Boundary Waters

Day 6 – Lake Thomas to Snowbank Lake (13.6 miles)

In the morning I suggested that if we worked hard that we could finish the whole trip around dinnertime. Nathan heartily agreed and after our morning chores (filling the water, taking down the tent, etc.) we pushed our to the seas. The first 2.5 hours went like this: paddle 20 minutes, portage, repeat 6x. When reached the first big lake of the day (Ima), we noticed the strength of the winds.

Nathan studies the waves on Ima

Ima, with a severe crosswind, was the first test of our fortitude. When traveling 3 miles across a lake, it seems as if you are not moving. Still, we averaged around 2mph even with the wind. On the other side of the lake, the solitude that we had known for the last 60 hours vanished. For now on we would deal with more traffic that we had seen cumulatively over the last 3 days. Thankfully, we darted south after a couple lakes, leaving two groups of Boy Scouts behind. With the waters to ourselves we truly felt that we could finish our journey by the end of the day. In fact, by lunch we had reached the 2nd to last lake – Disappointment Lake.

As aside, it was disappointing to find that there wasn’t anything disappointing about Lake Disappointment. We ate our piecemeal lunch on the shore hoping the wind would eventually die down. Mother Nature had other plans. For the remaining 4+ miles of canoing we would be facing crosswinds or headwinds of ~20 mph. What joy to wind-n-water-weary sailors. But the taste of home was too close to back out now.


Disappointment had it’s testy moments, but it was hardly comparable to the challenge Snowbank posed for us. We had a long 1/3 mile portage to forget about the wind and think about how good a hot shower would feel.  Once put our canoe down, our attitude changed from joyful anticipation to fearful concern. The wind was howling across the lake, and we could see the whitecaps not far in the distance.  This was just in a small cove!! We still couldn’t see the lake itself. So we said a prayer hoping God might calm the waters (or at least let us walk on water if the canoe flipped).

Going straight through the waves, we battled to the edge of the cove when the wind began to grow noticeably stronger. Hearing each other talk became more difficult and soon the canoe drifted perpendicular to the waves, causing the canoe to be in a very vulnerable position. We retreated back to a small outpost, sheltered from the winds. We gathered our whits, and Nathan wisely suggested that we hug the shoreline. We prayed again and set off for home.

High wind and high adrenaline

The wind was blowing hard against our starboard side pushing us dreadfully close to the rocky shoreline. I was very uncertain that we could make the run, and I tried to get Nathan to retreat back to the cove. He never heard me, and I later yelled “I trust you” as we paddled full strength. The shoreline soon receded, and we were safe from the rocks. Feeling confident that we could power through the headwinds and reach the other shoreline, we made a “line” for home. You can see how we had to maneuver through the waves to reach the finish.

See the entire trip on Google Maps

Once we hit the other bank, I soon broke out into an Irish accent, which later became turned Indian. Don’t ask for an impression unless you stick me back on the high seas. On shore, we were elated to be on solid ground. Can’t you tell?

Back on solid ground