Boundary Waters Blog

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Updated: 3 hours 21 min ago

Scary Stories of the Storm in the BWCA

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 1:38pm

We’re grateful all of our groups that were out in the Boundary Waters during the storm have fared well so far. We’ve heard some very scary stories of harrowing experiences and we’re saddened by the two lives lost in the storm. Tony and Brad were out in the BWCA during the storm and said it was something else.

I haven’t gotten all of the details but I do know they had to swim for their canoe that got blown away. They spent the majority of the night crouched behind a big rock. One of canoe groups who returned from their trip yesterday were very lucky. Huge red pines fell within inches of their tent. They are very lucky. Here’s a few of their photos.

BWCA Storm Photos

That was the kitchen fly that was hung up.

 

There’s a fire grate beneath this tree

 

Trees all around their tent fell down.

 

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BWCA Storm Updates

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 10:04am

Another tragedy in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, this time on the Ely side of the Superior National Forest. Here’s an article for more information about the event.

WIND STORM CAUSES DAMAGE ACROSS SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST

Duluth, MN – July 21, 2016.  Early this morning, a powerful wind storm swept across northeast Minnesota, blowing down trees in areas of the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Many roads and trails are blocked by downed trees within and around the Forest. Forest Service crews are currently working to clear access and to remove hazards. This effort may take several days to complete.  Electric power was interrupted for some locations. There are no emergency closures on the Superior National Forest at this time.

Following the storm, the Forest Service has also assisted St. Louis and Lake County Sheriffs in search and rescue operations including an incident on Basswood Lake, within Quetico Provincial Park, that involved two fatalities and two serious injuries requiring hospitalization.

The National Weather Service is predicting another strong to severe thunderstorm to pass through northeast Minnesota on Saturday and Saturday night with damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and large hail.

Superior National Forest managers urge visitors to:
Be aware of current conditions on the Forest and to stay up-to-date with the forecast.
When planning travel on the Forest, especially in the Wilderness, understand that search and rescue takes longer in the wilderness than in an urban setting. Cell phones do not work in many parts of the BWCAW.
Be prepared! Prevent the need for a search and rescue operation that may impact the integrity of the Wilderness area or put others in danger
Lastly, leave a trip itinerary outlining your travel plans with someone at home and remember to check in with them when you return safely. The Forest Service does not automatically initiate searches if a group doesn’t leave as planned. If someone is concerned because you are late returning from your trip, they should contact the county sheriff’s office.

Updates will be posted at:
Superior National Forest web site:  www.fs.usda.gov/superior,
Facebook:  U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest
Twitter: @SuperiorNF

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Another Storm in the BWCA and Beyond

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 11:39am

If you’re trying to get a hold of us today then you probably aren’t having much luck. Our phones are sketchy right now due to last night’s storm. It was a doozy.

The light show outside of my bedroom window was amazing.  Lightning lit up the sky in all directions and it even lit up an electrical transformer nearby. Trees bent over and snapped off and some became uprooted. The wind speed gusted over 40 miles per hour and we received just under an inch of rain.

We have not heard any reports of injuries on our side of the BWCA. There appear to have been some injuries of campers near Ely, Minnesota but so far so good for us.  We do have campers in the woods and we’re praying for the safety of all.

We’re hoping this is the last of the severe storms of the summer.

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

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Gadget Insanity

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 6:26am

I thought I would be super happy now that we have broadband at the end of the Gunflint Trail but it turns out I’m not thrilled.  Don’t get me wrong, I love faster internet and the fact we can actually connect to the internet to get our work done.  When the internet was slow it was super painful to reserve a permit, print a fishing license or do anything online. Now that it is fast it seems more people want to use it and abuse it and that’s what I’m not happy about.

I wish I could say it is just kids that are obsessed with their gadgets but that would be lying. People of all ages are hooked on their technology and have a very difficult time not using it when it is available. Today I had a Grandpa bumping into things in the store because he was trying to read text messages on his phone. I also had a man come in to complain about his family all being on their phones upstairs in the lodge while he was waiting to go to Chik-Wauk Museum.  I told him to tell them it was against our rules to use the internet to make phone calls, then I said I was lying it really wasn’t against the rules, but then I created a new rule sheet and had Rachel make copies to post around the lodge so I can honestly say, “It’s against the rules.”

I don’t like to see people on their phones or iPads when they should be outside experiencing the great outdoors at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I understand there are a couple of instances where it may be necessary to check in with someone or check on something but I don’t want people wasting their precious vacation time on their gadget.  I also don’t want other people who are taking a gadget free vacation to have to be exposed to someone else using gadgets. It just looks and feels bad.

I hope you understand my need to have a rule in place at Voyageur. There are some things I’m not ready for and one of those is people sitting on our picnic table outside of the store talking on their cell phone.  I don’t ever want to have that be OK.

Go Gadget Free on the Gunflint Trail!

Thanks for your Cooperation

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Voyageur Crew Member Cassidy

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 6:48am

Cassidy is technically in her first year at Voyageur but since she is Matt’s partner and has gleaned a bunch of information from him she’s quite advanced. She spent the winter here with Matt and learned a ton about the business. Answering phones and emails she quickly learned about different routes, camping equipment and more. She’s had crash courses in marketing, hiring and retail sales. Through it all she has done an amazing job and we couldn’t be happier with her performance.

Our guests all love Cassidy as much as we do. She enjoys listening to people’s stories when they get back from canoe trips and she also likes helping our cabin guests make the most of their stay at Voyageur. When she’s not working she likes to paddle and spend time with nature laying in a hammock and reading. Cassidy’s favorite lake is Lake of the Clouds and she too is looking forward to her Quetico Park trip with Matt.

We’ve received so many compliments about how great Cassidy is and we encourage you to come up and meet her.  She plans to spend the winter at Voyageur again and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her.

Cassidy

 

 

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The Wind Will Cease to Blow

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 6:25am

Some people who read this blog might argue with me, especially if they were out in the canoe country recently.  I know I have written about this before but it is worth repeating. If it is super windy and wavy and it is too scary to paddle then stay off of the water. Some of you are nodding your heads with me in agreement right now while you are on dry land reading this in the comfort of your own home or office but something happens when people are out in the woods and the wind starts to howl.

Somehow the wind has the ability to change a situation. Does it carry with it a spell that puts people into a zombie like state? With arms stretched out straight in front of them people begin to chant, “We must leave the safety of our campsite and venture out into the water to risk life and limb to make it home safely, four days early.”

I don’t believe this really happens but something about the wind blowing compels people to pack up camp and head out into a perilous situation. It doesn’t make sense to me how one minute a group is content to camp on an island for a week but then the wind begins to blow and their situation has changed from camping to being stranded on an island.

When the wind blows it never fails. We have groups struggling in high waves to get back to Voyageur a day or days earlier than they were scheduled to return. The other night we rescued a group of campers who decided to paddle on Saganaga during super high wind and they capsized all of their canoes. Their gear was blown away along with their canoes and if it hadn’t been for Canadian homeowners all would have surely perished. What happens next is what really bothers me and it isn’t just because I’m tired of helping people like I told the Voyageur Crew, it’s because I worry for the safety of my crew more than the safety of everyone else. I care way more about our crew than I do about finding gear for someone who chose to paddle during inclement weather.

Now that I’m older and yes, a bit wiser, I realize things can happen in a split second. Boats can take on water, heads can get hit hard and people can die. While my summer crew is in my care I prefer that doesn’t happen to one of them. So, when we get called out to rescue someone or pick someone up three days early it bothers me. I don’t want to send our drivers out in windy and wavy conditions but because of the wind we are forced into doing it.  So when I act mad and righteous it really isn’t because I’m mad, it’s because I’m scared.  Will we continue to send people out to rescue others in this situation? Absolutely because I would want someone to do that for my loved one and it’s the right thing to do.

However, please do me a favor. If you are out on a lake and the wind starts to blow take advantage of the situation. Play cards, relax around a campfire, enjoy the fact there are no bugs and wait to paddle until the wind quits blowing.  It will cease to blow, it always does.

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Days Gone By at Voyageur

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 6:00am

Some of our resort equipment at Voyageur is objecting to the work it is being asked to do.  Or should I just say things are going to pot? (If you want to know what that saying means or how it originated then check out this website.) Just this past week something went out on one of our pick-ups, we were told it would cost $1300 to repair one of our Suburbans, the Ranger needs new lug nuts, one of our 25 horsepower motors is broken, gear shifts on two other motors went out and the list goes on. I can’t remember which specific item it was we were talking about but  I started to rant.  I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately and while I don’t like to do it, no one likes to listen to me do it, it just felt like I needed to do it.

Dead Motor

Back in the old days at Voyageur we didn’t have a Ranger to zoom around in.  We actually had to walk places to get something or to find someone. Radios and the Ranger make things much easier. I remember when I had to use a wheelbarrow to bring bags of ice down from the ice machine(which was behind outfitting) to the store(now where the flower garden sits in front of the lodge).  It was a heavy load that would often tip and then the wet bags would get all muddy from the dirt parking lot.

I also remember having to take laundry across the river to wash in a ringer washing machine. No, I am not that old and there was no reason to still have a ringer washing machine except for the fact some people obviously had other people doing their laundry and didn’t think an electrical washer was a good investment. The previous owner did however believe a dryer was a good investment and it was located on the store side of the river so I would haul wet laundry in a Duluth Pack from one side of the river to the other so I could toss it into a dryer.

I can’t forget having to cook breakfast outside beneath the picnic pavillion across the river. The mosquitoes loved the heat of the griddle and swarmed me while I attempted to cook for guests rain or shine. Those early morning treks up the hill were not looked upon fondly and the ease at which we can cook breakfast now still amazes me.

Things change, machines break and we find new ways to do old things. Are the new ways better? Easier? Faster? I don’t know but if you ask me this week I will tell you they appear to be more expensive than ever before.

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Boating in the Boundary Waters

Sat, 07/16/2016 - 6:22am

There are a few lakes in the Boundary Waters that allow motor boats. Saganaga Lake to the north of Voyageur is in the BWCA and allows motors up to a 25 horsepower.  The same rules that apply to boaters elsewhere also apply in the BWCA, along with a few more.

The Boundary Waters has a specific set of rules that visitors must adhere to. Most people who come to the area are familiar with these rules that deal with primarily overnight camping but some are valid for day use as well.  There’s the group size maximum of 9 people, # of watercraft maximum of 4, no cans, no bottles, you must have a permit and plenty more you can find here.

In addition to these rules are a few that sometimes get forgotten.  Most people know you need to have a wearable Coast Guard approved life jacket on board for all passengers but what sometimes gets forgotten is you also need an additional throwable Type IV device on board and accessible.  These are things like boat cushions and rings that can be thrown out to someone struggling in the water.

A rule that either gets forgotten or ignored involves kids in life jackets.  Did you know Minnesota State law requires children under 10 years old to wear their life jacket while the boat is moving?  It’s a good law but one I unfortunately see people breaking.

One simple life saving device required on watercraft 16 feet and longer is a whistle.  It’s an inexpensive item that can literally save a person’s life. The best place to store this whistle is around your neck so if you get thrown from the boat and end up in the water you can use it to be rescued.

Here’s something Mike’s Uncle learned when he took my boat out a few weeks ago.  The registration numbers on your boat must match your registration information. Something I forgot to do when I got my new used boat from a person from Wisconsin was to change the registration numbers on the side of the boat. I had it registered in Minnesota I just didn’t have the new numbers on it.  Now, after looking at the numbers put on my boat it looks like I might have to re-do them so they are in compliance with the rules.

The license number issued to your boat appears on the license card and must be displayed as follows:

  • Numbers must be placed on each side of the forward half of the hull
  • Remove the expired decals first, before applying the new ones.
  • The license number must be displayed on your boat as it appears on your license card.
  • Letters and numbers must be at least 3 inches high.
  • Letters and numbers must be of a block character.
  • The MN should be separated from the numbers with either a 2- to 3-inch space or a hyphen.
  • Letters should be separated from numbers by a 2- to 3-inch space.
  • Must contrast with the background.
  • Can be either painted or attached to the craft.
  • Should read from left to right and must always be legible.
  • The current license decal must be placed toward the stern within 4 inches of the license number.

If you’re going boating in the Boundary Waters it’s a good idea to know the rules before you go.

Boating in the BWCA

 

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Voyageur Crew- Meet Matt

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 6:34am

Matt is back at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters after taking a break to check out the real world. It’s his third summer with us and he spent all of last fall and winter at Voyageur.

Matt is from Owatonna, Minnesota and attended Lake Superior Community College in Duluth for Automotive Technology. He likes the peacefulness of the BWCA and spending time outdoors no matter what the season. When working at Voyageur he likes to make folks smile and hear about their trips.

Matt is the go-to guy at Voyageur. If I had to count how many times a day I hear, “Matt, do you copy?” on the radio I know it would be up into the triple digits. He knows something about everything and a lot about many things. With Mike spending more time in town or on canoe trips this summer Matt has had the opportunity to acquire even more skills. Whether it’s water pumps, electrical issues, monitoring water quality or an array of other challenges he’s facing he does it with a smile on his face and Google. You Tube videos and online tutorials are very helpful. He’s great with guests and shares his love and enthusiasm for the area with them.

When Matt isn’t working he likes to spend time canoeing or fishing. His favorite BWCA lake is Lake of the Clouds and his current favorite route is the Granite River. He wants to visit Kawnipi and is looking forward to his trip into the Quetico Park later this summer.

He deserves a vacation because if he’s at Voyageur it’s assumed he is working. Just because it’s his day off doesn’t mean people won’t ask him for something. So getting away into the wilderness is the perfect place for Matt to recharge. We’re lucky to have him back at Voyageur and hope he sticks around for a long time.

Matt the Man

 

 

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Gunflint Trail Canoe Races Coming Soon

Thu, 07/14/2016 - 6:15am

It’s that time of the year when the Voyageur Crew can be found splashing and thrashing in the Seagull River. They are getting ready for the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races held on Wednesday, July 20th. It’s a fun event so put it on your calendar and get ready to paddle.

Canoe Races on the Gunflint Trail

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Trees Damaged in a Storm

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 6:56am

High winds and storms have been happening more this summer than ever in the past that I can remember.  We haven’t lost many at Voyageur but other places have. Here’s what to do and not do if you have damage to trees.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                    July 6, 2016

DNR offers advice for dealing with storm damaged trees

Cleanup following a storm can be an overwhelming task for homeowners. Knowing which trees to save and which to remove can impact safety and the survival of remaining trees, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

DNR forestry outreach specialist Jennifer Teegarden offers the following tips.

Do:

  • Approach damaged trees with caution. Stay clear of downed wires and call 911.
    Carefully inspect standing trees for damage and deal with hazardous trees first. If possible, ask a forester or arborist for advice.
  • Trees should be removed if more than 50 percent of the trunk or live branches in the crown are damaged, and if the tree is unnaturally leaning or roots are damaged.
  • Watch for detached branches, loosely hanging branches and split or cracked trunks that can cause injury or further damage.
  • Use proper pruning techniques to remove broken limbs by cutting just outside the branch collar, but limit pruning to making the tree safe. Too much pruning can weaken an already stressed tree.
  • Water stressed and damaged trees weekly to help them repair and rebuild. Be careful not to overwater, especially in heavy clay soils.
  • Monitor damaged trees in upcoming years to make sure they don’t become a hazard.

DON’T

  • Be rushed by promises of bargains from inexperienced or unqualified tree service providers. Improper pruning or unneeded removal can result in unnecessary costs or loss of healthy trees. Ask for references and proof of insurance.
  • Repair a broken branch or fork of a tree with tape, wire, bolts or other wraps. It will not heal, and the split will invite decay and further weaken the tree. Cabling or bracing should only be performed by a certified arborist and inspected annually.
  • Remove the tops of trees. This makes the tree more susceptible to insects and disease, and results in new branches that are weakly attached.
  • Apply paint or dressing to wounds as these materials interfere with the natural wound sealing process.
  • Remove small, leaning trees. Trees less than 15 feet tall may survive if they are gently pulled back into place. Press out air spaces in the loosened soil. The tree can then be staked for up to a year.
  • Fertilize stressed or damaged trees.
  • Information on tree care, proper pruning techniques and handling damaged trees is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/treecare/maintenance/stormdamage-prevention.html.

    For more extensive information on tree care, contact a DNR forester, city forester, certified arborist or county extension staff.

    Take the right steps to correct damaged trees so they can continue to provide shade, clean air, beauty and increased property value for many years to come.

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Moose on a Misty Morning

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 6:48am

Here’s a great video captured by our towboat drivers on their way out to Saganaga Lake on a recent misty morning.  Thanks for sharing!

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Voyageur Crew Profiles- Maddy & Sarah

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 6:23am

Maddy and Sarah get to share a blog for a couple of reasons, one is they are both second year Voyageur Crew Members and the other they are both speaking Spanish these days.  It may seem a bit strange to hear Spanish at the end of the Gunflint Trail but Sarah just spent a semester in Argentina and Maddy is going to spend a semester in Ecuador.

Sarah is from St. Louis Park, Minnesota and will be going into her 4th year at the U of M in the Twin Cities. She’s majoring in Marketing and would like to find a way to combine her studies with the outdoors. Hmmmm. I think I have an idea of how she can do just that, I just don’t think I can pay her what she’s worth.  Sarah spends her time at Voyageur packing food, outfitting groups, driving shuttles and doing whatever needs to be done including cooking, cleaning and working in the store.  When she’s not working she likes to hang out with the rest of the crew playing games, having campfires and paddling.  She wants to visit the Quetico and Lake of the Clouds and her favorite route is from Duncan to Rose. Her favorite piece of camping equipment is her hammock and she’s looking forward to more canoe trips this summer and spending time swimming.

Sarah

Maddy is from St. Paul, MN and will be in her 3rd year at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.  She’s in Environmental Studies and when she’s not studying or working she likes to climb, paddle, backpack and take pictures and movies.  Maddy spends her days at Voyageur packing food, shuttling groups, cleaning and working in the office. Her favorite route is the Cross Bay Loop or Basswood Falls area and she wants to visit Agnes Lake in the Quetico.  The other thing she has in common with Sarah is her favorite piece of equipment is a hammock. She’s looking forward to exploring new places in the BWCA and hanging out with the crew during the rest of the summer.

We feel fortunate to have these two women back for another summer at Voyageur. They are so much fun to have around and are both super easy going. They are a joy to have around and we are so thankful for all they do.

Maddy

 

 

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Moose Riders in Canada Caught

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 6:41am

When I see videos like the one below I get really upset. The good news is the people who were harassing the moose will be going to court in August. After a year long investigation the suspects were found and will hopefully be punished.  Read the full article here.

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