A Trip to the Boundary Waters
Alex Kotlowitz is known as a chronicler of Chicago, and of lives marred by urban poverty and violence. His books set in the city include “An American Summer,” “There Are No Children Here,” and “Never a City So Real.” Nevertheless, for some 40 years he has returned to a remote stretch of woods, summer after summer. At a young age, he found himself navigating a canoe through a series of lakes, deep in the woods along Minnesota’s border with Canada. This stretch of country is known as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Larger than Rhode Island, it is a patchwork of more than a thousand lakes, so pristine you can drink directly from the surface. Now in his late sixties, Kotlowitz finds the days of paddling, the leaky tents, the long portages, and the schlepping of food (and alcohol) harder than before, but he will return to the Boundary Waters as long as he can. Last summer, he took a recorder with him on his annual canoe trip, capturing what has kept him coming back year after year.
This segment originally aired on August 6, 2022.