© 2013 Aaron Atkinson


Life in the wild takes a lot of work. If you want to get somewhere you have to paddle or walk. If you want to eat something you have to lower the bear bag and fetch a snack. Even going to bed at night requires five minutes of killing mosquitos that managed to make it into the tent.

While all of these activities take some effort, the most significant outlay of energy comes from portaging. When you portage, you carry your gear and canoe over land in order to reach another body of water. In the BWCA most portage trails are well-maintained footpaths. On this trip, the portage to our favorite pike fishing lake was wickedly steep and rocky. One group we passed called it “sporty.” Another called it “the rock wall of death.” I called it worth the pain to get to the fish.

In an effort to minimize the aforementioned pain, Dad and I decided to double-portage. This involved making one trip with our gear, walking back, and then returning carrying our canoe. While I usually lead the way, on our walk back to the canoe I made the mistake of letting Dad lead.

With packs on our backs or a canoe overhead we’re an even match, but 400 miles on his bike in the month of July had turned my 58 year old Pops into an gazelle on the portage trail. Half way back along the trail, with legs aching and lungs burning I almost asked him to shift it down a gear when nature intervened and helped me to save face. “Dad look! A blueberry bush!” I exclaimed.

We stopped long enough to pick and eat a few dozen blueberries, their purple fruit bursting between our teeth with a sweet and tart bouquet that only wild blueberries can yield.

“Those are pretty darn good,” said Dad after we’d plucked a number of berries from the bush.

“They sure are,” I replied. “You ready to roll?”

“Let’s do it.”

“Perfect. I’m feeling rejuvenated. I’ll go ahead and take the lead.”

One Comment

  1. Dad
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 2:08 am | #

    Gazelle! Huh. On the portage trail! Huh. Guess I better keep riding that trusty cycle. Sure was fun to be able to tackle those hills without a care of how big the next one was. Gazelle. Huh! 🙂

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