Northern Lights- Just Another Reason to Visit the Gunflint Trail

In spite of an almost full moon the northern lights put on a show for those lucky sky watchers last night. Our Voyageur Crew was outside enjoying a campfire when the show began.

Bursts of intense color lit up the sky and danced among the stars. Oh how lucky we are to live in a place with a dark sky.

If you want a chance to see the dance of the aurora borealis then you are in luck. We have a cabin open and waiting for you and because it’s already Thursday, it’s half-off the normal price. Call today, rent a cabin for the weekend and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Aurora Borealis Minnesota

Northern Lights



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Posted in BWCA

72 Degrees and Sunny

Today we welcomed back the sunshine. It had been absent the past few days and we were missing it. It was a beautiful blue sky day that has a way of making everything feel right.

Everything except for the water temperature that is. The rain and cooler temperatures have made the water cool off a bit. Instead of the balmy 72 degree surface temperature it’s more like 62 degrees. It’s still warm enough for swimming but the chill stays with you a little while longer after you leave the water. I like to swim in the river but I must admit I’m not a big fan of cold water. I hope for sunshine and warm temperatures to keep the water temperature in the 60′s for as long as possible.

I also just hope for sunshine and warm temperatures in general. I’m not ready to wear sweatshirts and long pants yet. My daughter on the other hand embraces the cooler temperatures as was evident at a football scrimmage the other day.

Neither of us checked the weather before we left home. I chose to wear a tank top with shorts and a pair of sandals. She wore a sweatshirt, long pants and her mukluks. We were quite the pair and quite the opposite.  The temperature was in the 60′s so we were both pretty comfortable sitting in the sunshine each wearing the clothing we hoped the weather would reflect.

Posted in News

Sharing is Nice, But Not When it’s My Campsite

If you are out in the Boundary Waters and can’t find a campsite then please don’t ask me if you can camp at my site with me. I’m sorry but I really don’t want to share. If I tell you, “No thank you, I prefer not.” then you had better start paddling away unless you’ve got a really good reason why you must stay at my site.

There are exceptions to this I am sure, I just can’t think of any right now. Maybe if you are lost or it’s storming out or a forest fire went through your campsite it would be ok, but then again, maybe not.

Campsites in the BWCA or the Superior National Forest really aren’t meant for sharing. As far as I know there’s no rule stating you have to share your campsite. In fact, you can camp pretty much anywhere in the SNF and it doesn’t need to be at a campsite.

Campsites are nice. They usually have a flat spot for your tent, a fire grate, a latrine and good access to the water. There are hiking trails in the BWCA and some of the tent sites are located on water where canoeists might end up camping. This is unfortunate when it happens and someone hiking has planned on camping there.

Boundary Waters maps made by Fisher Maps distinguish between a hiking campsite and a regular campsite. The hiking campsites are marked on the map with a triangle while the paddling campsites have a circle/dot.  If your group is paddling and takes a hiking campsite and a hiker comes along then it’s time for you to pack up if the hiker wants that site. It’s much easier to paddle across the lake than it is to hike another 3-5 miles and it was your mistake camping there in the first place.

What if another hiker comes along and wants to share your campsite? Some people might want to share but please refer to the title of my post. And if the person doesn’t want to share then please be on your way.  I wouldn’t be comfortable with someone else at my campsite.  It would ruin my time in the wilderness and I think it’s somewhat creepy. It’s an invasion of privacy and it would be uncomfortable sharing a latrine with someone else or even swimming with them around.  I would worry at night and I wouldn’t sleep good.

Some of you might have stories about a time when you shared a campsite or got asked to share your campsite. I’d like to hear about your experience and your opinion about sharing a campsite since you obviously know mine if you’re still reading this post:) Thanks for sharing, pun intended.

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Posted in BWCA

Cook County Minnesota Far From Ugly

A recent “study” of the most beautiful and the ugliest counties places Cook County Minnesota at 310 out of 3111. It places Ventura County in California at #1 and Red Lake County of Minnesota dead last. A Minnesota County that is uglier than every other county in the USA? I don’t think so.

According to the USDA beautiful counties are ones that have mild winters so that explains why most of the midwest is considered ugly by their standards. “The index combines “six measures of climate, topography and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer(mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation and access to a body of water).

I wonder where green space or recreation fit into the equation? Or population density or ugly concrete jungles?  It’s difficult to be too angry because the criterion is ludicrous.  Obviously they don’t think a place with a cold winter can be beautiful.

The good news is with studies like this people should stay away from so-called ugly counties and leave it for the rest of the people to enjoy.  Beautiful to me is more about finding places to recreate in the great outdoors, catch fish, hike trails, paddle a canoe and enjoy solitude.  Sounds like the BWCA and Cook County Minnesota. It might not be beautiful to everyone but it certainly is to me.


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Kind Words From Guests

This is why we love what we do at Voyageur.

We just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone we came into contact with at Voyageurs and especially Jay, thank you Jay.  Neither of us have used outfitters before and had no idea what to expect. We arrived late after business hours, it was dark and we weren’t sure what we were doing, earlier in the day however we placed a call to check in and told them we would be late.

When we arrived, our bunkhouse had a placard with our name on it that said welcome, when we stepped inside it was very clean, and the staff had placed our sleeping bags inside for us. All we had to do after our long journey to Voyageurs was to slide inside of our bags and fall asleep.

In the morning we a wonderful breakfast before checking in at the counter, then Jay took us to processing where he explained AND asked questions to ensure that we knew what the plan was, what to expect of our time and the equipment they provided us. He was gracious and informative in giving us detailed information on different campsites throughout the area, and he was spot on.

We got to the dock where our equipment and canoe was waiting for us and hopped in and paddled away. We couldn’t have enjoyed our trip any more than we did; breathtaking, incredible, moving and surreal are only a few words we can think of to describe our experience in the boundary waters and with Voyageurs.

Upon our arrival back at Voyageurs at the unfortunate end of our trip our car was waiting at the dock for us, we gathered our things and said goodbye and thank you and were on our way home only too soon.

Thank you so very much for a really unbelievable experience, we couldn’t have asked for anything more and Voyageurs has secured a special place in our memories.

BWCA canoe trip

Happy Campers with Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

island sunset

lake saganaga




really happy campers

snuggling at sunlight

Tracy Charpentier and Shira Granotethis is the life

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Fall Colors in August

A drive on the Gunflint Trail looks more like a September day than an August day. The leaves are already changing thanks to a long dry spell.  Yellow leaves, rust colored ferns, deep crimson blueberry bushes and a few reds mix in with the predominantly green landscape.

Fall is coming and today was the first game of the season for the Cook County Vikings in Grand Marais. Mike is an assistant coach and as a freshman in a small school Josh is on Varsity. It was warm and sunny today and the first time in my history I have ever been sunburned watching football. We are more accustomed to snow flurries during football games up here.

The water in the lakes are beginning to cool off. I’m not ready to quit swimming this soon so I may have to get my wetsuit out sooner rather than later.

The forecast calls for warm temperatures this coming week and that is fine with me. I’ll hang onto summer as long as I can.

Posted in News

Oh Those Pesky Black Bears

I guess we aren’t the only part of the Superior National Forest that is experiencing friendly and frequent black bear visitors. The bear population must be at an all time high because many people are reporting seeing them either on their drive up the Gunflint Trail or in the Boundary Waters. Surprisingly we haven’t heard of any bear problems with people out camping in the BWCA. They have been spotted at Forest Service Campgrounds and of course at Voyageur.

While Elsa and I have scoured the woods for blueberries the most common form we found them in were in piles of bear scat. There are piles literally everywhere. Could they be part of the cause of the poor blueberry season? I think so.

In any case, bears are abundant and I’m glad they are just black bears who are more like raccoons than bears. Be sure to check out the link for some of the bear products at the end of their release.


August 20, 2015   Duluth, MN   Superior National Forest managers urge the public to learn and practice Bear Aware principles for the protection of both people and bears. There are several things that people can do to reduce the potential for unwanted bear encounters like the recent instances that have been reported across the Forest.

Especially when camping, ALL food, cooking equipment, and garbage should be stored out of reach of bears or in a certified bear-resistant container. Be aware that bears may also find the smell of toothpaste, lipstick, scented personal hygiene products, sunscreen, clothing with food odor, etc. attractive. A bear can even smell a candy bar wrapper inside a tent. A clean campsite is much less likely to catch the attention of bears in the area. Here are some important points:

Once a meal is concluded, the cooking equipment should be washed immediately and away from the sleeping area. Toiletries, food and garbage should be placed in a bear-resistant container, out of view in a hard-sided vehicle or hung out of reach by hanging the food pack from a high line between two trees. The bag should be located at least twelve feet above ground and at least six feet from the trees on either side.
Don’t count on a cooler to protect your food. Coolers are not bear-resistant containers. Bears can smell bottled beverages and food in plastic coolers. Once a bear is rewarded with food or something sweet in one cooler or tent, it learns to bite and tear into other tents and coolers.
Dispose of fish remains by traveling well away from campsites, trails, portages and shorelines.
Avoid leaving food unguarded at the end of a portage. If it is not in a bear-resistant container, it is an easy target and can teach a bear to frequent the portage.

Residents in bear country also should be bear aware. Keep pet food secured in the house and remove bird feeders at night and store garbage in a building or in trash containers that cannot be opened by bears. Once a bear learns that human food is easily accessible, the bear will elevate its efforts to get it; putting people and bears at risk.

To learn more about safe living and camping or hiking in bear country, check out:

Specifics regarding certified bear-resistant products is available at:


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Welcome Sun

The sun did finally decide to peek through the clouds today. It didn’t stay long and it didn’t warm things up very much but it was nice to see it. It’s absence the past couple of days made it feel more like October than August on the Gunflint Trail.

The temperature has been a bit frigid for August.  On the 18th the low temperature was a mere 39 degrees. The high for yesterday was 57 degrees and today was 58 degrees. The good news is sweatshirt sales were up in the store along with winter hats and rain jackets.

Tomorrow and Saturday the forecast calls for temperatures back up into the 80′s.  Yep, weather in Minnesota is anything but predictable.

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Welcome Rain on the Gunflint Trail

In the past 24 hours we’ve received almost 1.5″ of rain. The rain was much needed as the land was parched. Fire is a four letter “F” word we don’t like to mention around here. We’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with it for a number of years and with this rain we’re pretty sure we’ll make it through another season.

Paddling and camping in the rain isn’t always an ideal situation but it sure beats not being able to go camping due to wildfires. We feel for the folks elsewhere in the US who are dealing with wildfires and we pray for their safety as well as the folks fighting the fires.

You can find out where fires are burning on this website.

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Changing Places

There are times when one must change into or out of an outfit in a not very private space. I just read an article about one person who ended up in jail by exposing too much of himself in front of the wrong person.

Most public landings on the Gunflint Trail have an outhouse or adequate woods to provide privacy while urinating or changing. I encourage folks to use a private area rather than making everyone uncomfortable by changing out in the open.  Yes, I have seen butts and boobs and other dangly things but I prefer not to see them up close and personal thank you very much.

Most of the time there is a vehicle parked at the BWCA landing you can take advantage of. Strategically placing yourself between your two open doors provides a pretty good screen. Just make sure no one is in the car or on the other side of the vehicle.

The article suggested using a bath robe or having someone hold a towel. While this does work an easier way for women is to bring along a long, billowy skirt with an elastic waist.  It needs to be long enough so you can pull it up over your bust and still cover your rump. With this on you can easily change garments beneath it without giving anyone a show. You can also squat down to pee without exposing yourself too.  It cuts down on bites to the buttocks as well as embarrassment.

Do you have any good advice for those who must change in places that aren’t so private? If so, then let me know, I’m always looking for new techniques.

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