Bull Moose around Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

Our guests and crew have been spotting a bull moose lately. There were tracks in the parking lot the other morning and Matt saw him swimming in the rapids of the Seagull River.

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Boundary Waters Peace and Quiet?


Boundary WAters Canoe Area

BWCA Campsite

I sometimes wonder how silence can be so welcoming to some and not to others. I find it wonderful to be away from vehicle alarms, horns, sirens, traffic and chatter. When it’s noisy it interrupts my connection to the natural world. If I can’t hear the wings of a bird flapping overhead or the leaves rustling in the trees it is as if I can no longer hear. Natural sounds help quiet my mind.


It’s difficult to get away from noise. Even in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park you can sometimes hear planes overhead or the distant buzz of a motorboat. When camping you encounter other paddlers and campers who may not value silence as much as you do.

The Boundary Waters and Quetico Park both have rules and regulations to ensure a quiet environment. The BWCA regulations emphasize this on their video and on the permit itself. Number 6 on the permit says, “EXPLAIN THE NINE PERSON RULE AND THE FOUR WATERCRAFT RULE No more than 9 people can be together at any place in the Wilderness-on the water, on portages or in camp. Smaller groups have less impact on the land and other visitors and are more likely to see wildlife.” Number 11 on the BWCA permit says, “A QUIET CAMPER IS A NO-TRACE CAMPER. WHY? Noise impacts other people’s solitude and scares off wildlife.” #13 involves dogs in the wilderness and the impact their barking can have on the experience of others. The rules are enforceable Forest Service regulations with a maximum penalty of $5000 and/or 6 months in jail.

BWCA from the Gunflint Trail

Beautiful Pines

While I don’t necessarily think the USFS should fine a person $5000 for playing an accordion in the middle of a canoe paddling across a Boundary Waters lake I do think it would be nice if I would never see it again.

Yes, on a recent canoe camping trip in the Boundary Waters there was a canoe with 3 people in it and one person was playing the accordion as they paddled past. They were with a group of 9 guys. Another group of 9 girls paddled past singing some Disney tune at what had to have been the top of their lungs. It was more like screaming than singing and it was very loud. When my friends and I heard and saw these things we were shocked to say the least. After our lunch break we paddled over to a portage where the shock continued. There were two groups of 9 girls at the portage at the same time!

Boundary Waters Leave No Trace

accordion player

I do know how difficult it is to travel quietly with a group of girls. I battled with it myself when I took a group of teenagers into the BWCA. The more girls there are the louder they feel they have to be in order to compete. I explained until I was literally red in the face with smoke coming out of my ears how they needed to respect the wilderness values. It wasn’t fair to the people around them who wanted peace and quiet. It was the first and last time I took a group of kids into the wilderness. A better place to take them would have been to a State Park or campground where they could be a little bit noisy.

The groups of canoes and people we encountered during our camping trip were from a college. They were out on a freshman orientation trip which I think is a great idea. What a wonderful way to start a new chapter in one’s life. I realize the guides weren’t adults and they can only exert so much control over the members. They could make it a policy to ask students to leave loud noise making instruments at home. They could also do a better job teaching them about wilderness values and perhaps they would stop singing so loudly.

Is this a case of a generational difference? Where kids these days can’t stand the sound of silence? Where they are so accustomed to radios blasting, vehicle noise and notifications of text messages buzzing that they can’t handle being in a quiet environment?

I sure hope that isn’t the case. Where would these individuals get their inner peace from if it doesn’t involve somewhere quiet? I know I will always need peace and quiet and I hope others will embrace and appreciate it as much as I do, especially when they are in the Boundary Waters.

Boundary Waters camping trip

Boundary Waters Sunset



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Awesome Boundary Waters Trip


BWCA canoe trip

Photo by Van

It’s so nice to get these kind of emails from our guests. We love it when happy campers send us photos from their trip or emails with highlights of their trip.  Feel free to send yours our way!


Subject: Awesome trip

My son and I were guest of yours a few weeks ago.  We spent the night before

we got on the water in one of the bunk houses then 4 days 3 nights camping

then another night in a bunk house.  From the moment we arrived we both felt

welcomed and appreciated.  Everyone had a smile and was extremely helpful.

We couldn’t have asked for a better route then what Matt suggested.

Unbelievable beauty, better fishing than I ever dreamed of.  We caught over

200 smallmouth in 4 days.  Thanks to all of you for making this the trip of

a lifetime.  We will be back.  


Photo by Van


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Posted in BWCA

Kadunce River Interpretive Trail

If you haven’t been reading the stories about our Kadunce River experience then this blog won’t make too much sense. Either skip reading it or go back and read the other three blogs first.


Hiking Kadunce River


The overwhelming feeling of embarassment I first felt is slowly being replaced by a sense of pride. I’m especially proud of Abby and Chloe and how amazing they were in that situation. If I ever have to be stranded anywhere again I hope it’s with the two of them. Why be embarassed at all? People have perceptions that aren’t necessarily accurate. I know that isn’t my problem but it does affect me. I don’t claim to be a wilderness wonder woman yet I think there are people who think I do. Those people are probably laughing at me and thinking, “Ha, Ha, she had to be rescued.”


Why be embarassed at all? People have perceptions that aren’t necessarily accurate. I know that isn’t my problem but it does affect me. I don’t claim to be a wilderness wonder woman yet I think there are people who think I do. Those people are probably laughing at me and thinking, “Ha, Ha, she had to be rescued.”

You know how sometimes it’s easier to make fun of people who you think are confident or cocky?  Well, just so you know I’m not a very confident person and I make a ton of mistakes in all aspects of my life. Although I recently read there is no such thing as a mistake if you learned something from it.  Is that true? I don’t know.

Hiking the north shore

Super Girls

I do know I learned a lot along the way and I’m glad for the experience.  Am I still embarrassed? Sure, but I’m also proud.

I am not one to ask other people for help. I hate to inconvenience people. I like to do things on my own and for myself. For me to sit back and be rescued was a BIG DEAL! I think what makes the entire experience better is knowing we all learned something that day.

The first thing I hope the girls learned is that I had just as much confidence in their ability to hike and climb the waterfalls as I did with the boys. I didn’t doubt they could make it all of the way up and out of the river. The fact the water level prevented us from doing so was beyond our control. Them knowing it was “OK” to turn back and me not pressuring them to continue in order to “save face” or prove something was never on the table. There was no shaming or ridicule involved and no one was made to feel inadequate or not capable.

At one point I asked them what they would have done if I hadn’t been there. Abby said, “I probably wouldn’t have even made it past the 2nd waterfalls without you to help me up so I wouldn’t be stuck.” I think Abby would have made it up on her own and I’m not sure if they would have attempted to climb the last waterfalls up and out or if they would have attempted to climb the waterfall back down where we were at. Whether or not that is true I think we all learned to evaluate situations and make good decisions.

LAke SUperior hiking trails

Happy Trails


We didn’t risk falling at the last waterfall, we didn’t attempt to scale the canyon walls, we stayed in one place and we stayed together.

We knew we needed to get outside help so we immediately began yelling for help. We didn’t wait for someone else to just happen upon us but we actively screamed until we secured help. We waited patiently, remained calm and kept a positive attitude the entire time. We didn’t blame each other or get mad or have a breakdown.

I’m sure the girls have learned as I have, how much the community we live in cares about all of us. In a small town news travels fast and with teens involved and Social Media I think everyone knew about our adventure before we even made it home. So many people have texted or told me how they prayed for us and were worried for our safety and how happy they were to know we were all fine. It’s nice to know how caring our community is and even though you may not have direct relationships with some people it doesn’t mean they don’t care about you. It was surprising to me that people cared that much.

I know I make fun of people on my blog and I will continue to make fun of people on my blog. I criticize folks for getting into dangerous situations and for putting rescuers in danger. I am sorry I had to inconvenience everyone and I am grateful no one got hurt. I put myself in risky situations every time I solo hike, paddle or camp and I’ll continue to do those activities. Accidents and mishaps can happen anywhere, anytime and not having too much pride to call for help when you need it is a good thing.

As a number of people have said, “What a great story to tell.” It is a great adventure story with two great girls. I was able to go hiking with them and spend quality time together in the woods. We learned a lot of things along the way and best of all it was a story with a happy ending.


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Kadunce River Rescue

When we finally heard voices we were ecstatic and relieved. We couldn’t hear what they were saying very well over the loud sound of the waterfall but we were able to communicate to them that we needed to be rescued. We let them know it wasn’t an emergency and we were all injury free. We asked them to call 911 and have Search and Rescue dispatched.

Hiking on the North Shore Minnesota

Our next meal had we not been rescued


While screaming and scanning the canyon walls for places I might be able to scale I never once thought we would have to spend the night there. Maybe it was wishful thinking but in any case I wasn’t prepared to do so. Normally I have my backpack that I take every time I go camping, paddling or hiking. Inside of it I have an emergency blanket, rain poncho, rope, duct tape, fire starter, bug spray, sunscreen, water treatment pills, toilet paper, signaling device, compass, lip balm, small first aid kit, bandana, whistle and more. However, on this particular day I had held that backpack in my hands and then at the last minute decided to grab a larger one so I had room for the 6-pack of beer and I left my companion backpack at home.

We were wet and a bit chilled because the sunshine doesn’t reach into the canyon. That didn’t affect the spirits of Abby or Chloe. They had a great attitude, remained calm and even made a little home for us with a bedroom, kitchen, bath tub and bathroom. They captured hilarious footage of themselves with my camera and made our time stranded seem like we were just hanging out for the day.

Highway 61 hiking trails

Two Thumbs Up Even BEFORE rescuers heard us!

Confident in our guardian angels we celebrated our good fortune and settled in to wait for the Search and Rescue to arrive. We ended up waiting longer than we thought we would have to because our angels met up with Mike on the trail. They relayed the information we had given them and he wanted to know the exact location we were at and our situation before calling for help.

Mike isn’t one to ask for help and there are very few situations he can’t figure out a solution for on his own. He wasn’t about to have the Search and Rescue team come out for something he could accomplish on his own. They led him to where we were and he yelled down to us. Again, we couldn’t hear what he was saying over the sound of the falls. We confirmed we were all physically fine but we couldn’t make it down the falls. I tried to explain that he should walk up the river to talk with us and maybe help us down himself. Unfortunately I didn’t get the message across but he did make the call to Search and Rescue.

hiking the north shore of lake superior

Amazing Attitudes and GREAT girls


I don’t know the exact timeline of events. But the angels heard us around 4:00pm and Mike probably talked to us around 4:45pm. The Search and Rescue team most likely arrived around 5:30pm because Chloe and Abby were on the other side of the waterfall by 6:30pm. It did take the rescuers awhile to determine the best method of getting us down safely. While they probably could have helped us down on their left side of the falls, possibly injury free without ropes, they chose the safe bet and set up some ropes to use.

Highway 61 hiking trails

Cook County Search and Rescue Team


They threw us a rope and I secured it to a large rock in the river. I held on to the rope as a rescuer climbed up the falls. He then made a harness out of straps and got Chloe into it and ready to make her way down the falls. Using a knot instead of a caribiner she could control the speed of her descent and if she let go the rope would catch her so she wouldn’t fall. Once Chloe was safely down it was Abby’s turn. For her they used a belt instead of the strap caribiner and with a little assistance she too was over the falls. Last but not least it was my turn. Part of me just wanted to remain there to avoid embarrassment but I too made it down safely.

After the rescuers made sure we were physically able to walk on our own we hiked down the river until it met up with the hiking trail. There waiting for us were a number of people including a couple of EMT’s, a couple of Sheriff Deputies,  a couple Volunteer Fire Department members and Mike. He was relieved to see we were indeed fine.

Hiking the North Shore

Happy Hikers


We hiked the trail out to the bridge on the highway where the parking area is. There awaiting our arrival were two ambulances, a dozen or so concerned responders and Chloe’s Mom. Evidently she was very worried about Chloe and very happy to see she was OK.

I was very grateful for the help and concern of all of the people involved in the rescue. They did an amazing job and we were all appreciative of their help. We live in a wonderful and caring community and since it’s such a small community I knew most of the rescuers. What I felt besides blessed was embarrassed that I had to be rescued.

I’ll save that part of the story for another day.




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Posted in personal stories

Happy Labor Day

Travel safely everyone!

Posted in News

Enjoy the Labor Day Weekend

School starts Tuesday! I can’t believe I have a daughter who is a Senior and a son who is a Junior. Where did the time go? I have no clue. I do know it went way too fast and I’m not ready for this summer to be over. I want to hang on to the last few moments so my story will have to wait for the weekend to be over.

Posted in News

Humble Pie Second Helpings

It was a beautiful day on the river with the sun shining and temperature warm. The water felt warm on our feet and we gladly waded in water up to our waists to get from one falls to another. It had been a couple of years since I had last hiked the river and I couldn’t remember the difficulty or order of the falls.

The first waterfalls were super easy to get up. The second waterfalls were the ones I was apprehensive about when I hiked with Josh and his friend. I wanted to take advantage of the photo opportunity there and by the time I was ready to check the falls out Chloe was at the top. I looked at the falls and could tell there was considerably more water going over than there had been when I was there last.  I assisted Abby up the rocks and then attempted to get up myself. I made it partway before sliding back down the rocks on my left side and then landing on sharp rocks in the river.

Hiking with Josh

Hiking with Abby

I decided to check out the right side of the waterfall to see if it would be easier. While it was a little drier it wasn’t easier and it took me awhile to build up enough courage to go for it but I made it to the top. A bit exhausted and shaky I was happy to have that behind us as we continued on our adventure. 

We enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of the canyons and moving water. We went up a few more rapids and at one set of falls Abby slipped on the rocks and landed on her side. I could tell it hurt her but she’s tough and there weren’t any tears so we kept going.

We reached the last falls and I remembered this one as being a little tricky to descend. A group had been climbing there and using ropes for assistance. It was much drier then so it didn’t stick in my mind as being particularly difficult. Chloe led the charge and made it within a few feet of the top but then didn’t think she could make it the rest of the way. There wasn’t a good dry place to climb and there weren’t hand holds. I went up to where she was and spent alot of time pondering what to do.

Hiking with Josh

I knew it would be risky to attempt to ascend the remaining bit of the waterfall. Chloe was apprehensive at the top and Abby was still at the bottom of the falls. I didn’t feel comfortable forcing Chloe to continue up the falls but I also didn’t want to have to descend the waterfall I had trouble with. Up to this point Abby and I had a few bruises and scrapes but Chloe was bruise free.

A question popped into my mind. “Do I let us give up or do I say, come on, we can do it.”  After much thought I said, “OK, let’s head back down.” We were pretty quiet on the way down. I’m guessing we were all thinking about the falls we would have to descend. Abby had to be at volleyball practice at 3:30pm and Chloe had to work after 4:00pm.

When we left I told Mike where we were going and that we should be back by 2:00pm. It was around 1:15pm when we turned around so I was still confident we would be back by 2:00pm.

Hiking with Abby

But something must have entered all of our minds during the short trek back down the river. It was as if the river had sucked the confidence from us out through our feet. I could tell they were worried about it and in turn it made me worry. I’ve done alot of hiking, paddling and camping by myself and what I love about it is that I’m only responsible for myself. I don’t like being responsible for other people’s safety. While I don’t mind getting bruised or broken I really don’t want anyone else to get hurt.

This was in my mind as we approached the waterfall. Chloe and Abby edged slowly toward the waterfall and then said, “We don’t think we can do this.” I made my way to the rim of the falls and wiggled around, got on my hands and knees and laid on my stomach to see if I could find foot holds. Not seeing any within reach of my body length I went to the other side of the falls and performed the same investigation. Without Josh or someone at the bottom of the falls to use as a foot hold or to protect us from falling backwards and hitting our head on the sharp rocks below I didn’t think we could do it either.

I didn’t know what to do. I could risk climbing down and getting hurt leaving the girls all alone. At that point it could become an emergency situation leaving the girls helpless to do anything. The girls didn’t want me to risk it. They told me to just stay there and wait for help. I have never been in that sort of situation before. If it had been just me I would have slid down the rocks like I did when I fell but I had them to worry about.  I decided we would wait for help and started yelling for help every minute or so.

By that time it was around 2:00pm and we would continue to yell for help every minute until around 4:00pm when someone finally heard us. During the two hours we yelled I walked up and down the river and checked the canyon walls for possible climbing routes. It’s sheer, mossy cliff and there was no way I was going to make it up and out of there. The best way would have been to either go back up the river and take the last fall or just descend where we were at. But again, I questioned what the right thing was to do. Chloe and I climbed up a rock slide thinking we might be able to pull ourselves up and over the ledge but knew that too would have been too risky. So we waited and yelled until we heard voices.

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A Delicious Humble Pie

north shore hikesThis week I had a taste of humble pie. Well, maybe it was more like an entire humble pie? Not with whip cream on top but with a huge scoop of embarassment on top. Instead of the feeling of an upset stomach after such a large helping of humble pie ala embarassment I felt extremely satiated. What? I was completely humiliated and embarassed but then I was completely satisfied? Wait, I better start from the beginning.

I’ve been complaining all summer about not being able to spend time with my kids. Not because I don’t have enough time but because they don’t really want to spend time with me. On Tuesday I dragged them both to the grocery store and even complained to Linda at check-out how my kids wouldn’t hang out with me anymore so I had to drag them along to shop.

Fast forward to Wednesday and imagine my surprise when Abby asked if I wanted to hike up the Kadunce River with her and Chloe. Really? You want me to come along? OF COURSE I WANT TO COME WITH!!!

North Shore Minnesota

Hiking with the Girls


With happiness in my heart and a six-pack of Voyageur beer(for photos) in my backpack we headed east out of town to the wayside parking area. We were greeted by some folks working on the trail for conservation purposes who said we could hike the trail but there would be some machinery in use on the first portion of the trail. We happily started hiking and eating thimbleberries along the way.

I have hiked at Kadunce numerous times and have hiked it twice this summer already.  I love to start there, hike to County Road 14 and return to Kadunce. The trail is super easy to follow and it’s not too much elevation so it’s a great trail for hikers of any fitness level. Hiking the river itself is a different story.

Kadunce River

Hiking with the Boys


A couple of years ago Josh and a friend wanted to hike the river because they had heard of other folks doing it. This was before they had driver’s licenses so I was the chauffer and I got to hike with them. We hiked the trail to the bridge where the Superior Hiking Trail crosses(maybe a mile?) and then entered the river. As we descended a particularly slippery and high waterfall I realized why people said they hiked,”Up the Kadunce.” It would be much easier to hike up the river than to have to descend all of the waterfalls.  At one point Josh said I could turn back and take the trail while they continued on but I wasn’t comfortable letting them go on their own nor did I want to admit defeat. It was a beautiful hike and only once(after the first big waterfall we encountered) did I feel scared. It was while descending the falls that would be the 2nd falls if you were actually hiking up the river from Lake Superior.

Josh made the solo, unassisted descent at this waterfall look relatively easy. Even though it was a couple of years ago he was probably 5’7″ and very strong. His length, confidence and strength got him to the bottom without mishap. His friend stumbled a little at the bottom of the falls so I was a little apprehensive but with Josh’s hand to use as a foothold I was down safely in a matter of seconds.  It was a great hike on a beautiful day and a wonderful memory of time together in the great outdoors.

More about the humble pie tomorrow…

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Be on the Lookout for Aurora Borealis

Space Weather News for August 30, 2017
GEOMAGNETIC STORM IN THE OFFING: A canyon-shaped hole has opened in the sun’s atmosphere, and it is spewing a stream of high-speed solar wind toward Earth. NOAA forecasters say there is a 30% chance of polar geomagnetic storms (G1-class) when the gaseous material reaches our planet on August 31st. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this Thursday and Friday. Visit Spaceweather.com for photos and updates.

Posted in News
  • A trip to the Seagull Lake palisades never disappoints.

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