others. I learned a lot from my companions as well. Most of  all I learned that I am stronger (physically and character-wise) than I give myself credit for most of the time. This trip was no cake-walk. It was rough, cold, and dirty. 5 days in the woods on an island with no access to anything other than what you were smart enough to bring with you. This, my friends, was an adventure I will NEVER forget… OR regret. ❤

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