I wish I could say I was able to participate myself but unfortunately I couldn't help clear the trail to Blueberry Hill. Unless you count throwing sticks out of the way the two times I've hiked it this spring!
A group of volunteers including two of our Voyageur Crew helped clear the Gneiss Lake Trail yesterday. Mike Henderson and Mike Swenson(sporting the Voyageur T-shirt) assisted with the tough but rewarding work. The trail is now in great shape for hiking and soon there will be blueberries to be picked all along it.
The trail can be accessed from Chik-Wauk Museum at the end of the Gunflint Trail. The museum is now open for the season and the lucky 4th Grade Class from Sawtooth Elementary gets to visit tomorrow. I wish I still had a child in 4th Grade so I could visit too. I never get tired of looking at the displays or hiking the trails.
The next time you are in the area be sure to take a drive up the Gunflint Trail and check out the museum and the awesome hiking trails.
The sun is shining today and it's quite nice to see. We have a few tarps and tents that need drying and it's been nearly impossible to do this past week. I'm sure the folks who are out in the Boundary Waters are just as excited to get things dried out with the help of the sun.
It looks like we can expect to see the sun shine throughout the week and weekend. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 60's and very little chance of rain. Looks like a wonderful weekend for a BWCA canoe trip.
The water level has risen considerably and will be on the rise for the next week or so. Remember the pictures of the dock from earlier this season? Here's a couple new photos taken yesterday and the water has already come up since then!
The lakes are filling up with water thanks to the flow from the ditches and creeks. The ground is saturated and the flora is happy. More and more marsh marigolds are appearing along the Gunflint Trail and the moccassin flowers continue to bloom. I spotted the first wild columbines today and some bunchberry blooms. I love this time of the year when everything is starting to pop with color. Come see for yourself, we'd love to see you at Voyageur!
The fish gut buckets have been full and that's a sign of good fishing. Our rain barrels are full of rain too. We received another half of an inch of rain again today. We're thankful for the moisture but it would be nice to save some for later in the summer! Hope you are all staying dry and catching fish this Memorial Weekend.
Visitors to the Gunflint Trail are enjoying a sunny day today. Fishing reports are mixed with some guests of Voyageur catching lots of fish. The Seagull River and other spawning areas are now open for fishing. That makes Josh happy because now he can fish from our dock.
This sunshine will surely make lots more flowers bloom. The moccassin flowers are blooming in my private patch and the strawberries and blueberries too. Can't wait to pick some fresh berries or fish from the dock.
There's a reason we wait until the end of the day to take the garbage to the dumpster. It's so we can get all of our garbage off of our property to prevent bears from visiting. Unfortunately sometimes a bag or two gets filled after the garbage has been taken or we don't get the garbage taken at all. Last night was one of those times.
There were a few bags of garbage in the back of the garbage truck and one of our black furry friends found it. He crawled into the back of the truck for a bite to eat and Mark heard him. He got up to scare the bear away only to have him return again and again. Finally Mark decided just to take the garbage to the dump around 3:30 in the morning!
We're hoping we don't have any more late night visitors of the four-legged kind in our garbage truck.
Now that it started to rain it just won't quit! It's like a rain forest outside and water is running everywhere. The low water we were worried about this spring is no longer a concern. 1.27" in the past 24 hours and .54" since midnight. According to the forecast we're supposed to get even more rain this weekend!
Today is one of those days when I wouldn't be anxious to get out on the water to start a canoe trip. Most types of weather I'm game for a paddle but not when it's raining like this outside. It's ok to be out camping when it's raining but I'm not a big fan of setting up a tent in the rain. I hope everyone out in the BWCA has some good rain gear along to keep them dry.
The temperature isn't too cold thankfully. Being wet and cold isn't much fun at all. Yesterday the temperature was in the 70's and today it's near the 60's in spite of the heavy rain. It will warm up again, the sun will come out and then I'll be ready to camp in the BWCA once again.
Folks can now have campfires anytime in the Boundary Waters. Thanks to the rain we received the fire ban has been lifted.
The swim season at Voyageur has begun. I haven't been in for a swim yet but several of our Voyageur Crew have taken the plunge. The water temperature is around 60 degrees so it's still a little cool but tolerable for a quick dip.
The mosquitoes have made an appearance too. With all of the rain we've been getting there hasn't been too much time for the mosquitoes to fly but there are reports of them out there. If you're heading up here for Memorial Weekend then bring along the bug spray.
There are still permits available for canoe camping in the BWCA this Memorial Weekend and we'd love to see you up here!
We're thankful for all of you who did the rain dance for us. We received another .25" of rain today and over an inch of rain on Sunday. The blueberry plants are happy and the forest's thirst has been quenched. The fire danger has plummeted and we're happy campers.
As Boundary Waters Canoe Outfitters it isn't in our best interest to share news of bad things that happen in the Boundary Waters. We like to think the BWCA is a relatively safe place and for the most part it is. As members of our volunteer fire department we're EMT's and we hear the calls go out about broken bones or medical emergencies. We've heard of a few drownings and one incident over near Ely, Minnesota that involved people harrassing other people. Wherever there are people there can be crime but you don't expect it in the Boundary Waters.
Over the years we've been at Voyageur there have only been 4 criminal complaints in the BWCA including this current one. When I read about Julia's tragic experience my world was shattered. My heaven on earth, the BWCA, was hell on earth for Julia. I can't help but think of the groups of women we've sent into the woods, the times my crew has camped solo and the trips my daughter will take into the Boundary Waters.
Julia's Boundary Water's experience is the most horrific one I have ever heard. It is one you must also hear about not only because of the incident but also because of how this incident has been handled. This will disturb you I'm sure. But Julia's story needs to be heard.
If you're looking for a lightweight camping chair then look no further. This one weighs only 18 ounces and measures 4.5 x 13 inches. It holds up to 250 pounds and you can rock on it! Mike bought one and I tried it out and love it. I can't wait to bring it into the Boundary Waters on my next canoe trip.
Dry conditions and a forest fire near Ely, Minnesota prompted officials to implement a partial fire ban in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Rain is in the forecast but hot temperatures and windy conditions have dried out the forest. The ban allows campfires from 7pm-midnight only so folks are still able to enjoy an evening campfire.
We always encourage visitors to use caution with their campfires. Keep them small, keep them within the fire ring and make sure they are dead out when you leave the campsite for any amount of time. Cigarette butts should be fully extinguished and not thrown from vehicles while driving on the Gunflint Trail.
Yesterday afternoon a vehicle drove over a downed power line outside of Ely, Minnesota. The power line sparked and started the trees along the roadside on fire. The fire quickly grew in size due to the dry conditions of the forest. The fire was being pushed along by a strong wind from the south with gusts up to 30 miles per hour.
Fast acting fire personnell were on the scene quickly and they along with a change of direction in the wind were able to keep the fire from engulfing the town. The fire consumed between 100-150 acres in just a couple of hours and although it started a mile from the town it was within a few hundred yards when it was stopped.
Some residents of Ely were evacuated while others watched the plume of smoke with concern. Some residents along County Road 1 where the fire started are still evacuated and will be until the fire is under control.
Today's warm temperature and predicted high winds will most likely cause the fire to heat up again this afternoon. Folks in and around Ely will be on high alert until they receive a good dousing of rain. Saturday's forecast calls for rain and there is a chance of rain today too. We'll keep our fingers crossed and do a rain dance and hope everyone is safe with their fires around the Gunflint Trail.
Come rummage around the Gunflint Trail this weekend during the Gunflint Trail Trash and Treasure Garage Sale. This year’s Trash and Treasure Days will be held May 19-20, from 8 am – 5 pm each day. There will be over 50 miles of bargains along Northeastern Minnesota's Gunflint Trail as businesses and homeowners participate in the event.
You never know what you might find at a garage sale on the Gunflint Trail. Come see for yourself and don't forget to stop in at all of the resorts along the way, especially Voyageur!
Our guests went out fishing with a guide yesterday and had a great time catching fish. They were able to find some walleye and the guide hooked into a 29" walleye which was the highlight of the day. Other guests and canoeists have reported good fishing too.
It's always fun to go fishing but even more fun when they are biting. The lake trout and walleye are the most popular species to be fishing for right now and guests are catching their fair share. They are also catching some northern pike and even some smallmouth too.
If you're looking to catch some fish then head on up to the Gunflint Trail, we'd love to see you at Voyageur
It's weeks like these I wish I could clear my schedule, pack up my bags and load the canoe for a trip into the BWCA. The forecast is calling for warm temperatures in the 60's and 70's during the daytime and low temperatures only down into the 40's. Slight chance of rain and after today not much wind in the forecast either. Could the forecast for paddling in the BWCA be any better?
There really isn't a weather forecast that is bad for canoe camping in the Boundary Waters in my book. As long as my tent is set up I don't mind if there is rain or wind, it's just the travel days when those conditions concern me.
Can you clear your schedule? I hope you have carved out some time this summer for a trip into the Boundary Waters!
I'm not talking about the Chicago Bears either. I'm talking about our pesky black bears who take advantage of an unlocked dumpster. That was the case last night when a bear decided he wanted an easy meal.
Our dumpster is about 8 miles down the road and the bear made a huge mess. After lunch today we cleaned up after the bear. Garbage of all sorts with teeth marks puncturing it were found amongst the bushes and trees.
It's amazing how much of a mess "them bears" can make!
There are blueberry plants blooming and fiddlehead ferns popping out in their usual places. The wild strawberry flowers are white as snow and the marsh marigolds are brightening up the swamps with their bright yellow color. The thermometer read 75 degrees today and there are boats fishing in the lakes on the Gunflint Trail. All signs are pointing towards the approaching summer season at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.
Another sure sign of the paddling season is the arrival of summer crew at Voyageur. This Friday we had two new faces arrive at Voyageur and we couldn't be happier to have Tessa and Dana on board for the summer. We are blessed to have them along with Elsa, Ron, John and new John who we're calling JD here as well. We can't forget Mark and Chad who have been helping out as much as they can or the arrival of Mike and Ashley. It feels like yesterday we had our winter gear on the tables in the lodge and now they are filled with friendly faces.
Yep, things are moving forward and the summer season is almost here. Are you ready? Do you have your canoe trip booked? If not then give us a call, we'll gladly help you plan it.
If you would have asked me yesterday what dessication of pine needles meant I would have had no idea. Today I know because I looked it up online!
Our small pine trees along the Gunflint Trail started to turn orange this spring. They looked like they had been burned but it wasn't the entire tree that was this new orange color. It turns out this is common in mountain areas but I've never heard of it here on the Gunflint Trail.
Due to the warm spell in March our trees started to transpire. Since the ground was frozen the trees were not able to get the proper hydration they needed. Without proper hydration the needles above the snow cover began to die.
Hopefully the moisture we've received since the ground has thawed will help replenish the moisture in these trees. We hope they'll get enough water so they can recover and continue to grow up to be big pine trees.
The fishing opener is finally here. Vehicles pulling boats and cars with canoes on top are heading up the Gunflint Trail for a weekend of fishing fun. Hopefully you have some fishing planned for this weekend and good luck catching them. Here's some information from the Minnesota DNR in honor of this weekend's fishing opener.
Minnesota Fish facts
Anglers and lakes
1.4 million licensed anglers.
2 million people fish.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are managed by DNR fisheries.
Participation and the economy
Fishing contributes $4.7 billion to the state's economy.
Minnesota ranks fourth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and California. Wisconsin is fifth. 1
As a percentage of population among those states, Minnesota boasts the largest number of resident anglers at 28 percent and is tied nationally with Alaska for the largest participation of resident anglers.
Anglers spend $2.8 billion on fishing each year in Minnesota. 2
Dollars directly spent on fishing in Minnesota create an additional $1.9 billion in economic activity, boosting angling's total statewide economic impact to $4.7 billion. 2Equipment (rods, reels, line, boats, trailers, etc.) accounted for $1.2 billion of the $2.8 billion spent. Trip-related expenses accounted for $860 million. Other expenses such as bait and equipment rental accounted for $646 million. 1
Salaries, wages and business earnings directly related to fishing total $1.3 billion. 2
Fishing creates Minnesota 43,812 jobs. 2
Minnesota angling generates $350 million in federal tax revenues and $342 million in state and local tax revenues. 2
Who goes fishing?
Most resident anglers – 755,000 of them in fact – are from the seven-county metropolitan area. The remaining 388,000 resident anglers live outside the Twin Cities. 1
Men account for 69 percent of resident anglers. Woman account for 31 percent. 1
The highest percentage of participation comes in the 35-44 year old age group. Most of the remaining participants come from the 45-64 year old age group, with those 16-24 years old accounting for only 12 percent of the people who fish. 1
An estimated 40 percent of Minnesota anglers have household incomes of $50,000-$100,000. Households that make less than $50,000 annually account for 27 percent of Minnesota anglers. 1
An estimated 388,000 children ages 6-15 go fishing each year, with Twin Cities-area kids accounting for 76 percent of the total. Although close, more girls (52 percent) went fishing than boys (48 percent). Participation among age groups (6-8 years, 9-11 years and 12-15 years) remained fairly constant. 1
Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes rather than rivers and streams. 1
The average Minnesota angler spends 20 days fishing each year, with 86 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but Minnesota. 1
Only 3 percent of Minnesota anglers try their luck on Lake Superior. 1
Most sought-after fish species (in order): walleye, bluegill, northern pike, crappie, bass. 1
Most resident anglers spend nearly half their time fishing for walleye and bluegill. 1
1 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
2 Sportfishing in America, American Sportfishing Association
It's becoming increasingly difficult to get the kids to go to bed at night. They should be in bed sleeping by 9:00pm but when it doesn't get dark until 8:30pm they feel like staying up. When we get up in the morning it feels like we've overslept because the sun is already in the sky. This morning it was beautiful outside as the sunlight filtered through the fog and trees.
It's that time of the year when the sun rises early and sets late. This part of the season is particularly challenging because we have the kids' schedules to keep up with at school, guests arriving for their trips and very little staff to help out. Our phone is also usually very busy this time of the year because folks can make reservations for the entire summer. It slows down in July when there's just August and September left to book trips for.
If you've been frustrated trying to reach us on the telephone then we apologize. Last weekend Abby had 2 softball games in Two Harbors on Friday, two in Esko on Saturday and we had the Ham Run Half-Marathon to put on Sunday. We spent a large portion of Monday and Tuesday cleaning up from the Ham Run and had fire training and our pack test during the evenings. In between running outside or being on another line the phone goes to the answering machine quite a bit. It's best to call us back or email us since alot of times we can't understand the messages on the machine or I write the number down wrong.
Oh yes, the days are getting longer and that means more time for paddling the Boundary Wates too.
Our guests get startled by this sound when they hear it. I did too the first few times I heard it until I discovered what it was. What's that noise? Take a guess on facebook or comment here. The title tells all...
The Ham Run is done for another year. It's time to put away the signs, store the supplies, tie up the loose ends and move forward with the 2012 paddling season at Voyageur. We've already had one group go out for a Quetico Park canoe trip and there will be plenty more.
Over the weekend we had guests in our cabins and this weekend we'll have more. The paddlers like the water temperature are making their way up. It won't be long and our outfitting season will be in full swing.
"Are you ready for the season?" We hear this question alot and it's a difficult one to answer. We're never fully ready because there are always projects to do and things could be organized a little better or folded nicer. But for the most part, we're excited to see our old guests and ready to meet new ones.
Now that the Ham Run is done, we're as ready as we'll ever be for guests to arrive.
Today's the day of the 5th Annual Ham Run Half-Marathon and 5k Fun Run on the Gunflint Trail. The 5k and Half-Marathon begin at 10am and both head towards the end of the Trail, just as the Ham Lake Fire did in 2007.
The race course is so beautiful in spite of the areas scarred by wildfire. There is so much new growth it's difficult to believe there ever was a fire. Runners are in for such a treat as they pass by ponds, flowing rivers and bubbling creeks. I love to run on the Gunflint Trail and I'm lucky I can do it anytime I want. It's a magical place to be.
Whether or not you come for the Ham Run we invite you to come anytime and take a run or walk on the Gunflint Trail. It does a body and mind good.
The music a choir of tiny spring peepers can sing is amazingly loud. So loud in fact my dog pauses to look out over the swamp with a puzzled look on his face when he hears them. I can almost hear him thinking, "What on earth is that noise?" To one person's ears the sound of frogs singing or croaking can be music and to another it may be noise. Every spring when I hear the spring peepers I think about a particular guest we once had.
This person had never been out on a Boundary Waters canoe camping trip. He was from Chicago where sounds like airplanes buzzing overhead, trucks jake braking and car alarms are expected. Most people who live there don't look up into the sky if they hear an airplane like we do up here.
When we see a plane it's a bigger deal. In fact if you look in our newspaper from last week you'll see someone reported an airplane circling up here. It just isn't a common sight and If a car alarm goes off up here it means someone actually took their keys out of their car and that's strange too.
We sent the man and his paddling partner on their merry way one day and the next day the two men were back. They were supposed to be out for a four day trip. We wondered what had happened... Had we forgotten to pack something, was someone sick or injured? Questions popped into our heads one after another until we approached them and asked why they had returned.
"It was too noisy out there." one of the men replied.
In shock we said, "Was there a loud, rowdy group out there?"
"No." "There was a damn frog and he wouldn't quit croaking."
We chuckled but quit abruptly when he didn't crack a smile. "Oh, a frog?"
"Yes, it wouldn't shut the hell up and it was driving me crazy." he said.
Astonished we didn't really know what to say. "Oh."
"Yeah so I finally got up out of my tent and I found a rock and searched and searched until I found that frog and then I smashed it and killed it."
To this we had no idea what to say. We asked if they wanted to spend the rest of their time in a cabin instead of camping but they were ready to go home. The sound of the frog was just too much for him to handle.
So as I listen to the music of the spring peepers or any other woodland creature, I think of how it is music to my ears and how it could be something entirely different to someone else's ears. I'm content to listen to that kind of music any day.
It's fun to see how things progress in nature and at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. The trees budded overnight and things really greened up with recent rains. The marsh marigolds are blooming, strawberry flowers are appearing and more wildflowers will appear soon. It's always changing.
At Voyageur it's the same thing. One day a sign is scraped, the next day it's painted and the next the new letters are on. One day the patio blocks are removed and like magic a new deck appeared. The lodge was a complete disaster and in walks Elsa and cleans it right up.
Just like in nature we're always changing at Voyageur and always for the better.
It surprises us every year how much the water level can change in a month. If a picture is worth a thousand words then 4 pictures equals 4000 words and this blog post is getting pretty long!
I'll keep this short. The photos on the left were taken in April when water levels were very low. Notice the steepness of our dock ramps. If the dock were there it would be a little less drastic but you can picture how steep it would be. Fast forward a month to May and the docks are almost level. That's a good sign.
We've been getting lots of rain the past week and the water levels are continuing to rise. The creeks are flowing fast and no doubt waters will continue to rise throughout the month in spite of the early spring melt this year.
We took our first tow out to Saganaga yesterday and while there's current in the rapids to make things tricky we're just happy there's enough water to get through after how dry it was earlier this spring. I'll try to keep you posted when the water level makes its next big jump up.
When I first saw the headline I thought it was an article about Super Moms. I must have Mother's Day on my mind because the article was about the Super Moon. My fingers are crossed for a clear sky.
http://www.space.com Skywatchers take note: The biggest full moon of the year is due to arrive this weekend.
The moon will officially become full Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month's full moon coincides with the moon's perigee — its closest approach to Earth — it will also be the year's biggest.
The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, offering skywatchers a spectacular view of an extra-big, extra-bright moon, nicknamed a supermoon.
And not only does the moon's perigee coincide with full moon this month, but this perigee will be the nearest to Earth of any this year, as the distance of the moon's close approach varies by about 3 percent, according to meteorologist Joe Rao, SPACE.com's skywatching columnist. This happens because the moon's orbit is not perfectly circular.
This month's full moon is due to be about 16 percent brighter than average. In contrast, later this year on Nov. 28, the full moon will coincide with apogee, the moon's farthest approach, offering a particularly small and dim full moon.
Though the unusual appearance of this month's full moon may be surprising to some, there's no reason for alarm, scientists warn. The slight distance difference isn't enough to cause any earthquakes or extreme tidal effects, experts say.
However, the normal tides around the world will be particularly high and low. At perigee, the moon will exert about 42 percent more tidal force than it will during its next apogee two weeks later, Rao said.
To view this weekend's supermoon to best effect, look for it just after it rises or before it sets, when it is close to the horizon. There, you can catch a view of the moon behind buildings or trees, an effect which produces an optical illusion, making the moon seem even larger than it really is.
I shouldn't call them snowbirds since they don't go very far south. They do go south of the Gunflint Trail though and now they are back and busy. Not all business owners stay on the Gunflint Trail for the entire winter and we can tell when they have returned.
The tell-tale sign the Seagull Outfitters owners are back on the Trail is when their rope blocking the driveway on Sag Lake Trail is down on the ground. Someone has been down their driveway and the rope is now down so they must be back in the neighborhood.
The Tuscarora folks are around and have been up on Sag Lake Trail too. Their towboats are now in the water ready to take people out on Saganaga. Usually it's just their dock floating in the bay but the boats are now there next to it.
First it's the business owners, next it will be the home owners and then come the guests of Voyageur. We can't wait for all of our guests to flock north too!