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Updated: 2 hours 6 min ago

Where’s the Ice?

11 hours 5 min ago

It doesn’t look like I’ll be making a trek out to the ice caves near the Apostle Islands this year. It doesn’t look like many people will be walking on the Great Lakes at all this year. The mild temperatures have kept the big lakes relatively ice free. That’s a bummer for some but for others it’s a blessing.

The shipping industry is happy for the lack of ice on the Great Lakes. Not only have they been able to extend their season but also they will most likely not have a delay to start in the spring. Ice  breakers will not need to forge the way for the ships unless we receive some drastically cold weather soon.

Find our more about the ice on the Great Lakes or lack there of it by reading this article.

Ice coverage

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Freezing My Pants Off

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 7:34am

It hasn’t been that cold out this winter but someone knows how to have a good time when it does get cold.  Tom Grotting from Minneapolis freezes pants and places them around his neighborhood for fun. I might just have to try this sometime!

Freezing Pants


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Winter on the Superior Hiking Trail

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 6:46am

We all know how enjoyable a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail is but did you know it is just as fun, if not more in the winter? Why don’t you find out for yourself by taking a guided hike with the SHT crew this winter?

The next one is coming up on February 13th, a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

February 13 Snowshoe Hike 10:00 Sucker River Trailhead to Fox Farm Pond Campsite and Back

2.4 miles total. Snowshoe through spruce-balsam forest and over the Sucker River Bridge on a gradual climb to maple forest and the Fox Farm Pond Campsite. Meet at Sucker River Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 14.9, turn north (inland) on Homestead Rd (Co. Rd. 42) and go 5.75 mi. Turn left on W. Knife River Rd. and go 0.5 mi. Turn right on App Rd and go 1.5 mi to intersection with Two Harbors Rd. App Rd. changes to Fox Farm Rd (Co. Rd. 266) here. Continue straight on Fox Farm Rd. 5.3 mi to parking lot on left.

And if you love the Superior Hiking Trail then why not consider joining their board? They are looking for members so fill out an application if you’re interested and hope to see you on the Trail!

SHTA Seeking Four New Board Members
SHTA Board elections will be held in May at the Hike Fest. We are currently seeking applications of people interested in serving on the board.
We are looking for a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds. Some of our identified needs include:
finance background;
someone with experience with integrated accounting/database/fulfillment systems to help SHTA transition to a new system;
civil engineering or bridge design background;
someone from Cook County and someone from the Duluth area.
But all applications are welcome.
How does the board do its work?
The 15 member board meets on the North Shore six times a year, each board member serves on a committee that meets prior to the regular board meeting, and board members serve three-year terms.
Please contact the SHTA office for questions and for the position description and application or download the information from our website. The application deadline is Friday, February 26th.

Fun on the Trail

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6 More Weeks of Winter

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 7:44pm

The Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter this Groundhog’s Day and that is fine by me. There are lots of ski trails I want to ski, I need to get my snowshoes on the snow and I would really love to wet a fishing line through the ice. Besides, with the warm and mild temperatures we’ve had it doesn’t seem like we’ve had winter at all.

Groundhog? Nope Pine Marten

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Happy February

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 7:08am

It’s February already? Where did January go? No sense looking behind and wondering where it went it’s time to look ahead and see where you are going.

Cross-country skiing? Snowmobiling? If you want to find out how the trails are then you can check out this page on the Minnesota DNR website. It shows you how much snow is in each part of the state and lists the conditions of the trails. If you are looking for specific information about Cook County then check out our local page for up to date information.

Or give us a call at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, we’re out and about and can let you know our favorites so you can have a Happy February!

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Beargrease Begins!

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 6:58am

Catch the beginning of the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Two Harbors, Minnesota. You can follow along on the journey by checking out this page of the website to find out where each musher is located thanks to their GPS.

The forecast calls for warm temperatures which isn’t ideal for the dogs. With their fur coats they will have to have frequent rests in order to not overheat and/or get dehydrated. The snow pack will be soft making the trail slower than normal as well.

Here’s wishing all of the mushers and their four-legged companions and safe and fun journey along the North Shore of Minnesota.

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Plenty of Snow for Winter Fun

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 10:11am

We’re lucky to live in a part of the United States that receives plenty of snow. I always say, “If it is going to be cold then we better have snow so we can enjoy it.”

Even though our winter has been mild to say the least we have been able to enjoy our snow time activities.  I’ve been out cross-country skiing numerous times and the trails are in great condition. Of course I would like to spend more time skiing and get my snowshoes out but there are only so many daylight hours.

Mike was able to go for a snowmobile ride the other day. He took Matt and Cassidy along and they had a fabulous time. They were amazed at the views and all of the animal tracks. Mike in the lead, saw tracks of wolf, moose, lynx and fox but no otter slides.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience winter on the Gunflint Trail then come on up to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It’s a magical place and there is plenty of snow for fun.

Snowmobiling Fun

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Buyerarchy of Needs

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 6:07am

I love the concept of “Buyerarchy of Needs.” Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or maybe the food pyramid it places buying something as the last resort.

How many times do you buy something you don’t need? Maybe you thought you needed it but you really didn’t.  I think of this every Christmas when my husband and his two brothers, brother-in-law and father all get the same tools each other already has.  Wouldn’t it be a wiser investment to purchase a trailer like a carpenter and drive it to wherever it is needed? Since they don’t work on projects at the same time I think this would be a perfect solution.  But in our world everyone wants to own their own.

I’m just as guilty with the things I buy. I’m sure I could borrow more and buy less or get by with less. It just takes time to really think about each purchase. I hope you’ll do better than me.

From-Living Green 365

Buy less stuff
“A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” George Carlin, comedian

I recently discovered a schematic on the internet called the “Buyerarchy of Needs” by Sarah Lazarovic. The graphic, modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, cleverly captures and presents a strategy for reducing wasteful purchases. Working from the bottom up, it encourages us to consider other options before buying new products.

Consumer goods that are cheaper to throw away than to repair have become common. The volume of goods that many of us purchase, use, and then discard has risen over time. This affects the environment in lots of negative ways.

You can reduce your ecological footprint by following the Buyerarchy approach. Here are some questions to ask yourself before heading to the store or the internet to shop:

Do I truly need this (new phone or gadget, clothing item, other consumer product) or can I get by without it?
Can I borrow, rent, or trade for this item?
If a purchase is required, can I obtain it used/second-hand?
Can I make this item with materials I already have on hand?
If you do buy new, look for products with a Lifetime Warranty.


Sarah Lazarovic graphic artist

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Ecotherapy Go Play in the Dirt

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 7:03am

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a prescription to get outside and play in the dirt? If you live in Washington, DC and visit pediatrician Robert Zarr you might just get a prescription to visit a park.  According to this article DC Park RX is a community health initiative that has mapped green spaces and parks in DC so doctors can prescribe time in parks to their patients.

“Researchers in the United Kingdom found that when people did physical activities in natural settings instead of “synthetic environments,” they experienced less anger, fatigue, and sadness.”

Time after time it has been proven that spending time outside with nature has physical and mental benefits. Ecotherapists understand this and prescribe nature based exercises to their patients.

What a simple way to be healthier and feel better. It doesn’t involve eating better, drinking less or losing 50 pounds it just involves spending more time outdoors.  And if spending a little bit of time outside is good for you then just think about how great a week in the Boundary Waters would be?

“The idea that nature exposure is important to human health goes way back…  In an 1862 issue of The Atlantic, Henry David Thoreau praised the vigor-inducing virtues of walking in nature: “Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!” Also in this magazine… a physician wrote, “No doubt the lives of thousands would be saved by destroying their houses, and compelling them to sleep in the open air.”

Plan a Boundary Waters canoe camping trip and enjoy bubbling springs and sleeping in the open air and as an added bonus you’ll reap the many health benefits it can offer.

Boundary Waters Prescription

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Boundary Waters Permit Time

Wed, 01/27/2016 - 10:24am

It’s that time of the year again when folks can begin reserving permits to enter the Boundary Waters.  We’re lucky on the Gunflint Trail side of the BWCA because permits don’t often “sell out” but if your dates are set in stone it doesn’t hurt to get your permits reserved right away.

Overnight motor permits and day use motor permits for Saganaga are a little more difficult to come by so it’s good to reserve those far in advance.

We’re more than happy to help you with your permit reservations, just email or give us a call.

From the USFS-


Lottery applications and reservations can be made at or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Additional Superior National Forest (SNF) info can be found at:

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Are You Sleeping?

Tue, 01/26/2016 - 10:24am

I can’t say I miss the mess bears sometimes make in the summer but I do miss seeing them in the wintertime. Have you ever seen one out and about with snow on the ground?

DNR question of the week

Q: Do hibernating bears ever leave their den during winter if the weather gets unusually warm?

A: Hibernating bears are prompted to come out of their den both by warming temperatures and by increasing day length (normally late March to early April). Thus, a January thaw typically will not fool a bear into coming out early. However, some bears may find themselves in a wet den when temperatures get warm, with snow melting around their den, and this could force them out.

Bears also may be more prone to disturbance from humans during warm spells when they are not hibernating as soundly, and this could cause them to vacate their den. After abandoning their den, they will typically find another suitable site that they already know about. However, any new den would not have the bedding material that bears rake in during the fall when they are preparing for hibernation.

Dave Garshelis, DNR bear research biologist

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Digital Detox at Voyageur

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 2:30pm

Did you know there is really a term known as “Digital Detox?” It’s true and it’s even in Wikipedia!

Digital detox refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.[1] Claimed benefits include increased mindfulness, lowered anxiety, better appreciation of one’s environment and becoming more people-oriented.[2][3]

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is the perfect place to digitally detoxify oneself. Cell phones do not work on the Gunflint Trail and we can easily turn our wi-fi off. There aren’t televisions in the cabins and we can only sometimes get reception from one radio station.  Doesn’t this sound like heaven?

While it sounds wonderful to me the society at large would disagree.  There are people who won’t willingly go without their digital gadgets for even very short time periods. What is the problem with always having a smart phone in your hand?

There are plenty of problems to the addiction people have with their phones and other personal electronics including computers. Bad posture, trouble sleeping, headaches, weight gain, strained eyesight and sore necks are just a few obvious problems. There are more claims that social media promotes narcissism, contributes to depression and it can become addicting.

When you take away devices people change for the better. They actually look each other in the eye when they have a conversation.  Just having a real conversation without the constant scanning of a mobile device helps people’s postures. The lack of a phone also helps people to be more present in a conversation and remember the conversation later.

What did we do before Google? Now anytime we don’t know the answer to a question someone asks we say, “Just Google it or Ask Siri.” Before Google we would make guesses, create stories and go on and on about a topic but when you Google it and find the answer the conversation ends.

Dr. Yvonne Thomas, a psychologist and therapist based in Los Angeles, puts it simply: “You can be so preoccupied with your digital devices that it’s all too easy to inadvertently sacrifice time, relationships, sleep, focus, productivity and balance in your life. Many people are not even aware of the toll their extensive usage of digital devices costs them until they have suffered a loss or upset because of this.”

When you have a digital detox you feel more rested and less stressed. Who wouldn’t want to feel less stressed? I love the feeling I get from spending time away from my gadgets. I am more aware of my surroundings, I feel a sense of peace and I can focus on my family and what is important in my life.

You are welcome to come to Voyageur for your Digital Detox this winter or even better, come up and take a BWCA trip this summer. You will be happy you did.

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Thank Goodness! It’s Never too Cold to Snow

Sun, 01/24/2016 - 7:07am

I love snow, the more the better. I’m sure the people who live on the East coast would disagree especially those with flights that have been canceled due to the recent snowstorm. When cold temperatures are predicted some people think, “Good, at least we won’t get snow!” Many people are under the popular belief that there is a temperature at which it is too cold to snow but Tom Nehil gathered data for an article and it proves it is never too cold to snow.

While we may receive less snow the colder it gets it isn’t just because of the temperature but the other conditions that exist when the temperatures dip.  Temperatures in the teens to 32 degrees are when we see the most snow accumulation and that’s because the certain conditions exist.

Kenny Blumenfeld from the MN DNR State Climatology Office shares the conditions and meteorological facts to explain the likelihood of snow.

  • Physics of snowfall production. “The physics of snowfall production are optimized at temperatures below freezing but above zero (F). In terms of maximizing the amount of snowfall that you could get from a set amount of precipitation, the ‘sweet spot’ is basically in the teens. … If temperatures are outside of those ranges, you certainly can still get snow, but the processes are not nearly as efficient, and you get lesser accumulation rates.”
  • Drier air. “Once you get to temperatures below zero, the air is naturally quite ‘dry,’ and it does not take much moisture to bring the relative humidity to 100%. Thus, even when you saturate the air at very cold temperatures, it still will not contain very much moisture. With scanty moisture and inefficient snowfall-production processes, you’re not going to get much snow.”
  • High pressure. “Perhaps the most common reason people claim this is that when it’s very cold, we tend to have high pressure moving in. And high pressure means sinking air. Sinking air is hostile to precipitation processes (which require rising air). Moreover, the expanding pool of cold air tends to push the jet stream south, and the jet stream carries all of the interesting weather systems well to our south also. Those weather systems tend to have all the upward motions and whatnot required to produce precipitation and snowfall, so frequently if it’s cold, it’s not going to snow because the air is sinking and because the jet stream/storm track is so far away from us.”

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

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Too Many Wolves on the Trail

Sat, 01/23/2016 - 10:01am

On the Gunflint Trail we’ve seen the wolf population explode. Yesterday three of them killed Sota, the Gunflint Pines Resort dog in her own front yard.  Imagine not being able to let your dog go outside without having the fear it will get attacked and killed by wolves.

Hungry wolves who have decimated the deer herd and depleted the moose population on the Gunflint Trail need to eat. Yesterday it was a dog what will it be tomorrow?

Here’s a word from the Shari about the loss of Sota.

With heavy heart we must report that we lost Sota early this morning. We will miss her greatly. She was a major part of our life here at the Gunflint Pines Resort. She was the camp greeter and often could be found opening the door to run out and greet the next guest as they arrived.

She often guided guests on hikes to Lonely lake or High cliffs. Many a guest would start off hiking only to find her flushing the path in front of them and waiting at the intersections to be sure they were on the right path. But many a guest would also come back without her, distraught only to have us ask how long they were hiking. We knew that if they had taken a short hike – she found others to hike with before coming home. She was an excellent bird dog, squirrel or chipmunk chaser and mouser. She was smarter than and had more grace than many humans (I swear!) and was nothing but loving to everyone.

Sota was 11 years old and had a good life. She was loved and adored by many children who returned each year only to ask where she was so they could pet her belly.

Sadly we feel we must also tell you that she was killed by Wolves. At 3am this morning, she had to go to the bathroom. Within minutes we heard them, quickly dressed and scared them off. It was too late. This happened within 30 ft of the building. It is a testament to the severity of the Wolf situation. We understand that this was always a possibility, and that the wolves are just trying to survive. We also know there are those out there who will criticize us for even mentioning the wolf situation, but those who do not live here, have no idea how large the population is.

We used to have a deer herd of roughly 100 on the south shore of Gunflint. This year I have seen fewer than 4. Please understand that we also love the wolves and appreciate there need for balance in nature, but our position has and always will remain this: if you are going to manage the Moose, deer, small game etc populations – you must also manage the wolf population. There is no longer a balance in our area. The wolves are beginning to becoming desperate. How long before they begin starving and become aggressive.

Rest in peace Sota – many will miss you!

Prom Kids and Baker Kids with Sota

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Wolves Killed My Best Friend

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 2:18pm

My two-legged mother wanted me to write her blog today because she is too distraught because wolves killed my best friend, Sota Baker. Sota and Sue shared the same birthday and had a special bond.  When Sue would pull into Gunflint Pines Sota would run to her car and want to get in with her because she often went on hikes with her.  She would even try to sit on Sue’s lap even though she was bigger than me!

Sota was the first dog I met after leaving my mom and siblings. She was the best four-legged friend a dog could ask for. I could sniff her butt, walk between her legs and eat her food and she wouldn’t mind. She taught me how to run in the woods and what different smells in the woods were.  She was my best friend and now she is gone.

She was 11-years old and had diabetes but she still had lots of years left in her. She couldn’t hear well(neither can I) and she was blind but knew her way around. Last night she got her two-legged master out of bed to let her out to go pee. That’s when three wolves jumped her and killed her, just like that. Luckily her master was able to get her body before the wolves dragged her away so she’ll have a proper burial in the spring.

Rest in Peace Sota and may you catch all of the animals you chase, hike all of the trails you want and enjoy all of the smells in doggy heaven.

Rugby and Sota Meet

Hiking Fun!


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