Chilly Morning on the Basswod River

For the first time in many months I felt the urge to burrow my head into my sleeping bag to warm the tip of my cold nose. More and more flecks of color appear in the forest each day. It is clear that fall will win its timeless battle with summer once again. A blanket of fog covered the Basswood River as I went about my morning. I gathered water, boiled water and started breakfast while Amy packed up our sleeping bags and sleeping pads. At one point I peeked in and she was busy rolling my sleeping pad with her legs and torso still ensconced in the warmth of her sleeping bag. Clever.

Now the sun’s warmth is drying the last droplets of dew from the tall grasses along the water’s edge as we prepare to load the canoe and head up the Basswood River.

Daily Data:

Days in the Wilderness: 358
Miles traveled: 14
Bodies of water visited: 2

Animals seen:

12 Canada geese
2 mergansers
4 red squirrels
6 black-capped chickadees
2 bald eagles
1 osprey
1 river otter
2 frogs
2 trumpeter swans

Tanks Thoughts: Summer is Coming to an End

Hello everybody. I’m Tank. Remember me? I am the sled dog who has turned into a canoe dog. I have been traveling with Dave and Amy since January 2, 2016. My mom, Acorn, and sister, Tina, spent the winter with us. Then they left when the lakes started to turn from ice to water. At first I wondered why Dave and Amy didn’t keep all of us when it was time to paddle the canoe. Then I saw the canoe loaded with food, gear and people. There was just a little bit of space left for me! In this Notes from the Trail I will tell you about life from the canoe dog’s perspective.


The weather was warm this summer– really warm. I have a fur coat. Even though I shed my winter coat I was hot. We still traveled around. I rode in the canoe. I panted to stay cool. Did you know that panting is how a dog cools down instead of sweating like people? We would walk on the portage trails and I would carry my red pack. Whenever Amy and Dave picked a campsite I would get really excited and run around. After a couple minutes of running and smelling things I would find a spot in the shade. I spent a lot of time napping in the shade.

People have asked if I like to swim. I DO NOT like to swim! I will wade in the water if I absolutely have to, like when it is time to get into the canoe. One time I jumped in the canoe before anyone else was ready. The canoe tipped over and I fell in the water! The water was over my head so I had to swim. I frantically swam to shore and then scrambled out onto a rock. I shook myself to dry off. Amy and Dave complained that I got them wet from my shaking.

Do you like to swim? Why or why not?

Share your answer!

I can tell that fall is coming. Can you? I have a list of things that I have noticed. People talk about the leaves changing color. I am colorblind because I am a dog. So I can’t really tell when the leaves change color. There are plenty of other things that I notice.

1. The days are getting shorter.

I pay close attention to the daylight. When it is dark I go to sleep. When it is light out I wake up and run around. In the summer I would get up and run around a couple of hours before Dave and Amy got out of the tent. Now they get up just a little bit after my morning run.

2. The weather is getting cooler.

I am panting a lot less than I did this summer. Sometimes the air temperature is cool enough that I decide to nap in the sun instead of the shade. I might even curl up into a ball to sleep. That helps me trap more heat and keep my belly warm.

What is the weather like where you live right now?

Share your answer!

3. Some animals are getting ready for winter.

I have paid close attention to two kinds of small mammals out here: red squirrels and chipmunks. I have noticed that they are very busy lately. They run around the forest gathering seeds and stashing them. Amy told me they do this so that they can come back later to their stashes and eat the food during the winter.

Are any animals preparing for winter in your neighborhood?

Share your answer!

4. There are fewer people in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

I like people. People smile when they see me and they pet me. I saw lots of people this summer. We saw them in canoes and on portage trails. If we paddled past in canoes they would say, “What a nice dog!” If we saw people on the portage trails they would ask to pet me. I asked Dave why there are fewer people here now. He said that the busiest months in the BWCAW are July and August. I guess that many people plan vacations in the summer. That is when many kids are out of school. Come to think of it, we did see many families and camp groups full of kids this summer. Now when we do see people, they are mostly adults.


I like fall, because I know that winter comes after fall. There is snow in the winter and I can pull a dogsled. That is my favorite thing to do. I guess we still have a few months until I get to be a sled dog. In the meantime I’ll work on growing my winter coat so I can stay warm. I’ll keep running around so I can stay fit too.

Student Response Worksheets

Day 355: Tank is a Portaging Pro

Tank was all business on the portage between Rush Lake and Dark Lake. It’s not surprising because he seems to enjoy portaging far more than canoeing. It is probably due to all the smells along the portage trail and trees to mark. Dark Lake was the 497th body of water that we have visited during A Year in the Wilderness. When we paddled into the Wilderness nearly a year ago we set a goal of visiting more than 500 lakes, rivers and streams. Our route from here to the South Kawishiwi River, where we will exit the Boundary Waters, passes through several dozen lakes that we have already visited. Luckily, there are still a few hidden gems that we hope to visit, which will help us reach our goal.

Today we got lucky because beavers created a new pond by flooding a large marsh between Stuart Lake and Fox Lake so we were able to visit an unnamed pond that we had no idea existed.

Day 354: Pine Marten

As we made breakfast Amy noticed this pine marten peering down at us from the crotch of a small cedar tree 8 feet above our heads. Soon Tank noticed it and was whining and pacing below. The marten seemed pretty agitated at first, but after a few minutes we tied Tank up a healthy distance away, went about making breakfast and the marten settled down. Even as we packed up camp the pine marten stayed up in the tree watching us. An hour later we loaded the canoe and paddled away wondering if the marten would change trees after we left.

Day 353: Going were the Wind Blows

Golden fog blanketed the lake again this morning. We slowly sipped steaming mugs of coffee and ate oatmeal with an extra dollop of peanut butter as delicate waves of mist washed over the lake. A few tendrils of fog remained when my coffee and oatmeal were gone so I suggested we make more coffee and rest by the water’s edge for a little longer. There was no reason to rush.

We had originally planned to paddle up the Moose River from Nina Moose Lake to Big Moose Lake. We were planning to spend about 10 days in the Trout Lake section of the Wilderness south of the Echo Trail. However I tweaked my back recently. The long portages and rather robust travel schedule that heading into the Trout Lake section would require made me think twice. Plus, after more than 11 months without crossing a road, traveling to the Trout Lake section of the Wilderness would require that we portage across the Echo Trail.

After careful thought we decided to go where the wind blows us over the last two weeks of our Year in the Wilderness. Yesterday we paddled and portaged from Nina Moose to Lake Agnes and today we are planning to travel to Stuart Lake. After that, time will tell. Two weeks from now we plan to paddle out of the Wilderness and meet a floatilla of wilderness supports near River Point Resort on Birch Lake.


IMG_7534 (1)

Howdy! I’m Alyce and this is my perspective on Expedition Mentality.

Big Goals for the Source of Confidence Expedition:

  • Canoe the 4th longest river system in the world
  • Share the journey and experience with people along the route and via the internet
  • Talk about the confidence building process in a vulnerable way
  • Learn and grow through my relationships with Lisa and Viki
  • Have fun living the river life
  • Meet and connect with people who live along the route, learning about their lives along the rivers
  • Learning to move forward from my anger and not hold onto resentments from the past

What are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish your goals?

  • That everything must be perfect, or exactly the way I envisioned an idea from the start
  • Ego
  • Energy, time, personal $ and sleep
  • The parts of myself that get stuck in the past

What are you not willing to sacrifice to accomplish your goals?

  • The overarching vision and mission of Source of Confidence
  • Showcasing the raw and difficult moments of the expedition
  • Having opportunities to meet and converse with people along the route
  • My relationships with Lisa and Viki

Character Traits

  • Passion
  • Energy
  • Creative
  • Confidence

What Strengths are you bringing to the expedition?

  • Experience with expeditions of this magnitude and river travel
  • An ability to keep the big picture and live in the moments.
  • 500+ days of wilderness travel.
  • A love of talking with people and spreading our message.
  • An ability to share my energy and get others excited about SOC

In what areas would you like support?

  • Patience with my need for time in processing my emotions and experiences
  • Patience with my anger and the space for me to work through it
  • I will work on saying: just an idea, though patience with interrupting my statements as declaratives
  • The financial elements, especially the post expedition phase




Hi! I’m Viki!! You haven’t heard from me directly much! I have many jobs, but we like to call them support. I work behind the scenes to help assist Lisa and Alyce get to where they are going safe and relatively sound! I also help document the journey and am very excited to share it with you! Here are some of my thoughts on Expedition Mentality!

Big Goals for the Source of Confidence Expedition:

  • See Alyce and Lisa make it to the brackish waters safely
  • Create a “safe space” for those who identify as women to explore themselves within
  • Water my personal confidence by gathering tools to better weed out unhealthy expectations or criticisms of myself when they pop up
  • Create systems of organization for future expedition support staff
  • Gather footage to make a documentary!!!

What are you willing to sacrifice to accomplish your goals?

  • Ego
  • Time
  • Energy
  • Gear
  • Some personal $

What are you not willing to sacrifice to reach your goals?

  • Giving the warts equal stage time (As accurate of a representation in film and social media of the expedition as possible)
  • My safety
  • A fluid mind
  • Thirst for resolution
  • My love compass!

Character Traits:

  • Open-minded
  • Honest
  • Loyal
  • Optimistic

What strengths are you bringing to the expedition?

  • Fluidity
  • Logistics management
  • Budgeting
  • Excitement for adventure
  • Technological knowledge

In what areas would you like support?

  • Gotta steal a huge one from Lisa! Time management! Patience when we start finding holes in the bucket from overcommitment during the beginning stages
  • Reminding me how I am an equal on this expedition and in this organization. (The amount of people that have referred to my role as the easy part is unsettling at times!)
  • Financial
  • Voicing my opinion and/or an accurate representation of SOC’s views, especially when dealing with internet trolls or misogynists

Day 351: Dancing Through the Rice

Gazing over the swaying carpet of green, I watched Bert guide their canoe through the rice as Johnnie rhythmically guided kernels onto a growing pile of rice in the widest part of their canoe. Bert expertly adjusted the canoe’s speed to match Johnnie’s flails as they bent the rice over the gunnel and gently brushed the rice. A few yards away Lynden and Lawson snaked their own path through the bed of rice. They made it look so effortless, so graceful, dancing through the rice.

Each couple easily gathered twice as much rice as Amy and me. When asked about it, Johnnie just smiled and talked about a couple she riced with long ago who made the process look effortless.

Their teaching ranged far from ricing to hanging tarps and using a crooked knife, identifying plants and appreciating tiny details sitting right under our noses. Most importantly they taught us that while we have learned a lot during our Year in the Wilderness, we have just skimmed the surface. There are many lifetimes worth of knowledge hidden in this amazing Wilderness. If we listen, learn and practice, I hope that someday we can be the canoe dancing effortlessly through the rice, smiling as we spin yarns about our week in the woods with Bert, Johnnie, Lynden and Lawson.