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A Misty Day on the Gunflint Trail

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:13pm

There was 0% chance of precipitation on Monday so I decided to go for a hike. Unfortunately the weather forecasters were wrong and it misted and rained off and on throughout the day. Nonetheless I had the trail to myself and was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and peace and quiet.

Hiking on the Gunflint Trail

 

 

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Sign the Canoe to Save the BWCA

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 2:04pm

I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the journey Dave and Amy Freeman are currently on. The couple started paddling in Ely, Minnesota back in August and are on their way to Washington, DC. The purpose of their trip is to prevent mining in Minnesota that could potentially destroy the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Their canoe is their petition and they’ve collected thousands of signatures during the many miles of their travel thus far.  If you’d like to sign the petition there is no need to track them down but if you’d like to they are currently near Ottawa. It might be easier to just visit their website and sign the petition electronically.  Here’s a video explaining the threat to the Boundary Waters.

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Eyes on the Sky This Week

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:35pm

It seems like there have been more reasons to keep your eyes on the sky this year.  There have been numerous solar flares causing what seems like higher than normal northern light activity and we had the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago. This week there will be a partial solar eclipse and tonight is the peak of the Orionid meteor showers.  It’s a great week to visit somewhere like the Gunflint Trail where the skies are dark from the absence of  light pollution providing a great place to keep your eyes on the sky.

This week: solar eclipse and Orionid meteor shower By Mike Lynch

Posted:   10/19/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT | Updated:   about 2 hours ago

This year has been a good year for eclipses. In April and again this month, we witnessed a total lunar eclipse. And this week, we’ll see a partial solar eclipse

Lunar eclipses are a lot more common than solar eclipses. Next year, we’ll have two more total lunar eclipses. The next solar eclipse visible from the continental United States will occur on Aug. 21, 2017.

Thursday’s solar eclipse will begin around 4:23 p.m. and peak at 5:35 p.m., when slightly more than half of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon. We won’t see much of the eclipse after that because the partially eclipsed sun will set at 6:15 p.m.

It’s going to look weird. There will be a definite reduction in daylight in the late afternoon, kind of like twilight occuring before the sun has set.

Plan to watch the solar eclipse the right way. Staring at the sun is never a good idea; doing so can permanently damage your eyes. Never, never look at the sun with a pair of binoculars or a telescope.

In the past several columns, I’ve written about special safety glasses you can buy to view a solar eclipse. I hope you got a pair.

If not, use the projection method to safely watch the moon march across the sun. Make a pinhole in a piece of white cardboard. Find another piece of stiff white cardboard or fiberboard. Stand with you back to the sun and hold the pinhole piece toward the sun. Aim the shadow of that cardboard over the blank cardboard, and watch the eclipse.

Autumn is known for meteor showers.

 One of them is the fairly reliable Orionid meteor shower that will peak between midnight Monday and the start of morning twilight Tuesday. The Earth, as it orbits the sun, is heading into a trail of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet. Due to the absence of moonlight, sky-watchers in the outer suburbs or the countryside may see 20 to 30 meteors an hour.

Mike Lynch is an amateur astronomer and professional broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio and is author of the book, “Stars, a Month by Month Tour of the Constellations” published by Adventure Publications (adventurepublications.net). Check out his website at lynchandthestars.com. Write to him at mikewlynch@comcast.net.

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Pink Paddles for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sun, 10/19/2014 - 10:31am

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. You’ll notice more pink in October than you will on Valentine’s Day and almost as much pink as you find at our annual Mush for a Cure event on the Gunflint Trail.

A long time ago I created the Pink Paddle.  It’s a graphite, bent-shaft canoe paddle made by Wenonah and it’s PINK! I decided to do this to raise funds for breast cancer and thought it was a good idea.  It turns out it didn’t raise alot of money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation but Mush for a Cure has. You can find Mush for a Cure on the main sponsor page of the NBCF website as we’ve donated $226,500 over the years.

The Pink Paddles are great paddles and I love paddling with mine. It’s lightweight, durable and always gets attention. The logo on the paddle represents a blessing and means,”May your new beginning bring you strength, peace and tranquility and may your journeys over water always be safe.”

I didn’t order too many of the paddles to begin with and I have a few of the paddles left for sale.  On the last order the handles came separate from the shaft so we can cut the paddles to a specific size.  We then glue and epoxy the handle onto the shaft and it doesn’t always end up as beautiful as the ones that came pre-cut and glued from the manufacturer.  I have retailed them over the years for $155.00 each plus shipping and handling.  Depending upon where the paddle is getting shipped the cost varies from $9-$20.

For the month of October we’re willing to let these paddles go for $99 plus shipping and handling.  If you’re interested in purchasing one then email or give us a call at 1-888-CANOEIT.  It’s a great price for a unique paddle.

 

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Planning for the 2015 Paddling Season

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 10:13am

It’s the end of the paddling season at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. We may still have a few folks who come up for a late fall trip but for all practical purposes the 2014 BWCA canoe camping season is over. That means the Voyageur crew will continue to prepare for winter by cleaning and storing all of our canoes and gear.

Sometimes Mike likes to make it easier on the crew by offering used gear for sale. If you buy it then they do not have to deal with it!  We still have some nice canoes, packs and paddles for sale at a great price. You may have received an email with this information already but if not, then here it is.

Also included in the email was a special for outfitting in 2015. It is a canoe and equipment package for 50% off but we’re only selling 50 of those and it has to be purchased by October 22nd.  You don’t need to know your dates for your trip, you just need to know you’re planning a BWCA or Quetico canoe trip in 2015.

We hope you are planning to visit us in 2015 as we look forward to the next paddling season.

 

 

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BWCA Campsite Study

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 10:12pm

I came across an interesting article about a study done in the Boundary Waters. Thought you might find it interesting too.

Popular wilderness area requires intensive management to remain natural

October 17th, 2014 by Lynn Davis in Earth / Environment

Recreation ecologist Jeff Marion revisited dozens of campsites in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters that he had surveyed for his doctoral research in 1982.

 

Recreation ecologist Jeff Marion revisited dozens of campsites in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters that he had surveyed for his doctoral research in 1982.

Some 250,000 annual visitors to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters have a significant impact on the campsites along the area’s 1,000 lakes in America’s most visited wilderness area.

But while tree loss at campsites is huge, the news is not all bad, a Virginia Tech expert on the impacts of recreation on natural resources reported at the National Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque being held through Oct. 19.

In 1982, Jeff Marion, now an adjunct professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and a recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, surveyed 96 of the 2,200 campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for his doctoral research.

With funding from his agency and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the area, he returned in July 2014 to document the impact of continued use on those sites and to measure recovery on 10 sites that had been closed.

He was assisted by Holly Eagleston of Wenatchee, Washington, and Jeff Feldhaus of Omaha, Nebraska, doctoral students in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and field assistant Claire Underwood.

“In addition to documenting over three decades of camping impacts, this study is focused on helping managers make recreational visitation more sustainable,” said Marion.

An important finding of the 1982 survey is that the impact of use levels off. The impact on campsites receiving less than a dozen nights of use each year is two-thirds of that on sites receiving 60 or more visits. “Thus it’s better to have a small number of well-used campsites than to disperse use and impact across a large number of sites,” said Marion.

In 1982, researchers found tree damage at almost every site, root exposure at 84 percent of the sites, virtually no seedlings or saplings, and the replacement of native broad-leafed herbs by grasses and some nonnative plants.

In 2014, the researchers made the same 94 measurements at each site. They measured soil loss, root exposure, tree damage, canopy cover, and vegetation cover for each plant species, comparing the campsites to adjacent undisturbed control sites.

“It took 45 minutes per site and we did five or six per day, canoeing in between,” Marion said. “When a site was occupied, we asked permission. It was pretty cool to hear people tell stories about their experiences and about the importance of the Boundary Waters wilderness.”

The researchers documented 34 percent fewer trees on campsites than in 1982 and damage to 44 percent of the remaining trees “despite three decades of Leave No Trace instruction,” said Marion, who was a founding board member of the Leave No Trace education program.

In some cases, the Forest Service had removed potentially hazardous trees, a few sites had been reached by forest fires, and some suffered wind damage, “so we can’t say that trees are missing just because of recreational use,” Marion said. “But visitors continue to cut trees and strip birch bark to start fires, which essentially girdles the trees and can kill them.”

“We found 384 stumps on campsites, and 1,054 stumps were visible from campsite boundaries,” he continued. “That’s an avoidable impact because you can get firewood from fallen trees.”

Site use compacts and erodes the soil, which is one of the impacts that does not level off. The 81 sites measured this year have lost an estimated 194 dump truck loads of soil, or 1,935 cubic yards, Marion reported. “It’s a small amount each year, but cumulative.”

But there was also good news. Nonnative plants, such as dandelions and chickweed, were confined to campsites. The researchers did not find the invasive plant goutweed, which can out-compete native plants and was seen in 1982. The grasses that have spread across the sunnier campsites, a result of tree loss, are effectively reducing erosion.

And the closed sites can recover fully. While noting that impact is rapid and recovery slow, Marion reported that in three cases they were not able to pick the closed sites out of the wilderness. “That is wonderful news,” he said.

He estimated that 15 years is enough time for a site to largely recover. “Bark will even grow over ax scars on trees.”

Designated a protected wilderness area in 1964, the 109.5-million-acre Boundary Waters is among the country’s best-managed wilderness areas, Marion said. “They are leaders in wilderness management. In 1983 I assisted Forest Service staff with a new effort to have their trail maintenance crew work on campsites. We developed site management actions that would prevent or reduce camping impacts.”

Federal budget cuts over the past decade, however, have limited management efforts, according to Marion.

“If you have high visitation you have to pair it with intense management, but you have to do it in a natural way,” he added. The philosophy of wilderness management is for impacts and management to remain “substantially unnoticeable,” according to the Wilderness Act.

As Marion reported at the National Wilderness Conference, which observed the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, suggestions for preserving wilderness areas include closing less sustainable campsites and selecting, constructing, and maintaining more resistant sites. Best management practices include selecting sites that have bedrock in the sloping areas and limited amounts of flat terrain.

“And there must be visitor education, including improved Leave No Trace guidance and better communication,” he said.

Provided by Virginia Tech

“Popular wilderness area requires intensive management to remain natural.” October 17th, 2014. http://phys.org/news/2014-10-popular-wilderness-area-requires-intensive.html

 

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Good Morning Beautiful

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 8:31pm

It’s always a beautiful morning on the Gunflint Trail. Thanks Voyageur Crew Tony for sharing the beauty with everyone.

Beautiful Gunflint Morning

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Whiskey Jack Fun

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 12:23pm

The Whiskey Jacks have been entertaining our Voyageur Crew lately.  Canadian Jays, grey jays or camp robbers are another name for these fun to watch and feed birds.

One time when we were out ice fishing and not catching, I kept myself entertained for hours by feeding these hungry camp robbers.  I was relaxing on shore with a bag of pretzels and the birds were patiently waiting all around me.  I tossed a few broken pieces onto the snow for them and they would soar in to pick them up.  They were having difficulties with the hard pieces of pretzels so I decided to chew the pretzels a bit before handing them out.  Before long I had birds resting on my cap, in my hand and on my boot waiting for more pretzels to be chewed up.  Luckily the contents of the bag disappeared before my jaw fell off and right about the time the anglers were ready to leave.

 

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Good-Byes You Look Forward To

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 10:07pm

There are some good-byes you look forward to while others you do not.  In the case of the black bear that has been hanging around Voyageur this year we are hoping to see him leave soon. We wish he would go into hibernation and stay out of our neighbor’s garage, off of our deck and out of our outfitting building.

Then there are other good-byes you wish you didn’t have to say. Those are the ones you say to staff when they leave or maybe you don’t even get to say good-bye but wish you could have. Yesterday Luke left and today Elsa and Ron left for the winter. It’s always sad to see them leave even though I know they are happy to get back to the Phillippines. I selfishly wish I could keep them here year round.

There’s a skunk hanging around Voyageur. We’ve never had a skunk on our property and in fact we rarely see them on the Gunflint Trail.  We’d be happy to say good-bye to the skunk and wish him no happy returns.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it’s you don’t always get to choose when or if you get to say good-bye. Sometimes you don’t even know you’re saying good-bye. With the bear or skunk that would be just fine, as long as the leave!

Voyageur black bear

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Trail Clearing Help Needed

Mon, 10/13/2014 - 10:03pm

A fun thing to do in the winter on the Gunflint Trail is cross-country ski the Banadad Trail. It’s a long trail(18 miles) and it travels through the Boundary Waters. Mid-way through the trail Boundary Country Trekking has a yurt skiers can stay in overnight.  I’ve stayed there a couple of times and absolutely loved it.

Since parts of the Banadad Trail are in the BWCA they can’t use chainsaws to clear the trail. This means all of the work must be done by hand. Like any project the more hands there are the faster and easier the work is.  If you’re looking for something to do on October 25th then how about lending a helping hand on the Banadad ski trail?

Banadad Ski Trail Work Day, Annual Meeting and Pizza Party
Saturday, October 25

The Banadad Trail Association invites you to help get the Banadad Ski Trail ready for winter. We will be concentrating our clearing and trimming low hanging tree branches starting at the Banadad’s eastern trailhead. I was out on the first mile of the Banadad from the eastern trailhead and found nine large downed trees blocking the trail including a 12-14 inch Aspen along with several other trees it brought down and on either side of this clump of trees were two more large downed Aspens. These trees are just beyond the Swamp Lake Portage and well within the BWCA where all trail work must be done using hand tools.

If what we experienced on this part of the trail holds for the rest of the Banandad we have got a real job ahead of us. Please join us; we really need your help!”

Volunteers meet for the Trail Work Day at 9:00 am, Saturday, October 25, at Poplar Creek Guesthouse B&B, 11 Poplar Creek Drive (just off the Lima Grade) Gunflint Trail. Hand tools and lunches will be provided to all volunteers. Wear sturdy clothing and boots.

After the work session volunteers and friends of the Banadad are invited to return to Hestons Lodge, 579 South Gunflint Road for the Banadad Trail Association’s fifth Annual Meeting followed by pizza dinner cooked in Heston’s wood fired-outdoor oven and social hour. Festivities at Heston’s begin a 6:00 PM. RSVP, 218-388-2243

For more information on the Trail Work Day and/or the Banadad Trail Association’s Annual Meeting and Dinner contact 218-388-4487.

Hope to see you on Saturday, October 25, Ted Young, Banadad Maintenance and Grooming Administrater

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North Shore Fun

Sun, 10/12/2014 - 2:13pm

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Grand Marais lately. This weekend there was a homecoming football game on Friday night and dance on Saturday night.  Our house in town was filled to the brim with kids on both nights.  On Saturday night there were over 20 of them at one time for photos. I was happy when Sunday rolled around and we were able to get out of the house and enjoy time outside.

There are so many places to explore around Grand Marais no matter which direction you choose to go.  Today we decided to check out Cut Face Creek since I had never explored there.  There wasn’t much water so Abby’s friend and I walked through the culvert that goes beneath Highway 61, kind of creepy, a little bit wet but lots of fun. We didn’t go too far up the river as Josh and his friend wanted to go fishing at Cascade River.

We got back in the car and headed West to Cascade.  West is the direction people from Grand Marais use to describe what most people refer to as South or towards Duluth, Minnesota.  The kids had fun walking along the river and trying to catch fish but we didn’t see any or catch any.

It didn’t matter to me if we caught fish or not. It was just great to be outside on a gorgeous fall day with 3 fun kids.

fun on Minnesota’s North Shore

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Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Survey

Sat, 10/11/2014 - 11:13am

It’s been a few years since I was on the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee but that doesn’t mean other people haven’t been working diligently this entire time.  A big thank you to the folks who are continually working on making the Gunflint Trail Corridor an even more special place.  To thank them for their hard work you can participate in the survey they are asking you to complete so they can keep up their wonderful work.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ryan Miller
218-529-7552 (direct)
1-800-232-0707 (toll free)
rmiller@ardc.org

Participation Requested in the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Survey

(Grand Marais, MN)  The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee, a sub-committee of the Gunflint Trail Association, is working on an update of the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan (CMP).  The purpose of the update will be to acknowledge changes that have occurred since the 2008 plan such as the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway’s designation as a National Scenic Byway and also to evaluate the progress of goals and strategies identified in the previous plan.

Public input is being requested through participation in the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Survey, which asks participants for their input on aspects of the Corridor Management Plan, specifically what they feel are the strengths, weakness, and opportunities of the Gunflint Trail.  The survey will be distributed to members of the Gunflint Trail community and will also be made available at http://www.visitcookcounty.com/communities/gunflint-trail/.  The survey will be open through October 23rd.

The Survey was prepared by the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission (ARDC) on behalf of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee.  Results will be collected by ARDC and analyzed by the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee and included in the Corridor Management Plan update.

The mission of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is to act as advocates and stewards for the preservation, protection, understanding, and maintenance of the natural historic intrinsic values of the Gunflint Trail (Cook County Road #12) and its corridor.  The goal of the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is to work with all stakeholders to understand and retain the intrinsic values of the Gunflint Trail corridor for all those who work, live, recreate, and value the area.

For further information on the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Survey, please contact Ryan Miller, Associate Planner (218) 529-7552 or rmiller@ardc.org.

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Wilderness Safety 101

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 6:40pm

Every day you can find an article where someone has gone missing in a wilderness area. Some are lucky and are found alive while others aren’t so lucky. Is it just luck or is there something that separates the survivors from those who perish?

Being prepared may be one thing that helps those who survive through ordeals of being lost.   Here’s a release from the Minnesota DNR that might just help you be a survivor.

Learn wilderness survival basics before going afield

A missing duck hunter near Mille Lacs Lake forced to spend the night in the woods is a good reminder that anyone spending time outdoors should know wilderness survival basics, said an official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

A recent news release from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office said that 76-year-old Glenn Huff of Garrison had become disoriented while hunting and was unsure of his whereabouts. Rather than wander aimlessly, Huff then “hunkered down with his dog for the night, and at first light started to make his way back to his vehicle.” The following morning Huff and the dog met up with sheriff’s office deputies who reported Huff in excellent condition following the incident.

“That incident is a good reminder that anyone can get lost in the woods, including hunters,” said acting Capt. John Paurus, DNR enforcement education program coordinator.

Panic is an enemy for those who get lost. They should remember the acronym S.T.O.P.

SIT: They should collect their thoughts and realize they are not lost; they just can’t find camp or vehicle.
THINK: What do they have at their disposal both physical and mental that can help them in this situation? Inventory survival kit and start to develop a plan.
OBSERVE: Look around, is there shelter, water, an open area where searchers could see them?
PLAN: Create a plan of action. Pick a spot that to build a fire for heat and signaling. In addition, can the spot provide basic shelter?
A basic survival kit can be packed into a quart zip-lock bag and should contain the following:

Basic shelter materials: Two 55 gallon garbage bags and 30 feet of braided mason’s line.
Means to start a fire: Disposable lighter, waterproof matches or matches stored in a waterproof container, or 10 feet of toilet paper or Petroleum Jelly soaked cotton balls in a waterproof container.
Means of signaling: Whistle, signal mirror (could be an old CD). A fire is also a signal.
Means of knowing direction: A compass.
Comfort food: Food bar, nuts or trail mix.
Anytime people head outdoors they should plan for the unexpected and be prepared to spend the night in the woods. Here are some musts before heading out.

Always let someone know the destination and return plan.
Carry a compass or GPS and know how to use it.
Carry a basic survival and first-aid kit.
Carry a cell phone.
Check the weather and dress for it.
These outdoor safety tips are part of the DNR hunter education firearms safety program. An online study guide for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts is on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/firearms/index.html . Click on HunterCourse.

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End of Year Gear Sale at Voyageur

Thu, 10/09/2014 - 6:47am

Some of you may have received an email in your inbox regarding our end of the year sale.  If not, and you’re interested in deals, then you might want to sign up to receive our “specials” email newsletter.  Just call the office and they can make sure you receive them. 218-388-2224.  We don’t send them out very often but when we do you don’t want to miss them.  I’m not sure what all we have left but I know if you call or email Hannah, Tony, Mark or Ryan will be able to help you out.

See photos and more by clicking on the link below.

Virtual Garage Sale For Our Loyal Customers!
Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

USED COMPLETE OUTFITTING EQUIPMENT PACKAGE
We have created a package with our lightly used gear and a royalex canoe. Included is everything needed for two for your next BWCA or Quetico canoe camping trip! Canoe, tent, pads, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, paddles, cook kit and more for only $1200.00 Shipping available for areas near the twin cities, and possibly Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa or Wisconsin for a small additional charge! Buy Here-Only 5 available.

Featured Used Canoes
This season we have a handful of canoes that we are ready to part with. We have available Royalex canoes, Aluminum canoes, and Lightweight Kevlar canoes in a variety of conditions ready for purchase. Checkout the links below, if you cannot find what you looking for give us a call so we can help you find your dream canoe!

20′ Ultra-Lite Seneca(3 person)
(used for 7 seasons) Good Condition Only $1300

18.5′ Ultra-Lite MN II Canoe
(used for 1 season) Great Condition Only $1600

17′ Ultra-Lite Boundary Waters Canoe
(used for 1 season) Great Condition Only $1600

16′ Ultra-Lite Canak/Kayak
(used for 3 seasons) Great Condition Only $1650

17′ Royalex Spirit II Canoe
(used for 3 seasons) Great Condition Only $500

18.5′ Aluminum Alumacraft Canoe
(2002 canoe) Good Condition Only $500

Winter Guided Lake Trout Fishing Packages

2 Nights in Cozy Winter Accommodations and 1 Day Guided Fishing $399.00 (only 10 packages available)
Purchase Here
Join us for a winter adventure. Arrive in the afternoon or evening for your cabin stay. Get up in the morning and spend the day letting an experienced guide show you how and where to catch BWCA winter lake trout. Retire for the second night to enjoy the warmth of the cabin by the fire with your lake trout dinner. Feel free to use your new skills to fish on your own the third day before heading back to reality!
How it works: Simply purchase one voucher, per lodging unit (1-4 people) now and then call us later to set up your reservation dates for any available time this winter season.

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