Blueberry Picking on the Gunflint Trail

As soon as someone says the word “blueberries” the pickers hit the Gunflint Trail. There have been numerous vehicles parked alongside the road and on the side roads for the past couple of weeks. People are picking blueberries because they can.

I would say the blueberries are a couple of weeks from peak. Most areas have about 1/3 of the berries ripe and the bushes with more ripe ones than that still have a lot of room to grow. But I suppose if you can only get out and pick one time during the summer then it is better to pick now than not at all.

I’m just always thinking about the green berries that will get knocked off the bush or trampled by eager pickers. I guess I shouldn’t worry about it because there are so many places to pick but I’m one of those pickers who will reach and stretch and reach some more just so I don’t have to step in a new place and potentially smash a berry underfoot.

The blueberry crop appears to be much better this year than last year but if we don’t get some rain to go with this heat the 2/3 of the crop that needs to mature won’t fair as well.  So, a little rain dance, a little less intense heat and the more berries there will be for everyone.

picking blueberries on gunflint trail

blueberries

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Beaver Flick

I haven’t been able to load any videos to You tube for some odd reason but if you click this link then you’ll see a neat video of a beaver courtesy of Brad.

beaver in the BWCA

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Posted in BWCA

Saganaga Sunset Loon Serenade

Tony and Brad were out on Saganaga Lake in the Boundary Waters for a little bit of fishing the other night but instead of catching something they were caught. The beauty of the wilderness, the song of the loon and the ever-changing colors of the sunset caught their attention. Thankfully they were able to catch a little bit of it for us to enjoy.

Click the link to watch the video-

saganaga sunset

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Posted in BWCA

Scary Stories of the Storm in the BWCA

We’re grateful all of our groups that were out in the Boundary Waters during the storm have fared well so far. We’ve heard some very scary stories of harrowing experiences and we’re saddened by the two lives lost in the storm. Tony and Brad were out in the BWCA during the storm and said it was something else.

I haven’t gotten all of the details but I do know they had to swim for their canoe that got blown away. They spent the majority of the night crouched behind a big rock. One of canoe groups who returned from their trip yesterday were very lucky. Huge red pines fell within inches of their tent. They are very lucky. Here’s a few of their photos.

BWCA storm photos

BWCA Storm Photos

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That was the kitchen fly that was hung up.

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There’s a fire grate beneath this tree

 

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Trees all around their tent fell down.

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BWCA Storm Updates

Another tragedy in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, this time on the Ely side of the Superior National Forest. Here’s an article for more information about the event.

WIND STORM CAUSES DAMAGE ACROSS SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST

Duluth, MN – July 21, 2016.  Early this morning, a powerful wind storm swept across northeast Minnesota, blowing down trees in areas of the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Many roads and trails are blocked by downed trees within and around the Forest. Forest Service crews are currently working to clear access and to remove hazards. This effort may take several days to complete.  Electric power was interrupted for some locations. There are no emergency closures on the Superior National Forest at this time.

Following the storm, the Forest Service has also assisted St. Louis and Lake County Sheriffs in search and rescue operations including an incident on Basswood Lake, within Quetico Provincial Park, that involved two fatalities and two serious injuries requiring hospitalization.

The National Weather Service is predicting another strong to severe thunderstorm to pass through northeast Minnesota on Saturday and Saturday night with damaging winds, torrential rainfall, and large hail.

Superior National Forest managers urge visitors to:
Be aware of current conditions on the Forest and to stay up-to-date with the forecast.
When planning travel on the Forest, especially in the Wilderness, understand that search and rescue takes longer in the wilderness than in an urban setting. Cell phones do not work in many parts of the BWCAW.
Be prepared! Prevent the need for a search and rescue operation that may impact the integrity of the Wilderness area or put others in danger
Lastly, leave a trip itinerary outlining your travel plans with someone at home and remember to check in with them when you return safely. The Forest Service does not automatically initiate searches if a group doesn’t leave as planned. If someone is concerned because you are late returning from your trip, they should contact the county sheriff’s office.

Updates will be posted at:
Superior National Forest web site:  www.fs.usda.gov/superior,
Facebook:  U.S. Forest Service-Superior National Forest
Twitter: @SuperiorNF

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Posted in BWCA

Another Storm in the BWCA and Beyond

If you’re trying to get a hold of us today then you probably aren’t having much luck. Our phones are sketchy right now due to last night’s storm. It was a doozy.

The light show outside of my bedroom window was amazing.  Lightning lit up the sky in all directions and it even lit up an electrical transformer nearby. Trees bent over and snapped off and some became uprooted. The wind speed gusted over 40 miles per hour and we received just under an inch of rain.

We have not heard any reports of injuries on our side of the BWCA. There appear to have been some injuries of campers near Ely, Minnesota but so far so good for us.  We do have campers in the woods and we’re praying for the safety of all.

We’re hoping this is the last of the severe storms of the summer.

Storm Boundary Waters

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

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Posted in News

Gadget Insanity

I thought I would be super happy now that we have broadband at the end of the Gunflint Trail but it turns out I’m not thrilled.  Don’t get me wrong, I love faster internet and the fact we can actually connect to the internet to get our work done.  When the internet was slow it was super painful to reserve a permit, print a fishing license or do anything online. Now that it is fast it seems more people want to use it and abuse it and that’s what I’m not happy about.

I wish I could say it is just kids that are obsessed with their gadgets but that would be lying. People of all ages are hooked on their technology and have a very difficult time not using it when it is available. Today I had a Grandpa bumping into things in the store because he was trying to read text messages on his phone. I also had a man come in to complain about his family all being on their phones upstairs in the lodge while he was waiting to go to Chik-Wauk Museum.  I told him to tell them it was against our rules to use the internet to make phone calls, then I said I was lying it really wasn’t against the rules, but then I created a new rule sheet and had Rachel make copies to post around the lodge so I can honestly say, “It’s against the rules.”

I don’t like to see people on their phones or iPads when they should be outside experiencing the great outdoors at the end of the Gunflint Trail. I understand there are a couple of instances where it may be necessary to check in with someone or check on something but I don’t want people wasting their precious vacation time on their gadget.  I also don’t want other people who are taking a gadget free vacation to have to be exposed to someone else using gadgets. It just looks and feels bad.

I hope you understand my need to have a rule in place at Voyageur. There are some things I’m not ready for and one of those is people sitting on our picnic table outside of the store talking on their cell phone.  I don’t ever want to have that be OK.

Go Gadget Free on the Gunflint Trail!

technology free vacations

Thanks for your Cooperation

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Voyageur Crew Member Cassidy

Cassidy is technically in her first year at Voyageur but since she is Matt’s partner and has gleaned a bunch of information from him she’s quite advanced. She spent the winter here with Matt and learned a ton about the business. Answering phones and emails she quickly learned about different routes, camping equipment and more. She’s had crash courses in marketing, hiring and retail sales. Through it all she has done an amazing job and we couldn’t be happier with her performance.

Our guests all love Cassidy as much as we do. She enjoys listening to people’s stories when they get back from canoe trips and she also likes helping our cabin guests make the most of their stay at Voyageur. When she’s not working she likes to paddle and spend time with nature laying in a hammock and reading. Cassidy’s favorite lake is Lake of the Clouds and she too is looking forward to her Quetico Park trip with Matt.

We’ve received so many compliments about how great Cassidy is and we encourage you to come up and meet her.  She plans to spend the winter at Voyageur again and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have her.

Voyageur crew end of Gunflint Trail

Cassidy

 

 

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The Wind Will Cease to Blow

Some people who read this blog might argue with me, especially if they were out in the canoe country recently.  I know I have written about this before but it is worth repeating. If it is super windy and wavy and it is too scary to paddle then stay off of the water. Some of you are nodding your heads with me in agreement right now while you are on dry land reading this in the comfort of your own home or office but something happens when people are out in the woods and the wind starts to howl.

Somehow the wind has the ability to change a situation. Does it carry with it a spell that puts people into a zombie like state? With arms stretched out straight in front of them people begin to chant, “We must leave the safety of our campsite and venture out into the water to risk life and limb to make it home safely, four days early.”

I don’t believe this really happens but something about the wind blowing compels people to pack up camp and head out into a perilous situation. It doesn’t make sense to me how one minute a group is content to camp on an island for a week but then the wind begins to blow and their situation has changed from camping to being stranded on an island.

When the wind blows it never fails. We have groups struggling in high waves to get back to Voyageur a day or days earlier than they were scheduled to return. The other night we rescued a group of campers who decided to paddle on Saganaga during super high wind and they capsized all of their canoes. Their gear was blown away along with their canoes and if it hadn’t been for Canadian homeowners all would have surely perished. What happens next is what really bothers me and it isn’t just because I’m tired of helping people like I told the Voyageur Crew, it’s because I worry for the safety of my crew more than the safety of everyone else. I care way more about our crew than I do about finding gear for someone who chose to paddle during inclement weather.

Now that I’m older and yes, a bit wiser, I realize things can happen in a split second. Boats can take on water, heads can get hit hard and people can die. While my summer crew is in my care I prefer that doesn’t happen to one of them. So, when we get called out to rescue someone or pick someone up three days early it bothers me. I don’t want to send our drivers out in windy and wavy conditions but because of the wind we are forced into doing it.  So when I act mad and righteous it really isn’t because I’m mad, it’s because I’m scared.  Will we continue to send people out to rescue others in this situation? Absolutely because I would want someone to do that for my loved one and it’s the right thing to do.

However, please do me a favor. If you are out on a lake and the wind starts to blow take advantage of the situation. Play cards, relax around a campfire, enjoy the fact there are no bugs and wait to paddle until the wind quits blowing.  It will cease to blow, it always does.

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Days Gone By at Voyageur

Some of our resort equipment at Voyageur is objecting to the work it is being asked to do.  Or should I just say things are going to pot? (If you want to know what that saying means or how it originated then check out this website.) Just this past week something went out on one of our pick-ups, we were told it would cost $1300 to repair one of our Suburbans, the Ranger needs new lug nuts, one of our 25 horsepower motors is broken, gear shifts on two other motors went out and the list goes on. I can’t remember which specific item it was we were talking about but  I started to rant.  I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately and while I don’t like to do it, no one likes to listen to me do it, it just felt like I needed to do it.

Voyageur on the Gunflint Trail

Dead Motor

Back in the old days at Voyageur we didn’t have a Ranger to zoom around in.  We actually had to walk places to get something or to find someone. Radios and the Ranger make things much easier. I remember when I had to use a wheelbarrow to bring bags of ice down from the ice machine(which was behind outfitting) to the store(now where the flower garden sits in front of the lodge).  It was a heavy load that would often tip and then the wet bags would get all muddy from the dirt parking lot.

I also remember having to take laundry across the river to wash in a ringer washing machine. No, I am not that old and there was no reason to still have a ringer washing machine except for the fact some people obviously had other people doing their laundry and didn’t think an electrical washer was a good investment. The previous owner did however believe a dryer was a good investment and it was located on the store side of the river so I would haul wet laundry in a Duluth Pack from one side of the river to the other so I could toss it into a dryer.

I can’t forget having to cook breakfast outside beneath the picnic pavillion across the river. The mosquitoes loved the heat of the griddle and swarmed me while I attempted to cook for guests rain or shine. Those early morning treks up the hill were not looked upon fondly and the ease at which we can cook breakfast now still amazes me.

Things change, machines break and we find new ways to do old things. Are the new ways better? Easier? Faster? I don’t know but if you ask me this week I will tell you they appear to be more expensive than ever before.

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