Boundary Waters Blog
Last Saturday I was invited to go on a quick BWCA canoe trip with two friends. One of them had to work until 4pm on Saturday and the other one had to be back to work by 8am on Monday morning. Time with good friends especially in the Boundary Waters is too good of an offer to refuse.
We drove to Brule Lake which is the entry point lake we planned to camp on. We just wanted to find a campsite to hang out at and do a little fishing. The parking lot at Brule was quite full so we shouldn't have been shocked when we paddled past campsite after campsite filled with BWCA visitors.
The closest campsite to the public landing was open but everything on our way to the east end of Brule was occupied. We decided to check out the portage into Vernon Lake to determine if there was an open campsite on that lake. After hiking the wet, muddy, rocky and very steep portage we decided we wouldn't be carrying our coolers across no matter if there was a campsite available.
We made our way back out of Brule Bay and onto the main part of Brule Lake. We checked out the campsites in North Bay as the sun was beginning to set. All 3 of those campsites were occupied as well. We planned to paddle back to the landing to take the site we hoped was still open. As we made our way south we found an open campsite on the tip of an island.
With headlamps on we set up camp, made dinner, enjoyed a campfire and went to bed. We were all pretty tired since we had paddled for about 3 hours, half of which was with a strong wind in our face.
The next morning the wind was still blowing. We attempted to take the canoe out to catch fish but were blown back to our campsite. Whitecaps prevented us from any more paddling or fishing but we did catch one smallmouth in the short time we were out.
The rest of the day we swam, hiked to the other campsite on the island and enjoyed each others' company. The next morning we were up before the sun rose and back to the landing just as it was rising. It was a quick but wonderful trip into the BWCA.
View Brule Lake BWCA Basecamp in a larger map
It looks like it's going to be a great Labor Day Weekend for paddling the BWCA. If you're looking to relax then plan a base camp or stay with us at Voyageur, we've still got room for you.
Fri Aug 31
- Chance of rain:
- N at 5 mph
Sat Sep 1
- Chance of rain:
- E at 8 mph
Sun Sep 2
- Chance of rain:
- S at 8 mph
Mon Sep 3
- Chance of rain:
- W at 7 mph
Tue Sep 4
- Chance of rain:
- WNW at 7 mph
Wed Sep 5
- Chance of rain:
- WNW at 6 mph
Thu Sep 6
- Chance of rain:
- W at 8 mph
Fri Sep 7
- Chance of rain:
- W at 7 mph
Sat Sep 8
- Chance of rain:
- WSW at 6 mph
It's getting to be that time of the year when the sun rises later and later and the sun sets earlier. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. Thankfully the sun has been shining during the daytime and the lake water is still nice and warm for swimming.
The forecast calls for a beautiful weekend in the BWCA and we' love to see you at Voyageur!
I love to spend time on the lake with my son. I call it going fishing but most of the time it's just an excuse to get out on the lake and spend time with him.
We usually only go out fishing in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is high. It's not the best time for catching fish but we try. We enjoy taking a swim break, looking for blueberries or hiking around while out on a fishing expedition. And sometimes we actually get lucky and catch a fish!
You know that challenge where you look at a picture and try to determine which of the items doesn't belong with all of the rest? Well, I play that game when I'm out in the canoe country wilderness sometimes.
I like to visit BWCA and Quetico Park campsites when I'm out on canoe camping trips. Some campsites are nicer than others and at some campsites I find peculiar things.
One time when I was checking out a campsite on Saganaga Lake in the BWCA I found a nerf gun, nerf ammunition and dental hygeine accesories scattered around the site. Another time on another BWCA lake I found an entire yard o beef tossed into the woods. On Hook Island on the Canadian Side of Saganaga Lake I found a shovel and a container of Vaseline and on an island on Saganaga I found a case of Bud Light Lime beer!
I was pretty suprised when I hiked up to a campsite on Saganagons Lake and found a camp chair secured to a tree. It provided a nice place to rest and have lunch but I wish the person who left it there would have taken it back home with them.
I rather like the saying, "If you pack it in, then pack it out." "Leave no trace" is a policy I like to have people visiting the canoe country respect. With that said I must admit finding a case of beer at a wilderness campsite was a rare treat!
In a previous blog entry about our Quetico Park trip I mentioned seeing pitcher plants along our route. We don't get the chance to see them very much so we were very excited to spot so many of them along the creek to Blackstone.
What is a pitcher plant you ask? Here's some information from the web-
Pitcher plants (or pitfall traps) are carnivorous plants whose prey-trapping mechanism features a deep cavity filled with liquid known as a pitfall trap.
Foraging, flying or crawling insects such as flies are attracted to the cavity formed by the cupped leaf, often by visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments, and nectar bribes.
The sides of the pitcher are slippery and may be grooved in such a way so as to ensure that the insects cannot climb out.
Through a mechanism of digestion, the prey is converted into a solution of amino acids, peptides, phosphates, ammonium and urea, from which the plant obtains its mineral nutrition (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus).
Carnivorous plants occur in locations where the soil is too poor in minerals and/or too acidic for most plants to be able to grow.
The plans are in the works for a new water trail to be opened in 2017. The Path of the Paddle Water Trail will connect Thunder Bay, Ontario to the border of Manitoba in Canada. One portion of the trail will travel through the Quetico Park and Saganaga Lake down to the Pigeon River.
The water trail is named after Bill Mason, a paddling icon from Ontario and it will be over 900 kilometers in length. Check out this link for more information about the trail.
Did I happen to mention we had awesome fishing during our Quetico canoe trip? We could cast from our campsite and catch smallmouth bass all day long. They weren't big but they bit like crazy from the campsite and pretty much anywhere in the lake.
Northern pike were also abundant and many of them were good sized in Blackstone. We enjoyed catching and releasing a number of pike on rapalas, spoons and other lures.
The lake trout were a ton of fun to fish for and catch. They came in all shapes and sizes and of course we had a big one that got away. Right after we landed a nice 5-7 pound trout I got another trout on my line that felt even bigger. I didn't realize Josh was video taping but he got me reeling, the rod bending, a smile on my face and then the shock and disappointment of the fish breaking my line.
I know I shouldn't swear, especially around my kids, but what came out of my mouth couldn't have been prevented nor could the disappointment I felt upon losing the trophy fish. I had to edit out the vulgar language but think about a pilot's last words when he or she realizes the plane is going to crash and then times that by two!
While on our recent Quetico Park canoe trip I hiked a portage without gear. This is when you can really take time to look at the scenery since you aren't as concerned about falling down with a pack on your back or a canoe on your shoulders. It never ceases to amaze me the things you can see if you only take the time to look around.
One thing I saw was the biggest cedar tree I have ever seen. It had two big sections that made the average sized birch tree leaning against it look small.
I always knew there were mushrooms on the forest floor but I've never stopped to appreciate how many species and how pretty they are.
Even the trees are beautiful with the sunlight filtering through their branches. Or with leaves looking like they have been spattered with red paint.
It's for those things above that I love to hike a portage whether or not I need to in order to reach my destination. Sometimes it's just nice to go for a walk in the woods while out in the canoe country.
How lucky we were to be able to paddle into the Quetico for a few nights last week. Mike and I have wanted to return since we were last there in 1999. At that time I was 7 months pregnant and of course it was hot and uncomfortable sleeping on the ground but I still loved it there and couldn't wait to return.
Wait we did and this trip the baby that was inside of me helped portage and paddle us there. Abby is now 12 years old yet it feels like the last trip was yesterday. I'm happy to say we loved Blackstone this time just as much as we did last time if not more since we were able to share it with our kids.
There are at least 3 ways to get into Blackstone and we went in one way and out another. Our favorite way to go is through the creek in spite of the numerous beaver dams you have to pull over. As my son Josh pointed out, "This really isn't like the normal lakes of the canoe country." The creek has lily pads, twists and turns and is very different than the typical scenery of the BWCA or Quetico Park. We observed numerous Pitcher Plants along the route which is a rare treat.
There was a group fishing in Blackstone and one group camping there upon our arrival but the fishermen left quickly and the campers left the next morning so we had the lake to ourselves for 3 nights. We swam, read, relaxed, fished and played cards in the tent when it rained. I also hiked the 290 rod portage into Bell Lake that was more like a muddy river for 3/4 of the length.
We took the lakes and portages to Slate Lake to get back into Saganagons when it was time to depart. Two of the lakes on that route don't have names and while Janice the Quetico Park Ranger called them Secret and Spooky we didn't think they were a secret or spooky. The long portage(approximately 150 rods) into Slate proved to be challenging with mud up to our knees in places. Most of the time I thought we were following a moose path through a swamp instead of walking along a portage. The creek and cliff that followed the portage provided nice scenery nonetheless. The kids were amazing as they sloshed their way through the muck and paddled in the rain and of course made us proud as they portaged around Silver Falls back into Cache Bay.
It was great to spend time in the Quetico Park and I'll fill you in on more of the details in another blog.
Creek into Blackstone Portage into Bell
Great fishing, solitude and beautiful scenery are things you find in the Boundary Waters. After forest fires other old and interesting items are found thanks to the lack of ground cover.
Updated Aug 17, 2012 at 6:10 PM CDT
Duluth, MN (Northlands Newscenter)
-- It will be one year ago tomorrow that lightning ignited one of Minnesota's largest wildfires.
The Pagami Creek Fire covered 93,000 acres in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wildness. Now, scientists are finding a goldmine of clues to the region's past unearthed by the fire.
"This is what folks used to make stone tools out of in what's now known as the boundary waters."
Thanks to the Pagami Creek Fire, Archeologist Lee Johnson's job is a lot easier.
"A landscape that is usually covered in vegetation is open," said Johnson.
Johnson, and his team are finding stone tools that could be nine-thousand years old from the Palo Indian Era.
"It's easy to see things like lithic artifacts, debitage for making stone tools, pottery and other artifacts that can tell us something about the folks that were living here before the Boundary Waters was designated."
These stone tools are leftover from some of the first inhabitants of the Northland; people who lived in the region after glaciers receded more than 10,000 years ago.
"It's interesting because you see that landscape similar to what it was like after the glaciers receded; really open landscape and you can image what it looked like as a tundra," said Johnson.
A landscape that wouldn't be possible to see without the fire.
"The fire didn't turn up the ground like a plowed field but it got rid of a lot of vegetation so we could see things," said Archeologist Sue Mulholland.
"The fire happened, and my resource area took advantage of that to maximize our return," said Johnson.
It's another twist on a fire that's left surprises in its wake a year later.
If you see something interesting in the Boundary Waters that could potentially be an artifact, you are strongly encouraged to leave it alone! The archeological experts say either take a picture of it or mark it's coordinates on a GPS and contact the Forest Service. Disturbing an archeological site can be a federal offense.
I still can't believe our District Ranger Dennis Neitzke is leaving the Boundary Waters and us behind. He's been with us for 11 years, we finally had him trained and now he's heading to North Dakota to be a Forest Supervisor. A step up in the ranks of the US Forest Service but a step away from us and that makes us sad.
We've had a couple of other District Rangers during our 20 years of owning Voyageur Canoe Outfitters but none of them have been like Dennis. As outfitters we don't always see eye to eye with the Forest Service but Dennis kept his ears open and listened to our concerns and ideas.
With his help we were able to accomplish great things on the Gunflint Trail. He was instrumental in opening Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, the Becoming a Boundary Waters Family Program and the Gunflint Green Up. To my knowledge there hasn't been a ranger in our district who has ever done more than Dennis.
He's been an integral part of the community and even colored his hair pink for our Mush for a Cure FUNdraiser. That was before he had it all shaved off at the big event. He's log rolled against a resort owner and I think he may have even sat in a dunk tank a time or two. What a great sport.
During his time as our District Ranger we experienced numerous large forest fires. While they were very challenging times his calm, cool demeanor helped keep my hysteria in check. His agressive, proactive prescribed burns before the major fires weren't popular but did wonders to protect property during the forest fires.
It's obvious to see why we don't want to see Dennis leave but he's leaving nonetheless. It takes alot to earn my respect and admiration but Dennis did just that. He's leaving behind big shoes to fill but if anyone can just fill one of those shoes then I'd say they are doing a pretty good job. Our loss is North Dakota's gain and we wish Dennis all the best.
I hate to brag but our Voyageur Crew is simply the best. I know other outfitters may have good people working with them but when I sit back and watch ours at work I'm always impressed. From helping them shove off from shore to searching high and low for a toothbrush they are just amazing.
Cheerful, enthusiastic, caring, helpful are just a few of the adjectives that describe our crew at Voyageur. They are always willing to do whatever it takes to make our guests happy and listening to their laughter just confirms it. It takes a special person to be in the hospitality business and we've got the most special people around.
Adding to our normal summer crew are past crew members that just can't get enough of serving our guests. Adam Maxwell and Jake Bendel just back from their Hudson Bay adventure both want to spend a couple of days helping others enjoy a wilderness canoe trip.
As the summer staff leaves it's sad to see them go. We just couldn't be more grateful for all of their dedication and hard work they have given to our special guests of Voyageur. And while we miss them we take comfort in knowing it most likely won't be the last time we see their smiling face and we hope we get to see it for another entire summer sometime in the future.
I hate to say it but the blueberry picking season is over and has been for quite awhile. It seemed like it was here and gone before we knew it. In the years since the fire we've been blessed with phenomenal picking everywhere in the burn area. This year it wasn't much to talk about and that makes people like me sad.
I'm not sure why the blueberry picking wasn't as good as normal. Could it be the hot, dry spring didn't produce enough mosquitoes to pollinate the plants? Or was it the extreme heat and not enough moisture? Maybe the longer growing season that made other plants shade out the blueberry plants?
Whatever the reason I'm glad I have some blueberries left in my freezer from last year. I probably only picked 4-5 gallons this year which isn't very much. I'm hoping next year the picking will improve and last alot longer too.
Head on up the Gunflint Trail on Saturday August 18th and support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department!
Flea Market, Boutique, Live Auction, Drinks and cake
1-4 Sat Aug 18, Fire Hall #1, 28 mile up the Trail Benefit for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Dept.
The Flea Market and Boutique will open at 1 and you can use the time to also check out the many hand made items for the Auction. Phil Serrin will to the Auctioneer again, The Auction will start betwe en
1:30 and 2:00. The Raffle Ticket for the Quilt will be drawn between 3 and 4. The Queen sized Quilt is hand quilted and has many of our Woodland Friends on it. $2.00 a ticket. It can be seen at Crystal's Quilt Shop. There is a treasure for everyone at every price point.
Come and find yours.
It could be any of our Voyageur Crew but today I'm referring to the one with the million dollar smile and billion dollar heart, Tessa Olson. If you've been to Voyageur in the past four years then you know which one she is. She's always smiling, friendly as can be and everyone loves her. This is Tessa's fourth year at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and we've enjoyed having her very much.
Tessa's favorite thing to do while working is to help guests plan their canoe trip route. She is really good at routing them since when she's not working she's paddling. She's done a number of trips including numerous ones all by herself. She's solo canoe tripped into Seagull, Saganaga, Ester, Knife, Long Island and Little Sag to name a few. Over the years she's had lots of time to take canoe trips but she can't decide which lake is her favorite. She likes Mora and Cherry but still has more lakes to explore in order to make an educated decision.
If Tessa isn't paddling then she likes to hike and loves to pick blueberries. She's originally from Montgomery, Minnesota and just graduated from the University of Minnesota in Duluth with a major in International and Environmental Studies.
When she leaves later this month she won't be going too far away. She's spending the winter as a Graduate Student Naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center. We're happy she isn't moving too far away and with her time ending at Wolf Ridge next June who knows? We might just be lucky enough to have Tessa as part of the Crew for another summer.
A challenge exists between employees at the end of the Gunflint Trail. It consists of paddling to the West end of the BWCA, hitchhiking to the DQ in Ely, purchasing an ice cream cone(saving the receipt), sending a postcard, hitchhiking back to the canoe and paddling back in under twenty-four hours.
Tessa Olson and Chad Goodale from Voyageur decided to give it a try the other day and completed it in 23 hours and 31 minutes. They traveled through Saganaga, Swamp, Ottertrack, Knife, Birch, Carp, Sucker, Newfoundland and took out at the public landing on Moose Lake. They departed around 11pm one night and returned around 10:30pm the next night. They would have made it much faster but had troubles finding a ride from Ely out to Moose Lake. Spirit of the Wilderness was nice enough to give them a ride. A big thank you to them.
They took turns steering and portaging the canoe on their journey. They traveled with minimal gear including a First Aid Kit, raingear, emergency blanket and lots of Snicker Bars. They saw a beautiful moon rise and had an uneventful voyage.
To my knowledge no one else on our staff has done this trip but others from Wilderness Canoe Base have. They take the route through Seagull and Ogish and have also completed the trip in less than 24 hours.
Congratulations on an awesome journey through the BWCA Chad and Tessa!
They are out there everywhere folks. Learn more about them at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
Wednesday, August 15, 2 p.m.
Invasive Species Seminar
Come learn about non-native invasive species in north-eastern Minnesota.
Michael Lynch will present about what species are a concern in this portion of
the state, how to identify these species, how to report new infestations, and
best management techniques for removing them. We will also talk about
landowner cost share programs and the coalition of local, state, federal,
tribal, and non-profit organizations working together to limit the impact of
non-native species in north-eastern Minnesota and how you can get involved.
Thursday, August 16, 3 p.m.
I had to share a photo with you all to show you that not all bears shit in the woods. Some of them do it right in our driveway after munching on a guest's food left overnight in the back of their pick up truck.
There have been a number of bear sightings lately. The camp across the river has had a large bear prowling around their lodge and we've had a small one poking around our neighborhood. Guests spotted a black bear in James Bay on Saganaga Lake and another one swimming between islands on Seagull Lake. While these bears haven't become too big of a nuisance they could if we're not careful.
This statement was issued by the USFS.
There have been several reports of nuisance bears this summer, including one that destroyed an unattended campsite during the day. Please emphasize the importance of keeping a clean camp to all BWCAW visitors. Remind them to be diligent with food storage by hanging food or storing it in a bear resistant canister such as the one seen at http://bearvault.com.
Fish remains should be disposed of far away from campsites, shorelines, and trails. Wash dishes well away from the shoreline. Unwanted live bait, food scraps and leftovers should be
packed out and placed in a trash or compost bin.
Bears that acquire campers’ food become habituated to the easy rewards. Significant bear activity has already been addressed on Knife Lake this summer. These bears can easily become nuisance and possibly aggressive bears. Aggressive bears may be killed if they threaten people. Thanks for your assistance in stressing these points to all visitors.
It's difficult to imagine our Summer Crew leaving already when it feels like they just arrived. While most of the crew sticks around for the majority of August one of our crew members has already left for school. I guess that means I should get the rest of my Crew profiles done before anyone else leaves!
While the summer seems to be flying by there is still plenty of time to paddle the BWCA. Plan your fall wilderness canoe trip adventure today, we'll have plenty of crew left to take care of you.
The moon is cooperating this year and it's small size should not interfere with viewing the Perseids Meteor Shower this year.
Meteor shower August 11, 12, 13: Perseid meteor shower to light up the sky this weekend, NASA says
If you're looking for a show, check out the sky this weekend.
Those in the northern hemisphere will have the opportunity to see the Perseid meteor shower between Aug. 11 and 13. The shower will peak on the night of August 12, according to the International Meteor Organization and The American Meteor Society.
The best times to watch are Friday night-Saturday morning, and Saturday night-Sunday morning.
The Perseids are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which has been observed for the last 2,000 years.
Dr. Bill Cooke, the head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, suggested in a previous blog to find a dark location with clear skies in the early morning hours in order to see the shower.
He also says to lay on your back, looking straight up and you should be able to see meteors anywhere in the sky.
To read more about the 2012 viewing, visit:
To view chats and search for more on past Perseids meteor showers, check out Dr. Cooke's blog on NASA's website: http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/Watch%20the%20Skies/posts/post_1281630596623.html
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
This weekend there's an extra reason to visit Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. It's the Annual Pie and Ice Cream Fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society on Saturday, August 11th.
You are invited to an Old-Fashioned Pie and Ice Cream Social this Saturday,
August 11, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
Savor the flavors of a slice or two of delicious homemade pie and ice cream.
All of your old-fashioned favorites will be there.
Hear some good old-fashioned stories from local Gunflint Trail authors John
Hendricksson and Bob Olson. They will be signing their books.
Explore the Musuem exhibits. History is never old-fashioned!
Shop for some old-fashioned bargains at the annual Museum Gift Shop sidewalk sale.
This event is a fundraiser for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society and
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
Our old-fashioned summer weather is perfect for this event! See you there!
For the 2nd year in a row past Voyageur Crew member Adam Maxwell has paddled into Hudson Bay. Jake Bendel, a crew member from 2011 accompanied him as did a 3rd paddler, Ryan Ritter. Another epic Voyage has ended. You can find out more about their trip on their website or on Facebook.
Think you know alot about the North Shore? Then test yourself and you may just win a trip up North!
|Welcome to Cook County Trivia Contest!|
Cook County – Way North of Ordinary
Cook County is a destination of perfect extremes. A place filled with incredible adventure, where you can traverse the state's highest mountain, tallest waterfall and longest downhill ski runs.
The winner of the Cook County Trivia Contest will enjoy a family adventure package in Cook County for two adults and two kids 17 or under. Revel in a 3-night, 4-day getaway including lodging, a cozy family dinner, and two adventure activities of your choice (depending on the season), such as dog-sledding, biking, kayaking, downhill skiing, or cross-country skiing by candlelight. With luck, the northern lights will make an appearance! Approximate retail value: $1,500.00. Valid for one year from award date.
Have you seen loon chicks on your canoe trip in the BWCA this year? Guest sightings of loon chicks are down this year. I think it could be due to the fact we started out spring with very low water levels that quickly became very high water levels.
Our abnormally high water level may have affected the number of chicks that were born this year. A loon's nest may have been built early in the season too close to the water and could have been flooded out. Or the high water could cause waves to wash eggs out of a loon's nest. I haven't done any research but it seems like there are fewer loon chicks around this summer.
The good news is we have seen some loon chicks and the platform nesting loons at Chik-Wauk hatched 2 baby loons this year. The floating platform prevented that loon's nest from being flooded! There are still plenty of adult loons around and maybe they are just doing a good job at protecting their young by keeping them out of our sight.
If you've been in the BWCA and have spotted loon chicks then drop me a line and let me know when and where. THANKS!
Lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm so if you can hear thunder then you can be struck by lightning. That's a scary thought when you're out camping in the Boundary Waters and there is no shelter around. If it's lightning then get off of the water, away from the water and find shelter under shorter trees. You don't want to be underneath the tallest trees because that is where lightning is likely to strike. You also do not want to lie on the ground but should crouch on the balls of your feet according to the information below. Find out more lightning facts below.
Lightning usually claims only one or two victims at a time and usually does not cause the mass destruction left in the wake of tornadoes ot hurricanes. Lightning generally receives much less attention than any other weather hazards.
During a thunderstorm, each flash of cloud to ground lightning is a potential killer. However, lightning deaths can be prevented only if people are aware of the dangers and seek shelter in a building or a hard topped vehicle.
Lightning can strike as much as 10 miles away from the rain area in a thunderstorm. That is about the distance that you are able to hear the thunder from the storm. If you can hear the thunder from a storm, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.
Where organized sports activities are taking place, coaches, umpires, referees, or camp counselors must protect the safety of the participants and spectators by stopping the activities sooner so that participants and spectators can get to a safe place before the lightning threat becomes significant.
- An average of 87 lightning fatalities are reported each year between 1959 and 1995.
- About 10% of the people struck by lightning are killed... This leaves the other 90% with various types of injuries.
- The primary cause of death from lighting is cardiac arrest.
- Unlike high voltage electrical injuries with which massive internal tissue damage may occur, lightning seldom causes substantial burns.
- Most lightning burns are caused by objects such as rainwater, sweat, metal coins, and necklaces being heated up and causing the burn.
- Lightning tends to cause injury to the nervous system and may affect any or all parts of the nervous system.
- If the brain is affected, the result is often difficulty with short term memory, coding new information, and accessing old information.
- Most lightning injuries and deaths can be prevented with advance planning, being aware of the developing weather situation, and good common sense.
- NOAA Weather Radio can help keep you informed with the latest thunderstorm information and safety reminders.
Being outdoors is the most dangerous place to be during a lightning storm. The National Weather Service advises that when you hear thunder or see lightning to quickly move indoors or into a hard topped vehicle and remain there until well after the storm has passed.
Any location is dangerous durning a lightning storm, however some areas are more dangerous than others. Some of the riskiest locations include:
- Anywhere near the water:
- Activities on the Beach
- Areas near tall trees:
- The Golf Course
- Picnic Areas
- Hiking Trails
- Isolated tall trees pose the greatest danger!
- High terrains such as hill tops and ridges
- High places such as house roofs during construction
- Open areas like fields
Dangerous situations can arise when big groups of people come together outdoors during a lightning storm. This includes baseball, football, soccer, and tennis games, as well as community fairs and outdoor festivals.
It is important that everyone know some outdoor and indoor safety rules.
Knowing outdoor safety rules can help save your life or that of loved ones.
When lightning approaches, get inside a completely enclosed building. Carports, open garages, storage sheds, metal sheds, and covered patios are not safe shelters.
If no enclosed building is available, get inside a hard-topped, all metal vehicle.
Get out of the water! Get off the beach and out of small boats and canoes. If caught in a boat, crouch down in the center of the boat away from metal hardware. Avoid standing in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots. Thunderstorm winds create large waves and turbulent water, so please wear a life jacket!
If you cannot reach shelter, avoid being the tallest object in the area. Do not take shelter under an isolated tree or the tallest trees in the area. If you are in the woods, find shelter under the shorter trees.
If only isolated trees are nearby, crouch on the balls of your feet. A rule of thumb to follow is to stay twice as far away from a tree as it is tall. Don't lie on the ground.
Avoid caves or overhangs. The ground current from lightning is very strong and can jump the Gap.
Avoid leaning against vehicles and get off bicycles and motorcycles.
Friends and I were out picking blueberries in the afternoon sun one day. We had our hearts set on taking a swim when we were finished but a dark cloud was moving in on us quickly. Soon it started to rain yet we still longed for a quick dip in the river. Floating in the water we saw a flash of lightning in the sky. We all knew the water probably wasn't the safest place to be during a lightning storm so we didn't swim long. Of course the conversation of just how dangerous it is to swim during a lightning storm came up so I had to look into it. As I thought you're safer swimming than in a boat or a canoe and you never want to be the highest point anywhere.
The chances you'll actually be struck by lightning while swimming are in fact fairly trivial compared to your chances of meeting dozens of other fates. Over the course of a lifetime, you're much likelier to be killed (for instance) in a fall.
That said, you can see why most people tend to err on the cautious side in this area. A lightning strike certainly can cause a lot of electric current to pass through water – not for miles and miles, but shorter distances, sure. Responding to a question sent to USA Today about whether it's safer to swim in salt or fresh water during a lightning storm, Greg Forbes of the Weather Channel chose the correct answer (none of the above), then cautioned, "The lightning current may spread out in all directions and dissipate within 20 feet or so, but don't bet your life on how close the strike will be."
And swimmers do, in fact, sometimes get struck by lightning. In 2005, for instance, three people were struck while swimming in the ocean near Tampa, and four more were hit (two of them seriously injured) in waters off Chiba Prefecture, Japan. Swimming pools aren't necessarily safer. In July 2006 a 50-year-old Briton was dangling his feet in the pool at a rented villa in Italy when lightning struck the water, killing him and injuring a friend. In fact, experts recommend staying out of indoor pools during an electrical storm, as well as showers and tubs, as current from lightning has been known to travel through plumbing.
As you guessed, a big part of the risk here has to do with lightning's tendency to strike the highest point around – i.e., you don't want this to be your head. Being on an open boat in a lightning storm is probably even more dangerous than swimming, suggests Mary Ann Cooper of the University of Illinois Lightning Injury Research Program, as "increasing your height by any amount increases your chances of being hit by a calculable amount. … Avoid being the highest object anywhere, be it a beach, small open boat, pier, meadow, or ridge." According to the National Weather Service,
The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to the weather on a small aquatic vessel without a cabin. If thunderstorms are forecast, don't go out. If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or vehicle.
The NWS goes on to say that boats with cabins are safer, particularly if they've been fitted with lightning protection, but one should avoid using the radio in a storm unless there's an emergency.
Looking at government data (.pdf) collected between 1959 and 2005, we see that incidents involving boats and water account for 13 percent of all lightning fatalities nationwide (among cases where circumstances are known), coming in behind instances where victims were out in the open (28 percent) or under a tree (17 percent). In Florida, which ranks first among the states in lightning casualties, boating and other water-related incidents make up 25 percent of lightning deaths.
Why don't fish get killed by lightning strikes? Well, actually, they do. I'd suggest you check out a 1941 article in Copeia (a scientific journal about fishes, amphibians, and reptiles) called "Mortality at Fish Hatchery Caused by Lightning," but really the title pretty much says it all. A 2005 episode of NOVA documents an instance of fish in a koi pond being injured by lightning; my guess would be that fish electrocution by lightning is a pretty underreported phenomenon. But fish typically don't get killed in large quantities by lightning because, as you guessed once again, they tend to swim deeper than humans do, while according to Florida physics professor Joseph Dwyer "most of the current from the lightning flows over the surface of the water."
Canoeists send out distress signal after lightning strike in Manitoba
BLOODVEIN, Man. - An Ontario woman is recovering from injuries after she was struck by lightning while canoeing with six other people in Manitoba's wilderness.
RCMP say a group of women and girls were on an organized camp trip and were paddling along the Bloodvein River near Lake Winnipeg on Sunday when a sudden storm approached. They were going to shore when the 23-year-old woman was hit by lightning.
A 15-year-old girl, who was helping the woman pull their canoe to shore, also felt a jolt, said RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish. She "got a pretty good shock" but wasn't injured.
Karpish said the group was well-equipped and managed to send out a GPS distress signal from a safety device. An emergency response co-ordination centre in Houston, Texas, then contacted the RCMP.
Mounties initially asked for help from the military's rescue centre in Trenton, Ont. But officers quickly tracked down an available Manitoba government helicopter. Its pilot was eager to help.
Two officers jumped on board and the search chopper quickly found the canoeists, just before nightfall.
The group was waving frantically at the helicopter when it arrived, about two hours after the SOS went out.
The pilot was able to land in a nearby clearing and the woman was taken to a nearby nursing station. Karpish said she was then air-lifted to a Winnipeg hospital as a precaution.
"She's lucky, very lucky."
The girl remained with the group.
"She felt she was not hurt and wanted to carry on with the trip. By all appearances, she seemed just fine."
Karpish said such remote rescues don't always have happy endings. Several factors, including the group's GPS device and the available helicopter, fortunately came together.
"This was bang-on the best case scenario we could ever ask for. Sometimes everything goes wrong but sometimes everything goes right."
It is the first public report of any injuries due to the thunderstorms that swept through Manitoba on Sunday.
A couple of weeks ago we were able to host a group from Columbia(not the country but the clothing company). They were interested in using the Gunflint Trail and the Boundary Waters as the backdrop for their next clothing catalog.
We enjoyed hosting them during their stay. We showed them various hiking trails, brought them to different scenic outlooks and introduced them to the Boundary Waters. A few of our Voyageur Crew were even able to play model for a day.
They were a great crew to have around and we really loved having them at Voyageur. Keep your eyes peeled for the next Columbia Clothing Catalog because you may just recognize the familiar background or model.
My daughter has seen alot of wildlife lately and not just at the Minnesota Zoo. Abby and I were driving home from Grand Marais last week when we saw an animal sauntering into the ditch. My mind first said, "Deer" because of the color, then "Wolf" because of the size and finally, "Mountain Lion" because Abby was yelling it.
Sure enough a Mountain Lion was non-chalantly walking into the ditch. The color of a deer, the size of a very large wolf and the tail and ears of a very big cat. What a magnificent creature it was. There's a first time for everything and that was the first time I've seen a Mountain Lion on the Gunflint Trail.
Other people have been lucky enough to spot Mountain Lions in the past up here. Experts say they wander in from the Black Hills and we don't have any reproducing in our neck of the woods. I say we're so lucky to live in a place with such diverse wildlife.
I remember meeting Charlie Drilling at the St. Paul Sportsmen's Show when he was just a baby. That baby came up to Voyageur with his Dad to spend time in the Camper Cabins and go on canoe trips many times over the years. They even owned a cabin on the Gunflint Trail for awhile.
Now Charlie attends St. Thomas University in the Twin Cities and is majoring in Business. He enjoys driving towboat and scrubbing cook kits at Voyageur. He gets the blackest pots and makes them shine once again.
When he's not working he likes to go fishing or swimming in the river. His favorite campsite is on Ottertrack Lake and his favorite lake is Saganaga. He looks forward to taking another canoe trip this summer and catching some lake trout.
It's been great to have Charlie back at Voyageur and this time as a part of the Crew.