These are answers to many questions that new and experienced trip participants ask us when preparing for their Boundary Waters canoe trips. Feel free to contact us with further questions.
What’s the weather like?
Average temps in the Boundary Waters in the summertime (mid-June through mid-August) range between highs in the 80′s to lows in the 50′s. There will be occasional heat waves with 90 degree+ days, and cool spells where temps get down into the 30′s or 40′s. In the spring and fall, temperatures can sit around the 50′s or lower during the day and fall below freezing overnight. The best approach when packing is to come prepared with non-cotton layers that will help you monitor your comfort level while keeping you warm even if things get wet.
Precipitation is variable; some summers are dry, some are wet. Consecutive days of steady downpours occur but not regularly; scattered thunderstorms are common. Come prepared to get wet (i.e. waterproof jacket and pants) and have an extra set or two of clothes you can change into once you’ve made camp.
What if I’ve never canoed before?
Having some prior canoeing and camping experience before going deep into the wilderness is important. We can help you assess your skills and advise you on your best approach to get out there. It may entail taking a couple short trips before taking on the challenge of a long trip. It may entail easier routes first. It may entail finding a guide to take you there. As you grow in your skill and confidence, you can take on more expansive challenges.
What footwear should I bring?
This is a somewhat complicated question and each option has it’s pros and cons. Sturdy hiking boots offer good ankle support on rocky portages, mosquito protection at camp, and warmth for spring and fall trips. However, boots often get wet getting in and out of the canoe and wet boots cause problems and take a long time to dry (even waterproof boots get wet if you slip on a rock and submerge the whole foot). Good sturdy sandals (Tevas, Keens, Chacos, etc. NOT flip flops!) offer a quick-dry option that make canoe entrances and exits a breeze – you can just step right out of the canoe into the water! However, sandals don’t offer the same support as boots and can leave your toes a bit chilly and bitten in the evenings. Tennis shoes are an option similar to boots, but they offer less support while still getting wet quite easily.
As evidence of the multiple correct answers here, guides have chosen a variety of footwear solutions. For warm trips, some guides take Chacos and several pairs of warm socks. For early spring trips, they may take both Chacos and boots. Some wear their waterproof boots on every trip and are just a little extra careful about getting in and out of the canoe.
In the end, the choice is yours. Do your feet get cold easily? Have you had recent ankle problems? Are your boots waterproof? Are your sandals sturdy? It can also be a good choice to take a pair of boots to start with, but also take a pair of sandals should your boots get wet or should your feet get uncomfortable. You may have to fiddle around a bit to get them in your pack, and it will mean a little extra weight, but it might make for happier feet.
How do you pronounce “portage?”
- If you’re from around here (meaning Minnesota): its pronounced portidge. Like “port,” what you drink, plus “idge” as in porridge. PORT-idge.
- Are you Canadian or wanna be? Pretend you’re at the dentist. Say portAHHHHje. The “je” at the end is soft, as if you’ve got a french accent.
- Good luck! (P.S., its best just to hear it from a native… you’ve just got to come hear it for yourself!)
Do I need a guide?
There are good reasons why you might consider taking a guide on your trip. If you have never taken a trip before and have no wilderness or canoeing skills, a guide can make your trip a success, including safety, enjoyment, and being able to get the full impact of your Wilderness Wind experience. If you’ve “been there, done that”, you can go back with your prior skills without a guide. Wilderness Wind does not provide guides but would be happy to help you assess the need for a guide and help to connect you with a guide if that’s the right answer for you.