In the years that have past, since our Steel River trip, many things have changed. Some have stayed the same. My brother Greg has passed on due to cancer but then, we had young families, mortgages, careers to tend to and other responsibilities. We were not as cautious then. We knew of death but didn't believe it applied to us. We were a long ways from help and there were no cell phones. Today age and health issues would definitely preclude me from dragging a one hundred pound canoe up a cliff…. Still, important lessons were learned about perseverance, self-reliance and teamwork. Today my love of nature and wilderness remains. With vertigo and other balance issues at age 79 I don't go fishing and canoeing anymore. Sigurd Olson and Aldo Leopold still speak to me thru their writings. Should I never again be able to find my way back to those wild places, like the BWCAW, Canadian rivers or the backcountry of Yellowstone, I will continue to rest well knowing they are still there.
The Steel River country has changed a lot in recent years as well. Several major wild fires charred parts of it. Perhaps, as a consequence, bad floods have occurred there. The floods have created huge logs jams, especially in the lower reaches of the river. This all has created the necessity for much longer and more difficult portages.
Although more people are taking this route now the difficulties of travel beyond low or too high water have increased. There are new routes into the area, as it is possible now to just do the river part of the loop and skip the lake section. This means, above all avoiding the Diablo portage up the mountainside. .
My brother Greg unloading the canoe at Santoy Lake, getting ready to head home.
For us timing was everything. We were among the earliest but not the first to make the journey so we had decent information. The river level was just right. We were lucky.Now, new threats have appeared there as well as in Minnesota.. Copper, nickel and gold mining are being surveyed. There are people today working to preserve this wilderness. I wish them success.
Later, I took my two sons often canoeing on our local creeks, pristine St. Croix River and the BWCAW (Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness). There was also camping/flyfishing trips to southwestern Montana. Those were the days my friends…..:)