Boundary Waters Blog
Another beautiful weekend is forecasted for the end of the Gunflint Trail and surrounding Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Today the high temperature will be in the mid 70's and Saturday and Sunday could see temperatures up into the 80's. How is that for the first weekend of October? I remember one first weekend of October brought snow squalls on Sag and temperatures in the teens. What a difference! The rest of the week it will cool down a little bit but it looks like there will be plenty of sunshine to enjoy for the next week.
The USFS is hoping to do a couple of prescribed burns in and around the BWCA this weekend. There will be a few entry points closed around mid-trail off of Poplar Lake for a couple of days. The Forest Service also hopes to do the Saucer Lake Burn if the weather cooperates. These burns were postponed last week due to an almost 2" rainfall in places along the Trail. It has been dry and windy the past couple of days so that has helped to make conditions a little more conducive to burning. If you are on the Trail then keep your eyes open for extra traffic as there will be quite a few people around working on the burns.
We are so happy to say that Don and Marilyn have returned to the Gunflint Trail. After a day of tests in Eau Claire yesterday he was given the go ahead to return home. Don's a few pounds lighter and a little bit weaker, but they are home and we are very thankful.
After I dropped Abby off at the bus stop I went for a run. It was around 6:30 in the morning, still a bit dark and some morning fog was hanging along the roadside. I could see what appeared to be two people walking towards me on the side of the road about a 1/2 mile away. They started to cross the road and head down into the ditch and that is when I finally realized it wasn't people but it was a moose. Thinking quickly I performed my best moose call(imagine a sick cow mooing with a little grunt at the end!). The moose stopped in his tracks and turned to look towards me. I stood motionless on the side of the road and decided another call was appropriate(a little more nose snorting this time). The moose started walking alongside the road right towards me like my long, lost friend. When he got within 20 feet from me a car approached from behind him and it made him stop abruptly. Now this nice looking moose with a beautiful rack was caught between a vehicle and something that sounded like a dying animal but looked like a stupid human. I, being the stupid human, was still on the road with rock walls on both sides of the road that I would be unable to scale if I needed to make a quick departure. Vivid memories of Shawn Perich's narrow escape from a moose flashed through my mind as I pondered what or where my next step would be. Most people would back up, but I didn't even think about it. I took a few steps forward(since that was the direction I was heading), and the moose held his ground. I took a few more steps toward him and decided to just ask him to move out of my way, which he did, right down into the swamp. As he trotted through the water I decided to try to see if I could get him to stop with another of my famous moose calls. Sure enough, he stopped and looked at me with a quizzical look in his eyes before heading toward the woods. Some would say this wasn't really the work of a talented moose caller but the luck of a local to be in the right place at the right time. I will say be it luck or talent it was an experience I won't soon forget.
We have a friend Bob who is excellent at calling moose. For those of you who do not know what this means, it is when you grunt and make other animal like noises in order to attract a bull moose. Bob likes to take a drive in the morning after dropping his kids off at the bus stop. He likes to test his skills at calling moose and usually heads to a place where he has seen moose in the past or looks through his binoculars in other optimal places to try and locate one. He can make a sound like a cow or a bull in order to attract a bull in rut. If the bull moose thinks he is another bull then the moose comes in ready to show dominance, if the moose thinks he is a cow, well, you know what is on his mind. The other morning Bob saw a bull moose way off in the distance so he began calling to it. The bull heard him and walked through the brush probably over a quarter of a mile to check him out. Bob was able to get some awesome photographs of this bull and hopefully I will have one soon to share with you.
The Gunflint Trail is showing off it's beautiful fall colors. The Maple trees are a gorgeous red and much of the underbrush has turned yellow, gold, or brown. Some of the other trees have begun to show their beauty as well. The Birch and Aspen, as well as the Tamarack, have all started changing colors. It's a wonderful sight to see these magnificent colors against a back drop of a blue sky or a wilderness lake. Our canoeists have been enjoying the colorful trails in and around the Boundary Waters.
Fall is a great time of the year to view wildlife both in the BWCA and along the Gunflint Trail. We have been seeing moose, fox, deer and today I saw a timberwolf. I'm pretty sure it is the same wolf we saw earlier this year because it was close to where we saw one the last time. It trotted alongside the road as I and another driver attempted to take pictures of it. It wasn't too concerned with our vehicles and it went quite a ways before it decided to head into the woods. It was a misty day and not real bright out, but I was able to get a photo.
We finally had a frost this morning in some low places along the Gunflint Trail. The fog and mist was thick over the lakes and swamps. It is burning off quickly and the forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60's. We have had some absolutely gorgeous weather this September and the weekend calls for more beautiful fall paddling weather. Temperatures are expected to continue to be in the 60's during the daytime and 40's at night for the weekend. It's a great time to visit the Boundary Water's and Gunflint Trail.
Don was released from the hospital today! He and Marilyn continued on the journey they began on September 6th and are now in Chicago at her parent's house. He is currently receiving care at home provided by a home health care nurse. They administer an IV with antibiotics for an infection and he also receives needed medication every four hours. Don and Marilyn will stay in Chicago until Tuesday the 27th when Don is scheduled for an appointment in Eau Claire. The doctors will perform another Angiogram, Cat Scan and MRI and if the results look good, then they can make their way North. Please keep the prayers coming for a safe recovery and journey home for both Don and Marilyn.
I see my fox friends almost every morning playing around on the road or in the ditch when I take Abby to the school bus. They chase each other, bounce into the grass and look like they are having an absolute blast. I'm not sure how they can have this much energy at 6:30 in the morning, but I guess it is because they are young. They are the ones who were born in a den nearby earlier this summer. I am surprised that so many of that litter survived this long. It seems like one would have been ran over by a vehicle or eaten by a predator but I'm glad they haven't. They have grown into beautiful young creatures and I love to watch them play.
Don was able to get up and walk around with some assistance yesterday. After spending 12 days on his back in a bed, this is a major feat. He is now pretty much accessory free; no IV's, Foley, or drain on the brain. This is awesome and we are very excited about his progress. We are hoping he will be strong enough by the end of the week or early next week to leave the hospital. We sure have missed him and Marilyn here at Voyageur and can't wait for them to get back on the Trail. Please keep on praying for them both.
Today resembled a normal Fall day on the Gunflint Trail. It started out with a long, hard rain and ended up with sunny skies. The temperatures have been mild and unseasonably warm still. We haven't had a frost yet and it doesn't look like we will have one in the near future. The rest of the week is suppose to be mainly sunny with temperatures in the 70's, we'll see how the weather forecasters do. The USFS was depending upon it being dry today and for the rest of the week so they could work on prescribed burns. It looks as though the rain has postponed the burns until another time.
Don has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit and into a more normal hospital room. The MRI did not show any area that needs to be repaired so it appears as though the aneurysm has healed itself. They have been performing cat scans daily to monitor the amount of fluid around the brain and to make sure there is no further bleeding. Don is doing pretty good but has been experiencing severe headaches every day since he was admitted into the hospital. They seem to be easing up a little bit but he is still in quite a bit of pain. We're still not sure how long he will need to be monitored or how long his rehabilitation will take, we're just grateful he is doing better and we're taking it one day at a time. Please continue to pray for both Don and Marilyn.
Now that Abby is in Kindergarten either Mike or I have to get up to drive her the 1 mile to the Gunflint Trail. Traffic in the northwoods is common and one can never tell how long it will take to get from Point A to Point B. On one particular morning I was stuck in stop and go traffic by a fox who couldn't decide if it really wanted to run into the ditch or in front of the car. I experienced another delay as a bull moose decided it would rather walk down the middle of the road where the going was good instead of taking the road less travelled through the woods. I saw a white flag in front of me that could have meant construction ahead, but it was really just a deer trotting into the trees. Detours always slow me down, there's something about watching the sun come up over a misty wilderness lake that I just can't bypass. I'm glad the traffic on the Trail makes me slow down and appreciate where I live.
Things are slowly improving with Don's condition so please keep on praying! He had a cat scan on Wednesday to see how much fluid was left on the brain and the Dr.'s decided to clamp the stent off. Thursday morning another cat scan was done and the Dr.'s were pleased with the amount of fluid on the brain so they decided to remove the stent. They plan on doing an MRI today and if everything looks good then they will move him out of ICU. If it is determined the aneurysm repaired itself then further surgery will not be needed and then the recovery process can begin. This is good news as we are all impatiently waiting for Don to get better so he and Marilyn can come back home to the Gunflint Trail. To send a card just e-mail or give us a call and we will give you the mailing address.
It looks like another great weekend for paddling the Boundary Waters. The forecast calls for high temperatures in the mid-70's during the day and lows only down into the 50's during the evening. Clear skies are called for with only a 30% chance of rain. The forecast looks nice well into next week so come on up and get one more canoe camping trip in for the year. It is a wonderful time to be out there and canoe guests have reported great fishing and awesome wildlife viewing.
The USFS was able to ignite both of the burn units in the Knife Lake Area before our big rain on Monday night. I'm not sure if they consider either of the burns 100% complete, but for now they are most likely out. We did receive a significant amount of rain and the power was out for quite a few hours early Tuesday morning. It makes for an interesting morning of getting kids ready for school without electricity. Abby was excited to use a headlamp to look for her shoes. Electricity is one thing we take for granted and alot of us become very irritated and impatient when it isn't available. I can't imagine how frustrating and difficult it must be for the large number of people without electricity since Hurricane Katrina hit. It makes me feel very grateful for everything I have, including my health.
I wanted to thank everyone who has expressed well wishes to both Don and Marilyn, it is wonderful to have all of the prayers and support. A big thank you for sending cards and for the phone calls showing your concern. In lieu of sending flowers to the hospital we were thinking it may be nice to start a fund to help with the expenses of Marilyn being in Eau Claire for this long. Don does have insurance, but we're not sure if Marilyn's expenses will be covered. He is still in the intensive care unit and will most likely be there for another week. Another angiogram was performed yesterday morning, but again, they were unable to locate the source of the bleeding or location of the aneurysm. This could be good because it may mean the aneurysm has clotted itself and surgery will not be required. They are still draining fluid and blood from around the brain and figure they are half-way done with that. Don is doing well considering what has happened to him. He can talk, think, see, and move all body parts. He has been able to eat some solid foods too. It will be a long road to recovery as he has been in bed for almost a week and has suffered trauma on the brain. We are hoping and praying for a speedy recovery and we hope you will all keep Don and Marilyn in your prayers.
There are prescribed burns happening this Fall in the BWCA. These burns are to help reduce the amount of down, dead fuel that could contribute to a forest fire. Since the blowdown in 1999, the USFS has been doing a number of prescribed burns in and around the Boundary Waters. On the 9th of September two units were ignited near Knife Lake; the Thunder Point Unit(386 acres) and the Bonnie Unit(848 acres). Some portages and campsites will be temporarily closed and aircraft and ground crews will be in the area. Other controlled burns are planned for September and October and we will try to keep you posted as to when and where they will be conducted.
What a beautiful start to September we have had. I can't remember a September that has started out so wonderful for paddling the Boundary Waters. The temperatures have been in the high 60's and 70's and on Saturday the high was up into the 80's. It has been sunny and warm and perfect for camping in the canoe country. Our guests have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and are still swimming in the lakes. Fishing has been good for all species; the Smallmouth are still very active and the Lake Trout are getting ready to spawn. The forecast for the next couple of days looks dry and warm, more perfect paddling for September.
Don Kufahl, along with his wife Marilyn have been a part of the Voyageur Crew since the Fall of 2001. If you have ever been to Voyageur then you would know who Don is. He is a tall, friendly, guy who takes care of everything going on outside from sun up to sundown and rarely ever takes a break. On Tuesday he and Marilyn left to attend a wedding in Chicago, a much needed break after the long summer season. They spent the night in Eau Claire, WI and in the morning Don did not feel good. They called 911 and rushed him to the hospital where it was determined he had suffered from an aneurysm. They performed an angiogram to try and determine where the aneurysm occured in order to go in and repair it but were unable to locate it. They needed to put a stent in his head to drain fluid from around the brain to reduce swelling. He is currently in the Critical Care Unit awaiting another angiogram so they can attempt to repair the damage caused by the aneurysm. Please keep both Don and Marilyn in your prayers. If you would like to send a card then please contact us and we will give you the address of the hospital.
On a recent trip out to Saganaga I stopped to take a hike up to what I call Eagle Rock .
When we first moved up to the Gunflint Trail in 1993 we were so excited every time we saw a moose. We decided to keep track of the number of moose we saw but that only lasted about a week. We saw moose after moose after moose and soon lost count. Now sometimes when we see a moose on the side of the road or in a pond we don't even slow down to look. Moose are an amazing creature and I am still captivated by their rare beauty. The person who sees the most moose in our area is most likely the bus driver. Just the other morning Abby saw two on her way to school. In the winter it is common to see groups of moose out on the road licking the salt. Our record is 13 moose on a one-way trip to town during the winter. The bus driver has a higher record, I think 17. So, in a way, I guess we are still keeping track of the moose we see, just not in the same way as we started out.
All of the talk about fishing for Northern Pike got me excited, excited enough to get in the boat and try my luck. One day I took my mother-in-law and two children out for a couple of hours. It was a windy day and Josh was able to catch a very nice 30" Northern near an island on Saganaga with a Rapala in about 10-15 feet of water. It was a miracle we were able to keep the boat heading in the right direction, get the livewell going, net the fish, and get it into the livewell. The kids were extremely excited and both my mother-in-law and I were surprised at our success. The next day I was braver and decided to take my two kids and their two friends out on Sag for the afternoon. I shocked myself again by helping to land another big Northern and a nice Smallmouth Bass. We had lunch on an island on Sag and had a great time. No one got a lure stuck on them(except for me) and we had a safe return from our fishing adventure. Come on up and join the fun Fall fishing.
Have you seen the Northern Lights? They are one of the most beautiful things you can see. They mysteriously appear for a dance across the sky; sometimes long but more often short. Their colors can change with a blink of an eye or remain constant throughout the appearance. They flicker and pulse or just remain as a still glow. No matter what their performance is on any given night, it is a wonderful sight to see. I was treated to a display the other night and as usual it mezmerized me. I stood in awe until my neck began to ache and then I considered laying down on the dock to watch them. But as quickly as they appeared they disappeared into the black night sky. I have heard many stories and legends regarding Northern Lights and have tried to understand why and how they occur. You can read more about the fascinating Aurora Borealis at this website. Be sure to follow some of the links to other interesting sites that even have forecasts for the Northern Lights.
Labor Day is a holiday where people are not suppose to work. As an owner of a small business, especially a seasonal tourism business, it is nearly impossible not to work on Labor Day. For most resorters and outfitters Labor Day is filled with guests checking out of cabins, and departing from canoe trips to head home. Most employees probably work harder on Labor Day than during other days of the summer. This Labor Day is a bit different for us, it not only signals an end to Summer, but also a new beginning. Tomorrow morning Abby will get on the school bus to begin her 56 mile journey to Kindgergarten. A beginning of a new era, where weekends will mean time off of school for Abby and time for us to remember what day of the week it is!
Fall is a great time to visit the end of the Gunflint Trail. It seems like a magical time of the year when everything is preparing for winter. The grouse are scurrying alongside the road, chipmunks and mice are trying to find a winter home and the loons and waterfowl are beginning to flock together before their departure South. The trees and bushes are changing color, sometimes overnight . The animals are trying to fatten up for the winter and are out looking for their fill of food. Yesterday I saw an awesome bull moose with a huge rack hanging out near Moose Pond. It was fun to watch him eating weeds and to hear the sound of the water pouring off of him. He didn't pay much attention to me, but left abruptly when a car drove by. Soon he will begin his search for a mate and then I will need to use caution while watching him as moose can become quite aggressive during their rut. Until then I will enjoy admiring his beautiful rack and hope that it falls off in my driveway this Winter!
It is absolutely gorgeous outside today. I was just out on a quick boat ride with the kids and the lake is perfectly calm. The sun is shining and there is hardly a cloud in the sky. The temperature is in the mid-70's and there isn't a bug to be found. I am not dreaming, it is a perfect day to be out on the lake fishing. I have heard the Lake Trout are biting on Saganaga in about 40-50 feet of water. Guests have had some excellent luck catching big Northern Pike too. They have been trolling the shorelines in 10-15 feet of water near drop offs and points and that is where the big ones have been hiding. There have been a number of 12-20 pound Northern Pike caught on spoons. Come on up while the fishing is good and enjoy the wonderful weather in the BWCA.
Even at the end of the Gunflint Trail we have been unable to escape the horror of Hurricane Katrina. We are very concerned about the safety and well-being of everyone who has had their lives turned upside down by this disaster. I'm sure most of us know someone who has been affected by the hurricane or it's aftermath. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved. If you know someone who needs help or a place to stay then please let us know. We do have bunkhouses and hot showers at Voyageur and can try to provide support to those in need. Please contact us if we can be of help to you or someone you know. 1-888-CANOEIT
Good news for us campfire lovers, the fire ban will be lifted as of 12:01 AM September 2nd, that's tonight at midnight. The USFS feels we have had enough precipitation combined with cooler temperatures and morning dew to alleviate some of the fire danger. Thankfully the ban has been lifted just in time for the Labor Day Weekend campers to be able to enjoy roasting marshmallows and making S'mores over a campfire. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 70's for this next week so come on up to Voyageur for a September vacation.