The Semlers and the Conroys traveled to northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the summer of 1997 for a week of canoe camping.
The Semlers, who brought their tandem and solo Wenonahs, drove from Buffalo through Ontario for the rendezvous in Ely. The Conroys flew to Duluth and drove up the shore of Lake Superior to reach Ely.
Long-time patrons of the Boundary Waters Catalog run by the Piragis Northwoods Company, the NCMC used Piragis as their outfitter. The Conroys rented a Wenonah Minnesota II and some Duluth-style soft canoe packs, and a Piragis staffer drove them to their put-in after they left their cars at the take-out.
It was a five-day, four-night backcountry trip, with the group spending three nights at a spacious campsite in a bay with a nice beach. They spent a good deal of time swimming, paddling and hanging out near the campsite and at a spot where a small rapid was created by a drop of five or six feet at the juncture of two lakes.
As they paddled out on the last day, a bald eagle flew low over their canoes and checked their trim.
It was buggy at night, but the biting insects left them alone during the sunny days.
While admittedly only scratching the surface of the large wilderness that is the Boundary Waters, the NCMC concluded that the Boundary Waters was no more attractive a paddling destination than Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Algonquin rocks, so that is no slight of the Boundary Waters, and Ely is a great town.
Gallery: Boundary Waters