One thing the Boundary Waters in Minnesota doesn't need is a dye job. Our lakes in the BWCA are a brilliant blue and they couldn't be more beautiful. Unfortunately the folks around Lake Delton in Wisconsin weren't happy with the appearance of their lake and they spent almost $30,000 to make the lake more blue in color.
I've never heard of giving a lake a dye job to make it look more appealing to visitors. That's just what happened when 500 gallons of dye was injected into Lake Delton on July 12th. I guess you better read it to believe it.
LAKE DELTON — One of Wisconsin’s most famous lakes got a tint job two weeks ago.
The village of Lake Delton dyed the artificial body of water from green to blue — a cosmetic alteration that consumed 500 gallons of dye and $29,108 in taxpayer dollars.
The 267-acre lake, famous as the home of a water-ski show and for its dramatic draining during a flood in 2008, was “injected” with dye July 12 by Aquatic Engineering of La Crosse.
“The village requested we color the lake a pleasing blue, so that it replaces a scummy green,” said Josh Britton, of Aquatic Engineering.
The liquid dye, “AquaBlue,” is not harmful and there are no restrictions on its use, unlike pesticides, he said.
Britton, whose company has managed the lake for the village for 15 years, said this was the first time the lake has been dyed.
“Depending on rainfall and flow conditions, it is estimated it will stay a pleasing blue for 13 to 30 days,” he said.
The treatment brought criticism from the River Alliance of Wisconsin, which ridiculed the process in a blog (The River Rat) as “Delton’s Dubious Dye Dump,” noting that “this expensive, temporary, and downright foolish ‘fix’ won’t clean up Lake Delton in the long term.”
“From what we know about the dye, it is for use in confined bodies of water, ponds, not for a large lake,” said Matt Krueger of the alliance.
Village officials referred questions about the job to Britton.
“They (the village) wanted to turn the water a more appealing color so that it looks better for tourism and the public’s perception,” Britton said. “It will dissipate over time, the sun breaks it down, and it also flows over the dam.”
Britton said it was possible the lake will be dyed again once the blue flows away, adding that some dye could flow into the Wisconsin River from the lake. The Alliance said it already has.
The relatively shallow lake — it is 16 feet at its deepest, with a mean depth of 8 feet — has a problem with algae. Britton’s company does not use pesticides to treat algae on this lake, which he said would be “just treating the symptom, not the problem.”
When the dye first is added to the lake, the water becomes is a dark blue, he said, before getting lighter. It does not stain and does not harm people or lake life, he said.
Bill Cosh, spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, said Aquatic Engineering’s general permit covers any runoff of the dye into the Wisconsin River.
“The question remains as to whether a permit was required to treat Lake Delton in the first place,” Cosh said, adding that the DNR had received six complaints as of last week. He said the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection was looking into whether this particular use of the dye in Lake Delton was an “acceptable use” of the product.
Tom Diehl, general manager of the Tommy Bartlett Show, a water-ski-based entertainment that has been a staple at Lake Delton for 60 years, also is a member of the Lake Delton village Board. He was one of four trustees who approved the dye job as an emergency measure July 9, said village clerk-treasurer Kay Mackesey.
Diehl said there is “no conflict whatsoever” in his participating in the vote, as “we’ve had lots of complaints from resort owners and people who use the lake about the pea-green color of the water this summer.”
“I certainly would always recuse myself at the village on anything that had to do with my business interests,” he said.
The village has long battled lake-related results of runoff, especially algae and weeds, he said. It is still “trying to get our hands around the effects of the lake drain in 2008.”
Major flooding that year caused the lake to overflow and break through a portion of the earthen barrier between it and the Wisconsin River. Several homes slid into the lake, which emptied, leaving a muddy expanse and costly rebuilding project.
At this point, Diehl said, the village probably has no interest in another full application of the dye this summer.
“It accomplished what we hoped, and we have had zero complaints from property owners,” Diehl said, adding that the blue dye hasn’t affected the bright white costumes worn by performers in the water-ski show.
This year we have 3 Mikes at Voyageur but one towers above the others. Mike Henderson is 6'4" and is from Rochester, Minnesota. He attends the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and wants to become a Dentist. One picture I can't get out of my mind is how far Mike will have to lean over to work on his patients. I'm hoping he has some super tall chairs for them to sit in.
Mike's favorite thing to do while working at Voyageur is to drive tow boat. He likes to be on the lake and visit with the guests. He also enjoys wood working projects and demonstrated his skill when he made a birch bark frame for our Christmas in July celebration.
When Mike isn't working he likes to hike. He worked on establishing the Blueberry Hill Trail at Chik-Wauk earlier this spring. His favorite lake in the Boundary Waters is Clearwater where he's taken family canoe trips.
This Mike has been a super addition to the Voyageur Crew and we're glad to have him spend his summer with us.
I thought it was my imagination at first. Then I thought it was just the filter of my sunglasses but it's really true, the leaves are changing color in July.
The leaves on the birch, aspen and ferns alongside the Gunflint Trail are turning yellow. Some trees are completely yellow already and it isn't even August. The intense heat of the summer is no doubt stressing the trees and causing the early transformation. The sunshine and lack of consistent precipitation didn't help matters nor did the early spring.
The leaves may be changing but there's plenty of time left to paddle the BWCA this summer.
Jennifer Thomas has been coming to the Gunflint Trail since she was a baby. Her family owns a cabin on Sag Lake Trail and she's worked at Voyageur the past 5 summers. This year she is the Food Packer for all of our outfitted trips. Her favorite thing to do while Food Packing is to vaccuum seal food items.
When she's not working Jennifer likes to run and practice gunwale pumping. She took First Place at this year's Canoe Races for gunwale pumping and the cream puff eating contest. She hopes to log 300 miles of trail running before she returns to the University of Minnesota this Fall.
Jennifer's bubbly personality is just one of the reasons we love to have her as part of the Voyageur Crew.
The Dragon Boats are in the Grand Marais Harbor ready for the Dragon Boat Races this weekend. Teams will be practicing in the harbor Friday afternoon and the teams will parade through town Friday evening. Races begin Saturday morning and continue throughout the afternoon.
It's alot of fun to paddle in a Dragon Boat with 19 other paddlers. I'll be paddling for Team Gunflint. It's a great spectator sport and a fun time to be in Grand Marais. If you're in the area then be sure to shout out a cheer for Gunflint.
Last night was our annual staff dinner for Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It's a special evening and the whole crew showers and dresses themselves in something other than a bathing suit or crew t-shirt. It's always a transformation from what they look like every day at work to what they look like when they aren't working. Our crew cleans up nicely!
We had an amazing dinner at Loon Lake Lodge and celebrated Christmas in July. We drew names to become Secret Santas and prepared homemade gifts for the recipients. There were some great gifts including birch bark framed photos, fishing rod holders and even glow in the dark socks.
The Crew dinner is just one way we say, "Thanks" to the awesome folks who are a part of the Voyageur Crew.
The lakes in the BWCA are warm. Normally the surface of the water is nice but 2 feet below you reach freezing cold water. Now if I want to find cold water I have to go down about 6 feet. It's a strange sensation to jump into the Seagull River and not feel a little bit chilled. Not only is that strange but also the fact people are swimming in Lake Superior in Grand Marais!
Looking to escape to the beach this summer? Well, before you book that trip to Cape Cod or the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you might want to consider an unorthodox option — the shores of Lake Superior. The lake, which is the northernmost, coldest, and deepest of the five Great Lakes, is the warmest it has been at this time of year in at least a century, thanks to the mild winter, warm spring, and hot, dry summer.
A comparison between Lake Superior's average water temperature this year so far and the longer-term average. Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: GLERL.
OK, so the lake’s average water temperature is still a bracing 68 degrees, but it's considered downright tropical for the region. As the above chart shows, based on the 30-year average, the lake’s average water temperature should be in the mid-50s. But thanks to scant lake ice cover this past winter, along with a rare March heat wave and warmer-than-average weather since then, the lake began warming earlier than normal, and that warming has kept right on going. Wintertime ice cover on the Great Lakes was the lowest observed since such records began in 1980.
“It’s pretty safe to say that what we’re seeing here is the warmest that we’ve seen in Lake Superior in a century,” said Jay Austin, a professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, who has researched the lake’s water temperatures back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The lake's record temperatures are yet another consequence of the record heat so far in 2012. The contiguous U.S. had its warmest January-to-June period since records began in the late 19th century. Manmade global warming will likely result in more years with very warm water temperatures, which could have significant adverse consequences for marine life. In a rare benefit from the ongoing drought, this summer has been so dry that the warm water temperatures are not resulting in major harmful algal blooms, such as one that occurred on Lake Erie last year.
Instrument data from three buoys in Lake Superior provide a reliable record of water temperatures since about 1980, and the information also shows that, with water temperatures running in the mid-to-upper 60s (and even warmer closer to shore), “we are at record temperatures for this time of year,” according to Austin.
Because of sand and other particles within in the runoff, sunlight is not penetrating far below the surface, and that helps heat near-surface waters more significantly than if clearer waters were present, Austin said.
Satellite-generated temperature analysis of the Great Lakes. Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: GLERL.
Data shows a long-term warming trend throughout the Great Lakes, which may be related to manmade climate change. According to George Leskevich, a physical research scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., there is also a long-term downward trend in Great Lakes wintertime ice cover, although there is considerable year-to-year variability.
The all-time daily average high temperature record for Lake Superior is 71°F, which was recorded in mid-August 2010. With a few more weeks of warming left, that record is in jeopardy.
“The season hasn’t played itself out yet and we’re already within 3 degrees of the all-time daily record surface temperature,” Austin said.
Leshkevich said that low wintertime ice cover, combined with the record warmth during March, helped jump-start the warm season, particularly in the western Great Lakes. The eastern Great Lakes, such as Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, have also been running at or above temperatures seen during the past six years, but they are not at such unprecedented levels, according to GLERL data. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, and therefore it is typically the first to warm up during the spring.
Lake Superior had much below average ice cover during the 2011-12 winter, as this chart shows. Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: GLERL.
“You probably got a running start to the heating season and it’s been so warm here, certainly in the Midwest and Great Lakes area, I think it’s just kept going,” Leshkevich said.
For example, the South Buoy on Lake Michigan, located 43 nautical miles southeast of Milwaukee, recorded a water temperature of 80°F on Friday July 6, a feat the National Weather Service (NWS) said was “remarkable . . . for the lake to begin with . . . But unprecedented for this early in the summer season.” The previous date of the earliest 80°F temperature was July 21, which was set during both 2010 and 2011.
The average water temperature for July 6 at the South Buoy is a chilly 63°F.
The rapid temperature increase on Lake Michigan was closely tied to the heat waves that have affected the Midwest this summer. Chicago has experienced its warmest year to date, and the early July heat wave in the Windy City that sent temperatures soaring into the triple digits caused water temperatures at the South Buoy to climb by 10°F during the course of just one week, the NWS said.
Ironically, if the lakes enter the fall with record warm temperatures, it could herald an above-average season for lake effect snow, which occurs when cold, dry air blows across large expanses of comparatively milder waters.
Dana Gilbertson is from Watertown, Minnesota and attends the University of Northern Michigan in Marquette. She loves Marquette and all of the snow they get there in the winter. She is majoring in Zoology.
She likes to interact with the guests who come to Voyageur. She enjoys visiting with them about their canoe trips. She also likes listening to WTIP Swing Session while she's up working in the outfitting building.
When she's not working she enjoys jumping off of cliffs on Saganaga Lake. One day she had to keep jumping time after time for a photographer, not a bad day of work! She first visited the BWCA when she was 8 or 9 years old with her family and her favorite lake is Alpine. She's a great photographer and has taken some awesome photos this summer.
Dana's looking forward to her Mom's visit during Fisherman's Picnic. We're enjoying having Dana as part of the Crew!
I like living where a dark night means better viewing of the stars or possibly the northern lights. Living at the end of the Gunflint Trail we don't see many billboards and since we don't pay for television we don't see movie trailers or news for that matter. Although every once in awhile a story slips through and a little internet search comes up with something terrible that has happened.
The most recent case of this is the shooting in the Colorado movie theater. What a horrific event to have happen in a movie theater of all places. I'm not sure where a massacre like that would make more sense but it certainly makes no sense to me.
I've never stayed awake for a midnight movie premiere but my nieces have. I can't imagine the fear one would face in a situation like that. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by this horrible event.
All I know is it makes me more content than ever to offer folks canoe trips into the Boundary Waters. Where a dark night is just that.
Cars parked along the Gunflint Trail can only mean a couple of things; One is there's a moose or two someone is berry picking. Recently the number of vehicles seen along the Trail mean the berry pickers are out in full force.
Most people have been reporting good blueberry crops but not quite as good as in years past. I've found some big blueberries on bushes right next to green ones. There are still lots of green berries out there and I prefer to wait until all of the berries on the bush are blue.
There are lots of ripe raspberries out there and from the way the thimbleberry bushes look there will be a bumper crop of those as well. There are berries galore out there and will be for some time so come on up while the picking is good.
A Forest Service volunteer who was injured while hiking in the Superstition Wilderness was quickly rescued thanks to a satellite tracking device and his own precautionary actions, officials said.
The unidentified man, who has hiked in the area for more than 10 years, was carrying a SPOT satellite tracking device while he was hiking Thursday, according to Amy Racki, a recreation/wilderness specialist and acting volunteer coordinator with the Mesa Ranger District.
When he fell and hit his head, he was able to push a button and his location was sent to local emergency personnel. He was unable to hike back, so Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies used their helicopter to airlift him back to the trailhead where his car was parked, Racki said.
“I hesitate to use the word ‘search’ in referring to this incident. Thanks to his personal SPOT satellite tracking device which identified his location … we were able to walk right up to him,” ranger Gary Hanna said.
Officials say this wasn’t the first time one of these devices might have saved a life.
“This is the third positive outcome that I have had in one of my former units over the past 12 months with four lives saved,” said Cliff Myers, a former safety manager in the Tonto National Forest.
The hiker took multiple precautions to ensure his safety while he hiked. He told his wife where he was going and when he’d be back, wore brightly colored clothing, knew the trail and stayed on it, Racki said.
The Superstition Wilderness is protected by a 1964 Congressional Act. The 180 miles of trails are designed to keep the forest pristine and quiet and to be minimally affected by humans.
Last night were the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races and everyone had a grand time as usual. The Voyageur Crew always has a high number of participants because we want to support the awesome event that raises money for our local Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.
We took home lots of awards; too numerous to mention here. I'll wait until I see the newspaper's printed results to comment. I do know Jennifer Thomas took 1st Place in the Cream Puff eating contest and for the first time ever we took home First Place in the long distance canoe race.
Congratulations to all of the participants and thanks to all of the volunteers, participants and spectators for making the event a huge success.
When I find my camera cord I'll be sure to post some photos of the canoe races!
Does hiking cause physiological changes in our brain? Put on your boots and find out!
National Park Service
You may already know that your adventures in wilderness leave you feeling refreshed, less stressed and happier. It’s also possible they make you smarter.
Preliminary results of a new study suggest that prolonged time in nature can boost mental abilities significantly.
In an article published in Backpacker magazine, writer Elizabeth Kwak-Hefferan witnesses the phenomenon first hand as she serves as a test subject in neuroscientist Dr. David Strayer's study.
Strayer wants to know what happens to the brain after a multiday wilderness hike. Past studies have shown mental benefits do occur after short periods in nature, but no one has looked at the effects of an extended trip into the wild.
To get to his answer, Strayer, took a small group of backpackers for a multiday hiking trip in southeast Utah’s Grand Gulch Primitive Area.
The hikers, including Kwak-Hefferan, took a cognitive test before heading out on the trail, then again after several days of backpacking.
Results showed a 45 percent increase in mental abilities once the hikers had been out on the trail for three days.
The theory, according to Backpacker, is that time in wilderness may inspire physiological changes, such as the release of certain hormones, or the use of different brain regions, allowing the overtaxed higher-thinking region of the brain to distress and restore clear thinking abilities.
After initial tests in Utah, Strayer did another study on a larger group of Outward Bound hikers. This time, results, showed up to 50 percent increases in creative abilities.
Of course, the author notes that some might say the vigorous exercise or unplugging from distracting electronics may have something to do with the results. But Strayer is just at the beginning of his research and hopes to have more answers in the future.
Strayer’s studies may help explain why people commonly feel so great after hiking. This “caught up in the moment,” feeling, as described by Kwak-Hefferan, may increase our ability to focus.
This is especially important as a kind of cure for the distracted thinking, typical of modern life. Daily routines are often rife with interruptions from numerous technological devices, constant advertisements and over-booked schedules.
Nowadays, only by getting outdoors can you reap the rewards of living without constant distraction.
The study suggests three days of wilderness exposure will net you the greatest benefits, but making brief but frequent backpacking trips could recharge your mental capacities as well, according to Backpacker.
So if you are getting ready for exams or other mental challenges, the best preparation may be to take a break by hitting the trails. Weekend outings could provide the charge needed to perform at your best through the rest of your workweek.
The implications of these studies extend well beyond your individual experiences. This research could provide greater support for employer flexibility, outdoor education and of course increased wilderness protection. Until then, you can begin reaping the benefits now by giving your brain the gift of wilderness.
I'm sad to see Voyageur Canoe Outfitters isn't mentioned anywhere in this article but it should be known Scott fell in love with paddling when he worked at Voyageur during college! We live vicariously through all of his paddling adventures.
From the Rochester paper-
Paddling around the world
posted July 17, 2012 by Guy N. Limbeck Post Bulletin
At a glance
Who: Scotty Ewen and 2003 Lourdes grad who now resides in Duluth.
What: Ewen has been a whitewater kayaker for nearly nine years. He has been an instructor the past five years. He has kayaked in 12 different states in the U.S. and in four other countries.
Scotty Ewen has gotten the chance to see a lot of the United States and the world. And much of the sights he sees are while traveling along in the water.
Ewen, a native of Rochester, is an advanced to expert kayaker who takes his sport seriously. After graduating from Lourdes in 2003, Ewen attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The fall of his freshman year he joined the kayaking and canoe club and he has been hooked ever since.
He later became the president of the club and now nearly nine years later Ewen is a kayak instructor at Canoe U and a member of the Rapid Riders Club out of the Twin Cities.
Ewen is currently on a 10-week journey around the country to kayak. He is out west and will soon pass through Minnesota (he now resides in Duluth) and then head out east.
"It's fun and (I do it) for the thrill of it," Ewen said of his journey. "Every river has its own personality and it's fun to discover that personality. And it's a great way to see the scenery."
Ewen kayaks on rivers with whitewater rapids. Rivers are graded on scales of 1-6 with a level 6 being the very toughest river to navigate.
"Mostly it's the more high-octane pumped three or four (river)," Ewen said of his kayaking. "I like the rush."
For a good whitewater rapids, a river must have a good change in elevation. A river is graded by its gradient, in terms of dropping in feel per mile. A steep river will have a drop of 200 to 300 feet per mile while a easy river will drop only 20 to 50 feet.
"It's a risk to reward factor," Ewen said of kayaking on a challenging river. Kayakers almost always ride solo in their kayak. But Ewen makes sure he always paddles with someone else along and is usually in a group.
"When you make your big drop, you make your own decision," he said. "But when you're in a high-risk (situation) you want (to be with) people who you know and trust. You must be confident with yourself and people you are with."
So far Ewen has kayaked in 12 states and in four other countries, Canada, Costa Rica, Colombia and Nepal. Summer is the prime time to kayak in the U.S. while winter in this country is the prime time to kayak in other parts of the world.
"My goal is to try and rack up as many countries as I can," Ewen said.
He has been a kayaking instructor for five years and says everyone should be trained before they take on any type of river. He is going back to college to become a math teacher, but Ewen also wants to take the next step in kayaking and become an instruction trainer.
"You always want to seek instruction," Ewen said. "It will increase your safety and enjoyment."
Ewen has yet to turn 30 years old and he says he has plenty of quality years left on very challenging rivers. He said elite-level kayakers are often able to continue until their 60s. He said a person needs good joints, shoulders and hips to maintain a top edge.
"It's more about flexibility and technique than strength," he said. "That's why women can become good kayakers.
"I just try to kayak as much as I can," he added. "And it's a fun way to see the world."
It's been a very hot July with temperatures in the high 80's on many of the days. It's made portaging a little bit uncomfortable but the lakes of the BWCA are cool and refreshing. Swimming is one of my favorite things to do while in the Boundary Waters, especially when it's as hot as it's been this July.
Liam Bonk is from Minneapolis, Minnesota and attends Warren Wilson College near Asheville, North Carolina. He is majoring in Biology and Environmental Studies.
He enjoys working at Voyageur especially when he's driving tow boat or using the chainsaw. He's great with guests, hardworking and very fun to have around. When he isn't working he's usually out fishing. He caught a 40" northern pike while he was solo canoeing and looks forward to spending more time out on the lake fishing.
The first time he visited the BWCA was for an 8th Grade School trip. His favorite lake is Long Island Lake and he hopes to get to Ottertrack Lake before summer ends.
It's an event you won't want to miss on the Gunflint Trail. The food is great, the races entertaining and the raffle prizes awesome. The summer homeowners put on the races as a fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Come have a great time on the Gunflint Trail during the Annual Canoe Races.
Gunflint Trail Canoe Races are July 18, 2012
Gathering begins at 4 PM
Food service opens at 4:30 PM
Eating contest 5:30 PM
Canoe races begin at 6 PM with the long distance race
Wenonah Spirit II Canoe raffle.
Location: Gunflint Lodge Waterfront
See you there!
Race organizers are Jim and Margit Jamieson, Gunflint Lake, 218-388-4434.
Tessa Johnson is a first year Voyageur Crew member from Marengo, Illinois. She's a very positive person willing to do whatever needs to be done with a smile on her face. She attends Northern Michigan University in Marquette and is majoring in Community Health Education.
At Voyageur she enjoys cooking dinner, cleaning bathrooms, meeting guests and interacting with them about their trips. Her favorite thing to do when she is not working is to spend time outside. She likes to hike and especially likes the hike to Blueberry Hill. She enjoys swimming and loves to jump into the lake. Her favorite campsite in the BWCA is on Saganaga Lake on Horseshoe Island.
She's looking forward to the rest of her time at Voyageur this summer. She's planning a canoe trip in the BWCA with her parents and hopes to pick lots of blueberries.
Tessa is an awesome Voyageur Crew member and we're lucky to have her on board for the summer.
Our water temperatures are a little warmer than usual but nothing to be alarmed about. We have large, deep lakes and we haven't noticed any fish die off, except for the ones I catch and keep. I did read this interesting information about other lakes in Minnesota and thought I would share it with you.
Record heat may be contributing to fish kills in Minnesota lakes
Record-setting heat may be contributing to fish kills in lakes across the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Natural summer fish kills are not unusual,” according to Brian Schultz, DNR assistant regional fisheries manager. “In the past several days, however, we’re getting increased reports of dead and dying fish in many lakes from around the state.”
Unusually warm weather has raised water temperatures of many shallow lakes. Schultz has received reports from DNR field staff of surface water temperatures in some lakes reaching 90 degrees, with temps at the bottom only a few degrees cooler where maximum depths are less than 10 feet. “Those are some high readings and northern pike are especially vulnerable when the water gets this warm,” Schultz said. “They are a cool water species and just can’t adjust to the high temperatures when sustained for more than a few days.” Warm water temps can also impact other species such as walleye, yellow perch and bluegills.
Should the high heat continue, there may be die-offs of both northern cisco (tulibee) and lake whitefish in central and northern Minnesota lakes.
Oxygen depletion can be another factor contributing to fish kills of a broader range of fish species. Heavy rains earlier in the summer caused unusually high runoff from fertilized lawns, athletic fields, golf courses and farm fields, starting a chain reaction of high nutrient loads in some lakes.
The runoff carries nutrients into the lakes, which combined with hot weather, can accelerate the growth of algae. Hot, dry, sunny and calm weather can cause algae growths to suddenly explode, according to Craig Soupir, DNR fisheries habitat specialist.
“Aquatic plants remain relatively stable over time, but algae have the ability to rapidly increase or decrease under various conditions,” Soupir said.
Algae produces oxygen during the daylight hours, but it uses oxygen at night. This can create drastic daily changes in lake oxygen levels. These daily changes can result in complete saturation of oxygen during peak sunlight and a near complete loss of oxygen during the night. “All of this can add up to stressful conditions for fish,” Soupir said, “and even summer kill events.” Fish don’t seem to sense when oxygen depletion occurs and may suffocate in isolated bays, even when another area of the lake contains higher levels of oxygen.
Disease may also be a contributing factor to some fish kills. Schultz explained that when lake temperatures rapidly change, fish can become more susceptible to bacteria and viruses that naturally occur in the water. Columnaris is one of the most common diseases.
The bacterium is always present in fish populations but seems to affect fish when water temperatures are warming rapidly and fish are undergoing some stress due to spawning. Fish may die or be seen weakly swimming along shores. Species affected are usually sunfish, crappies and bullheads and occasionally, largemouth bass and northern pike.
“It is difficult to pin a summer kill on just one cause,” Schultz said, “and although it is a natural occurrence, it can be disturbing.”
Fish kills are usually not serious in the long run. Most lakes contain thousands of fish per acre and the fish kills represents a very small percent of that total.
Some positive effects from partial fish kills is that it creates an open niche in the fish population, allowing the remaining fish species to grow faster with less competition.
Minnesota lakes are resilient. The DNR has documented these conditions many times over and lake conditions and fish populations do return to managed expectations, either naturally or with the help of stocking if necessary.
If people see strange behavior, they should contact the local DNR fisheries office immediately. “If we can sample fish before they die, we may be able to learn what’s going on in the lake,” Schultz said. “Once the fish are dead it can be difficult to determine what happened.”
A dream vacation on the Gunflint Trail... I picture myself paddling on a wilderness lake or relaxing on the deck of a cabin. While you can do these things you can also spend time learning while on a Gunflint Trail vacation. There are scheduled programs at various locations on the Gunflint Trail you won't want to miss. Here are a few of those opportunities but be sure to check out the web for more. If you're looking for a place to stay, then give us a call at Voyageur, we'd love to have you as our guest.
Wet Your Paddle – Canoe Instruction Seminars for Families
Canoe camping in the Boundary Waters can seem pretty daunting if you’re not comfortable in canoe. Get acclimated to canoe country with an hour of paddling instruction from local experts at Gunflint Trail canoe outfitters. Learn the ins and outs of BWCAW canoe camping, tricks for camping with kids, cooking tips, and how to prepare for your Boundary Waters adventures.
These seminars run from June 25 – July 13 at the following locations:
Mondays – 11 am at Nor’wester Lodge and Outfitters; 1 pm at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters
Tuesdays – 11 am at Gunflint Northwoods Outfitters; 1 pm at Tuscarora Lodge and Canoe Outfitters
Wednesdays – 11 am at Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters
Thursdays – 11 am at Bearskin Wilderness Outfitters; 1 pm at Hungry Jack Outfitters
Fridays – 11 am at Clearwater Outfitters and Lodge
U.S. Forest Service Ranger Presentations
U.S. Forest Service rangers with a wide variety of specialties present every Thursday from June 21 – August 23 at 3 p.m. at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
July 12: The Amazing Orchids of Northern Minnesota -Presented by Jack Greenlee, Ecologist, and Erin Heep, Botanist. This presentation introduces the audience to these complex and beautiful plants, and then takes a pictorial tour through all the orchid species found in northern Minnesota.
Sunday Walks and Talks at Chik-Wauk
Area naturalists present briefly on a topic each Sunday from June 24 – August 26 on Chik-Wauk’s front porch, then lead participants on an interpretative hike on the Chik-Wauk hiking trails. The talks begin at 2 p.m.
Forest Frenzy: Piecing Together the Boreal Forest
While all activities described above are designed with the family in mind, on July 11, July 25, August 8, and August 22, at 1:30 p.m., Chik-Wauk will put on specific kids’ activities. Through games, crafts, scavenger hunts, and interpretative hikes, kids will learn about the rocks, water, plants, and animals that make the boreal forest a special place. For children ages 5-12; must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Get your laptop off of your lap, your cellphone off of your ear and get outside. The Cook County Visitors Bureau is promoting it, Patagonia is suggesting it and we're hoping you'll listen. We'd love to see you unplugged at Voyageur.
Unplug and Get Outside
By Annie Leonard
Growing up in Seattle, summer meant long days exploring the neighborhood with my friends: climbing trees, playing Frisbee in the park, swimming in Lake Washington – as much outside as I could fit in before my mom yelled out the back door that I had to come in for dinner right now. Today it’s a different story. To entice my daughter away from an afternoon spent staring at her computer screen, I tell her, “When I was a kid there was this great thing we used to play with. It’s called outside.”
Outside. The word itself conjures up good feelings of exhilaration, adventure and, when needed, rejuvenating solitude. Unfortunately, kids today spend far less time outside. In Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv links the “nature-deficit disorder” of today’s wired generation to the increase in childhood obesity, ADHD and depression. And it’s trending. From 2006 to 2010, says Wall Street Journal columnist Jonah Lehrer, the proportion of young children regularly engaged in outdoor recreation fell by 15 percentage points. Concern over these trends has sparked a much-needed campaign to get kids back outside, illustrated by the t-shirt slogan I saw at an environmental educators’ conference: No Child Left Inside.
Getting outside, of course, is not just important for kids. Too often we adults spend our days staring at screens in our cubicles and our nights staring at screens from our couches. Even when we exercise, it’s often on a stair machine at the gym. If it’s success we’re chasing with the extra hours at the office and gym, we should know that an indoor lifestyle may be holding us back. Researchers have found that the creativity and problem-solving ability of hikers rose markedly after time in nature and off the grid, with no cellphones or email. So, unplugging outside is not just fun, but it actually makes us smarter!
As Louv says, “The future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
I know I don’t need to preach the primal necessity of time in the wilderness to the Patagonia community. We know the joys of climbing, paddling, hiking, running and just being outside. And we certainly don’t have to trek to some distant land to reap the benefits; research shows that just a stroll in the park or an hour digging in the garden makes people happier and more focused. As Lehrer says, if there were a pill that delivered the same results, we'd all be popping it.
What does this all have to do with our obsession with Stuff? Everything. If our lives aren’t so focused on shiny gadgets, we’ll spend more time watching sunsets, paddling canoes and flying kites. If we spend enough time in nature to get to know and love it, a list of our favorite things will include a secret fishing spot or a patch of wildflowers instead of a car or a cocktail dress. Maybe we can’t afford our own wilderness hideaway, but we’re all owners of the national and parks and other public lands – ready for use all summer long!
So whether it’s hiking the Utah canyonlands or walking the dog to the park after dinner, what are we waiting for? It’s summer. Get outside.
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4th of July celebrations on the Gunflint Trail included the opening of a zip line canopy tour. I haven't experienced the over 2 hour tour but our Manager John and his wife Anne went on it.
They were suprised at the length of the tour and the professionalism of the guides. They suggest going on a morning tour if it's going to be a hot day. Time is spent standing on platforms waiting to zip and the sun can be relentless. Reservations are recommended and you can find more information about the new tour online.
Next time you're on the Gunflint you might want to add a little zip, I'll let you know if I do.
I haven't seen or heard of any black bear encounters around our end of the Boundary Waters yet this year. There are plenty of berries starting to ripen so I don't expect them to become a problem any time soon. We haven't had a bear here at Voyageur for quite some time either; knock on wood.
Here's a bear tale from mid-Gunflint Trail on Poplar Lake I thought I would share.
Black bears get aggressive along Gunflint Trail
Dana Austin didn’t at first think much about the banging on her door last week. Her husband, Tim, had been repairing a screen door earlier in the evening, and the door had been opening and closing.
Dana Austin didn’t at first think much about the banging on her door last week. Her husband, Tim, had been repairing a screen door earlier in the evening, and the door had been opening and closing.
But when the banging seemed to intensify a few minutes later, Austin, who lives on the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais, asked her husband what he was doing.
“He said, ‘I’m just watching TV,’ ” Austin said Monday via phone.
That’s when Austin, 70, marched down the hall to the front door to see what was going on.
“I started down the hall and heard the front door opening,” Austin said. “I thought, ‘Are we being broken into?’ ”
Well, in a way, yes.
“I heard the door creaking open,” she said. “I stepped around the corner and here was this huge — and I mean huge — black bear. He had his front feet in the door, and his head, and about the first half of his body.”
Austin and her husband had owned Rockwood Lodge on the Gunflint Trail for 20 years. They were accustomed to having critters around — bears, wolves, pine marten, foxes. So Austin wasn’t buffaloed by this bruin.
“I screamed and went running toward him,” she said. “I thought he’d back out.”
Which the bear did, but it did not run off. That’s when Austin noticed the muddy bear-paw prints all over the dining room windows. The bear eventually ran off and hasn’t returned, she said.
The Austins don’t have birdfeeders out, or any other food that might attract bears, Austin said.
She called Darin Fagerman, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in Grand Marais, to report the incident.
Austin said she isn’t messing around if that bear tries to come in the house again.
“I told the DNR I was going to shoot him if he comes back,” she said.
The Austins’ bear problem was one of two unusual bear incidents reported to Fagerman in the past week. The other involved a local garbage hauler who was at the U.S. Forest Service’s Kimball Lake Campground north of Grand Marais to empty the big trash bin there, Fagerman said.
“A bear came out of the woods and chased him around his truck,” Fagerman said. “(The man) slipped and fell down, and when he got up, the bear was within a couple feet, shaking its head back and forth, woofing and snapping at him.”
After one trip around the truck, the bear ran back into the woods, Fagerman said. The bear had lacerations on its neck from previous wounds of some kind, he said. The bear did not return to the campground, Fagerman said, and campers have had no other bear problems since.
Anecdotally, bear complaints have been up a bit this year, at least in some areas, said Rich Staffon, DNR area wildlife manager at Cloquet.
“I haven’t compared the numbers to last year, but I think it’s up,” he said. “And (we’ve had) a lot of kind of aggressive bears.”
One broke through car windows in the Kettle River area to get at livestock feed, and another tore siding off a shed in Esko in a failed attempt to get at food, Staffon said.
Our family spent a few nights in the Boundary Waters this past week and had a wonderful time. Our only complaint was it was very hot! That doesn't happen too often up where Canada is just a stone's throw away.
I think we could have fried bacon on the rocks. I like to go barefoot while I'm around the campsite but it was almost too painfully hot to walk on. We were happy to have some rain to cool things off but it didn't keep the rocks cool for very long.
Needless to say we spent alot of time cooling off in the lake. We swam and swam and swam some more. And as much as it hurt, I spent most of the time barefoot in the BWCA!
Remember a few days ago when I said I was getting older and wiser? Delete that comment as I'm obviously not any wiser. After years of preaching to my children, crew members and friends about the dangers of the sun I ended up with a burned, blistering and peeling shoulder!
I thought I had done all of the right things to prevent a sunburn but I guess there are times when you just need to stay out of the sun. I applied and reapplied 50 spf sunblock a few times throughout the day but I should have kept my shoulders covered beneath a layer of clothing or stayed in the shade.
Time spent canoeing on the lakes when the sun is out can be dangerous. The rays are especially powerful and reflect off of the surface of the water. Add swimming, sweating and portaging to the paddling and sunscreen can wear off quickly.
I was left with a sunburn on my shoulders that made portaging extremely painful. Resting portage pads onto the tender skin and having pack straps dig into the burn was excrutiating. Now even more sensitive skin has been exposed due to the peeling and I'll be dealing with protecting my shoulders all summer long.
When you're out in the Boundary Waters be sure to be sun safe. Wear a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, protective clothing and stay out of the sun when you can. And if you need a reminder of why you're doing it, just check out my lovely shoulders.
It's always great to go fishing but even greater when you can take a kid fishing with you. All signs point to the realization I must be getting older or wiser or less selfish? I no longer need to be the one catching the fish in order to enjoy the experience. Don't get me wrong. I still want to catch fish and get a thrill when I get to but it's fun to watch the excitement on someone else's face as they start reeling in a fish, especially when they are a kid.
Come enjoy some fishing fun in the Boundary Waters for yourself!
May you enjoy and appreciate this Independence Day. I will be spending the day in the BWCA and couldn't be more thankful to my Voyageur Crew for allowing my family the freedom to get away. All the best from the entire Voyageur Crew!
Abby thinks lupines are beautiful and I think they are pretty too. The only problem with them is they don't belong on the Gunflint Trail. They are a non-native specie and they are also invasive. This means they aggressively take over and choke out other plant life that is supposed to be here.
Many people like the look of the lupine and want them to grow near their mailbox. The problem is they can't keep them just at their mailbox because they spread so easily. They can easily take over entire stretches of highways where not another wildflower can be found.
Do us a favor if you visit or live on the Gunflint Trail. Pick them in abundance and take them home so they can't re-seed. Better yet, bring a shovel and dig up the entire plant so they don't return the next year. Just make sure you aren't on private property. Help us stop the spread of lupines and other invasives.
From the DNR
PlayCleanGo: Stop invasive species in your tracks
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has launched an educational campaign to help prevent the introduction and spread of terrestrial invasive species.
The goal of the "PlayCleanGo: Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks" campaign is to enhance public awareness of the issue, build personal responsibility in preventing the spread of invasives and disrupt the link between outdoor recreation and the potential spread of terrestrial invasive species.
"Whether you're a camper, trail user, homeowner or someone working in the field, it is to your advantage that our forests and trails are healthy and free from invasives, said Susan Burks, DNR Forestry invasive species program coordinator. "You can find information on how to stop invasive species in your tracks at the PlayCleanGo website (www.playcleango.org)."
According to a DNR 2008 survey, many of today's recreationists are aware of aquatic invasive species and their negative impact on our water resources, while relatively few people know about the equally devastating impact terrestrials invasive species can have on our forests, wetlands and prairie resources.
Invasive terrestrials are currently killing trees, displacing native plants and animal species, altering soil and water chemistry and changing fire and other environmental disturbance patterns. In the process, invasive terrestrials can also impact human health by causing blisters and burns, make recreation difficult and destroy natural landscapes.
The DNR invites the public and interested organizations to help spread the "Stop Invasive Species in Your Tracks" message. The DNR will provide articles and media and graphic support to present clear prevention messaging in a comprehensive package. For more information, contact the DNR Information Center at email@example.com, 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.
"We can protect Minnesota by becoming informed, attentive and accountable for our potential role in the spread of invasive species," said Burks.
The DNR partnered with Explore Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Transportation and the University of Minnesota Extension to develop the campaign with the help of U.S. Forest Service grant funds.
What are invasive species?
Invasive species are plants, animals and micro-organisms that are not native to a particular area. They are species that are capable of causing severe damage in areas outside their normal range. Invasive species can harm the economy, the environment and human health once they become established.
How do invasive species spread?
Every species has one to several ways to expand their range such as being blown by the wind, carried by animals or moved in soil or water. In their home territory, the spread of invasive species is rarely a problem because the native plants and animals co-exist more or less peaceably.
Long distance spread of a species to a new location, which is almost always human assisted, can be problematic because the resident plants and animals cannot cope with their new neighbor. Natural enemies are missing and host species often lack the natural defenses to survive an attack by the introduced species.
How can recreation spread invasive species?
Invasive species have many pathways of spread and can easily be moved by human activities. For instance, weed seeds move in soil, so they can be transported by muddy boots or vehicles. Other weed seeds have hooks that help them catch a ride on shoes, socks, clothing and pets. Being aware of the various pathways of spread can help reduce the risk of accidentally moving harmful invasive species.
Why care about terrestrial invasive species?
Costs associated with surveying for invasive species, forest management once an infestation has occurred and losses to industry, recreation and forest and water quality are in the billions of dollars each year. Preventing the spread of invasive species has been shown to be far more cost effective than managing pests after they become permanently established in a new location. By getting involved now, Minnesotans can protect the state's natural areas for the enjoyment of future generations.
I have to admit sleeping in a tent just isn't as comfortable as it once was. The ground must have gotten harder because sometimes I wake up sore. What's the solution? My Crazy Crib Hammock.
Sleeping in a Crazy Crib Hammock is great for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. It's comfortable, private and mosquito free. It doesn't weigh too much or take up much space in a pack or at a campsite. There's a place to slide a thermarest for a little insulation from the cold and to provide a little shape. Rugby even enjoys sleeping in it.
If you want a private and comfortable place to sleep on your next camping trip then think about bringing along a Crazy Creek Hammock. You'll be happy you did!
It had been awhile since I had last been on Long Island Lake in the Boundary Waters. I didn't remember how pretty and peaceful it was. After I arrived with 4 teenaged girls it wasn't quite as peaceful anymore but just as pretty.
Long Island Lake was the destination for a recent trip I went on with my niece and her friends. My niece had been on previous BWCA canoe trips but the 3 other girls had never been in the canoe country. I must say they caught on to the paddling and portaging quickly and did an excellent job.
We started our trip from the landing for Cross Bay on Round Lake Road. It's just a quick paddle before you get to the first 50 rod uphill portage and then another quick paddle to the next 40 rod portage into Ham Lake. Out of Ham Lake is a 24 rod portage into Cross Bay Lake which is the actual entry point into the BWCA. There are two nice campsites in Cross Bay Lake but neither of them are very private due to the fact groups coming and going anywhere paddle right past them.
A 56 rod portage takes you out of Cross Bay Lake and into Rib Lake that has just one campsite. The campsite is a short jaunt up a path and the lakeshore is protected by trees. A 37 rod portage leads paddlers into campsite free Lower George Lake and a 28 rod portage into Karl. Karl Lake has a nice looking campsite but it's right next to the 35 rod portage into Long Island. You can paddle into Long Island as well.
The portages challenged all of us. They were a little muddy and a little rocky like most portages are but the fact we had to double portage and sometimes triple portage made them even more exhausting. One of the girls has had shoulder surgery and wasn't able to carry anything but a light pack and paddles across the portages. That left the four of us with 2 canoes, a food pack, an equipment pack and 3 personal packs.
Depending upon how efficient or inefficient we were at each portage dictated the number of trips I'd take across. I was able to get the girls portaging one of the canoes but unloading and loading was time consuming. Sometimes I'd take 2 lighter personal packs and stack them on my back to save a trip on the portage. Needless to say we were exhausted from paddling and portaging by the time we got to the campsite on Long Island Lake.
Their tent was dark and quiet before the sun went down and no one moved the next morning for a very long time. I did a little fishing and caught a northern pike, we went for a swim at the sand beach and spent the day relaxing in hammocks at the campsite. We all enjoyed Smores around a campfire before bedtime.
Then we packed everything up and made the trip in reverse back to our vehicle at the landing. On the way out we stopped at a campsite to swim and have lunch in the hot sunshine. In all it was a fantastic adventure with a great group of girls. I look forward to the time I can return to Long Island Lake for a longer stay.