Big Lakes or Small Lakes

As a canoe outfitter we get asked numerous times about our favorite lakes or which one is better than the other. Small lakes are nice because they aren’t as affected by wind so they don’t get as wavy as bigger bodies of water. Big lakes are nice because campsites tend to be more private due to the size of the lake. What size lake do you like to camp on best?

For me it depends upon the type of camping trip I am taking. If I’m with a group of Josh’s friends then I don’t necessarily need a secluded campsite because it won’t be quiet with them around. If I’m on a solo trip then a smaller lake with only one or two campsites is nice because it will be private and I can easily paddle on my own.

The time of the paddling season is important to me when I’m deciding on what size BWCA lake I’ll camp on. If it’s a busier time of the season then I won’t want to stay on a small lake like Duncan because I’ll see more people heading from portage to portage. If it’s a slow time of the season and there aren’t many people out in the woods then I can camp on a small lake and most likely not see anyone.

Every lake size lake has its advantages and knowing what you want out of your canoe camping adventure will help you decide which size lake is right for you.

Boundary Waters lake

Rose Lake in the Boundary Waters


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Posted in BWCA

What is that Sound?

A person can hear all kinds of sounds when out camping in the canoe country. The call of a loon, the howl of a wolf, the splash of a fish, the hoot of an owl and the unwelcome buzz of a swarm of mosquitoes can all be heard in the wild of the northwoods. But what about that other sound you can sometimes hear on a still day or night?  It kind of sounds like someone grinding their teeth but more like a chewing sound because it actually is a beetle chewing bark. I’m sure there are a few varieties of this flying, well-endowed with antennae beetle that will sometimes bite you or land on you.  It’s antennae can be one to three times the length of the body! Here’s some information about the White-Spotted Sawyer.

pine beetle

pine beetle

MN Department of Natural Resources
White-spotted Sawyers, Oh My!
White-spotted Sawyer
A white-spotted sawyer adult. Note the white spot between its “shoulder blades.” (They technically aren’t called shoulder blades, but you see what I mean.) The location of this spot separates the white-spotted sawyer from the dreaded Asian longhorned beetle, not yet found in Minnesota.
(photo by Whitney Cranshaw, CO State University,
A plague not by biblical standards, but perhaps by longhorned beetle standards, is happening in far northwestern Minnesota and adjacent areas in Ontario. The white-spotted sawyer—that one-inch-long, mostly black beetle with antennae longer than its body—is really irritating people in those areas. They are busy landing on everything. They are also laying their eggs on dying and freshly cut conifers. There are other longhorned beetles that may be out and about, but from pictures and descriptions, the primary species being reported is the white-spotted sawyer.
The larvae of the white-spotted sawyer are roundheaded borers that feed on dying and dead conifer wood. They go from egg to adult in 1 or 2 years, so something in northwestern Minnesota likely happened in 2013 to make a bunch of dead conifers. Eastern larch beetle is certainly helping add to the dead tamarack total up there and could be aiding the longhorned beetle population. Our Canadian friends put the blame on the branch-busting snows they received in April 2013. We also had ample snows that damaged conifers in April 2013.
The adult white-spotted sawyers do some feeding on branches, but most trees will be able to withstand this minor irritation. The adults also can bite you if they land on you: again, a minor irritation relative to other human maladies. People should expect to hear the larvae chewing in newly-killed and dying conifers in 2016. Other than freshly-cut coniferous logs and dying trees, these beetles are not a concern for the health of our forests.

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Warm, Windy and Dry

It’s been warm, windy and dry on the Gunflint Trail. Not only is the dry weather bad for the berries but it is also bad for the forest. No one wants to listen to the crunching sound of their feet hitting the dry ground.

The USFS is encouraging visitors to the Superior National Forest to use caution with campfires. We did receive under a half of an inch of rain but that wasn’t enough to make up for the previous dry spell. It will take a slow, soaking rain to saturate the soil again.

Until then, please use care with fire.

Posted in News

Dining at Loon Lake Lodge

Gunflint Trail Dining

Loon Lake Lodge

Our Voyageur Crew recently enjoyed dinner at Loon Lake Lodge. The dining room is a magnificent old lodge located right on the water’s edge. The Caldwell’s and their crew always make us feel welcome and take terrific care of us. Fabulous food, wonderful atmosphere and the best of company make for a memorable dining experience.

The past few years we’ve had our dinner and celebrated Christmas in July. We draw names, create gifts and then exchange them. It’s amazing how everyone can come up with a unique and thoughtful gift to give.

This year there were a number of neat items. Wooden picture frames, pressed wildflowers, hand painted paddles, flowers in a flower box and gifts with the nature theme were just a few of the wonderful gifts received. It was a festive and fun evening for all.


Voyageur Crew

JR enjoying Christmas in July

Voyageur Dinner
Rose at Loon Lake Lodge

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Shoeless and Canoe Less in the Quetico

A portion of the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario is closed because there is a man out there without shoes and without a canoe. Authorities aren’t giving us much information but they are looking for him and they want to be the ones who find him, hence the reason for closing an area near Ely, Minnesota.

He is a 26-year old named Aaron King and they are calling him an “Extreme Survivalist.” He had been spending time in Ely, Minnesota.  Here’s an article with more information about the story.

FROM/DE:  Rainy River District Detachment              DATE:  July 29, 2015


(FORT FRANCES, ON) – On July 24, 2015 members of the Rainy River District Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a call from a member of the public concerned for the wellbeing of a male he encountered in the Brent Lake area of Quetico Provincial Park.

Police have identified the male as Aaron Nathaniel KING of no fixed address. King was last seen on July 27, 2015 in the Brent Lake area.

KING is described as Caucasian, 26 years old, 5’10”, 160 lbs;
He has light brown hair and a scruffy beard;
He is believed to be wearing a green long sleeve shirt, olive colored pants and shoes.

OPP Rainy River District District Detachment request that any member of the public with information concerning Aaron KING or his whereabouts is urged to contact the Provincial Communication Centre at 1-807-683-42001-807-683-4200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Contact: Constable Guy Beaudry
Telephone-807 274-7777

By the authority of Section 8  (1)  (c) of Ontario Regulation 347/07 made under
the  Provincial  Parks  and  Conservation  Reserves  Act,  2006,  the  lakes  listed
below are closed to the public.
  Brent Lake
  Darkwater Lake (also known as Darky Lake)
  Darkwater River between Brent and Darkwater Lakes
  William Lake
  Conmee Lake
  Suzannette Lake
  McIntyre Lake
  Scarlett Lake
  Cone Lake
  Un-named lakes south of Brent Lake en route to McIntyre Lake
Travel on these lakes and camping/occupying land on the shores of these lakes
is prohibited.
A person of concern has been spotted in the areas of Brent Lake and Crooked
Lake  in  Quetico  Provincial  Park.   This  person  is  male,  Caucasian,  with
scraggly red-blonde hair and a beard.   He may not be wearing shoes and is
believed to not have a canoe.   If visitors see a man matching this description,
please stay clear and do not engage him.   Visitors should note the time and
location of their sighting and report it to the Ontario Provincial Police at 1 -807-683-4200 and to a Park Staff Member.


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Forests are Great

Call me a tree hugger if you like but I love trees, the more the better. Lots of trees that make up a forest provide places for wildlife to live and tree huggers to play. I always knew forests were great and now I have another reason to love them.
DNR Question of the week

Q: How do forests contribute to clean water?

A: Forests are natural water filters. Rain clings to the leaves and bark of trees, slowing the movement of rain to the ground. The slower moving rain picks up less sediment when it hits the soil. Additionally, forest soils contain large pore spaces that trap sediments and pollutants. As a result, rainwater that leaves a forest to recharge groundwater or flow into lakes and rivers is clean.

Keeping managed forests on the landscape is one of the best ways to protect drinking water and can reduce the cost of water treatment by up to 65 percent when compared to paved or barren land. For more information, visit:

Jennifer Corcoran, DNR forestry research analysis specialist

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Twice is a Blue Moon

It would be really neat to see a blue moon that is actually the color blue. According to SpaceWeather there is a chance we might just see one this month. Our first full moon of the month of July was on July 2nd and our second or blue moon will be on July 31st. A blue moon is just the second full moon of a specific month. However, sometimes due to ash from volcanoes or wildfires(like we’re experiencing in the western United States) the moon appears blue because the ash filters out the other colors.  You can read all about it below and if you want a front row seat to moon and star viewing then come on up to the Gunflint Trail where lack of artificial light makes it one of the best places for stargazing.


WILL THE MOON REALLY TURN BLUE? When someone says “Once in a Blue Moon,” you know what they mean: rare, seldom, even absurd. This year it means “the end of July.” For the second time this month, the Moon is about to become full.  There was one full Moon on July 2nd, and now another is coming on July 31st.  According to modern folklore, the second full Moon in a calendar month is “blue.” Strange but true: Sometimes the Moon really turns blue. Scroll past the waxing full Moon, photographed on July 25th by Giuseppe Petricca of Pisa, Italy, for more information:

The blue areas in the color-enhanced image (right) are caused by titanium in lunar soil. [more]

A truly-blue Moon usually requires a volcanic eruption. Back in 1883, for example, people saw blue moons almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded with the force of a 100-megaton nuclear bomb. Plumes of ash rose to the very top of Earth’s atmosphere, and the Moon became an azure-colored disk.

Krakatoa’s ash was the reason. Some of the plumes were filled with particles 1 micron wide, about the same as the wavelength of red light.  Particles of this special size strongly scatter red light, while allowing blue light to pass through. Krakatoa’s clouds thus acted like a blue filter. People also saw blue-colored Moons in 1983 after the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico. And there are reports of blue Moons caused by Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Forest fires can do the same trick.  A famous example is the giant muskeg fire of Sept. 1953 in Alberta, Canada.  Clouds of smoke containing micron-sized oil droplets produced lavender suns and blue Moons all the way from North America to England.  At this time of year, summer wildfires often produce smoke with an abundance of micron-sized particles–just the right size to turn the Moon truly blue. Sky watchers in western parts of the USA and Canada, where wildfires are in progress, could experience this phenomenon.

Posted in News

A Year in the Boundary Waters

A night in the Boundary Waters is too much for some people. A 7-day summer canoe trip feels like an eternity to most kids. Most people never even think about winter camping yet two Minnesota adventurers are going to spend an entire year in the BWCA.

Amy and Dave Freeman of Wilderness Classroom Organization are embarking on their trip this September. They plan to paddle during the liquid months and use sled dogs during the frozen months to travel over 3000 miles.

Why are they doing this? “To promote preserving the area from the effects of sulfide-ore copper mining.”

This isn’t their first expedition and I’m sure it won’t be there last. They were named National Geographic Explorers of the year in 2014 for their North American Odyssey. They have kayaked around Lake Superior and biked and paddled their way across South America as well.  For that trip Amy took along one of my pink canoe paddles.

We first met Amy when she worked at a Gunflint Trail canoe outfitter years ago. She and her husband split their time between Ely and Grand Marais when they aren’t out on an adventure.  We wish them the best on their newest pursuit.


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It’s Hot for Here

Some people say it isn’t that hot here because it isn’t that humid. Others say it’s much hotter where they are from. I say, “It’s hot for here.”

People who live near the biggest air conditioner(Lake Superior) don’t feel “hot” very often. A nice day in Grand Marais, Minnesota is when the sun is shining and it’s 60 degrees. At the end of the Gunflint Trail it can get hot but we usually don’t have a prolonged heat wave. And up here, a heat wave is happening now.

We had over 80 degree temperatures on seven of the past ten days. Yesterday the temperature soared up to 92 degrees. I have a bad memory but I can’t remember the last time we had temperatures this hot for this long.

It is supposed to be in the 90′s again today. Thank goodness I have a river to cool off in throughout the day because I can’t handle the heat.

We’re hoping for some rain tomorrow to cool things off and give the blueberries a drink. The forecast calls for more “hot” weather throughout the weekend.

And while temperatures may not feel hot to you, they certainly do to this Gunflint gal.

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The Things You See Near Voyageur

Visitors of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters are able to take advantage of our awesome location on the very edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Every day something amazing and awe inspiring happens and if you’re lucky and looking then you get to see it.

Last week one of our tow boat drivers was coming back to our dock and he saw a mother moose and her calf swimming across the river. He used his radio to tell us about it and others were able to go out onto the dock and enjoy it.

Anna and Joe were out fishing on Gull Lake Friday afternoon. A loon was swimming with her newborn chick on her back when suddenly an eagle swooped in and stole her chick.  Feathers flew, loons cried and within seconds the chick and eagle were gone.

Josh and I took a quick fishing break yesterday. We heard a noise in the woods and pretty soon a small black bear came out to the water’s edge. It ripped apart a log, sat in the water and when it finally noticed us retreated back into the woods.

We caught some smallmouth bass and as Josh was reeling in a small one a northern pike attacked it. The little bass got away but we netted the 30″ northern pike and then released it.

Yes, there are cool things happening near Voyageur all of the time. We invite you to come see for yourself.



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  • Hard to believe majority of the summer is already behind us...if you haven't made it up to the Boundary Waters...

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