October 6, 2014

I survived the BWCA 24 Weeks Pregnant

BWCA commonly referred to as the Boundary Waters is a wilderness area between the Canada and United States boarder. We didn't get into Canada on our trip. Instead we drove from the Denver, Colorado area to Wisconsin, to pick up our friends, then through my favorite parts of Minnesota which included Duluth then ended up at Sawbill Outfitters where we began our Boundry Waters Adventure. You might be able to imagine that the over 16 hour car ride alone was a challenge for this pregnant lady.
What's unique about this place is the vast network of waterways, bogs and islands. Which is very different from our experiences camping and backpacking in the mountains of Colorado. We've taken many trips with the same core group of friends. One of the couples from this group is originally from Wisconsin and moved back a few years ago. They grew up going to the Boundary Waters area and we all thought it might be something fun and different to experience together.  There are many challenges that come with a trip like this especially when it's a new experience to you.
For example instead of hiking everywhere you paddle everywhere. Getting started at an Outfitter is the perfect way to go when don't have your own gear for this type of trip. It sounded so luxurious to think of not having to carry weight on my back and to just sit there and paddle. It ended up being a lot of paddling and it definitely gets challenging when your muscles aren't used to working that way. It doesn't help when your husband takes frequent breaks.
Another obvious challenge is that there is Water Water Everywhere. This should be obvious right? You really can't get away from it. This is actually a shock to the system when you're not used to be surrounded by water at all times. It's a very wet area that can get rain for days. When you finally reach a portage, this is where you've got to cross over an island with all your belongings to get to water again, you may experience copious amounts of mud. I can remember one portage in particular where I sunk down in mud up to the top of my thighs. Yes I screamed and no I couldn't get myself out. I needed help big time.
As a result of the very wet environment this area is a heaven for bugs. When I say bugs I mean the biting kind. There are tons of mosquitoes! Which apparently weren't as bad as usual when we were there but I'm super sensitive to their bites. If it's possible to imagine anything worse then tons of mosquitoes think of biting flies. Those flies were really bad at times. They tended to bite our ankles and feet with relentless gusto.
One of the main challenges to being around water at all times and using it as your mode of transportation is keeping what's important dry. We all had dry bags that sealed our packs off from possible rain or capsizing. Using my camera was challenging since I had to keep pulling it out of it's protective dry bag usually while balancing in the canoe and hoping with everything inside me that I didn't drop it in the water.

Food was another challenge of this trip. People make it sound like you can take anything because you just put all the weight in your canoe, it's not like you have to carry it on your back. It was different for my husband and I because we knew that whatever we brought would have to be carried when we got to portages and me being pregnant meant I couldn't carry as much weight. Not to mention I've had absolutely no food aversions and have LOVED to eat during this pregnancy. Especially during this time in pregnancy I was always hungry and I did need a few more calories with the extra activity I was doing. We decided that freeze dried meals for dinners was the way to go since they are so light weight. I briefly read the nutritional ingredients but mainly focused on the protein and was happy to see that it had plenty. For breakfast we ate oatmeal, dried fruit and Bay Bread. For lunch we had peanut butter or tuna wraps. Snacks consisted of cuties, dried fruit and trail mix. I think we had cheese on the first day or so too.

Here's a little warning to pregnant chicks planning to do outdoor activities for days at a time. DON'T eat freeze dried meals for days in a row! When we got home from the trip I started experiencing very severe pain in my foot in particular the big toe. I thought it was the strangest thing. I would just be laying in bed and the pain was unbearable. I went to the doctor, they took blood work and nothing came back. So then I went to a foot specialist where they said I had Gout. They took an x-ray to rule anything else out.  The foot specialist said that because I'm pregnant I process foods at a slower rate and I went from a very healthy balanced diet to suddenly eating high sodium rich foods for 5 days in a row. This caused a rare Gout attack. It was the craziest thing! Do you know those freeze dried meals average around 800 grams of sodium? I wish I had thought about this before the trip.

Even though this trip had it's challenges which I could probably keep going on an on about. It was a great experience! I'm sure many of the challenges were magnified because of lack of experience with canoe camping and the fact that I was 24 weeks pregnant. I will say that if you are in your 2nd trimester that's the best time to do activities like this and I know in my case it makes my body and soul feel so good to be active and outdoors.
Some of the best parts of the trip were the breathtaking sunsets,
the foggy mornings,
enjoying the unique plant life,
hearing the sounds of wolves in the night and the frequent eerie call of the loons,
swimming, relaxing and basking in the sun,
seeing bald eagles so close
and of course spending time with friends.
If you haven't been to the Boundary Waters before you should go. It's such a unique experience!


  1. I love the photo of the canoe and sunset. You should put it on a canvas for your home. Gorgeous! There are several others in this post that are "canvas-worthy," too. I hope you're feeling better now!

  2. Hi! I'm considering a BW trip next summer... and also hoping to be pregnant with baby #2! My husband is not hot on the idea of doing this trip with me pregnant. Can you share some more of your experiences with me? How challenging was it? I had to pee constantly with my first pregnancy, so would that just be impossible to deal with on this trip? What was tough for you? Would you do it again? Were you able to carry packs and the canoe? What did you do that made it easier with being pregnant? Thanks for any input!

    1. Oh darn you don't have an e-mail linked to your name so I can't reply that way. I think if you've done outdoor things similar to this and you like it then you should be fine. Having to pee all the time is no fun but part of pregnancy, each campsite does have a vault toilet so it makes that a bit easier. The mosquitoes can be BAD and they seem to especially like pregnant ladies because we breathe so much more. Be prepared with natural repellant and a mosquito shirt with a hood. I didn't have to carry the canoe my husband was able to do it by himself, I carried both our packs though and took two trips. I brought a cushioned seat with a back for the canoe which was helpful. Definitely plan to drink lots of water and bring the lowest sodium foods to eat as possible. It can be a challenging trip depending on the route and how long you go. Once you get to your camping spot though it's really relaxing! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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