Come June, those of us in the northern latitudes leave the hearth behind and burst into the sunlight to savor a precious few months of warmth, pressed for time before the days grow short again. This often entails going yet farther north, where the daylight lasts until 10 o’clock and the nights still require a sweater and fires feel good. In Minnesota, “up north” often means the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a one-million-acre swath of primeval forest peppered by thousands of lakes. Shouldering a canoe for a portage on a muddy, mosquito-infested trail between lakes is almost a rite of passage for men in this state. But after you’ve done it a few times, you might seek out slightly more civilized ways to spend a few days.
We spent a long weekend in a cabin outside of Ely (“Ee-lee”), a gateway town to the BWCA. Accessible only by boat (or skis in winter), it was the perfect blend of rustic and civilized, with propane lamps, a wood-burning stove and a sauna but no electricity or running water. The cabin provided a base camp for excursions by boat and boots into the surrounding wilderness, where we spooked a fawn, watched crows harass an eagle and walked in the fresh tracks of a wolf. Between outings, there was ample time to stoke the stove, nap and read. Check out the photo essay of our trip above and see for yourself that there really is nothing better than going up north.