Each winter, the staff and members of Friends of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness strap on their boots, pull on their parkas and fleece masks and head north to YMCA Camp Menogyn for the annual Winter Sampler Weekend. This three-day adventure features skiing, snowshoeing and dogsledding along the Gunflint Trail at the edge of the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness.
Camp Menogyn is tucked into a stand of old growth pines along the shores of Bearskin Lake, a popular wilderness entry point lake. This YMCA camp, which has been operating since 1922, has heated cabins, a common dining hall, a dedicated staff and their own team of resident sled dogs. It's the perfect location for a weekend devoted to getting outdoors in the middle of winter and seeing the quieter side of the BWCAW during its coldest season. For many participants, most of whom have paddled through the BWCAW during the warmer months, this is their first opportunity to see its lakes solid, traversed with the tracks of winter wildlife and cross-cut with tracks of their own skis or snowshoes.
Being new to the Friends' staff, my first trip up to Menogyn for the Winter Weekend was in January this year. Though I have traveled the BWCAW by ski and shoe before, this was my first time being out with a group of this size and in weather that was unwaveringly below zero degrees.
Read the entirety of Cori Mattke's winter adventure in the BWCAW in the March 2013 print edition of Silent Sports magazine. To order a copy or subscribe, call 715/369-3331.