In a lengthy feature article in last Sunday’s New York Times Travel section, Brooklyn-based writer Porter Fox shared the experience of his first forary into the Boundary Waters, a three-day canoe trip with his wife Sara and longtime Ely residents and wilderness guides Paul and Susan Schurke. The group took motorboats for 40 miles from Crane Lake to Lac La Croix, and then paddled along the border and down to Mudro Lake.
Along the way, Fox is regaled by the Schurkes’ tales of Ojibwe, voyageurs, legends, and past trips. He describes the landscape in awe-filled detail, and recalls striking memories like falling asleep under a sky full of stars.
After falling over the first couple times he tried lifting the canoe onto his shoulders, Fox came to appreciate the close-up look one gets at the ground while crossing a portage.
“There was a small gravel beach at the start of the first portage and a flat rock for launching canoes on the other,” he notes. “Pale corydalis and harebell grew near the shore; sphagnum, leatherleaf and Labrador tea in the swampy sections of the hike.”
Fox is working on a book about traveling the U.S.-Canada border. In August, the Times published another of his essays, about sailing on a Great Lakes freighter from the Atlantic Ocean to Duluth.
Fox also shares what he learns about the threat of copper-nickel mining upstream of where he’s paddling.
“Though Twin Metals’ future looks dimmer every month, the fact that it was even a possibility — and that there are other mining companies trying to exploit the region — calls into question the values, integrity and good sense of civilization in the 21st century,” Fox writes.