Snowy Cross River

Looking lovely as ever on the Gunflint Trail.

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REI’s Path Ahead

REI released a report called “The Path Ahead.

It’s a very interesting read that causes one to think about what could happen if people don’t spend more time outside. It’s something the folks at REI have been thinking about for quite a few years and why they started to promote the #OptOutside campaign. They give their employees paid time off on Black Friday so they can get outside.

Why do they want people to spend time outside? I imagine it has something to do with the fact they sell outdoor gear and clothing but I also believe REI must care about people and the environment. As canoe outfitters we also care about getting people into the outdoors, specifically into the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park. The average age of visitors in the canoe country is going up and if younger people don’t start visiting more we’ll eventually run out of guests.

It’s important to spend time outside. People who get outside frequently are happier, less stressed and healthier. What is the cost of so much time indoors in front of a screen? There are health problems as well as mental health problems associated with it such as nearsightedness, anxiety, depression, irregular sleep patterns, increased ADHD, obesity, heart disease and diabetes to name a few.

If you spend any time around kids you’ll know they aren’t in the best shape. The other day while working out at our local YMCA I watched as Senior Citizens were tested for strength, flexibility and stamina. I was quite impressed with their ability especially when I compared it to the 5th Grade gym class that was in shortly after that. These kids couldn’t do jumping jacks or touch their toes without grumbling and straining. When they were asked to run a mile the majority of them walked it because they were so out of breath.

It isn’t surprising when you consider these kids spend almost eight continuous hours sitting down at school. Most grades no longer have recess and lunch monitors, along with teachers, would prefer the kids stay seated and not roam around. Some of them have physical education but only every other quarter every other day and only until eighth or ninth grade. Many of these kids ride a bus home where they spend the rest of the day sitting down in front of a screen.

How is it possible these kids have so much screen time when they are in school? Phones rarely leave the hands of most students and in many classes students use tablets and computers instead of books. Gone are the days of looking something up in an Encyclopedia it’s all about Wikipedia these days. Even during free time when you would think kids would want to talk to each other they prefer to communicate via Snapchat, Instagram or text.

According to the report by REI kids between the ages of 11-14 spend 12 hours a day average in front of a screen and less time outside than prison inmates. They spend half as much time outside as kids did 20 years go.

What’s keeping these kids inside? I remember playing outside all of the time as a kid. We created so many fun games and imagined other worlds in our backyards. Is it Stranger Danger? Lack of green space? Or the lack of imagination due to too much time spent inside?

Whatever it is I agree with REI. We need to get more kids and adults to #OPTOutside, not just on Black Friday, but every day.

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Tequila and Lime

One of these days I’m going to bring a bottle of Tequila, a wedge of lime and a Mexican sombrero along on my drive up the Gunflint Trail. Then I am going to take  an award winning photo of a moose licking salt from the road.

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Instagram Extinction

Have you heard of Vance Creek Bridge? It’s located a couple of hours outside of Seattle, Washington and was built as a railroad bridge for logging in the late 1920’s. According to articles on the web it’s the 2nd tallest railway trestle bridge in America. Spanning 347 above feet above Vance Creek and 422 feet long it offered panoramic scenery and beautiful views of Mt. Ranier on clear days.

If you’ve been on Instagram for a long time then you might recognize the hashtag for it, #ThatNWBridge. It was an attempt to keep the amazing place a secret but when people post beautiful photos and videos of a place I think it only adds to the allure of visiting such a place.

That’s what happened in the case of the privately owned Vance Creek Bridge.  Everyone wanted to climb the bridge and wherever there are a lot of people there is garbage and vandalism. Fires were started on the bridge, boards started missing and the owners eventually decided to block access to it.

There are other places that Instagram has made popular and some of those places are seeing too many visitors. There isn’t the infrastructure in place to service the high number of visitors. Some of the places don’t have toilet facilities and land managers are having to haul away human waste as well as garbage.

Should places be kept hidden? Do you know of any other places that have become extinct because of Instagram? Let me know!



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Making Ice

Ice forming on the Seagull River.

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Seagull River Scene

Peaceful, easy feeling!

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Old Fish, Big Fish

Hopefully it survives even longer!

Nearly half-century-old fish caught and released during fish surveys on Lake Superior

(Wisconsin DNR)

BAYFIELD, Wis. — State fish biologists conducting spawning surveys on Lake Superior hauled in a lake trout earlier this month that hatched when Richard Nixon was president.

The fish was originally caught and released during the Wisconsin DNR‘s spawning assessments for lake trout in 1981. It was caught and released again Nov. 2 in the same fish refuge, the Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior.

“We often think of a fish’s life span being relatively short, maybe 10 years,” says Terry Margenau, DNR fisheries supervisor. “But lake trout are slow growing and have a longevity that will rival that of the ancient sturgeon.”


To help assess the condition of lake trout on Lake Superior, the DNR has been conducting spawning lake trout assessments since 1951. Part of the assessment includes tagging the fish caught and releasing them so biologists can monitor their growth and movement in future years.

The fish caught Nov. 2 had first been tagged in 1981 when it was 27.3 inches during a DNR spawning assessment on Gull Island Shoal of Lake Superior. The same fish was handled again in 2017 during the same spawning assessment and measured 35.5 inches, Ray says.

“This lake trout grew about 8 inches over 36 years, or less than a quarter inch per year,” he says. “So very slow growing. Its age is also interesting.

“Considering this fish was likely 10 to 12 years old when it was tagged in 1981, this fall it would have been at least 46 years old.”

The same fish would be caught by DNR seven more times during surveys, Ray says.

In all of those instances, the fish was captured in the Gull Island Refuge.

“The spawning site fidelity of this fish, and many others we have sampled, emphasizes the importance of the refuges and the protection it affords the spawning stock of lake trout,” he said.

Anglers who catch a tagged lake trout and intend to release the fish are asked by the DNR to write down the tag number and contact the Bayfield DNR office to get the capture history.

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Hoods in the Woods, I mean Hoodlums

Every week I read the Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer reports and every week I am surprised.   The number of people who are cited for violating game laws including hunting and fishing regulations seems unreal to me. I like to think people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors are people who respect the great outdoors, especially the animals that live there. IF a person enjoys hunting you would think that person would want what is best for the wildlife they are hunting.  It makes me wonder why they are out in the woods hunting in the first place. Do they need the meat so badly they have to hunt over baited stations in front of their cabin? Do people just want to kill something?  Because I don’t think it is really hunting if you’re driving around in your vehicle and shooting at something from the roadway.

When I deer hunted I did it to spend time in the woods. I saw a few deer from my deer stand but never shot one. I just liked sitting up in a tree watching other wildlife and being out in nature. What other time of the year is it OK to just go sit by yourself in the woods for 8 hours?

I’m not sure why there are so many violations but I do hope these people aren’t passing these bad behaviors on to the next generation.

Weekly Conservation Officer’s report

District 6 – Two Harbors area

Last updated: 2017-11-13

CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports deer hunting activity continued to be high over the second weekend of the regular firearms deer season. Unfortunately so was the violation rate. Investigations included trespass, litter, and several deer shot off the roadway.

CO Marty Stage (Ely) found the deer season to be slow for a lot of people. There has been a lot of shooting from the road complaints, and it is completely amazing that some people are actually surprised that it is against the law to shoot from the roadway. The deer hunting trespass incidents seem to be on the increase as well. Take the time to read the laws before you hunt.

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reports that some hunters have ditched the gun for the ice rod as the CO checked his first ice anglers of the year. He also patrolled by snowmobile for the first time this season. Some of the hunters that are waiting for the big buck, don’t believe the rut is in full swing quite yet as some have seen many does with nothing following behind. Other hunters report that wolves are responding to grunt and bleat calls thinking it?s the dinner bell. One person described what he saw as a fight between a doe and a wolf, but the fight soon ended as other wolves joined in. The CO has never heard it described this way.

CO Mary Manning (Grand Marais East) worked a snowy week of deer season. The officer investigated a trespass case involving deer hunters and took calls on wolf depredation. While there is some snow on the ground, conditions are not good for snowmobiling in most places and the lone group of sledders seen was towing a broken down machine down the road back to the cabin.

CO Anthony Bermel (Babbitt) reports numerous cases resulting in deer violations with several noteworthy incidents over the past week. One individual was caught hunting from the same baited stand twice in seven days with a citation and seizure of equipment both times. Enforcement action was taken against two people who shot deer off the road, one of which was transported untagged in a vehicle. Two people were apprehended for killing deer over baited areas, one of which was shot right next to a cabin over a feeding trough. Numerous other deer hunting violations were charged as well. A TIP call led the officer to an individual who had illegally cut balsam boughs along the edge of hole #2 green at the Ely golf course, with enforcement action taken. Ice fishermen are out on several area lakes.

CO David Schottenbauer (Silver Bay) checked grouse hunters, trappers, ATV riders, ice anglers, snowmobilers, bough collectors, and deer hunters. CO Schottenbauer did not see the partridge in the pear tree, but still assumes Christmas is around the corner.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Tofte) checked multiple hunters with success rates varying. Hunting and trespass complaints were handled. Enforcement action was taken for hunting, state park and trespass violations.

CO Don Murray (Two Harbors) worked a cold and wintery second week of deer season. Most area lakes were completely frozen this week but are not safe for travel yet. Enforcement action was taken for licensing violations and illegal ATV use.

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Mr. Bull Moose

I was treated to a special kind of traffic jam the other day when I drove up the Gunflint Trail. Mr. Bull Moose was busy licking salt off of the road and after a brief retreat he returned to lick some more. He didn’t mind being photographed and I didn’t mind taking his photo!



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Vikings Volleyball takes 6th in State

It’s over. When my competitive playing volleyball days were over I thought it was the end of the world. No Olympics or pro-beach volleyball for this 5 foot, 4 and a half inch woman. The world continued, I continued to play recreational volleyball and then an entire new world opened up. A baby girl was born to me on November 10th, 1999! We talked about naming her after my idol, professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, but decided on giving her the name Abigail. Abigail means “Joy” specifically in Hebrew, “The Father’s Joy.” We haven’t been disappointed yet.

I’m not sure when we tossed the first volleyball to Abigail but I do know she spent quite a few hours in her car seat with mosquito net wrapped around it on the edge of the sand volleyball court at Voyageur. We would spend hours inside of the lodge passing the volleyball back and forth and when she got older we made her practice serving on the sand court.

Abigail grew to 5 foot 4 and a half inches tall, or according to her, 5 foot 5 inches tall.  While I dreamed of her becoming a professional volleyball player she turned into something even more amazing.  When she’s playing volleyball she’s always smiling and encouraging other teammates. She never gets rattled when the pressure is on and she remains calm, cool and collected. She’s a natural born leader on and off of the court who never gives up.  She’s a gracious winner, a good loser and a great sport. She doesn’t yell at referees or line judges and never blames them or anyone when her team loses a point or game. She doesn’t get down on herself or anyone on the team and moves forward with confidence. She has always been a standout player with the highest serve percentage on every team she has played on. She’s a scrappy, smart and talented player.

Over the years I’ve complained about sitting in the bleachers. She started playing volleyball for Cook County in 5th grade. The school volleyball season, being short, was never enough volleyball so she played volleyball in Duluth for Minnesota North from November through May for three years. We’ve spent countless hours on the bleachers watching her play. Now that she’s played her last High School volleyball game I’m of course sad it’s over.

What I can honestly say is that over the years of playing volleyball she has remained true to her name. She has always made us proud, never disappointed us and has given us constant Joy.


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