Finding Peace Along the Trail

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A veteran counselor recounts, during the summer of 2018, how he found peace along the trail.

To some the trail symbolizes strength, traversing tough terrain, carrying yet heavier loads. To others, it’s simply the land and the water themselves. Every tree and rock offers a world of discovery to the observant Boundary Waters traveler. Revealing trail events are different for everybody… sighting wildlife, the drama of a storm, a long thoughtless paddle or a quiet, uneventful moment like enjoying a rainy day.

I love waking early at a campsite, downing granola, loading the canoes and paddling for hours.

Portages break the monotony, lunch splits the day, dinner defines the evening, ending with a hard night’s sleep.

Worldly concerns melt away on the trail. In my ninth summer at Voyageur, I missed that state of nirvana. Maybe the heat had something to do with it this summer. Surely I’d snap out of it on the next trip or with a dip in the lake, like after a sauna.

Something seemed different. Neither a nature boy nor a portage beast, the trail was always my way to recharge. Yet even after a few trips this summer, I found myself looking forward more to the in-camp routine. After a two-year hiatus, I longed to get back into that groove, yet the funk persisted.

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Then, on the last trip of the summer, after pushing for days on Cherokee Lake, I finally felt at ease. We were in a corner of the Boundary Waters I’d never paddled before. A new sense of discovery and adventure awoke within. Rather than reliving another familiar route, I was here and now – in the moment. Refreshed, I realized the wisdom of searching out new places to explore again. As those much wiser than I concluded, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” Grab memories, share the journey with others.

- Will Kuns

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