This summer, my first
summer working as a canoe guide at Wilderness Canoe base, I have gained a new appreciation for sunrises and sunsets. During my time spent on base, I often spend my evenings observing the sunset view easily seen from upstairs of Pinecliff. It’s incredibly peaceful to watch the sun dip down behind the spires of the
chapel on Dominion, the sky tinted orange with the heat of day and the clouds pink and wispy and the trees silhouetted to black. Once I even watched the sun set twice in one evening, first down low from the dock, then again much higher up in Pinecliff. I think that the reason I like sunsets so much, apart from their obvious aesthetic beauty, is that they offer a time to slow
down and focus on accomplishing absolutely nothing, a luxury seldom afforded to
me.

Sunsets on trail have an entirely different meaning. It is rare that I actually
get to see a sunset while leading a group on trail, sometimes because my selected
campsite is not west facing, but more often because I like to get my groups in
bed by 8:30 pm, exhausted from waking up at 5 am and a long day of paddling.
However, the few times I have witnessed a sunset on trail have been special
moments for my campers and I, perhaps because they were some of the only quiet
moments from the trip, or perhaps because the sunset touched everyone in a
different way although we experienced it together. I think of a quote from
“Paddle Whispers” by Douglas Wood, “So why… why go through it?
Why even be here [in the Boundary Waters}? […] Because “here” is
where the beauty is. Here is where the sunsets are.”

Before my times on trail this summer, I had seen very few sunrises. Usually I
like to get up before my campers, gathering my personal belongings, lowering
the food pack (hung high in the trees to protect from bears}, and heating up
some camp-stove coffee in peaceful silence before the hustle and bustle of the
morning begins. During these quiet moments I am able to enjoy the beauty only a
morning on trail can offer, as the fog clears from the still lake, not yet
stirred by traveling canoes and afternoon winds. Therefore, for me, seeing a
sunrise is often a solitary endeavor, a chance to gather my thoughts and
prepare for the day ahead.

Although you may not be spending your summers in the BWCA like I am, I
challenge you to find your own meaning in sunrises and sunsets, and enjoy the
beauty and tranquility only they can offer.

– Megan Ecker, Canoe Guide