Sportsmen for the Boundary Waters is pleased to present "The Backcountry Chef," a monthly blog written by avid outdoorsman and chef Lukas Leaf that details his experiences hunting, fishing, cooking, foraging and exploring in the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
It was 10 days into spring fishing opener and we had just cast Dad and Andy off, as they were returning home after an ice-filled week in the Boundary Waters with us. I ran from camp, through the smell of cedar and fresh rain, to get to the point overlooking the lake. I wanted to make sure their paddle went as planned. As I reached the rocky shore, I was nearly knocked off of my feet by the power of the wind rolling across the lake. Scanning the lake, it seemed Dad and Andy had handled the paddle like true outdoorsmen. Satisfied, I walked back to camp and continued to help Joe finish packing. We were set to spend five more days camping and fishing for Lake Trout further into the Boundary Waters. Crooked Lake was our destination.
The wind was howling as Joe and I crashed through the waves making our way across the lake. The lake was in full force, powerful waves splashing water into our faces as we paddled with everything we had. Occasionally, Joe’s paddle caught only air as he swiped into what he thought would be water. We leaned perfectly in and out of the waves, riding them with ease. I was excited to make the paddle with my canoe partner. We battled through, reaching the portage. Just as it seemed that the lake had released us, a wave crashed over the stern, drenching the spot I had just been sitting in.
I hoisted the canoe and it immediately turned into a sail, nearly knocking me over. Thankfully, Joe caught my balance and we were on our way. You could hear the wind coming across the lake as if chasing us. We pushed forward trying to outrun the fury. Halfway through the portage the sky opened up and sun shone down, rewarding us for our efforts. We both let out a sigh of relief and continued on. The rest of the travel to our destination would be much easier. We reached our campsite within an hour and set up camp as if we had done it a million times. That evening we enjoyed a great meal of lake trout and went to sleep with not a care in the world, listening to the song of the wild.
The Boundary Waters is about testing one’s self and enduring, if even for a fraction of the trip, a bit of a survival situation. This primal instinct to survive rarely has a chance to surface in urban society. This is why we venture into the wilderness. The wild and unknown is an endless and vast place of exploration. The Boundary Waters is a beautiful and unforgiving place. So please, take care, and get out there and explore.
Lukas Leaf is a passionate chef and outdoorsman. He spends his free time fishing, foraging, hunting, camping and cooking his way through the great Minnesota outdoors with friends and family.