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  • Writer's pictureCliff Jacobson


Cliff: above center: Note LLBean boots

Cliff: Right. Note leather boots. I learned fast that rubber is better!

Above: Cliff with Eureka! Drawtite tent--a great tent for its time

Above: Cliff center

When I was a kid I dreamed of canoeing the Boundary Waters. But my Chicago home was a long ways from Minnesota, and I couldn’t afford the price of a guided Boy Scout trip through “Charlie Base” in Ely. I was well into adulthood before I took the plunge. I planned a rather ambitious route for a first-timer: Begin on Seagull Lake, circle southwest through Ogishkemuncie, then loop north along the border, occasionally dropping into adjacent lakes--to end at Trails End landing on Saganaga. I shared the journey with John Orr, a long time friend and fellow teacher.

We paddled a cobalt blue 17’9” fiberglass Sawyer Cruiser canoe (a cult boat at the time), powered with straight ash beaver-tail paddles, slept in a canvas Eureka! Drawtite tent and cooked our food on an ancient Primus 71 gasoline stove. Navigation was a Fisher map and Silva compass. Amazingly, we never got lost. The one issue was a swamping on Saganaga Lake. The low, narrow Sawyer just sliced through the big waves and water poured in.

Surprisingly, we traveled lighter than today: No fancy foods, Dutch or reflector oven, no rain tarp, cell phone, binoculars, lanterns, fishing gear or “toys”. Just a tiny camera and a flashlight to light the night. It was a magical experience, one that set in motion a life-time of canoe trips in the Boundary Waters and far beyond.

Our beloved Boundary Waters is in crisis: November 14 is Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s philanthropic holiday. and I’m asking you to support Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, an organization that has been championing the BWCA for over 40 years. The Boundary Waters needs our help. Early giving has already begun, so now until Thursday, let’s all chip in to protect Minnesota’s national treasure. It takes a matter of seconds:

My book, BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE CAMPING includes an abbreviated history of the fight to preserve this magical place.

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