For Jon's birthday, we went on a back-country adventure to Eagle Mountain. Minnesota's highest point and part of the BWCAW. We wanted snow, solitude and gorgeous views. All winter we have been meaning to do a snowshoe trip and this was it! As soon as we got to Lutsen it became pretty apparent that there was plenty of the white stuff for us. The closer we got to EM, the more excited we became, thinking about all the fun to come!
This is definitely one of those trips where the photos speak for themselves. From the second we hit the trail we were stunned by the white and vast wilderness around us. It was hard to capture and is even more difficult to put into words. Mother Nature delivered for us once again in the most marvelous way.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a very rugged and expansive part of Superior National Forest. Because this area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character and made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964, it allows visitors to canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago. (totally stole that last part from the USDA's site.) But you get the point. This area is wild. The trails are not marked by anything but foot traffic and random signage, which can prove to be extremely tricky in the winter.
My little car, all alone in a great big lot. This car has seen so many adventures and has been my trusty travel companion for ten years.
We ran into another person and were able to have our photo taken together! A very rare occasion when it comes to winter camping. We always like meeting like-minded people out in the wild and it was fun to get to know our passing friend, who will be hiking the PCT in May! Our backpacks were not light. We did not go minimal by any means for this- comfort came first, because we weren't so sure about the forecast or our plans. I had a cold and that changes stuff!
This is where we decided to stop. It was about half way to EM on a very beautiful lake. From this spot we had incredible views and could hear basically no sounds. Not wind, or trees, or anything else. We both commented a few times that it was the most silent place we've been. So it came as quite a surprise to hear wolves barking every now and then. A good reminder that this is not our land. That we were not actually alone. That we needed to be a little cautious.
Even with snowshoes on, you could still sink in the freshest snow. We woke up to an absolute white out. There may have been a very scary moment when we weren't sure if we'd be able to find the way back to our car. Spoiler alert: we did. The average snow depth was probably about three feet packed. Much higher in a lot of spots. It was so cool.
Remember the view we had before? Where did the mountain go?! I had never been in a white out before and was transfixed on how it changed everything.
This is Jon snowshoeing on the lake we pitched the tent by. The air was as clean and crisp as the fresh snow.
We weren't so sure whether or not to hit the road because of all the snow coming down and the potential to lose the trail. But we are both a little crazy and a little too playful. So we went for it and snowshoed to the top of Eagle Mountain. It was a winter wonderland. We were totally alone. Everything about it was magical. I had been here in the fall and I can tell you, the winter experience is not the same. It's worth going to during all seasons.
View from the top! While we didn't find the summit marker, we did look for it quite a bit. A silver plaque on a slanted boulder. No luck. Doesn't matter :)
After Eagle Mountain we broke down camp rather quickly and enjoyed the hike back to the car. We had initially planned on an extra day, but the thought of losing the trail was a lot to handle. We've now resolved to take a compass and topography class so that will not be an issue again. During this camp, my heart opened up. There was something special beyond words about the white out and quiet. And being able to share that with someone who feels the same. In the wilderness we are small, but we are together. It's so damn beautiful. Life is good.