Gunflint Canoe Races-some things never change

Clash of canoe races

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

The official Gunflint Trail Canoe Races didn’t happen last year due to Covid 19 and they didn’t happen this year due to a lack of organizers and volunteers. Over the past 10-15 years the races had turned into a pretty big deal and they raised a large amount of money for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.  Two separate raffles were held each summer, one for a watercraft and one for a number of smaller items as well as a silent auction. People were needed to sell raffle tickets, pick up prizes from local businesses, make awards for canoe race winners, put up tents, sell t-shirts and make and serve food for the spectators. While this was a nice gathering for the community and a good fundraiser for the fire department it was a lot of work to organize. The races were kind of overshadowed by all of the focus on fundraising. canoe races at Gunflint

In the past resorts and outfitters held weekly canoe races at various locations on the Gunflint Trail. Employees would gather, compete and have a great time racing against each other. I don’t know the details of those events or when the races turned into a bigger deal but I do know the more formal races at Gunflint started sometime in the 70’s.

This year the employees of Gunflint Trail resorts and outfitters gathered for fun at Gunflint Lodge for the Clash of Canoes. Different name, same thing.  In fact if you look closely at the photo from 2017 and the photo from this year you’ll recognize a number of familiar faces.  Cassidy, Maddy, Sarah, Paige and Matt all participated in 2017!

Canoe Race Trophy

Voyageur Wins First Place

While some things change over the years one thing has remained unchanged.  The Voyageur Canoe Outfitter Crew has predominantly taken home the First Place Trophy and this year was no exception.

Voyageur Canoe Crew

Voyageur racing crew 2021

 

2017 Voyageur Canoe Outfitters crew

 

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Fire at Voyageur on the Gunflint Trail

We all breathed a sigh of relief after receiving much needed rain over the weekend. We felt like it was enough to alleviate a little bit of the fire danger but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The forest is still overwhelmingly dry and when a tree fell across a power line on our property across the Seagull River on Sunday evening a spark started a fire near our bunkhouses. Luckily we had fast acting guests and our crew sprang into action quickly as well. With fire extinguishers, buckets of water and hoses they worked to suppress the flames that were creeping up trees. A portable fire pump was obtained and before long the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department was on scene. Our next door neighbor along with Matt and Cassidy are all members of the GTVFD and they ensured the fire was completely out. Luckily no one was injured and no buildings were lost. We’re super thankful people were there to report it and get the fire under control in fast time or it could have been very bad.

Lightning during the weekend rain started another small fire near Agamok Lake. Agamok is between Ogishkemuncie and Little Saganaga and it’s where the bridge for the Kekekabic Hiking Trail passes through. Pray for precipitation or do a little rain dance so we can lower the needle on the fire danger scale.

Agamok BWCA fire

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Boundary Waters Entry Points Open on the Gunflint Trail

The good news, that really isn’t “news,” is the entry points into the Boundary Waters on the Gunflint Trail are open. The fires affecting recent BWCA entry point closures are on the western side of the Boundary Waters and are not affecting travel routes  from the Gunflint Trail. We’ve been lucky so far, knock on wood.

The conditions in the forest are dry and there is a total fire ban at this time. The raspberries and blueberries that are normally found during this time of the year are non-existent due to the parched earth. Creeks are low, portages are dry but for the most part canoe trips into the BWCA from the Gunflint Trail are unchanged. Our lakes are filled with fresh water, teeming with game fish who have no clue the land surrounding them is in need of moisture.

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters crew members have been out canoe camping in the Boundary Waters on their days off and are having wonderful trips.  Matt and Cassidy took a couple of days off to paddle down to Long Island Lake and they, including Bosley had a terrific trip.

There are permits remaining for BWCA travel from the Gunflint Trail after the first ten days of August so if you’re still looking to get a trip in this summer then give us a call.  We’d love to see you. 218-388-2224.

Dogs in the Boundary Waters

Bosley enjoying the BWCA

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Fire Ban in the Boundary Waters

BWCAW campfire fun

Fire Ban in the BWCAW

It’s been dry and hot in the Boundary Waters and the USFS has implemented a complete fire ban. No campfires and no grills may be used in the BWCAW. It’s a bummer to not be able to have a campfire but it’s necessary for protection. Let’s just hope we get some unforecasted or forecasted rain in the near future, minus any lightning.

Boundary Waters fire ban

Superior National Forest fire ban

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Boundary Waters Permit Pick up

Gunflint Trail

Boundary Waters

Forest Service Ranger offices are opening up for the first time since Covid. This means people will be able to pick up their Boundary Waters permits in person again. This is good news since they will be able to educate visitors prior to their BWCA trip. The virtual permit sessions created during the pandemic were convenient for folks but I don’t think they did as good of a job as a person does.

From the USFS-

Beginning in mid-July, virtual permit issuance and Leave No Trace & Tread Lightly education sessions will be offered only on Sundays at 9:00 am for those who have selected LaCroix District Office or Tofte District Office as their issue station due to these offices being closed on Sundays. 

If you have an upcoming reservation and have already received an email with the virtual session link, or receive one in the coming days, this change does not affect you.  

For reservations in the second half of July or later, the forest encourages you to modify plans accordingly to pick up your permit in-person. Permits can be picked up at a Forest Service district office or a cooperator. For a full list of cooperators, visit this link. If you have questions regarding your issue station, please contact the Forest Service office nearest your entry point.  

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4th of July in the Boundary Waters

I can’t think of a more perfect place to celebrate the 4th of July than in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. And in spite of the fact we have owned Voyageur Canoe Outfitters for over 20 years we’ve been able to spend quite a few 4th of July’s camping and canoeing the BWCA.

Canoeing the Boundary Waters

Canoeing the BWCA

How could we be out paddling when guests were needing our outfitting services? Most years the time around the 4th of July isn’t a popular time in the canoe country. Why not? There aren’t parades in the BWCA on the 4th of July, unless you count merganser ducklings swimming behind their momma or grouse chicks trailing theirs. There aren’t fireworks either, unless you compare them to fireflies flickering or the millions of stars sparkling in the dark night sky. There aren’t big picnics with loud music out in the wilderness but there is food cooked over a campfire and the sound of the loons or wind through the trees.

I know where I would rather spend the 4th of July, how about you? Have a safe and wonderful one wherever you may be.

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National Fishing and Boating Week in the Boundary Waters

Celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week in the Boundary Waters this year! It began this year on June 4th and extends through next weekend.  It was created as a national holiday by George W. Bush in 2002 to encourage anglers to share their knowledge and passion of fishing with younger potential anglers to increase participation in fishing and boating. It’s also a conservation effort because money used from the purchase of fishing licenses is used for preservation, education and restoration of waterways. Boundary Waters fishing

It coincides with the Minnesota DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend which happens June 11th- June 13th. Minnesota youth age 15 and under never need a license to fish and during this special weekend adults who fish with these kids can fish without a license as well.

This website is full of information about fishing and the Minnesota DNR has resources on their website  to help adults who want to participate in the event including a webinar at noon on Wednesday, June 9th.

Fishing is a great way to spend time in the outdoors and a wonderful hobby to pass on to the youth of today. Take a kid fishing in the Boundary Waters or anywhere this weekend.

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Boundary Waters campfires

We’ve received some rain over the past few days but there’s still high fire danger in most of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We are super lucky to live in an area where we can have campfires almost all of the time. With the privilege comes the responsibility of making sure the campfire is contained and inside the fire grate of a designated campsite in the BWCA.

When it’s dry in the Boundary Waters campers should exercise greater caution with their campfires.

  • If it’s really windy, don’t start a campfire.
  • Only make small campfires.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Clear away dry leaves and sticks, overhanging low branches and shrubs.
  • Stack extra wood upwind and away from fire.
  • After lighting, throw the match into the fire.
  • Keep a bucket of water and shovel nearby.
  • Never put anything but wood into the fire.
  • When it’s time to put the fire out, dump lots of water on it, stir it with a shovel, then dump more water on it. Make sure it is COLD before leaving the campsite. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave!

Smokey Bear - Wikipedia

 

 

 

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Boundary Waters Drowning

BWCAWAfter all of the excitement and anticipation of a Boundary Waters Canoe camping trip no one expects their trip to end in a tragedy but it happens. People drown because they don’t wear a life vest. It’s a headline that would never be printed if people wore life vests while on the water. They don’t work if you don’t wear it.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 51-year-old man drowned Monday in a northern Minnesota lake, marking the third water-related death over the long Memorial Day weekend.

The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office says the man, of rural Morrison County, drowned Monday afternoon in Trout Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

According to investigators, the man fell overboard while with friends on a boat. While his friends were able to pull him out of the water and attempt CPR, the man was pronounced dead by paramedics.

The man’s name has yet to be released.

Two other men drowned in Minnesota over the holiday weekend. One died after struggling in a pond in Loring Park and the other died in a Burnsville lake while trying to help his girlfriend.

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Fishing for Northern Pike in the Boundary Waters

fishing for Northern Pike in the Boundary WatersI love to paddle around the perimeter of small lakes both inside and outside of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. While there are some people who will do this willingly my son usually wouldn’t do it with me unless we were trolling a line behind us. It isn’t the fastest way to tour the shoreline since you inevitably get snagged on logs, rocks and weeds but it is pretty fun.

How do you fish for Northern Pike? It’s a funny question since I don’t normally go out fishing just for Northern Pike but we usually end up catching one or two in the process. If you’re looking for an excuse to troll around a lake or want to catch a Northern Pike then the shoreline is usually a good place to start. They love weed beds, logs in the water, rocky points and any other type of structure in two to fifteen or so feet of water.  They hang out waiting for other small fish and then attack seemingly out of nowhere.

We primarily troll with flashy spoons or other lures shaped and painted to look like prey.  Sometimes we cast into the weed beds or onto points and then it’s nice to have a heavier lure on. You can reel and troll pretty fast as Northerns are quite speedy. You always want to have a steel leader tied to your lure or the pike will bite through the line. You can use a heavier than 8 pound test line if you know you are fishing primarily for northern pike and it’s a good idea to have a net along in case you catch one you want to keep. If I don’t want to keep the Northern I usually just reel it beside the canoe and use my needle nose to remove the hooks while the fish is still in the water. I’m not a particular fan of fish slime or cutting my hands on gills or teeth so if I do bring a Northern into the canoe I usually wear those fish gloves or use a clamper. Be sure to wet your hands prior to touching the fish if you are releasing it as Northern Pike have a protective slime coating.  fishing for northern pike in the BWCA

With Northern Pike generally the bigger the lure the bigger the fish you will catch. That is something I just haven’t gotten used to. If I spend $15-$30 on a lure the last thing I want to do is leave it on a log beneath the water’s surface. I stick to my inexpensive spoons knowing I will most likely lose one or three along the way.

We love to eat Northern Pike as long as whoever cleans the fish knows how to remove the Y Bone.

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