You and I are both on the ‘grid’ of modern technology. With computers, cell phones, credit cards, the internet, ATMs, and computers in our cars, every move we make is being tracked. And let’s not forget about the convenience of electricity. All this technology is a positive in our daily lives. But wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from it?
One of the best ways to unplug from this digital, technology-driven world is to head out into the true wilderness. Wilderness is a place where the land is in a natural state and human impact is unnoticeable. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) is the wilderness. In the wilderness of the Boundary Waters, you can trade modern conveniences for simple joys and meaningful experiences.
Dorothy Molter, Living off the Grid in the BWCA
Dorothy Molter is renowned as the only person allowed to live in the BWCA after its designation as a U.S. Wilderness Area in 1964. From 1934 until her death in 1986, Dorothy lived off the grid. A great four-minute video about Dorothy can be found here. You can also check out the Dorothy Molter Museum in Ely, Minnesota.
While Dorothy lived off the grid from the age of 27 until she died, you can go off the grid for a week in the Boundary Waters wilderness. You might be surprised what you will learn about life and about yourself. Consider:
Things to consider when heading into the BWCA wilderness
- Shelter, food, and clean water – Safe in our homes, we take shelter, food and clean water for granted. But in the wilderness, you will be surprised to learn how quickly you focus on these basics of life. Basics because they keep you alive.
- Your physical condition – Many of us sit a lot during the day as we work. Others use some aspects of their bodies in their daily work. Paddling and portaging will give you an appreciation of how we don’t use our whole body in our daily lives.
- Items you wish you had – Even the most experienced canoe country campers are likely forgotten some key item. Alternatively, something will break while on your paddling trek. At home, we just hop in the car and go to the store. In the wilderness, we rely on innovation and creativity to use what surrounds us in nature to overcome unexpected challenges.
- The true meaning of a sustainable existence – At home, we can feel that we are living a sustainable existence by driving a hybrid car or putting stuff in recycling bins every week. Paddling in the Boundary Waters requires you to use only your physical power to transport yourself. You bring only what you need because you know you must carry every item over every portage. And, you learn the importance of leave-no-trace principles so the next person in your campsite will feel that no one has been there before.
- Learning what is really most important – You are “disconnected” in the wilderness. No internet, no cell phone. You find out that things can wait. You find out that the news doesn’t change a whole lot if you don’t hear it for a week. And you get to spend uninterrupted time thinking and contemplating.
A great thing about spending a week in the Boundary Waters wilderness is that you come home with a different perspective about living on the grid.
Paddle On. Be Free.