Building memories one canoe paddle at a time

I looked up, and I saw the blue sky with hardly a cloud in it. I looked down, and I saw the blue water. Canoe paddles broke the surface. As we glided across the lake, I looked at my surroundings. Green, blue and brown. Beautiful.

I looked up, and I saw the blue sky with hardly a cloud in it. I looked down, and I saw the blue water. Canoe paddles broke the surface. As we glided across the lake, I looked at my surroundings. Green, blue and brown. Beautiful.

We had set out on our canoe trip just about 20 minutes before. I was already having a great day. Waking up really early wasn't the greatest, but it was worth it. After a breakfast of who knows what, we drove down to the outfitters to gather our canoes and gear.

Our group separated into two as we set out onto the lake. The first group was my brother, Dylan, and our friends, Tyler, Tyler and Wilson. My group consisted of my dad, Charlie, my mom, Karen, our friend, Jeff, my friends, Lexi, Kylee, Rachel and Kajsa, and me.

My group had three canoes. The passengers varied with the day. The girls always fought on who got to ride "garbage." "Garbage" is the person who sits in the middle of the canoe and doesn't have to slave away paddling. Well not exactly slaving away. They just get to sit there and enjoy the view, occasionally having to paddle.

So, I sat in the front of the canoe with Kylee and my dad behind me, listening to my dad tell his old canoe stories. According to him, they had some pretty awesome times. I hoped to myself that we would have just as wonderful times. And boy, did we ever.


It started out with a moose sighting. My dad, Kylee and I left the rest of the crew to go search for a campsite. When we got there, we saw a moose. Exciting, I know. The campsite turned out to be not so nice, with an extremely long and rocky path to the "bathroom." If you went down a different path, you found yourself in a clearing with a beautiful place to sit and talk right next to the lake.

Moving on the next day bright and early, it wasn't so bright. It was cloudy and raining. Good thing we brought raincoats. We had a couple of portages that day and the ground was slippery and muddy. Lexi even fell over. I learned how to walk the portage trail with a canoe on my head.

After paddling and portaging the whole day, we arrived at Cherokee Lake. Coming out of the maze of reeds from the river we were in, we noticed that Cherokee Lake was very big. It was also really shallow.

We scraped our canoe bottom on rocks a couple times. We stopped for lunch at a campsite not too long after we reached the lake. We ate and swam as my dad, my mom and Kajsa went off to look for a nicer campsite. When Rachel, Lexi, Kylee, Jeff and I saw their canoe come back around the corner we started to gather up our supplies.

They had found a beautiful campsite on an island not too far away. My mom and dad came back alone, leaving Kajsa at the campsite to guard it. It took Rachel and I longer than everybody else to get to the campsite because Rachel was steering the. She wasn't that good. I can't say I would be any better, but still.

The campsite was absolutely gorgeous. It had a great swimming rock, tons of shoreline to explore, and it was an island, so it was all ours. We spent most of the time exploring different trails, extensive amounts of shoreline, and swimming off the rock. I'm not telling you what we called that rock, as it isn't exactly appropriate.

We stayed on our not-so-little island for two nights and had a blast. Hunting for leeches was a big time consumer. Kylee, Rachel and Kajsa were on the "save the leeches" side, and Lexi and I were on the "kill the leeches" side. We had very heated battles. Lexi and I would chop up any leeches we found into little bits. The other girls would catch them and put them in a pond for safekeeping. It was very amusing.

After two wonderful days at Cherokee Lake, it was time to leave the island and head back. We started back the way we came. Three canoes filled with people and gear. As I looked back at that island, I remembered all the great memories we shared there. I know I will be going back there someday.


Going back on the same route we came, everything looked different. Same trees, different view. Same water and shoreline, different view. It was amazing how the same things can look so different when you reverse direction. After a full day of rivers and swamps, portages and lots of paddling we finally arrived back to Sawbill Lake.

We searched for about an hour and found a nice campsite in a bay of the lake. It had plenty of explore-worthy shoreline, a short trail to the bathroom, and a wonderful view. After we unpacked, Lexi and Rachel started fishing, and Kylee and I went exploring. Kajsa had wandered off a while back so we had no idea where she was.

Kylee and I found a rock in the shallow part of the bay and we went to sit on it. It was huge and Kylee had trouble getting on top of it.

As the night went on, we had log rolling contests, cribbage games and many bathroom trips. We all recalled the memories we made, and knew we would all keep them forever. We all look forward to our next adventure. Whether it's backpacking, or even another canoe trip. Either way, we'll have an awesome time, with friends and family. Those are the people you make your best memories with.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a freshman at Detroit Lakes High School.

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