Three Month Solo in the BWCA

Sound like fun to you? How about in the winter?

From Quetico Superior Wilderness-

A young man named Jon White recently spent three months alone in the wilderness, paddling in on November 1 and pulling a handmade toboggan out over frozen lakes at the end of January. He did the whole thing without a food resupply, and went two-and-a-half months without seeing another person.

White camped on Knife Lake and explored the surrounding area on snowshoes, using traditional techniques and gear. He tested his “bushcraft” skills by sleeping outside in -35 degrees F and leaping into the water through a hole in the ice during sub-zero temperatures.

And he recorded all of it. Starting on January 31, White has released a total of five videos.

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Hammock Craft

While I don’t think I’m going to help them fund this device I do think it is a neat idea.  It would be great fun to be able to lie in a hammock over the water! It would be nice for car camping since you wouldn’t have to worry about finding enough sturdy trees for everyone in your group to put their hammock up. Check it out-

This is Hammocraft.

The Hammocraft has evolved from half a dozen different designs that we tested, tweaked, and tampered with over a period of 10 years. The Hammocraft is designed to sling up to 5 hammocks atop paddle boards, river rafts, kayaks, and even on dry land…essentially wherever or whatever you dream up as a hammock dock.

The Specs

The Hammocraft frame comes with:

  • High-quality aluminum poles (6061 T6 clear anodized aluminum)
  • Stainless steel corners (304 stainless steel corners with black UV resistant powdercoating)
  • Quick connecting spring clips (304 stainless steel spring clips) for easy setup and take down
  • Four Hammocraft nylon webbing straps with zinc plated cam buckles for attaching the frame to your floatable of choice
  • A carrying case for your Hammocraft frame

2nd Hammocraft™ prototype really took the concept to the next level circa 2008!

 

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Winter Adventure at Menogyn

What an amazing opportunity for these youth to experience the BWCA and winter on the Gunflint Trail. Through Wilderness Inquiry and Camp Menogyn a group of Somali-Minnesotan boys get to experience winter on the edge of the BWCA.  Read the full story here.

Here’s an excerpt-

More than 300 miles north of the Twin Cities, a group of 11 Somali-Minnesotan boys, ages 7 to 14 years old, arrives in an expansive forest within the Boundary Waters. Cell phone signals drop, and the boys breathe collective sighs of discontent. The van parks at the edge of Bearskin Lake, one of 1,175 in the Boundary Waters that are now frozen solid, making the area less of a boundary and more of a bridge.

Building bridges is what has brought them up here in the first place. The group includes four guides from Wilderness Inquiry—a nearly 40-year-old, Minneapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to making the outdoors accessible for all, including people with disabilities and underserved youth—and two leaders from Ka Joog, a Somali youth advocacy group.

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Summer is Coming

It will be awhile yet but before long we’ll have open water for paddling again. Get your trip dates on the calendar, I know I’ve got mine!

BWCA Bliss

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Shakespeare on the Shore in Grand Marais

Any Shakespeare aficionados out there? We’re trying to find out and we’re hosting a Shakespeare Festival at Voyageur Brewing Company this weekend. If you’re looking for a weekend escape, then come on up for a visit!

Voyageur Brewing Company Presents Shakespeare on the Shore

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Happy Spring!

Hoping your spring is off to a great start!

Here’s a great catch photo of Matt’s!

ice fishing bwca success

Matt’s great catch

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Ice Fishing Success in the BWCA

Some guests of Voyageur had some good fishing the other weekend. Fun times in the Boundary Waters!

Boundary Waters Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing in the BWCA

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Granite River BWCA Canoe Route

Thinking about paddling the Granite River this summer? Here’s some information from our website we thought we’d share with you.

The Granite River trip is one of our all-time favorites at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. The route straddles the border between Canada and the US so you’ll find yourself alternating between the two as there is not a line or fence between the two countries.
The Granite River is a section of the larger Voyageurs route traveled years ago. You can picture the Voyageurs paddling among the pines and portaging their gear through the woods as you travel this scenic route.

The word “river” conjures up different things in different people’s mind.  If you’re thinking of floating along with the current and barely paddling then get that out of your mind. The Granite River has lakes interconnected by rapids that are for the most part non-navigable.  You’ll be portaging around the rapids and paddling to propel yourself onward.

We’ve paddled the entire Granite River in a day but it’s not something we recommend.  It’s nice to have a minimum of three or four days to paddle and camp this route.  If you plan to fish then you’ll definitely want to spend more days so you can take advantage of the great fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike.  Some folks call this an easy beginners route but I have a difficult time calling it that with the number of portages there are.

The trip can be paddled beginning in the south or the north. Because the current is mainly located near the portages it doesn’t require much more effort to paddle against the current.  Most people begin the trip by getting dropped off or parking at the public landing on Gunflint Lake. From our location it’s just a quick 15-minute drive to get to Gunflint Lake. From there it’s just a short paddle into Magnetic Lake, the actual entry point into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  You’ll need to paddle, fish and camp in Minnesota unless you obtain proper permits to enter Canada.

Paddling on Magnetic Lake you’ll see a beautiful Swiss Chalet looking house on an island. This is a summer cabin and is known as Gallagher’s Island. The waterway past this is sometimes referred to as the Pine River. The waterway will narrow until you reach the 5-rod portage around Little Rock Falls.  This is a photo opportunity for sure.

There’s a 30-rod portage called Wood Horse Portage into the next section of the Pine River where you’ll find the first campsite. If this is taken you’ll need to continue paddling until you reach the 100-rod Pine Portage into Clove Lake where there are three campsites to choose from.

To the west of Clove Lake is a portage into Larch Lake. At one time Larch Lake was a beautiful place to camp especially the island campsite. Unfortunately fire and high winds have eliminated most of the towering pines but you can still camp there and enjoy the solitude of the small lake. You can also spend some time exploring the area during a day trip, just be sure to remember to bring your fishing rod along.
Paddling out of Clove Lake you’ll find a 48-rod portage into Granite Lake and the beginning of the actual Granite River. The majority of Granite Lake is in Canada so you won’t spend much time paddling before you reach the next portage known as Swamp Portage.

The name aptly describes this 72-rod portage as much of the time you’ll find knee-deep muck somewhere along the path. Tighten your footwear prior to this portage because the suction power of the muck is enough to pull a strapped tight Chaco off of a foot and swallow it whole never to be seen again.
This is known as Granite Bay where you’ll paddle to a 25-rod portage known as Granite River Portage.  Another quick paddle and you’ll be at the 25-rod Gneiss Lake Portage that takes you into Gneiss Lake. Be sure to keep your fishing rod handy in this section of the river because there can be good fishing at the rapids.

The area of Gneiss Lake and Maraboeuf is sometimes referred to as the  “Devil’s Elbow.” Unlike Swamp Portage the name does not come from a man wearing red carrying a pitchfork here.  So feel free to camp at any of the campsites, just remember if you have a BWCA permit you need to stay on the US side where there are 15 to choose from in this large area.

There is a 25-rod portage that eliminates paddling past many of the campsites on Maraboeuf if you are looking to avoid a little paddling perhaps in pursuit of a certain fishing area.
After the long stretch of paddling you’ll find the 27-rod portage around Horsetail Rapids. It’s on the Canadian side of the river and can sometimes be tricky due to the water level. Just don’t convince yourself that it would be easier to paddle through the rapids than to portage. Others have thought this and left their canoes wrapped around rocks in the river.

Another quick paddle and you’ll be at Saganaga Falls.  Again, don’t be fooled by the looks of the falls. Take the 34-rod portage around the falls.  There’s a reason artifacts from the days of the Voyageurs have been found at the bottom of the falls and it isn’t because they were thrown into the water on purpose.

From this point you can decide whether or not you will paddle Saganaga Lake back to our base on the Seagull River or get picked up by a towboat.  It’s a beautiful paddle if the wind and waves are cooperative but it does add a few hours onto your trip.  But if you’re like me, then you’re never ready for a BWCA trip to end.

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Boundary Waters Loop Saganaga, Knife & Seagull

The best part about the location of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters is the vast number of Boundary Waters and Quetico Park canoe trips that can be taken leaving right from our dock. One of our favorite said routes is the Saganaga, Knife and Seagull Lakes loop. There are a number of variations of this route depending upon how many days you have but believe me, you’re sure to enjoy this loop no matter what detours you choose to take along the way.

canoeing the BWCA

Saganaga Lake

You can read about Saganaga and Seagull Lakes on our other trip route descriptions in full detail. For sake of brevity we’ll keep the information about those two lakes to a minimum on this route description.

This route can be done with either a Saganaga Lake permit or a Seagull Lake Permit. Since we prefer to use a tow boat to get us to American Point on Saganaga we’ll describe this route beginning from there.

American Point is as far north and west as motorboats are allowed to travel into the BWCA. From there it’s paddle power only as you make your way west along the Minnesota Canadian border.

There are a number of great campsites to choose from in this area that require no portaging to access. If you’re getting a late start in the day or want to spend some time fishing then locate one of these jewels.

The paddle from American Point to the first 5-rod portage into Swamp Lake is relatively short but very scenic. After paddling past the opening to Cache Bay of the Quetico Park the waterway begins to narrow. It eventually funnels down to an intimate stream like size as you straddle the narrow waterway with the bow of your canoe in the US and the stern in Canada. The waterway opens up again before the 3rd Bay of Saganaga where you can find a 5-rod portage into Zephyr Lake or continue along the route to Ottertrack Lake.

In high water we’ve paddled through the 5-rod portage into Swamp Lake but that has been a very rare occasion. Most of the time you need to unload your canoe and portage the short expanse of land. The paddle across Swamp Lake is a short one and before you get to the portage to Ottertrack Lake you’ll see the decking of the Monument Portage. This is a relatively easy 80-rod portage as it is quite wide due to the maintenance of the International Border. You’ll see why the portage is called Monument as you make your way to Ottertrack.

saganaga canoe route

canoeing the BWCA

The bay of Ottertrack where the portage leads to is shallow and sandy. I love this area because you can see to the bottom and one time I was able to spy a beaver swimming beneath my canoe. The lake begins to open up and this is where you would find the portage into Ester Lake and one campsite before you reach the narrow passageway into the rest of Ottertrack Lake. This section of Ottertrack is lined by high cliffs on the Canadian side of the lake. It’s quite majestic looking and I’m always in awe when I paddle past. It’s a beautiful long and narrow lake with most campsites located at the opposite end of the lake. You’ll find one campsite on a point right after the portage into Gijikiki Lake. Then there are three campsites before the lake funnels around a bend toward the 5-rod portage into Knife Lake.

After the quick lift over you might want to spend some time fishing in the bay above the falls and below the falls. There’s a campsite right around the corner you could enjoy a break at if no one has set up camp there.

Knife Lake is a long, large lake that also straddles Canada and the US. There are islands, fingers and many bays to explore on this expansive and scenic lake. For the least amount of portaging you’ll paddle past a number of bays and campsites until you reach Thunder Point. There is a hiking trail to the top of Thunder Point and you can see down the rest of the expanse of Knife Lake from this vantage point.

The South Arm of Knife is narrower and there are again a large number of campsites to choose from as you paddle east toward the 25-rod portage to Eddy Lake. Eddy Lake is tiny and has just one campsite on the west end of the lake. The next portage is a 15-rod into Jenny Lake that has two campsites to choose from but if you really want seclusion then take the 20-rod portage into Calico Lake where you’ll find a campsite seldom seen by others. A 15-rod portage takes you into and out of tiny but beautiful Annie Lake into Ogishkemuncie Lake.

Ogish is a great place to camp due to the many day trip options it provides. Those who are interested in hiking will find the Kekekabic Trail by taking the 103-rod portage into Mueller then trekking on the 112-rod portage to Agamok. The most photographed bridge in the Boundary Waters is located on this portage thanks to the existence of the Kekekabic Trail that connects the East end of the BWCA(Gunflint Trail) to the West end of the BWCA(Snowbank Lake Area). The water cascades beneath the bridge as it makes its way from Agamok down to Mueller in a picturesque waterfall. The trail provides welcome relief to legs that have been cramped in a canoe for days.

While camping on Ogish one can explore Skindance Lake by taking the 22-rod portage from Ogish or explore Spice Lake to the North by traversing the quick 10-rod portage from Ogish. Both of these lakes have campsites, privacy from paddlers on Ogish and have fishing for northern pike and smallmouth bass.

All four species of fish are available in Ogish including walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass and lake trout. The many bays and islands provide great fishing and beautiful scenery just a day’s paddle from Seagull Lake.

At the east end of the lake you’ll find the 38-rod portage into Kingfisher which has no campsites. It’s a fast paddle to the opposite side of the lake where the 25-rod portage into Jasper can be found. Jasper has six campsites to choose from and since the Cavity Lake Fire of 2006 they are usually open. It was one of the hardest hit lakes during this forest fire and regeneration has been slower here than other places in the BWCA. It’s a private lake and tends to be super quiet too.

A 45-rod portage leads into Alpine Lake. Alpine is a favorite lake of many because there are a number of hidden bays and islands where 21 campsites await. A 105-rod portage leads into Seagull Lake where you can either exit or take one more portage into the Seagull River and back to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.

 

 

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Cute Cross Fox

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a cross fox at Voyageur but a neighbor was lucky enough to have one visit. So cute! Thanks for sharing the photos Jim.

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  • Although Spring is officially here we still have tons of ice to fish on! Come see for yourself, and maybe catch a... t.co/UFuP7hw1NV

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