Voyageur Crew members Tony and Hannah couldn’t have picked a better day to go out camping in the Boundary Waters. The high temperature today was 70 degrees and the sun was hot. Tomorrow the sun is expected to shine as well. I sure wish I was camping in the BWCA tonight.
You never know what the temperature is going to be when you’re paddling at the end of October but this is certainly a treat for them and anyone else who is out in the wilderness.
For the rest of us we’ll have to be content with their photos and story upon their return. Have a great weekend!
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Minnesotans can proudly say the 2014 Christmas Tree on the front lawn of the White House is from Minnesota. This year’s tree will be cut from the Chippewa National Forest which is close to the headwaters of the Mississippi and Itasca State Park. The tree will be trucked to DC with numerous stops along the way so people can see it. To find out where the tree will be stopping check out the website and if you’re in Duluth, Minnesota on November 5th you can see it there.
Here’s more information about the Capitol Christmas Tree
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. Capitol Christmas tree to make first stop at Itasca State Park
The 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will make its first public appearance on its journey to Washington, D.C. on Sunday, Nov. 2, at Itasca State Park, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
The 60- to 80-foot-tall white spruce is coming from the Chippewa National Forest in north-central Minnesota, in partnership with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. The 1992 Capitol Christmas tree also came from the same forest in partnership with the band.
The tree will stop at the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers Show Grounds at the north entrance to the park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
To kick off the event, the tree will receive a drink of water via a horse-drawn wagon courtesy of the Go and Whoa Harness Club of Bemidji. The water will be transported from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Itasca State Park to the Pioneer Farmers Show Grounds where visitors can view the tree, photograph it and sign a banner. The drink from the headwaters will help send the tree on its long journey of nearly 2,000 miles, which includes nearly 30 stops before it arrives in Washington.
From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the show grounds, a variety of activities will be offered, including horse-drawn wagon rides, tours of the Pioneer Farmers village buildings, a free-will offering lunch, music, ornament making, face painting, two-man log sawing and a visit by “Lars the Logger” from 1:15 to 2 p.m.
The search for the Capitol Christmas Tree began earlier this year. Search criteria for the Chippewa National Forest staff included a tree 60- to 80-feet tall, a full pyramid-like shape without gaps, healthy branches, a straight trunk, and a species hardy enough to withstand the trip to Washington, D.C. The tree had to be found among millions of other trees that make up the national forest.
The tree will be cut during a public ceremony (www.tinyurl.com/m5f5jyn) on Wednesday, Oct. 29, and will be moved to Bemidji State University, where it will be prepared for the cross-country expedition that includes a caravan of caretakers.
The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree,” began in 1964, when then speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. This tree lived three years before succumbing to wind and root damage.
In 1970, the capitol architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been selected each year to provide “The People’s Tree.” The Minnesota Tree Growers Association will provide 70 companion trees to decorate the inside of the U.S. Capitol building and other sites throughout Washington, along with 10,000 ornaments created by children and others in Minnesota as a gift from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
The Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the preservation and display of historic, rural/logging related Americana, for cultural, educational, entertainment, and heritage-related public benefits.
For more information on the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas tree and to track its journey, visit www.capitolchristmastree.com.
For more information on Itasca State Park, visit www.mndnr.gov/itasca.
There was 0% chance of precipitation on Monday so I decided to go for a hike. Unfortunately the weather forecasters were wrong and it misted and rained off and on throughout the day. Nonetheless I had the trail to myself and was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and peace and quiet.
I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the journey Dave and Amy Freeman are currently on. The couple started paddling in Ely, Minnesota back in August and are on their way to Washington, DC. The purpose of their trip is to prevent mining in Minnesota that could potentially destroy the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Their canoe is their petition and they’ve collected thousands of signatures during the many miles of their travel thus far. If you’d like to sign the petition there is no need to track them down but if you’d like to they are currently near Ottawa. It might be easier to just visit their website and sign the petition electronically. Here’s a video explaining the threat to the Boundary Waters.
It seems like there have been more reasons to keep your eyes on the sky this year. There have been numerous solar flares causing what seems like higher than normal northern light activity and we had the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago. This week there will be a partial solar eclipse and tonight is the peak of the Orionid meteor showers. It’s a great week to visit somewhere like the Gunflint Trail where the skies are dark from the absence of light pollution providing a great place to keep your eyes on the sky.
This week: solar eclipse and Orionid meteor shower
By Mike Lynch
Posted: 10/19/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT | Updated: about 2 hours ago
This year has been a good year for eclipses. In April and again this month, we witnessed a total lunar eclipse. And this week, we’ll see a partial solar eclipse
Lunar eclipses are a lot more common than solar eclipses. Next year, we’ll have two more total lunar eclipses. The next solar eclipse visible from the continental United States will occur on Aug. 21, 2017.
Thursday’s solar eclipse will begin around 4:23 p.m. and peak at 5:35 p.m., when slightly more than half of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon. We won’t see much of the eclipse after that because the partially eclipsed sun will set at 6:15 p.m.
It’s going to look weird. There will be a definite reduction in daylight in the late afternoon, kind of like twilight occuring before the sun has set.
Plan to watch the solar eclipse the right way. Staring at the sun is never a good idea; doing so can permanently damage your eyes. Never, never look at the sun with a pair of binoculars or a telescope.
In the past several columns, I’ve written about special safety glasses you can buy to view a solar eclipse. I hope you got a pair.
If not, use the projection method to safely watch the moon march across the sun. Make a pinhole in a piece of white cardboard. Find another piece of stiff white cardboard or fiberboard. Stand with you back to the sun and hold the pinhole piece toward the sun. Aim the shadow of that cardboard over the blank cardboard, and watch the eclipse.
Autumn is known for meteor showers.
One of them is the fairly reliable Orionid meteor shower that will peak between midnight Monday and the start of morning twilight Tuesday. The Earth, as it orbits the sun, is heading into a trail of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet. Due to the absence of moonlight, sky-watchers in the outer suburbs or the countryside may see 20 to 30 meteors an hour.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. You’ll notice more pink in October than you will on Valentine’s Day and almost as much pink as you find at our annual Mush for a Cure event on the Gunflint Trail.
A long time ago I created the Pink Paddle. It’s a graphite, bent-shaft canoe paddle made by Wenonah and it’s PINK! I decided to do this to raise funds for breast cancer and thought it was a good idea. It turns out it didn’t raise alot of money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation but Mush for a Cure has. You can find Mush for a Cure on the main sponsor page of the NBCF website as we’ve donated $226,500 over the years.
The Pink Paddles are great paddles and I love paddling with mine. It’s lightweight, durable and always gets attention. The logo on the paddle represents a blessing and means,”May your new beginning bring you strength, peace and tranquility and may your journeys over water always be safe.”
I didn’t order too many of the paddles to begin with and I have a few of the paddles left for sale. On the last order the handles came separate from the shaft so we can cut the paddles to a specific size. We then glue and epoxy the handle onto the shaft and it doesn’t always end up as beautiful as the ones that came pre-cut and glued from the manufacturer. I have retailed them over the years for $155.00 each plus shipping and handling. Depending upon where the paddle is getting shipped the cost varies from $9-$20.
For the month of October we’re willing to let these paddles go for $99 plus shipping and handling. If you’re interested in purchasing one then email or give us a call at 1-888-CANOEIT. It’s a great price for a unique paddle.
It’s the end of the paddling season at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. We may still have a few folks who come up for a late fall trip but for all practical purposes the 2014 BWCA canoe camping season is over. That means the Voyageur crew will continue to prepare for winter by cleaning and storing all of our canoes and gear.
Sometimes Mike likes to make it easier on the crew by offering used gear for sale. If you buy it then they do not have to deal with it! We still have some nice canoes, packs and paddles for sale at a great price. You may have received an email with this information already but if not, then here it is.
Also included in the email was a special for outfitting in 2015. It is a canoe and equipment package for 50% off but we’re only selling 50 of those and it has to be purchased by October 22nd. You don’t need to know your dates for your trip, you just need to know you’re planning a BWCA or Quetico canoe trip in 2015.
We hope you are planning to visit us in 2015 as we look forward to the next paddling season.
I came across an interesting article about a study done in the Boundary Waters. Thought you might find it interesting too.
Popular wilderness area requires intensive management to remain natural
October 17th, 2014 by Lynn Davis in Earth / Environment
Recreation ecologist Jeff Marion revisited dozens of campsites in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters that he had surveyed for his doctoral research in 1982.
Some 250,000 annual visitors to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters have a significant impact on the campsites along the area’s 1,000 lakes in America’s most visited wilderness area.
But while tree loss at campsites is huge, the news is not all bad, a Virginia Tech expert on the impacts of recreation on natural resources reported at the National Wilderness Conference in Albuquerque being held through Oct. 19.
In 1982, Jeff Marion, now an adjunct professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment and a recreation ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, surveyed 96 of the 2,200 campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for his doctoral research.
With funding from his agency and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages the wilderness area, he returned in July 2014 to document the impact of continued use on those sites and to measure recovery on 10 sites that had been closed.
He was assisted by Holly Eagleston of Wenatchee, Washington, and Jeff Feldhaus of Omaha, Nebraska, doctoral students in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and field assistant Claire Underwood.
“In addition to documenting over three decades of camping impacts, this study is focused on helping managers make recreational visitation more sustainable,” said Marion.
An important finding of the 1982 survey is that the impact of site use levels off. The impact on campsites receiving less than a dozen nights of use each year is two-thirds of that on sites receiving 60 or more visits. “Thus it’s better to have a small number of well-used campsites than to disperse use and impact across a large number of sites,” said Marion.
In 1982, researchers found tree damage at almost every site, root exposure at 84 percent of the sites, virtually no seedlings or saplings, and the replacement of native broad-leafed herbs by grasses and some nonnative plants.
In 2014, the researchers made the same 94 measurements at each site. They measured soil loss, root exposure, tree damage, canopy cover, and vegetation cover for each plant species, comparing the campsites to adjacent undisturbed control sites.
“It took 45 minutes per site and we did five or six per day, canoeing in between,” Marion said. “When a site was occupied, we asked permission. It was pretty cool to hear people tell stories about their experiences and about the importance of the Boundary Waters wilderness.”
The researchers documented 34 percent fewer trees on campsites than in 1982 and damage to 44 percent of the remaining trees “despite three decades of Leave No Trace instruction,” said Marion, who was a founding board member of the Leave No Trace education program.
In some cases, the Forest Service had removed potentially hazardous trees, a few sites had been reached by forest fires, and some suffered wind damage, “so we can’t say that trees are missing just because of recreational use,” Marion said. “But visitors continue to cut trees and strip birch bark to start fires, which essentially girdles the trees and can kill them.”
“We found 384 stumps on campsites, and 1,054 stumps were visible from campsite boundaries,” he continued. “That’s an avoidable impact because you can get firewood from fallen trees.”
Site use compacts and erodes the soil, which is one of the impacts that does not level off. The 81 sites measured this year have lost an estimated 194 dump truck loads of soil, or 1,935 cubic yards, Marion reported. “It’s a small amount each year, but cumulative.”
But there was also good news. Nonnative plants, such as dandelions and chickweed, were confined to campsites. The researchers did not find the invasive plant goutweed, which can out-compete native plants and was seen in 1982. The grasses that have spread across the sunnier campsites, a result of tree loss, are effectively reducing erosion.
And the closed sites can recover fully. While noting that impact is rapid and recovery slow, Marion reported that in three cases they were not able to pick the closed sites out of the wilderness. “That is wonderful news,” he said.
He estimated that 15 years is enough time for a site to largely recover. “Bark will even grow over ax scars on trees.”
Designated a protected wilderness area in 1964, the 109.5-million-acre Boundary Waters is among the country’s best-managed wilderness areas, Marion said. “They are leaders in wilderness management. In 1983 I assisted Forest Service staff with a new effort to have their trail maintenance crew work on campsites. We developed site management actions that would prevent or reduce camping impacts.”
Federal budget cuts over the past decade, however, have limited management efforts, according to Marion.
“If you have high visitation you have to pair it with intense management, but you have to do it in a natural way,” he added. The philosophy of wilderness management is for impacts and management to remain “substantially unnoticeable,” according to the Wilderness Act.
As Marion reported at the National Wilderness Conference, which observed the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, suggestions for preserving wilderness areas include closing less sustainable campsites and selecting, constructing, and maintaining more resistant sites. Best management practices include selecting sites that have bedrock in the sloping areas and limited amounts of flat terrain.
“And there must be visitor education, including improved Leave No Trace guidance and better communication,” he said.
The Whiskey Jacks have been entertaining our Voyageur Crew lately. Canadian Jays, grey jays or camp robbers are another name for these fun to watch and feed birds.
One time when we were out ice fishing and not catching, I kept myself entertained for hours by feeding these hungry camp robbers. I was relaxing on shore with a bag of pretzels and the birds were patiently waiting all around me. I tossed a few broken pieces onto the snow for them and they would soar in to pick them up. They were having difficulties with the hard pieces of pretzels so I decided to chew the pretzels a bit before handing them out. Before long I had birds resting on my cap, in my hand and on my boot waiting for more pretzels to be chewed up. Luckily the contents of the bag disappeared before my jaw fell off and right about the time the anglers were ready to leave.