Finding the 12 Habits in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area

Recently my wife and I and two great friends returned from a wilderness canoe trip in Northern Minnesota and Canada. Upon coming home, I noted that the 12 Habits were very much alive on our trip and unknowingly may have been factors as to why our vacation was such a success.

Physical Activity: Our trip had some very long and hard days of canoeing and portaging very heavy packs. But, there is nothing better than doing physical activity outdoors in nature and even if tired doing something you love. Every day was different regarding effort and rewards. 

Forgiveness: Putting four people together for a week in a difficult and beautiful setting makes for great moments, but also times where it was necessary to say sorry for certain behaviors. Forgiveness among good friends came easily but was also essential.

Portion Size: This was practiced ahead of time in meal planning and during eating. Sharing fish dinners or eating a dinner for two out of a pouch was enough and breaking that candy bar into four pieces was an enjoyable and very adequate desert.

Preventive Health Care Testing: We updated our first aid kit with new medications and other items and carried an emergency rescue GPS device. Fortunately, both were never used.

Adequate Sleep: Sleep is essential to any trip but especially if you are in wilderness situations with a tent on uneven ground, rocks, and tree roots. This year, we all purchased and brought tent cots that weighed only 2 pounds and folded very small. When combined with a blow up air mattress on top and sleeping bag, this rivaled the most comfortable bed. We slept very well!

Try Something New: All trips to the Boundary Waters or Quetico are different and so constantly new, but this year after visiting with some other canoeists, we were advised to divert from our planned trip to visit what was thought to be the best Native American pictographs. Viewing them on a cliff from the water did not disappoint. We also searched out and traveled to amazing waterfalls, rivers, and rapids. Time spent well just sitting, looking, and listening.

Strength and Flexibility:  We all did special strength training prior to the trip but certainly continued it lugging packs and canoes for miles over land. Stretching and yoga in the morning, on large rock slabs overlooking the lakes, was a great way to prepare for the day to come.

Laugh: Humor was alive and well always. We were even able to laugh about trudging thru mud or time under the tarp in the rain as the sun always came out and the lakes were a great but cold bathtub.

Family and Friends: Spending every moment with my best friend, my wife, and two great friends for a week was priceless.

Address Addictive Behaviors:  I think we all spend too much time on electronic devices. In the canoe country, you are away from all information or communication with the world. We were completely unplugged. Also, our pace slowed down and we were much more present in the day.

Quiet Your Mind: There may be no better time than to sit in a crazy-creek chair on the shore of a wilderness lake with a mug of coffee in the morning and have the only sound be the call of the loons. What a time for thinking about what is truly important in life.

Gratitude:  A trip like this makes you very grateful just to be alive and able to go on such an adventure. One event was very special: after cleaning some fish we put the remains on a large rock in the lake right by our campsite. It took only a minute for a Bald Eagle to suddenly appear and right in front of us grab the fish carcass while in flight. A magical moment as we were part of the circle of life. Very grateful we could spend quality time in our amazing world.

Hope you get to go someday and don’t forget to carry the 12 Habits along.  

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