Cooking over a Campfire

One thing I have never thought of before was the dangers of cooking in a Boundary Waters fire pit. I was at a USFS BWCA Cooperator meeting the other day and one of the wilderness rangers said she never starts a fire before she has cleaned out the fire pit.  She has found too many things partially burned in firepits and residues left in the ash could be harmful.

I guess it is somewhat common for people to burn garbage even in the Boundary Waters. Have you ever thought about the potential health effects of cooking over a campfire?

Here’s some information from the USFS if you’d like to learn more.

Cooking over a campfire in the BWCA

BWCA campfire cooking


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Bearfoot in the Outfitting Building

I went up to the outfitting building last night to look for something. I can’t remember what I went up there for but that isn’t important.  What is important is there were footprints everywhere.  It looked like someone had walked around without shoes on after walking in the mud.

I started to think about what I was seeing and what I wasn’t seeing. I wondered first off, who was walking around barefooted?  Then I wondered, where are the heel marks? Why are the pads and toes just appearing on the floor?  Then I looked closer.  What in the heck?

These prints weren’t from bare feet, they were from BEAR FEET!  Sure enough after inquiring about it we were told the story.  It wasn’t a very long story and it went kind of like this, “The door was left partially open and lo and behold, the bear walked right in.”  I guess the bear found some powdered apple cider it liked and a few other items but that was it. It could have been much worse.

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters





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82 degrees on the Gunflint Trail

We’ve had the warmest days of the year this week and it’s almost October.  The past few days have been absolutely gorgeous and the fall colors are brilliant beneath the bright blue sky.  Today and tomorrow our confirmation class from church is having a retreat at Voyageur and we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.

Today Josh’s football team scrimmaged and I don’t ever remember watching football on such a beautiful day.  Normally there’s a chill in the air and we’re bundled up in blankets, but not today.  I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.

The temperature is expected to drop after tomorrow and we’ll be back to bundling up for football games. Until then, we’ll take what we can get of this warm and sunny weather.

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Voyageur Fall Scenes

80 degrees today, can you believe it? What a wonderful day for the Cook County 7th graders to come and paddle and play at the end of the Gunflint Trail. The fall colors were brilliant beneath the blue sky.  What a great time for folks to paddle the BWCA.

Gunflint Trail Fall

Fall on the Gunflint Trail




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Llike Leaves on a Tree

We were lucky this year many of our summer crew were able to stay into the fall. But now like the leaves on the trees the crew has fluttered away on the wind. Abigail and Kira left in August but Matt and Paul just left this past week.  Soon to leave are two more guys that I haven’t had a chance to introduce yet.

Evan is a second year employee from Dayton, Minnesota. His favorite things to do while at work are drive the tow boats, take fish guts and take cardboard to the recycle trailer.  When he’s not working he enjoys camping, reading and relaxing in a hammock.  His favorite lake is Grandpa and his favorite route is down Ottertrack Lake to Eddy Falls.  He would like to visit Ham Lake in the future and when he grows up he wants to be “happy.” He’s been a great addition to the Voyageur crew and we’ll miss having him around.

Evan and Kira

Evan and Kira

Luke joined us this summer from Champlin, Minnesota. He’s a childhood friend of Evan’s who likes to fish and wants to be a musician when he grows up. He’s majoring in musical therapy at Anoka Ramsey Community College but took the fall off to help at Voyageur. We’ve enjoyed having Luke as a part of the crew as he has been a Jack of all Trades.   He’s done a variety of things while working including driving the tow boat, transporting guests, painting, cleaning, cooking canoe repair and of course equipment clean up. Both Evan and Luke love Rugby to death and I’m sure Rugby will miss both of them greatly.

Luke with his photo of Rugby

Voyageur Crew member Luke

Not too long from now Elsa will also flutter away from Voyageur for another winter. Hannah, Tony and Mark are still with us and will be for the winter so I guess they are like the trees that remain while the leaves disperse.

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View from the Brewery in Grand Marais

I went to check out the progress on the Voyageur Brewing Company building yesterday and as always I was pleasantly surprised.  Things are moving right along and the building is looking beautiful. The people working on it are doing a fantastic job and I’m happy to say they are all local.

While there I decided to take a few photos. In addition to the great view from inside the brewery tasting room there’s going to be an awesome view from the rooftop patio.  I can’t wait to sit up there beneath the sun or stars and gaze out at Lake Superior.  We can’t wait for you to do it either!

View of Grand Marais Harbor

View from the rooftop of Voyageur Brewing Company

Voyageur Brewing Company Rooftop view

Brewery in Grand Marais, Minnesota

Voyageur Brewing Company View

Craft beer taproom in Grand Marais, Minnesota

View from the taproom in Grand MArais, MN

Craft beer in Grand Marais, MN

Brewing in Grand Marais, Minnesota

Craft Beer with a View


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Come Camping in the BWCA

It was 77 degrees and sunny again today. Can you say gorgeous weather? The forecast also looks wonderful with temperatures in the 70′s through the weekend and very little chance of rain.  Tonight the northern lights were even out. Talk about a perfect time to paddle and camp in the Boundary Waters.

I wish I could camp this weekend but we’re entertaining. On Friday the 7th Grade students from Cook County School will be coming to the end of the Gunflint Trail to learn about Firewise, how to use a GPS and visit the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. They will get to do some canoe paddling from the public landing over to Chik-Wauk.  This is the 3rd or 4th year the school has done this field trip and it’s tons of fun for everyone.

Then Saturday the confirmation students from our church(including Josh and Abby) will participate in a retreat at Voyageur.  It will be a quick one because there are home football games for Varsity and Junior High on Friday and Saturday respectively.  The group will be there around 4pm on Saturday and leave around the same time on Sunday.

Have no fear though. If you want to take a trip into the BWCA then we have plenty of people who can help make that a reality.  We would love to see you take this opportunity to paddle on what is sure to be a wonderful weekend.

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Fall Colors are Here

Fall Colors

Fall Colors

It’s beginning to look more like fall every day.  Today was a gorgeous day with brilliant sunshine and the temperature up in the 70′s on the Gunflint Trail. The forecast calls for more temperatures in the 70′s for the rest of the week. I wish I were out camping in the BWCA but at least I’ve been able to get out and do a little hiking.

Today a friend and I hiked the Devil’s Kettle Trail in Judge C. Magney State Park. It’s a short one mile hike along the Brule River to a beautiful waterfall.  Half of the river spills into a pool below the falls and where the other half goes nobody knows. Read the story below to learn more about it.

Waterfalls on the North Shore

Minnesota State Parks
Judge. C. Magney’s Devil’s Kettle


If you’ve ever worried that we’ve solved all the mysteries of nature, fear not. Minnesota’s Devil’s Kettle Falls has been puzzling hikers and geologists for generations. At the falls, along Lake Superior’s north shore, a river forks at a rock outcropping. While one side tumbles down a two-step stone embankment and continues on like a normal waterfall, the other side vanishes into a deep hole and disappears — apparently forever.

A few miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border, the Brule River flows through Minnesota’s Judge C. R. Magney State Park, where it drops 800 feet in an 8-mile span, creating several waterfalls. A mile and a half north of the shore of Lake Superior, a thick knuckle of rhyolite rock juts out, dividing the river dramatically at the crest of the falls. To the east, a traditional waterfall carves a downward path, but to the west, a geological conundrum awaits visitors. A giant pothole, the Devil’s Kettle, swallows half of the Brule and no one has any idea where it goes. The consensus is that there must be an exit point somewhere beneath Lake Superior, but over the years, researchers and the curious have poured dye, pingpong balls, even logs into the kettle, then watched the lake for any sign of them. So far, none has ever been found.
And this baffling situation only gets weirder when geologists start explaining Devil’s Kettle. Consider, for instance, the sheer quantity of water pouring into the kettle every minute of every day. While the notion of some kind of broad, underground river is an exciting device in movies, the reality is that those sorts of deep caves are rare, and only form in soft rock types like limestone. Northern Minnesota, as geologists will tell you, is built of stronger stuff.
In harder rocks like the local rhyolite and basalts, tectonic action can sometimes crush underground rock layers, creating a much more permeable environment for water. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence of a fault line in the area, and even if there were, it’s unlikely that the kettle could continue draining the Brule indefinitely. Storms and erosion send debris, sometimes as large as boulders and trees, over the falls and into the kettle — if the drainage route was, in effect, an underground gravel bed, at some point it would clog.
Another idea is that millions of years ago, a hollow lava tube may have formed beneath the falls, in the subsurface layer of basalt. Over time, the theory posits, the falling water eroded the rhyolite surface and punched straight down into the ancient lava tube, providing wide open access to the floor of Lake Superior. Again, there are problems with this theory, primarily that the local basalt is a type known as flood basalt, which spreads out as a flat sheet when ancient lava bubbled up from fissures in the ground. Lava tubes form in basalt flowing down the slopes of volcanoes, and even if the geology in northern Minnesota had somehow created an exception to that rule, no lava tubes have ever been found in any of the hundreds of exposed basalt beds in the area.
So where does the water go? So far, nobody knows — but not for lack of trying. Scientists and hikers will keep tossing things into the Devil’s Kettle and watching Lake Superior for any sign of their trinkets, but maybe there are other explanations. If you happen to be traveling, say, somewhere in Eurasia and stumble across a geyser that’s surrounded by pingpong balls, logs, and even a car that locals are reported to have pushed in one night years ago, you might want to call a geologist in Minnesota. You may just have solved the mystery of Devil’s Kettle Falls.
Judge C. Magney State Park

Devil’s Kettle Minnesota


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Hiking up the Devil’s Track River

Today Josh, his friend and I went for a hike to see how far up the Devil’s Track River we could get. It’s something people around here do year around but I had never done it. In the winter people cross-country ski it but this time of the year when the river isn’t frozen you get your feet wet.

The Devil’s Track River formed a canyon so in some spots there are steep cliffs on both sides of the river. There’s no way to climb up the cliffs so you must wade through the water back and forth across the river to find land suitable to walk on.  In some places there are trees piled high from a spring flood a few years ago.  A scramble up and over the trees and once again you’re on your way.

We turned around before we reached any magnificent waterfall but it wasn’t about the destination as much as it was the journey. It was a glorious fall day and the sun was shining brightly. The water was a bit chilly but the the laughter of the boys warmed my heart.

Devil's Track River Gorge

Exploring Minnesota’s North Shore

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Mighty Lake Superior

Someone shared this neat graphic and information with me so I thought I would share it with all of you.

Lake Superior

great lake superior

Lake Superior contains ten percent of all the fresh water on the planet Earth.
It covers 82,000 square kilometers or 31,700 square miles.

The average depth is 147 meters or 483 feet.

There have been about 350 shipwrecks recorded in Lake Superior

Lake Superior is, by surface area, the largest lake in the world.

A Jesuit priest in 1668 named it Lac Trac, but that name was never officially adopted.

It contains as much water as all the other Great Lakes combined, plus three extra Lake Erie ‘s!!

There is a small outflow from the lake at St. Mary’s River (Sault Ste Marie) into Lake Huron , but it takes almost two centuries for the water to be completely replaced.

There is enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America with water one foot deep.

Lake Superior was formed during the last glacial retreat, making it one of the earth’s youngest major features at only about 10,000 years old.

The deepest point in the lake is 405 meters or 1,333 feet.

There are 78 different species of fish that call the big lake home.

The maximum wave ever recorded on Lake Superior was 9.45 meters or 31 feet high.

If you stretched the shoreline of Lake Superior out to a straight line, it would be long enough to reach from Duluth to the Bahamas .

Over 300 streams and rivers empty into Lake Superior with the largest source being the Nipigon River

The average underwater visibility of Lake Superior is about 8 metersor 27 feet, making it the cleanest and clearest of the Great Lakes . Underwater visibility in some spots reaches 30 meters.

In the summer, the sun sets more than 35 minutes later on the western shore of Lake Superior than at its southeastern edge.

Some of the world’s oldest rocks, formed about 2.7 billion
years ago, can be found on the Ontario shore of Lake Superior

It very rarely freezes over completely, and then usually just for a few hours. Complete freezing occurred in 1962, 1979, 2003, 2009 and 2014.

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