Our Voyageur Crew had a fantastic time at the Gunflint Trail canoe races on July 16th. The races are put on by the cabin owners to benefit the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and they do a super job at feeding and entertaining the masses. The number of hours volunteers spend collecting donations for the raffles, preparing food to sell and planning the activities is greatly appreciated by the community who enjoys the event. So many people help out to make the event happen and we’re grateful for all of their work and the donation to the GTVFD.
We’re also happy they hold the races because it gives our summer crew something to look forward to mid-summer. I joked around with the crew telling them things like,
We have a mainly new crew this year and I guess they thought I was serious because we had bruising, bleeding and puking this year! They paddled hard and came home with lots of medals making Voyageur proud once again.
The 2014 Canoe Races were very successful because of the help of many volunteers and participants from up & down the Trail.
Volunteers (many of you):
1. Prepared and sold more than $2000 of food.
2. Sold thousands of raffle tickets.
3. Donated raffle and auction items that raised $6,000.
Proceeds to the GTVFD totaled $16,000, $4000 more than was raised in 2013.
Another $1,000 +/- is pending (or tentative).
We’ll see you next year at the races. Mark your calendar… July 15, 2015. Food, fun and more will begin at 4 PM.
This past week we’ve had some gorgeous weather for being out in the Boundary Waters. My son Josh has been taking advantage of the sunny skies and has been spending as much time as possible fishing in the BWCA. He no longer needs me to accompany him in the boat but I received a token invite to go onto Saganaga with him the other day. It was the 90+ degree day and the water was as flat and calm as I’ve ever seen in it. In spite of the heat and ripple free water we were able to land two fish. He caught a small lake trout and a big northern pike.
The rest of the week Josh has had a friend or a Voyageur Crew member to fish with so I’ve lost my spot in the boat. It’s great to see him enjoying fishing so much as I’d much rather him be outside in the boat than inside on an electronic gadget. The smallmouth bass have really started to bite this week, I guess the water is finally warm enough. Some spots on Saganaga my depth finder was recording water surface temperatures of 74 degrees! That’s hot for the big lake.
I have an opportunity to go fishing with Josh and his friend today, so I better get off of the computer and grab my pole. I have to take advantage of the invitations while they last.
Monday night another storm passed through the Boundary Waters. We experienced winds on the Gunflint Trail in the low 30′s and almost a half of an inch of rain. Luckily we didn’t hear of any injuries reported on our end of the BWCA and we didn’t lose power this time. Unfortunately elsewhere in the BWCA a couple of campers were injured when a tree fell on them. We’re hoping they have a quick recovery and that no other injuries are reported.
Superior National Forest
Superior National Forest
July 23, 2014
Contact: Kris Reichenbach 218-626-4393
Many Cooperate in Emergency Response to Windstorm
Winds from a thunderstorm early July 22, 2014 caused trees to blow down in areas across the Superior National Forest, with the most impacts in the far northwest part of the Forest in northern St. Louis County, Minnesota. Multiple agencies coordinated to rescue people from two groups injured from falling trees while camped in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). No further storm related injuries have been reported and crews continue to patrol and assess storm impacts today. More…
Starting in the early morning hours of July, 22, the St. Louis Sheriff’s Department, Crane Lake Volunteer Fire Department (CLVFD), local businesses, and the Superior National Forest worked together to conduct emergency response operations in parts of the LaCroix Ranger District that were impacted by the powerful thunderstorm. Seven injuries were reported. One group used a satellite phone to call in an emergency to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office at three a.m. from Lady Boot Bay of Lac LaCroix. Mark Zupancich of Zup’s Resort, Anderson’s Resort, SLCSR, and the Crane Lake Volunteer Fire Department (CLVFD) removed two injured people by boat to an ambulance. At approximately noon, a report of five more BWCAW visitors camped at Loon Lake-some who were still trapped in their tents from fallen trees, was received by SLCSR. Morse /Fall Lake First Responders (MFLFR), along with CLVFD members, extracted the trapped individuals. First responders accompanied two people who were flown out by a Forest Service floatplane to Ely. Three more people with less serious injuries were accompanied by first responders and brought out by boat to Crane Lake. In a separate medical evacuation that was not storm-related, a Forest Service floatplane was also used and assisted by MFLFR and the Lake County Sheriff on Tuesday.
In response to the storm, an Interagency Incident Management Team was formed to ensure other parties are not in need of assistance and assess storm impacts. Two Forest Service wilderness crews were already in the area of the storm and were redirected to check the safety of BWCAW visitors. Two Forest Service float planes flew patrols looking for any other injured parties and to assess the damage. One additional Forest Service crew was inserted by float plane to Lac LaCroix. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter was on standby for closer assessments but was not utilized. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources used aircraft to help with public safety and storm damage assessments on the Canadian side of the border.
The Forest Service completed an aerial reconnaissance Tuesday and identified an area of concentrated impact in the Lac LaCroix Area, including Lady Boot Bay, Ge-be-on-e-quet Lake, Lady Boot Bay, Little Loon Lake, East Loon Bay, the Northern portion of the Sioux Hustler Trail, Little Gabro Area, Little Isabella Entry Point Area, Snake River Entry Point Area. Trees are also reported down at scattered locations across the Forest.
Based on current information, the Forest Service does not plan to close any part of the Superior National Forest due to the storm, including the BWCAW. Visitors to the Superior National Forest and surrounding area are urged to watch for downed trees and take particular caution around trees that may have been damaged but are partially suspended or not already on the ground. This is a reminder that visitors need to be prepared for conditions that may result from natural occurrences in the Wilderness and can expect downed trees on some portages and campsites as a result of this storm. Crews will continue patrols to assess and remove blown down trees as appropriate.
The top wind speed reported to the National Weather Service came from Alexandria, at 59 miles per hour shortly after 11 p.m.
Thunderstorms carrying strong winds roared over the northern half of Minnesota late Monday and into Tuesday, knocking out electricity to thousands of customers and injuring campers in two locations in the sprawling the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, officials said.
Two campers in a group of 17 from Louisiana near Lady Boot Bay were injured when trees fell on their tents about 2:45 a.m., according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. First responders transported the two by ambulance to a Virginia, Minn., hospital for treatment of noncritical injuries.
The two were identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Hayden Toups, 13, of Brusly, and Kirk Sanchez, 47, of Port Allen.
Another group of campers about 10 miles away at Loon Lake were hit by trees later Tuesday, with some injuries being reported, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Friebe.
Emergency responders “are still getting them out right now,” Friebe said shortly after 2 p.m. While he didn’t have specifics on the number of injured or how badly, the sergeant added that medical helicopters were being used, so “they’re obviously considered serious.”
An official at the Superior National Forest office in Duluth said the storms were quite violent, leaving about 100 trees down along the highway that connects Ely and Isabella about 40 miles to the southeast.
Elsewhere in the state, power was reported out around 11:30 p.m. Monday for some customers as far south as Staples, with windy conditions also peeling away parts of rooftops in the Todd County community, the National Weather Service (NWS) added.
Also, hail was reported early Tuesday in Ogilvie and Long Prairie.
The top wind speed reported to the weather service came from Alexandria, at 59 miles per hour shortly after 11 p.m.
Minnesota Power and Lake Country Power reported a combined 20,000 or so customers without electricity overnight in the Duluth area and elsewhere. Nearly 2,400 remained without power in the Brainerd area well after sunrise.
Minnesota Power said snapped tree limbs and uprooted trees caused trouble for the utility in International Falls, Duluth, Eveleth and Nisswa, among other communities. Trees toppled easily because of the ground’s saturation from heavy June rainfall, the utility added.
By late Tuesday morning, Minnesota Power was still working to restore power to roughly 6,500 of its customers.
“This storm raked across our service territory rather quickly and then subsided about 3 a.m.,” said John Muehlbauer, a Minnesota Power crew superintendent.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482
That’s how I was woken up early Monday morning around 3:00am. Bolts of lightning were striking nearby like it was a scene from an end of the world movie. I could picture people running and dodging the jagged streaks of electricity. The noise and light were also reminiscent of the 4th of July fireworks. When I looked outside through my window I saw a strange pulsating and explosive light and heard a crazy whirring/buzzing noise that accompanied it. Then all was quiet including every electronic device on the premise.
The neighbor’s electric box and ours across the Seagull River were both hit by lightning. Thankfully our neighbor used his radio to call the power company and by a little after 6:00am on Monday morning our power had been restored. I LOVE our Arrowhead Electric linemen who are sent out on calls and respond so quickly and who are so efficient and fast at repairing our lines. Our busy morning would have been much more challenging without the use of our cash register and computers for getting groups out into the Boundary Waters this morning.
Not much rain fell with the lightning storm and that always freaks me out. It’s been a very wet summer so far and we haven’t had to worry about wildfires for the most part. It’s still quite wet in the woods but lightning strikes can cause trees to smolder and when conditions do get dry then fires can start. I’m going to try not to worry about it because it doesn’t do any good anyway.
I guess Mother Nature just felt badly for me because I didn’t see any fireworks this 4th of July, thanks for the display.
Is sunshine and 70 degree temperatures the ideal weather to have for a Boundary Waters canoe trip? I was pondering this question as I slugged across a water swollen portage in a downpour on my last BWCA canoe trip.
It is wonderful to be at a Boundary Waters campsite relaxing on a rock underneath a sun-filled sky. Paddling a wilderness lake as the sunlight reflects off of the water’s surface is also a beautiful thing. But are there disadvantages to having perfectly warm, dry weather on a wilderness canoe trip? I determined there to be some benefits of experiencing not so wonderful weather during a BWCA trip.
And of course, “bad” weather on your canoe trip makes you appreciate the wonderful weather even more.
I’ve always said, “Any time you can paddle the Boundary Waters is the best time to paddle the Boundary Waters.” Taking that into consideration the next thing to consider is what you want to experience while you are in the Boundary Waters or what you don’t want to experience while there. Knowing what you want out of a canoe camping trip in the BWCA will help you determine the best time to visit.
Many people come to the Boundary Waters to experience the solitude of the wilderness. While route choice plays a big part in getting away from people the time of the paddling season makes a big difference too. I was out paddling last week and I began to wonder if there had been an atomic bomb that went off somewhere because there were so few people out there.
If the main goal of your canoe trip is to not see many people then paddling the Boundary Waters around the 4th of July is a great time. We were towed out past American Point and we didn’t see anyone camping anywhere. We portaged into Ottertrack and didn’t meet anyone on Monument Portage which rarely happens. We saw a couple of canoes on Ester Lake and one group camped there but no groups camped on Hansen Lake or Ottertrack. For 4 days we had so few encounters with other people we felt like it was the middle of October.
Every year we see a dip in visitors around the 4th of July. People have picnics, parades, family reunions and fireworks to attend on the 4th of July and they don’t want to miss out on the annual festivities. That leaves the Boundary Waters empty for people who are willing to give up their sparklers for twinkling stars in the night sky. Of course May, September and October are also great times to paddle if you’re looking to get away from people, but in July you have water warm enough for swimming too.
I love camping in the BWCA when I don’t see other groups so I was super happy to be paddling a week after the 4th of July and see so few people. While it may not be great for business it’s super for folks who are able to paddle during that time.
We usually start seeing baby loons around the 4th of July in the BWCA. This year it was a little bit later but now that we started seeing them guests have reported seeing them everywhere in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park.
The tiny balls of fluff ride around on the adult loon’s back after they are first born. It’s a real treat to see one tucked beneath the wing of a loon. The chicks are sometimes so well hidden you would never guess there was one there. Once the chick gets a little bit bigger it will start swimming on its own. It’s fun to be able to watch from a distance as an adult loon attempts to feed the chick. I’ve watched as a loon placed some food directly into the mouth of the chick and then progressed to placing the food directly in front of the chick on the surface of the water and by day’s end the adult was placing it just below the surface so the chick had to get it’s face wet. The chick learns quickly how to fish for itself.
Loons are beautiful creatures and even more so when there’s a chick on their back.
It’s not a new species of bear but the bears are blue because they are sad. The blueberry crop has not ripened yet and the bears are hungry. One very skinny bear has been checking out the garbages at Voyageur on a regular basis. Rugby(guard dog extraordinaire) has done a good job at keeping the bear on his toes but I feel badly the blueberries aren’t ripe yet.
Blueberry harvesters in the area also feel badly the berries aren’t quite ready. In most recent years the crop has been ready by this time of the summer but due to the late spring it will be a couple of weeks before they are ripe. Hopefully the blueberry pickers can resist the temptation to enter the picking areas until it’s time to pick otherwise the plants will get damaged and we’ll have fewer blueberries making people and bears bluer.
There are some delicious tasting wild strawberries around for people who are ready to pick. There are even a few ripe raspberries and what looks like a good Thimble Berry crop in the making. Let’s hope the recent sunshine will speed up the ripening process so our bears will no longer be blue.
Interesting bear facts from Hiking in Bear Country-
Sides explains that a bear’s teeth can be very sharp, indicating that the bear eats meat. The back teeth are flat, telling of diet of plant material.
Seventy-five percent of a black bear’s diet consists of plant material. The rest is made up of berries, fish, or maybe a fawn in the spring. Each chomp is important for researchers. Teeth marks can reveal a bear’s age, sex, and even how many times it has given birth.
Bears venture out around 100 miles for food. Some even travel 40 miles just for an acorn. For them, it’s worth it. Storing food for the winter is a number-one goal. A hibernating bear can burn 3,000 – 4,000 calories a day in the winter.
Have you heard the exciting news? Mike and I are part of a new craft brewery coming to Grand Marais, Minnesota. Two other couples are involved in this exciting adventure so we’ll still be able to take care of all of our guests at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters while brewing some great beer.
Voyageur Brewing Company is located on Highway 61 right across the street from the Lake Superior harbor and Java Moose coffee shop. Ground was broken last week for the Tap Room that will have light appetizers and of course, beer! We’ll have growlers that you can fill with our beer to bring into the Boundary Waters and then re-fill when you’re on your way home. We also plan to bottle our beer so you can find your favorite in a local liquor store.
We’ve started a blog and we’re on Facebook so you can follow along with our progress. We’ll be asking for input along the way so be sure to “like” our page and check it out often. We plan to be brewing beer before the end of the year and we’ll be looking forward to having you visit the Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais, Minnesota.