Cold Water Danger in the Boundary Waters

Here’s one last piece on the dangers of cold water, this time in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, where authorities say that technically it’s cold water all year. I wrote this for the Friend of the BWCA. Here’s an excerpt:

Many people aren’t as lucky as me. In May of 2020, three young men were camping in the Boundary Waters on Tuscarora Lake when a gust of wind tipped their canoe. Two of them made it to shore, but Billy Cameron, 29, did not, even though he was wearing a life jacket.

On Memorial Day of 2021, a 51-year-old man fell out of his boat while fishing on Trout Lake in the Boundary Waters. He was not wearing a lifejacket, sank quickly in the cold water and died.

In May of this year, a 43-year-old paddler named Dave Kasprak, who had been to the BWCA some twenty times, took a solo trip in on the Frost River in the eastern Boundary Waters. The banks were still lined with snow. The water was at record high levels. He told MPR that he was “more intrigued by the conditions than fearful of them.”

On his first day, a strong current flipped his canoe on Ham Lake. The current then pushed him further out, but he swam for shore pulling his canoe. It took him an hour to make it. His legs, “started going numb and tingly.”

After emptying his boat on shore, he paddled back to the portage, which was covered by a raging river. There he saw one of his food packs in the water, and decided try to grab it, but the current caught him, and sent him downstream, which he said was “like getting beaten with bats going down a waterslide.”

Read the rest here.