I first ventured up the Gunflint Trail when I was 12 years old, going to a wilderness canoe camp. Year after year I’d go Up North for a summer of canoeing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The older I got, the more time I’d spend up there in the other seasons — autumn being my favorite (the hordes were gone: mosquitoes and people).

Finally calling the Gunflint Trail home feels like more of a formality than a revelation. Waking up to the call of loons wafting over the water, knowing there is untrammeled wilderness just the lake over, and seeing the friendly faces of fellow cabin dwellers are just a few of the thoughts that drift through my mind when I’m away.

This cabin, built in 1971, has been called “Haven” by some, but I’m lucky enough to call it “home.” It was spared by the Ham Lake fire in 2007 by less than half a mile. Hearing the groan and creak of the towering white pines on a breezy day is a poignant reminder of what could have been taken away.

Whether it has been socializing on the deck, curling up in front of the wood stove, or sitting on the dock with my feet in the water, this haven offers the pure simplicity and joy that is life in the North Woods.