with Points Unknown
Oftentimes, when someone recounts their adventures in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA) they talk about the distance they traveled and all of the lakes they visited. They might say they went 9 miles and four portages deep on day one. While this is a common way to travel through the BWCA, it’s not necessarily the best way. Oftentimes, you miss the things that make the BWCA such a unique and wonderful place. The sights, the sounds, and the untouched wilderness. Going on a Mindful Paddle with Points Unknown is the perfect way to slow down, relax a little, and really experience the BWCA. And, it is also, a fantastic way to learn about the history and the beauty of this vast wilderness area from a guide who knows the area well.
Take a drive down the Arrowhead Trail, inland from Hovland, and you’ll find Points Unknown. Tucked away deep in the Northwoods, this unique business has a lot to offer. Mostly known for the dog sled tours, Points Unknown started offering Mindful Paddle experiences to summertime visitors.
When you first pull into the property, you will immediately be greeted by owner Linda Newman’s pack of sled dogs. Little puppy eyes anxiously watch you from behind a fenced area, as little puppy noses peak through the fencing enticing visitors to give the pups a little pet.
These dogs are the reason Points Unknown exists. Linda trains and breeds dogs called Hedlund Huskies- a unique line of dogs bred specifically for working in cold climates. These are not racing sled dogs, but rather raised to be working dogs. They are a quiet, well trained pack who loves to get cuddles.
During the winter months, these dogs are hard at work giving visitors a unique Northwoods experience with trail rides and an immersive lifestyle experience for visitors who stay in the guest house and off-grid cabin. It’s work that they were bred for and love to do. In the fall, visitors can help partake in training exercises for the younger puppies. This is a truly unique experience.
During the summer months, visitors can indulge in more laid back puppy snuggles, as well as a mindful paddling and hiking experience in the BWCA.
A Mindful Day Trip in the BWCA
So what makes a mindful paddle with Points Unknown different from any other BWCA experience? For one, both guide Mary Ellen Ashcroft and Linda have years of knowledge and experience in the BWCA under their belts. Linda has worked closely with the Grand Portage Anishinaabe to learn about the area’s history, the Anishinaabe’s culture, and how that relates to our time spent in the wilderness. Second, a mindful paddle isn’t about getting into the BWCA and going as far as you can as quickly as you can. It’s about slowing down, taking your time, and truly enjoying the BWCA.
Our mindful paddle took us to the least utilized BWCA entry point (EP): EP 69 John Lake. We put in our canoes at the boat landing at Little John Lake. After a short paddle across Little John you enter into the BWCA at John Lake. From there, we explored hidden marshes and entered the most peaceful place I have ever visited. A place where the only thing you can see is the sights and sounds of nature.
The mindful paddle includes a hike along the portage between John Lake and East Pike Lake. Along the shores of East Pike we enjoyed a small picnic and took a dip in the cool waters of East Pike Lake. On the trail, Linda shared her knowledge of the plants and their medicinal uses. We learned a bit of Anishinaabe culture and respect for the plants that can provide us with so much. We sampled some plants to experience their taste while learning all of the ways we can benefit from them.
As this adventure is just a 4-6 hour day trip, there’s no need to carry in heavy packs. Or to seek out an open campsite. We stayed minimal as to better enjoy the journey.
Puppy Cuddles Included
After the adventure in the BWCA, it was back to Points Unknown for the bonus experience included with every adventure: Puppy cuddles! We had the opportunity to join Linda for feeding time. While the pups enjoyed their dinners, we enjoyed petting and getting to know the pack. It is clear that these dogs are well loved and well trained. Even though these are large, strong dogs, they are gentle and as sweet as can be.
After feeding time was done, the dogs sent us off with a group howl- an incredible sound to hear!
Experience It Yourself
If a slow-paced and educational journey into the BWCA is what you seek, look no further than a Mindful Paddle with Points Unknown. You can learn more about the experience on the Points Unknown Website. As this is a very special and intimate experience, Mindful Paddles are booked over the phone rather than online. Current pricing and information on booking are found on the website.
Exploring the North Shore Experiences a Mindful Paddle with Points Unknown
Jaye and Martha head back into the BWCA for a unique experience with Points Unknown in Episode 45 of the Exploring the North Shore podcast.