Finding Seclusion in Minnesota's Boundary Waters


There's a certain feeling that seems impossible to recreate. Maybe it's the anticipation right before an adventure. It could be the feeling of the unknown, or the excitement of discovery. The first time I experienced this feeling was while planning a trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Northern Minnesota. There's nothing quite like your initial encounter with true wilderness, which is why this area holds a very special place in my heart. 

The BWCA is an endless maze of pristine lakes, ponds, streams, and evergreen forests. Camping and canoeing are the main attractions but it's also home to world class fishing and hunting opportunities. Few places allow you to experience seclusion the way the BWCA does. Mainly, this has to do with the forms of travel. Portaging and paddling are the unique and challenging methods of reaching backcountry destinations within the BWCA. There are just over 1,000 lakes within the wilderness, and portages connect the vast majority of them. This creates over 1,200 miles of possible travel routes. If you are looking for true exploration and adventure, it will easily be found there.

From spring lake trout fishing, to hauntingly beautiful fall colors, I have many fond memories of the BWCA. I will not let a year go by without journeying there. I've spent the past few years acquiring the specialty gear needed to traverse the BWCA comfortably, and now my goal is to introduce people to this wonderful place. A few years back, I had the opportunity to take my cousin Max on his first BWCA trip. We decided to go in the spring and chase lake trout. I will never forget enjoying fresh cooked lake trout and listening to the loons from our campfire at dusk. When it came to the weather, we encountered everything from 60 degrees and sun to mid 30's and sleet. Some of my greatest friendships have been formed in the unpredictability of wilderness. It's in places like this where I actually feel like I'm a part of the environment. You drink water from the lakes, you sleep when the sun goes down and awake when the sun comes up. In a modern world where we pride ourselves on being "connected," we totally miss the mark compared to what nature offers. The BWCA is easily my favorite backcountry destination. If you have never been, I encourage you to start planning a trip.

Wilderness is a place I must experience. It's where I reset and where I find true perspective. I honesty feel that this is the case for all of us whether we realize it or not. There was once a time when people had to go looking for civilization. Things are different now. Today, people must search for wilderness. To truly encounter seclusion, you have to go find it. 

Remember that feeling I talked about in the beginning? Turns out it can be recreated. However, it only comes again the next time I go. It's precious, and it's one of the many reasons I keep going back.

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About Brian Hallberg