Here's what a canoe trip looks like:
|Beginning a portage|
Carry everything on your shoulders. To get from lake to lake, you portage. First you carry your canoe. Then you go back for your packs. Distances are measured in rods. One rod is the average canoe length: 16.5 feet. Our longest portage was 147 rods: about a half mile. But a portage is seldom flat terrain. Often you go up, then down, then up, and then down again. Possibly several more times. And there are usually pointy rocks dotting the trail. And tree roots. None of this makes carrying a canoe on your shoulders easy. Also, because of rains the previous day, the path of the long portage became a small stream--which somehow managed to flow down the front side of the hill as we climbed up it as well as down the backside as we made our way to the next lake.
Set up camp. We stayed in one place for all three nights. My last trip we kept moving. It's nice to not have to move. We were able to explore neighboring lakes and only have to portage with canoes and a food pack, which is nice.
Your food must be hung up in a tree every night...preferably between two trees, at least 12 feet off the ground. You do what you can to make it inaccessible to bears.
Your food is all camped over a fire (typically on a small camp stove). And all of your food you have to carry in on your back. Any campfires you desire must be made from dead wood you have found on the forest floor and brought back.
If you want to bathe, you jump in a lake. Many lakes are deep (over 100 feet). And almost all are quite cold. You may find a few spots of warm water near the shore, but generally the lakes don't get much above 60 degrees.
It's wonderful stuff, this canoeing in the Boundary Waters. We're figuring out how to functionally be able to go with our children next time. It's feasible--it just requires some adjusting.
It is, for the most part, roughing it. I know that's not for everyone. But it is a beautiful place. Canoeing is good for the body and soul. And you will find few places as peaceful (unless there's a storm, but we didn't encounter that, so we're good).