When I (Anna) was 17, I had the thrilling opportunity to spend a month canoeing in the Canadian wilderness–300 miles north of the boundary waters–with eight other young women. Whenever summer rolls around, I crave an early morning paddle, the warmth of the campfire, the smell of the woods, and even putting on those wet boots each morning. I’m so glad I shared this experience with some of my dearest friends, Kelsi and Maureen, who are also like sisters to me (pictured with me above).

Brent and I decided to be guides for the program after our sophomore year of college. We each went on separate journeys with 16 and 17 year olds in tow. That experience was also incredible; sincerely one of my proudest moments. The picture above represents the first time we’d seen each other after coming off trail. We were stinky. My eyebrows hadn’t been groomed in a month. And I soon learned Brent hadn’t even washed his hair during the whole trip. Eeeeew. But this was definitely one of the most romantic moments of my life!

My sweet, 16 year old brother-in-law, Kyle, will leave on his voyage this Sunday. As I was writing Kyle’s care package letter (for him to read in the middle of the trip), I dug out one of my favorite books, Paddle Whispers, by Douglas Wood. While reading, I became so lonesome for the woods it made my heart literally ache. This particular passage really struck me this morning, before I bathe for the day:

“But if I have it figured right, there are only about two hundred and ninety steps to go on this portage trail, and at the end of it is a cold, blue lake that’s going to feel about one thousand times better than the best shower I’ve ever had.”

I’m so excited for Kyle to experience this feeling!