Homecoming Weekend

Friday night football game, Saturday volleyball tournament and Saturday night dance, it’s Homecoming Weekend in Cook County. Lots of kids, lots of photos and lots of fun!

Homecoming Parade

Two Harbors, MN Tournament
JV Volleyball Team Takes 1st Place
Homecoming Fun

Homecoming Fun

Abby and Josh

Abby and Josh

Posted in News

Motorboat, Motorboat in the BWCA

When the Boundary Waters became a wilderness area certain promises were made. One promise was motors would be allowed in certain lakes  and property owners on specific chains of lakes would be exempt from any permit quota. Businesses were promised things as well.

Unfortunately all of these promises were made long ago. There have been new business owners, new people in the USFS and new groups wanting to “protect” the BWCA.  Tow boat use is now under attack.

Whether or not tow boats should be allowed is irrelevant. Tow boats are allowed and originally there was no limit on the number of trips a tow boat could make, that came later. It’s unfortunate Wilderness Watch doesn’t focus on something that could severely affect all of the lakes of the BWCA, like mining.  Worrying about 18 of the over one thousand lakes in the Boundary Waters is quite insignificant in my opinion. If a person doesn’t want to paddle where there are motor boats then there are plenty of options where motors aren’t allowed, like 978 at least.

Environmental group: Throttle back motorized Boundary Waters trips

Motorized access has been at the heart of the controversy surrounding the Boundary Waters ever since the legislation creating the wilderness area took effect on this date in 1979. Nathaniel Minor | MPR News file

An environmental group is suing the U.S. Forest Service, arguing the agency is letting outfitters run too many motorized boats to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.

The lawsuit by Montana-based Wilderness Watch alleges the Forest Service has allowed outfitters to top the cap on motorized tow trips allowed each year. The group wants the agency to implement a new permitting process in advance of each season to ensure towboat numbers are held to the legal limit.

Twenty-three outfitters offer towboat services into the Boundary Waters. Many canoeists use the tows for quicker access to Quetico Provincial Park just across the border in Canada. According to the suit, the Forest Service’s 1993 plan caps towboat trips at 1,342 per year. The group said data from its freedom of information request show the Forest Service allowed 1,639 trips in 2011 and 2,124 last year.

Towboat traffic is especially heavy on the Moose Lake chain east of Ely, Minn., said Kevin Proescholdt, Minneapolis-based conservation director for Wilderness Watch.

“On typical summer days, the towboats are zipping back and forth, quite a bit on that chain of lakes,” said Proescholdt. “And for those of us who prefer to paddle, it really diminishes the wilderness experience when there are these towboats zooming past us again and again and again.”

Superior National Forest officials say they can’t comment on pending litigation. But motorized access has been at the heart of the controversy surrounding the Boundary Waters ever since the legislation creating the wilderness area took effect on this date in 1979. Subsequent lawsuits have limited the number of lakes accessible to motor boats. Motors are allowed now on part or all of 18 lakes in the Boundary Waters.


Remembering the Boundary Waters battles, 50 years later

Bob Olson, who runs Canoe Country Outfitters in Ely, sees this complaint as another attempt by environmental groups to pull back motorized use.

“To me it’s just another way to take all of the motors out, which is their goal,” he said. “So they just keep picking away at it. It’s just a long line of trying to take things away.”

Proescholdt, who was involved in the effort in the 1970s to create the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, says that’s not the group’s goal.

“We’re not trying to end motorboat use. We’re not trying to end commercial towboat use,” he said. “We’re trying to get the Forest Service to follow the law.”

Outfitters pay the Forest Service 3 percent of their towing fees. At the end of each season, they submit detailed reports. But the lawsuit alleges some outfitters underreported the number of towboat trips made and the number of boats used. Wilderness Watch argues that some outfitters excluded certain tow trips from their reports. The group also says one outfitter reported single “trips” that included 18 boats and 72 clients while others counted separate drop-off and pick-up trips as one single trip.

Mike Prom, who runs Voyageur Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail on Saganaga Lake, says the claims of a big jump in tow traffic into the BWCA don’t match what he’s seen and that trips have actually fallen significantly.

“I’ve been here 23 years, and just from personal experience, there’s less tows,” he said. “People don’t want a tow at 2 in the afternoon, they want a tow right away in the morning, 7 or 8 o’clock, or they’ll paddle.”

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Posted in BWCA

It Really Was a Great September

I knew September was a beautiful month, at least for those of us who like warm weather. It was the warmest September recorded for Minnesota!

Minnesota had warmest September on record

By John Myers at 7:58 p.m.
The long, glorious summer of 2015 just kept rolling along into early autumn, giving Minnesota its warmest September in recorded history.

The Minnesota State Climatology Office says the average statewide temperature for September 2015 will come in above 64 degrees, smashing the old record of 63 degrees set in 1897.

The records go back to 1895, said Pete Boulay, state climatologist.

“In general, Septembers have been warming across the state, and this was the warmest September yet,” Boulay said.

The average temperature in Duluth this September was nearly 60 degrees, and nearly 6 degrees above the normal since records have been kept at Duluth International Airport, starting in 1948. That should be good for second or third warmest September on the list, behind the record 62.1 degree set in 2009.

Duluth still hasn’t seen its first official frost of the season with 36 degrees Wednesday the coldest morning so far. On average Duluth sees its first frost either Sept. 27 or Sept. 30, depending on what period of records are used.

Using the 30-year normals from the National Weather Service, Sept. 30 is now the average first frost, a full week later than it used to be, Sept. 23, just a decade ago.

The average monthly temperature in Duluth has risen a half-degree per decade since the 1940s, Boulay noted.

Many areas of Northeastern MInnesota away from Lake Superior saw frost or freeze levels Tuesday and Wednesday morning, including Cook, Hibbing, International Falls and Ely.

The average first frost for areas adjacent to Lake Superior usually comes in October, with the latest at the Duluth Harbor at Oct. 18.

September was the seventh consecutive above normal month for Duluth. Temperatures have been generally in the 70s or warmer — one measure of summerlike weather — since about June 7 in Duluth, marking some 14 weeks of summerlike temperatures.

Since May 27 there have been 33 days with temperatures in the 80s or warmer and only 23 days with highs in the 60s or cooler.

“It’s been a noticeably long summer in Minnesota,” Boulay noted. “That’s something we can all appreciate when winter comes.”

The National Climate Prediction Center is forecasting mostly normal temperatures for the Northland for the next week, with highs in the upper 50s or low 60s, and lows in the 40s and upper 30s. But almost every forecast beyond that — for the next month, for autumn and for winter — is predicting above-normal temperatures for the region, thanks in part to the continued El Nino warming of Pacific Ocean waters.

September was unusually wet in Duluth as well as warm, with 6.81 inches of rain. That’s 2.82 inches above normal and the 5th wettest record in city history.

Posted in News

September Leaves

It’s the last day of September and it’s hard to believe. Here are some September leaves to mark the occasion.

North Shore Fall Colors

Fall Colors

Grand Marais, MN

Leaves on the forest floor

North Shore Minnesota

September Leaves




Posted in News

Fall Paddling in the BWCA

It’s been a super Fall for canoe camping in the Boundary Waters this year. In addition to sunshine and warm temperatures we’ve had very few windy days. The wind is one thing I do not like to hear when I’m in the BWCA and waves are things I don’t like to see, especially if I’m on a solo trip. Experience and knowledge has made me more comfortable in waves over the years. I just read an article about how to paddle in waves and it was a good refresher.

Here’s my quick list of what to do when there are scary waves on the lake.

  1. Stay put. You’re always safer on shore.
  2. If you must travel then wait until evening when the waves will most likely die down.
  3. Load your canoe with all gear below the gunwales, evenly and equally distributed.
  5. Paddle close to shore in case you capsize(this is especially important when the water is cold).
  6. Kneel in the bottom of your canoe for more stability.
  7. Keep the waves at a 45 degree angle to the canoe.
  8. Keep paddling, dig into the wave and don’t quit.
Boundary Waters

Calm Day in the BWCA

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Posted in skills

Polar Bear Cub Selfie

The mother polar bear likes her picture taken about as much as I do. She obviously doesn’t like the camera but I certainly love what the camera caught. I found this video on the Sierra Club’s website.

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Posted in wildlife

Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse

If you miss this eclipse you won’t have another opportunity to see one until 2033!

Space Weather News for Sept. 26, 2015


This weekend’s full Moon is a “supermoon,” the biggest and brightest of the year, and it is about to be eclipsed.  On Sunday evening, Sept 27th, sky watchers in North America will see the swollen lunar orb glide through the shadow of Earth, turning it a beautiful shade of sunset red. The same eclipse will be visible from South America, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia during the early hours of Sept. 28th.  The Coca-Cola Space Science Center is broadcasting the event live at  http://www.ccssc.org/webcast.html .

For more information about the eclipse, and a big sunspot facing Earth this weekend, visit http://spaceweather.com
Learn all about the occurrence happening on September 27th.

Posted in News

Fishing for Stress Relief

Most of us know the benefits of spending time outside include reducing stress. Fishing is of course done when outside so all of the good things nature does for you fishing should too.  Unless of course you’re fishing companions are annoying or something doesn’t go your way on your fishing expedition. Then fishing can be anything but stress free.

The reason I started thinking about this was because of an article I read online. It touted the surprising ways fishing can reduce stress and then I was reminded of a journal entry from years ago.

It was on a day when I had taken my son Josh fishing a long time ago. He was probably 5 or 7 years old and we went to the back lake. Of course he was just a kid and I had no patience when he was anything less than helpful. His line would get snagged, twisted, caught on shore and a number of other irksome things happened throughout the day. At one point I yelled at him and of course lamented about it in my journal that night. It was anything but stress free.  Recently I asked Josh if he remembered that day and me yelling at him and much to my relief he had only stored the good memories of us fishing together.

I hope in the future he will only store good memories as well. There have been times much more recently when I have had all I could do to not scream at him. He’s 14 now and frequently goes fishing by himself but on that rare occasion when we go together it’s like he has no clue what to do. He’ll be waiting in the boat for me and when I get there I’ll ask, “Is the boat filled with gas?” “I dunno.”  “Do you have bait?” “No, I thought you would get it.”  “How about the permit?” “I forgot.” “Do you have the tackle box?” “No, but I have a couple of lures.”

This followed by fishing line in the propeller, no oars and no anchor and it’s a recipe for stress.  That’s when a person needs to hear the sounds of nature, take in the beautiful scenery around them and take deep breaths of fresh air to combat the rising stress level. Focusing on the relationship and spending quality time together instead of actually attempting to catch a fish is a much better way to reduce stress.

Is fishing a stress reliever? It sure can be and then again it might not be the most effective path to relief.

BWCA fishing trip

Stress Reducing Fishing

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Posted in fishing

Flat Water Girl

As a lover of the Boundary Waters I consider myself a flat water paddler. There are fast water paddlers who love to play in rapids and drop over waterfalls. I’ve done some whitewater rafting but I’ve never done any whitewater kayaking. I don’t think I have the desire to ever paddle anything like what is in the video below, do you?

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Posted in paddling adventures

Fall and the Equinox

Yesterday was the first day of Fall as well as the Autumn Equinox. Equal night and equal day with the days getting shorter and shorter until mid-December when they are at the shortest of the year. The lack of daylight hours is something that I do not look forward to.

I like the long days of summer and sunlight and lucky for me this September has been one of the warmest and sunniest in recent years. Until yesterday when the temperature dipped a little bit and clouds filled the sky.

Temperatures in the 70′s will return again this weekend. My have we been spoiled. This is the latest into the season I have swam(not just jumped in and out) in a long time and I love it. The kids enjoyed it over the weekend too.

Happy Fall!


Gunflint Trail Fun at Voyageur


Voyageur Fun

Voyageur Fun


Posted in News

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