It was nearing early evening on the first day of trail, and the intense sunshine and whipping wind were beginning to drain both campers’ and guides’ energy. As we munched on granola bars my co-guide and I asked our campers what they wanted to do–set up camp for the evening or continue into a bog a few more hours until we would reach a small inland lake. In near unison the group enthusiastically agreed to keep going forward. For the next three hours we paddled through a narrowing creek and jumped on to the floating grass to heave canoes over beaver dams. Laughter permeated the humid summer air as campers found themselves waist deep in bog water or stuck in thick mud trying desperately to not lose their sandals! As the sun dipped behind the tree line, the twisting creek widened and flowed into a small lake where we would be setting up camp for the night. As our exhausted bodies paddled towards the campsite, a camper told me that was the “realest thing” he had ever done.
I couldn’t agree more. The “realness factor” is an idea that the staff at Laketrails toss around in many conversations. There are few things more real than standing knee deep in mud as a new-found friend on your trip offers a hand to help you out. The “realness factor” is evident as you lie in your tent listening to wind rustle in the trees. Or in the patience that is required to guide a canoe through a portage trail as mosquitos and biting flies swarm every inch of exposed skin. The realness is in the authentic feelings of accomplishment when you see the cool, blue water at the end of a portage or in the excitement when you learn how to build a fire. The “realness factor” is evident on many canoe trips, but I really believe that any Laketrailer will identify with the raw, organic realness that is unique to a week in the Lake of the Woods.
by Maria Anderson, former Laketrails Guide