Campfire Safety Memorial Weekend and Always

Be careful with fire, it’s dry out there.

Be safe with campfires

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to be safe with campfires this Memorial Day weekend and into the summer.

“Spending time with family and friends around a campfire is a popular Minnesota tradition,” said Linda Gormanson, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor. “You can take simple measures to make your campfire safe.”

Gormanson recommends all campfires should be:

Clear of any burnable material 5 feet in all directions around the fire.
Built within a designated fire ring 3 feet or less in diameter.
Kept to 3 feet or less in height.
Legal—check if to see if local municipality requires a permit.
For people who don’t have a campsite with a designated fire ring, select a safe place for the  campfire. Choose a level area away from dry grass, shrubs or logs that is free of overhanging branches. Then scoop out a depression in the center of the area and put a ring of rocks around it.

An adult should attend the fire at all times – even a light breeze can cause the fire to spread. Always have a shovel and water available at the campfire to extinguish it. Stir the embers repeatedly with water or dirt until every ember is out cold.

Discover more by visiting Smokey Bear’s campfire safety website at


Posted in News

Just as Much Fun Getting There

We all know how awesome it is to spend time in the Boundary Waters but I’m not sure everyone knows how fun it is getting to the BWCA from the Gunflint Trail.  When you choose an entry point off of the Gunflint Trail(all of which Voyageur outfits to) you get to see the most amazing scenery in the state of Minnesota.

The North Shore of Lake Superior is gorgeous even if you don’t get out of your vehicle to look around. You can take the Scenic Highway from Duluth to Two Harbors for even better views of the lake. If you do want to stop but not hike there are some places to see that offer beautiful vistas. Palisade Head, the Baptism River Falls in Beaver Bay or the Cross River Falls in Schroeder are just a few of these places where no effort is required.

Hiking to amazing scenery is an option to. From a quick 5 minute walk to a strenuous longer hike you have options galore to choose from. I hope you will take advantage of the opportunities to see wonderful sites along the way and visit us this summer on the Gunflint Trail.


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Posted in News

Prescribed Burn to Wildfire in the BWCA

A wildfire is burning near Burntside Lake outside of Ely, Minnesota. It began as a prescribed burn conducted by the USFS that turned into a wildfire because it jumped the lines. Dry conditions, warm weather, wind and low humidity have been factors working against the USFS in the effort to suppress the prescribed burn/wildfire they started.

Incident Overview

Foss Lake Fire Update Saturday, May 21, 2016, 9:00 p.m.

MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander

Fire Information

Web address:


Phone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

Size: 1008 acres Containment: 30 percent Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, 180 total personnel

Current Situation:

There was little growth on the fire today. Accurate mapping resulted in the large increase in acreage. Crews on the southern half of the fire walked the perimeter with handheld GPS units and aircraft flew the northern half. Crews working north along the east side of the fire installed fire hose along a quarter mile of saw line. Crews on the west side of the fire continued saw-line construction from the wilderness boundary on the south to Clark Lake on the north. Aircraft dropped water on three distinct areas of heat within the fire perimeter on the northeast side and assisted ground crews elsewhere on the fire. Two crews will camp overnight in the wilderness on Crab Lake, eliminating a long morning commute and getting to the fireline early in the morning. Local firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department continued assessing residences on the west end of Burntside Lake.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Today’s red flag warning expired at 8:00 p.m., but conditions tomorrow will also be hot, dry, and windy. Winds will be from the south and southwest: sustained 10–15 mph, gusts to 25 mph. These high winds will start early and will continue overnight. Fire-behavior analysts say there is potential for significant fire activity tomorrow (for example, single-tree or group-tree torching and some quick fire spread). Smoke might be visible. However, smoke does not necessarily mean the fire is growing larger: smoldering “islands” of unburned fuel within the fire perimeter could burn more actively.

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened. Fire managers are planning for Sunday’s strong winds. Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point—Crab Lake entry point #4—is closed; all other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:

  • portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
  • portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
  • lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
  • Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
  • portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at

The Forest Service does not currently recommend BWCAW travel

south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes.


Basic Information

Current as of 5/21/2016, 5:54:27 PM
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Human
Date of Origin Thursday May 19th, 2016 approx. 11:00 PM
Location Near Foss Lake; ~10 miles SW Ely, MN
Incident Commander Brian Pisarek
Incident Description Escaped Prescribed Burn

Current Situation

Total Personnel 180
Size 1,008 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 30%
Estimated Containment Date Wednesday June 01st, 2016 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved Timber (Grass and Understory)


Planned Actions Secure, anchor, and continue to secure flanks, using aircraft to cool ahead of crews.
Projected Incident Activity When rH and wind activity increases, fire activity will increase in /wilderness. Next 24 hours, Potential for run to the ENE with predicted winds.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns Red Flag warnings today, similar weather conditions forecast tomorrow with a significant shift in wind direction
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Posted in News

Clouds- Noctilucent Ones

Have you ever seen Noctilucent Clouds? If you are like me with most things you probably have heard of them but can’t remember what they are. They are the clouds that shine at night and that is why they are called Noctilucent. Sometimes we get the chance to see these this time of the year at the end of the Gunflint Trail.

Jörgen Norrland Andersson saw the same display from Sweden on June 1.?

Jörgen Norrland Andersson

According to Earth Sky,Noctilucent clouds form in the highest reaches of the atmosphere – the mesosphere – as much as 50 miles (80 km) above the Earth’s surface. They’re are thought to be made of ice crystals that form on fine dust particles from meteors. They can only form when temperatures are incredibly low and when there’s water available to form ice crystals.

Why do these clouds – which require such cold temperatures – form in the summer? It’s because of the dynamics of the atmosphere. You actually get the coldest temperatures of the year near the poles in summer at that height in the mesosphere.

Here’s how it works: during summer, air close to the ground gets heated and rises. Since atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude, the rising air expands. When the air expands, it also cools down. This, along with other processes in the upper atmosphere, drives the air even higher causing it to cool even more. As a result, temperatures in the mesosphere can plunge to as low as -210°F (-134°C).

In the Northern Hemisphere, the mesosphere often reaches these temperatures by mid-May, in most years.”

The challenge with viewing these clouds is you have to stay up late. They don’t appear until the sun is below the horizon so 1-2 hours after sunset or before sunrise.  You can recognize the clouds by not only the time of the day but also where they are located. If you see a clear sky except for cirrus like clouds low in the north then you can probably assume you are seeing night shining clouds.  You’ll want to start looking now because they usually only appear from May through August.


Diagram from Astro Bob Blog


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Posted in environment

Waterfalls and More on the North Shore

If you’ve ever driven up the North Shore then you know what an awesome place it is.  All of the State Parks, hiking trails, scenic vistas and of course waterfalls that line the road make it a spectacular trip. This time of year is especially amazing because of all of the water rushing towards Lake Superior.

The rivers & creeks are swollen with water and the waterfalls are majestic. Some of these masterpieces are right next to the road and require very little hiking if any.  Others require a small trek but most are quite accessible and easy to reach. It’s worth taking a drive up the North Shore even if you can only spend a night. You can easily stop at a hand full of them in the same day and then hit more on the way home if you want.

Yesterday I made a trip down to Silver Bay, MN and much to my surprise I saw a moose! I have only seen 1 other moose on Highway 61 in the 20 plus years I’ve lived up here. It caught me by surprise and I found myself pulling over to get my camera out. It is much more common to see other wildlife like deer, bald eagles, wolves and the occasional bear.

There’s lots to see on the North Shore and don’t forget about all of the great shops and restaurants. And if you’re up in this neck of the woods, make the trip to see us at Voyageur too.

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Posted in Seasonal activities

Tick, Tick, Yucky Ticks

I probably say this every year but 20 plus years ago when we first moved up to the end of the Gunflint Trail we never saw wood ticks. Ten years ago we started to see them and now they are pretty common. That isn’t good news because where there are regular ticks there are also the black-legged ticks or deer ticks that cause Lyme Disease.

Climate change is to blame for a number of things and could be the reason for the expansion of ticks. It could also be due to the fires over recent years because they say new growth is better for ticks. They like to live in ground level shrubs and there are usually more mice and deer in the area for them to feed on.

As with other insects protecting yourself from giving a tick a ride is important. It is especially important if it is a disease causing tick.  Our county has a low risk compared with elsewhere but there is still a risk so when heading out into the woods take precautions.

Here’s some good information to read about ticks.

Read our “Top 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Ticks These Days” and stay disease-free.

10. Ticks crawl up

Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body. Ticks are “programmed” to try and attach around your head or ears. On their normal hosts, ticks also usually crawl up; they want to blood feed around the head, neck, and ears of their host, where the skin is thinner and hosts have more trouble grooming.

9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes

Ticks hatch from eggs and develop through three active (and blood-feeding) stages: larvae (small-the size of sand grains); nymphs (medium-the size of poppy seeds); adults (large-the size of apple seeds). If you see them bigger, they’re probably partially-full or full of blood.

8. Ticks can be active even in the winter

That’s right! Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost. They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.

7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes

Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.

6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria

The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world. Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia. Dog ticks, Lone star ticks and other types of ticks just don’t seem to be able to transmit Lyme disease. While that’s good news, it makes saving any tick that you find biting more important so you can identify it. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary doctor visits and treatments.

5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection

Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. You’ll probably want to check even more carefully if you know you’ve likely been exposed. Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a “re-activation” period in the tick once it begins to feed. The germs eventually make their way into the tick’s salivary glands and the tick spits them into you while feeding. Some infections, especially viruses, move into the tick salivary glands faster than others. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.

4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin

And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it’s important to know what you’re really looking for. They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.

3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer

Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed to the front end, which by the way, is attached to you by the tick’s straw-like mouthpart. Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter. Don’t worry if the mouthpart stays in your skin as long as you’ve got the rest of the tick by its head. Other tick removal methods, like a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap and cotton, or various little key-like devices don’t work as consistently as pointy tweezers on all types of ticks. Remember to save the tick and try to identify it (see # 6).

2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites

An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing (shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt) with permethrin tick repellent built-in. This strategy can be especially effective for protecting children. Dressing kids in tick repellent clothes everyday is a safe and easy way to keep ticks from biting and transmitting disease. Commercially-treated tick repellent clothes last through at least 70 washes, while using kits or sprays to treat your current outdoor wardrobe can last through 6 washes. Tick repellent on clothing, not skin is something everyone needs to know about to stay safe outdoors.

1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable

There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing everyday, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites. These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life! Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.


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Posted in skills

What Happened to the Eagle’s Nest?

I don’t know how many years the eagle’s nest at Trail’s End Campground sat in the treetop but it is no longer there. A friend told me he had visited the campground loop earlier this spring and didn’t see the nest.  I thought he was just looking in the wrong place but I had to go see for myself.

I walked to the campground and couldn’t see it from the road. I walked up onto the ridge behind the tree to look and I couldn’t see it from there.  I stood at a distance from every angle looking at every branch and still could not see the nest. I was shocked. Where could a nest that size go?  According to the web, a typical eagle’s nest is 5-6 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall.

As I got closer to the tree the nest had been in I found the answer to my question.  Scattered all over the forest floor were large sticks and branches that had obviously been a part of the nest.  The nest was no longer in the tree.

This made me super sad. For years we’ve watched eagles raise eaglets in the tree. For a few years the campsite loop was closed early in the season to protect the privacy of the nesting eagles but they didn’t need privacy.  They did just fine with the campsites being open. 

I’m not sure what caused the nest to fall from the tree.  There is some damage from the Ham Lake Fire in the trees nearby and possibly this allowed wind to get at the nest or maybe some of the lower limbs were compromised.  It doesn’t seem possible a nest that size could just fall on its own but I don’t have another explanation, do you?

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Posted in wildlife

Green Flash? No, But Just as Nice

The other night while out for a walk I watched as the sun dipped deeper and deeper.  I saw the tops of the trees on the distant shore as the sun cast the last light of the day onto them.  I’ve never seen a green flash on an ocean although I have watched the sunset there many times. I didn’t see the green flash on this night either but I did see a beautiful sight. The sky around the sun changed from orange to red and farther away the clouds turned purple and blue.  It was truly beautiful.

It’s easy to see a gorgeous sunset on the Gunflint Trail, not quite as easy to see a green flash. If you’re interested in how to see a green flash you can visit this website, but here’s the quick and simple version.

“You can see green flashes with the eye, when sky conditions are just right, if you are looking toward a very clear and very distant horizon. That’s why those who see green flashes most often see them over a sea horizon. You also must be looking just at sunset, at the last moment before the sun disappears below the horizon. And you have to be careful not to look too soon. Wait until just the thinnest rim of the sun appears above the horizon. If you look too soon, the light of the sunset will dazzle (or damage) your eyes, and you’ll miss your green flash chance that day.”

A nice flash taken from Torrey Pines, CA (about 100m above the sea). This is a classical form seen from seaside cliffs, associated with the “Mock Mirage.”

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Posted in skills

Reduce Energy Use

When I look around Voyageur Canoe Outfitters I see energy drains everywhere; ceiling fans, computers, cash registers, plugged in appliances, lights left on and more.  Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is good to save energy, not just for planet earth but for my pocket book too.

Here’s a reminder from the Minnesota Department of Commerce with links for some great resources too.

There are many basic no- and low-cost measures you can take to reduce energy use, cutting your utility bill and putting more money in your pocket. Here are a few energy- and money-saving opportunities:

Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use.
Turn off lights and fans when nobody’s in the room.
Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
Take short showers and use low-flow showerheads.
Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees F.
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes, and air dry both when possible.
Replace incandescent lights with much more efficient lighting such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing new appliances, lighting, and electronics.
Have a home energy assessment to identify ways to make your home more energy efficient (weather-strip doors and windows, seal air leaks, add insulation and more).
Go to work via carpool, use public transportation, or telecommute.
Simple behavior changes such as turning off lights, air drying clothes, and setting your hot water heater at 120 degrees don’t cost you anything. But, taken together, they can shrink your utility bills and grow your bank account over time.

Long-term savings can be achieved when, for instance, you replace an old refrigerator with a new high-efficiency model. The new refrigerator will likely pay for itself in 7-8 years via energy savings, and you will enjoy additional energy savings for the life of your appliance. Likewise, a properly installed and operated programmable thermostat will pay for itself in as little as one year with energy savings.

For more energy-saving tips, check out the Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide (pdf) or the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website.

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Posted in environment

Chilly and Choppy

A cold wind blew mainly from the North today. It made Saganaga Lake a bit choppy and a lot chilly. The sun didn’t want to come out and the temperature only made it up to 36 degrees today. In spite of the cold, anglers bravely went out to cast their lines and were rewarded with walleye, northern and even smallmouth bass.  Dressed more like a day of winter ice fishing enabled folks to endure the elements, barely.

Signs of summer exist everywhere at the end of the Gunflint Trail.  Marsh marigolds, blueberries and strawberry plants are blooming and there are sizeable green buds on the trees.  The water is rushing at the falls at Trail’s End Campground and there are folks camping there too.  People are heading out for canoe trips into the wilderness and even some summer cabin owners have returned.

The forecast for tomorrow looks a little better with warmer temperatures on the way. It might even get up to 50 degrees and if the sun comes out and the wind goes down it will be a real treat to be out on the lake fishing.

Posted in fishing

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