“Probably the best remedy for the canoe freak is map watching. Pouring over maps can often get you through the canoeless season when nothing else can. I recommend it highly. If you coat the maps with plastic, you can even use them as tablecloths, curtains, and all sorts of things. However, no matter what you do, it isn’t easy being a canoeist during the winter.”– Bill Mason, Path of the Paddle
For those of us who are map geeks, the hours spent in cartographic bliss imagining ourselves paddling through far-off wild waters are moments well spent. And through the winter, the time to reflect on trips past and dream of trips future is one of the things that gets us through. For this sweet season though, the waters are open and we can spend them in all their canoe-filled splendor. During my winter map time, I ended up creating a game for myself: a new method for structuring my route dreaming to practice, if you will, the art of route creating. How would I get from this entry point to that entry point given a certain number of days? Where would I go? What would I see? What lakes would I camp on? There are loads of route books and suggestions out there for the BWCA, but many of them focus on traditional routes. What would happen if I couldn’t get the permit I want and ended up somewhere else instead? Thus the route planning game was born. This summer on what I’m affectionately calling “Map Mondays”, I’ll be playing one round of this game a week to generate creative routes based on the outcome. A non-traditional “route feature” if you will.
The rules of the game are simple. It’s a fun game to play through the winter or to help get yourself through until your summer trip. Here are the rules.
Step 1: Pick Your Entry Point:
Step 1 of the game is to pick your entry point. The entry point is randomly generated using a random number picker or the wheel included below.
Step 2: Pick Your Exit Point:
Step 2 of the game is to pick your exit point. The exit point is also randomly generated using a random number picker or the wheel included below. This is where the challenge beings. You may never think it feasible to connect two entry points. Perhaps they are too far apart or in different zones of the BWCA. In selecting entry and exit points, think of this as catering a trip for a group. Even if it doesn’t reflect your style of trip, the game is to make a route out of what you are given (matching your group’s goals and expectations.) If the route doesn’t seem like one you would personally strive for, that’s okay. The goal of the game is to stretch one’s imagination.
Step 3: Number of Nights:
Step three is to choose a randomly selected number of nights for the trip. This could be a short one-night trip or up to ten. Now obviously, there are some combinations here that just wouldn’t work. Use one’s judgment here to respin if needed.
Step 4: Plan a Route
From here, the game is to plan out the route. I personally use the “treebear method” described in our article last year. Tailor the game by setting your group’s “primary goal” whether that’s fishing, sightseeing, mileage, a nice campsite, or whatever it may be. This game is a fun challenge to hone your route planning skills and prompt dreams of trips still to come. Keep an eye out as we post some of our results throughout the summer.