One backpackers’ axiom states that the further you get from the trailhead, the less people you will see. This has been mostly true in my experience. So I was pleasantly surprised when a 3 night trip over Memorial Day weekend resulted in complete solitude only a short distance from the trailhead.
Blame it on COVID or people not traveling far, but my local state park has been busier than ever, while Voyageurs National Park on a holiday weekend was not.
It could be that Voyaguers is tucked way up there in Minnesota, bordering Canada. Then factor in that it took a 30 minute boat ride to get to the trailhead. So we may have just traded hiking miles for boating miles. Regardless of the reason, this was one of the physically easiest backpacking trips I’ve every done, yet I had solitude comparable to some of my trips deep in the backcountry.
From the time we were dropped at the trailhead on Saturday afternoon, we didn’t see another soul until Monday afternoon. At one point we had not one, but two lakes completely to ourselves (and maybe a few bears, moose and wolves).
Due to our late afternoon drop off, we packed in only a mile to our first lake. Jorgens Lake only has one small backpackers’ campsite on it, along with a canoe that you can rent with your reservation.
On Sunday we packed just over a mile to Little Shoepack Lake where we picked up a canoe and paddled to our campsite. This reservation included both Shoepack and Little Shoepack Lakes which were connected by a 1/4 mile trail. Each had a single backpackers campsite on it accessible only by canoe, and we had our choice of the two. We checked out both then chose Little Shoepack to save us some time on the way to the next lake.
On Monday we packed about 2 1/2 miles to Ek Lake, where we again had the lake to ourselves and I enjoyed a float on my sleeping pad. We also took our day packs to Agnes Lake to do some more fishing. On Tuesday morning we had less that a mile to pack out to our pickup point.
We saw eagles, loons and many beavers. It’s hard for the midwest to match the beauty and serenity of the West, but a calm morning on a sunny lake can bring peace and stunning reflections on the water.
Aside from having to handle a couple hundred ticks, this 3 night trip was easy, peaceful and just what someone cooped up for 3 months needed. Plus we caught and ate fish on the trail, which is always a bonus.