I had lived in Minnesota for over fourteen years by the time I made my first trip to the BWCAW. As I mentioned earlier my ex didn't enjoy camping, so I never went while we were married (turns out I could have, but that's another story). So the summer we were separated I made my first trip to the BWCAW. For years I had talked about going, but knowing that I never would as long as I was married (a built in excuse). Some friends of my invited me to go with them and I accepted, but secretly I was kind of scarred and wondered if I could actually make such a trip. There were six of us going on the trip, two of us had never been to the BWCAW, but we had camping and canoeing experience from earlier in our lives. I wasn't sure about that much paddling and I had no idea what the portages would be like. For those who don't know what portages are either, I offer the following explaination. The BWCAW is a wilderness area comprised mostly of hundres maybe thousands of interconnected lakes. The lakes however, are not just an unbroken series of lakes, there is usually a change in elevation between the lakes. This change in elevation causes an area of rapids, which is usually unpassable by canoe. So, travellers must take an overland route to the next lake, a portage. At the portages you unload the canoes and carry everything across to the next lake (including obviously your canoes). Portages are not marked, they aren't paved, usually not even close to level. What they are is just a path between to lakes, most have been cleared to one degree or another of fallen trees and large obstacles, but not always. So it can be pretty interesting getting across to the next lake. Once there you reload your canoes and continue until you get to the lake you wish to camp on, and then you must find a designated campsite (that's another story in itself).
The trip I was on was going in from the Ely,MN side of the BWCAW, and out to Lake Alice. This is a distance of approximately twenty-five (25) miles and there are eight portages along the way. We went there in one day (one very long day) actually about ten (10) hours in all including a break of about one hour for lunch. We stayed at our campsite for the next six days and then came out in two days, traveling a little over half way on the first day and the rest on the last day. We would also drive back to the cities on that last day as well (a drive of about five (5) hours, so it was also a long day).
The following are pictures I've taken over the years on various different trips I've made to the BWCAW. Click on an image top get a larger view.