Grouse attack on the Gunflint Trail

Have you ever been threatened by a grouse? They are small but fierce creatures who are very protective of their young. I have never been attacked by a grouse but I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t kept on my merry way I most certainly would have been.

On Tuesday I went for a walk and in the distance I saw a grouse standing in the middle of the road. This is actually quite common as they like to sun themselves on trails and roads.  As I approached the grouse she fluffed her feathers up and began to walk around in circles dragging one wing on the ground. If I hadn’t just seen her standing upright and completely unharmed I would have thought she had been hit by a car. Her theatrics continued with dust from the road billowing up behind her until I got closer. Then she changed her helpless routine to one of dominance and aggression.  With feathers fluffed and chest held high she approached me hissing. I told her I wasn’t going to harm her or her chicks but she wouldn’t back down. I sidestepped her and continued on my way. She pursued me until she was sure I was not coming back and then she quickly waddled into the ditch where I’m sure her brood was waiting patiently for her return.

Image result for grouse with chicks

On Wednesday I went on another walk and encountered another grouse in a totally different place. This time I saw the mom and a few of her chicks on the road and I knew that I was in for another grouse attack. Her fake broken wing act was not as convincing as the grouse from the day before but a newbie to grouse tactics may have fell for it. I continued walking and sure enough her wing heeled miraculously and she hotly pursued me hissing loudly with feathers fluffed. I didn’t change direction and for a second I thought maybe she will actually take flight and peck my eyeballs out. But as soon as she felt I was far enough away she turned back to her chicks and huddled them together leading them down into the ditch.

Grouse mommas are quite similar to human mommas. They care deeply about their young and will protect them at any cost. Hopefully my acting is better than a grouse.

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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Muddy portage paths in the Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters portage path

BWCA portage

The Leave No Trace principle of not hiking on a muddy trail doesn’t work well if you’re on a portage in the Boundary Waters or on a thru-hike on some extensive hiking trail. In the BWCA you will encounter wet portages and there usually isn’t an option to turn around unless you want to alter your route. What should you do when you encounter mud on a trail?

If you’re in the BWCA you have hopefully already given yourself permission to get your feet wet so a little bit of mud shouldn’t be a big deal. When you encounter a portage with mud on it then proceed with caution down the middle of the trail. Do not go around it because you’ll end up damaging plants and making the trail wider and more prone to erosion. You don’t want to create new trails that could possibly confuse other trekkers either. If there’s a down tree in the way then consider taking the time to move it or use your saw to cut it up if you can. If you can’t move the tree or cut it up then when you’re back in civilization let the USFS know about it. They may have crews in the area that can take care of it.

portaging the BWCA

Boundary Waters portage

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Posted in BWCA

Isle Royale to welcome healthy wolves, researchers happy, moose not so much

This might be a better headline than the one Popular Science used to describe what is happening on Isle Royale with wolves. Their headline claims,  “A pack of wolves is about to save this national park.” A little bit dramatic for my liking and not very accurate.

A decision has been made to bring wolves to the island because the two remaining wolves are father and daughter/sister. Inbreeding in the wolf pack and the lack of an ice bridge for more wolves to make their way out to the island has left researchers who have studied the wolf/moose population on Isle Royale scratching their heads. “How can we continue our over 60 years of research without wolves on the island? Rather than let nature take its course as the National Park Service most often does, they have decided to intervene and bring wolves to Isle Royale so the moose don’t “kill” the island.

You may be sensing sarcasm and you would be right. I am being sarcastic. Do I think wolves should be brought to Isle Royale?  It doesn’t really matter but what matters to me is the explanations as to why they are being brought there. I understand. There are researchers and colleges all over that depend upon the moose/wolf relationship on Isle Royale as part of their livelihood or curriculum. I think that balance is weighing far more heavily than the number of moose on the island. If there are too many moose on the island then what? They are afraid of the moose dying of starvation. There might be a big increase in the moose numbers but if the island can’t sustain it then they will die. Wouldn’t it be just as interesting to see what happens naturally if left alone?

What I would like to see is some of the moose on Isle Royale brought to the Gunflint Trail. Maybe introducing some different moose would help our dwindling moose population? And if they must bring wolves out to Isle Royale I hope they will feel free to take some of those from the Gunflint Trail.



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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Did you smell smoke?

There’s nothing like the smell of a campfire to evoke memories of s’mores and starlit nights in the wilderness. If you’ve ever been around a wildfire the scent of smoke could bring on thoughts of other not so pleasant memories. And if you were on the Gunflint Trail last week you might have smelled or even seen smoke due to a fire that had started north of Ottertrack Lake. According to the Ontario fire website the cause of the fire started on June 14th on the north side of McLaren Lake and was human caused. The website lists the fire size as 10ha which is around 24 acres in size and says it is being watched. After rainfall over the weekend the conditions in the Quetico region range from low to moderate fire hazard and in Minnesota low.

Our local radio station printed some news about the fire as well.

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Summer Solstice on the Gunflint Trail

If you could spend the longest day of the year anywhere you wanted then where would it be? How about the Gunflint Trail? Imagine all of the things you could do with that many hours of daylight.  You could take quite the day trip into the BWCA with 16 hours of daylight whether by foot or by canoe but why limit yourself to just one pleasure?

A day trip on the Gunflint Trail sounds like the perfect thing to do on the longest day of the year. Sunrise on the shore of a lake, breakfast at Trail Center and a paddle into the BWCA would be a great morning adventure. Follow that with a visit to Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center for some fun and a couple of hikes on their trails and a dip in a nearby lake to cool off.  For dinner you could choose from a number of places to eat but you would have to return to Trail Center for dessert, peanut butter maple malt for me please! Then a hike up to Honeymoon Bluff, Northern Light trail, Lima Mountain or somewhere else to watch the sun as it begins to disappear on the longest day of the year.

Make the most of the solstice wherever you are.


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Posted in Gunflint Trail

Lightning flashes in the sky

1, 2, 3, 4 BOOM! Thunder rattles in the distance. Is the lightning four miles away? That’s what we used to say. Here’s what Becky Bolinger has to say on Earth Sky’s website.

How far away was that lightning?

You probably do it. It might be ingrained from when you were a kid, and now it’s almost automatic. You see the flash of lightning – and you immediately start counting the seconds till it thunders.

But does counting really get you a good estimate for how far away the lightning is? Is this one of those old wives’ tales, or is it actually based on science? In this case, we have physics to thank for this quick and easy – and pretty accurate – calculation.

 So what happens when a big storm rolls in?

The lightning you see is the discharge of electricity that travels between clouds or to the ground. The thunder you hear is the rapid expansion of the air in response to the lightning’s intense heat.

If you’re really close to the lightning, you will see it and hear the thunder simultaneously. But when it’s far away, you see and hear the event at different times. That’s because light travels much faster than sound. Think of sitting in the nosebleed seats at a baseball game. You see the batter hit the ball a second before you hear the crack of the bat.

The visual part is instantaneous. Image via Pete Gregoire/Flickr.

When observing an event on Earth, you see things almost the instant they happen – the speed of light is so fast you can’t even detect the travel time. The speed of sound is much slower, which gives us time to do our calculation.

Let’s simplify the speed equation: Sound travels a little over 700 miles per hour, or 700 miles in 3,600 seconds. That means 7 miles traveled every 36 seconds. Make this even easier and round down to 7 miles every 35 seconds … or 1 mile every 5 seconds! Count to 5: If you hear thunder, the lightning occurred within 1 mile.

Now that you know how far away that lightning strike was, is it far enough to be a safe distance from the storm? That’s actually a trick question. Thunder can be heard up to 25 miles away, and lightning strikes have been documented to occur as far as 25 miles from thunderstorms – known as a “bolt from the blue.” So if you can hear thunder, you’re close enough to be hit by lightning, and sheltering indoors or in an enclosed car is your safest bet.

The ConversationAnd don’t count on the folk wisdom that lightning never strikes the same place twice to protect you. That one is just plain wrong. For example, lightning strikes the top of the Empire State Building an average of 23 times per year.

Becky Bolinger, Assistant State Climatologist and Research Scientist in Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Bottom line: An atmospheric scientist on using lightning to determine a thunderstorm’s distance.

Posted in environment

Life Vests only work if you wear them

News Release


On Sunday, June 10, 2018 at 3:41PM, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a possible drowning on Perent Lake, which is in northeast Lake County within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.   

The reporting party stated the 31 year old victim had been missing since 11:00PM on June 9.  The victim had been in a canoe that capsized with 2 occupants, neither of which were wearing life jackets.  It was reported that the victim never made it to shore.  The other occupant was able to swim to a rock where he was rescued by another camper who had heard someone yelling for help.

One Monday, June 11 at approximately 3:34PM, the body of Joseph Bennett Fedick, of Coon Rapids, MN, was recovered from the water within a couple hundred yards of their campsite.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County and St. Louis County Search and Rescue teams, Forest Service Law Enforcement and sea plane pilot, and Border Patrol all responded to assist in the search.


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Posted in BWCA

Yes, please!

It would be wonderful to have an option like this for boaters entering the US from Canada on Saganaga Lake.

Reporting Offsite Arrival – Mobile (ROAM)

As part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) comprehensive effort to improve the security of our nation’s borders while enhancing legitimate travel, CBP has launched the Reporting Offsite Arrival – Mobile (ROAM) app.

Pleasure Boat Reporting Requirements

Pursuant to 19 CFR 4.2, operators of small pleasure vessels, arriving in the United States from a foreign port or place to include any vessel which has visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise outside the territorial sea, are required to report their arrival to CBP immediately (see 19 U.S.C. 1433).

The master of the vessel reports their arrival at the nearest Customs facility or such other place as the Secretary may prescribe by regulations. These reports are tracked in the Pleasure Boat Reporting System. Pursuant to 8 CFR 235.1, an application to lawfully enter the United States must be made in person to a CBP officer at a U.S. Port of Entry (POE) when the port is open for inspection.
Click here for more information on CBP reporting requirements.

Overview of  ROAM APP

The CBP ROAM app is a free mobile application that provides an option for pleasure boaters to report their U.S. entry to CBP via their personal smart phone or a tablet located at local businesses to satisfy the above reporting requirements. In limited areas, travelers arriving in remote areas may also be eligible to use the ROAM app. Contact your local POE to confirm arrival notifications via the ROAM app are accepted. Pleasure Boat Reporting Locations

The ROAM app also qualifies as an Alternative Inspection System that satisfies the boat operator’s legal requirement to report for
face-to-face inspection in accordance with 8 CFR 235.1 with some exceptions:

  • Travelers who require an I-94;
  • Travelers who wish to obtain a cruising license;
  • Travelers who must pay duties on imported goods; and
  • Other circumstances as applicable.

To use the ROAM app, travelers input their biographic, conveyance, and trip details and submit their trip for CBP Officer (CBPO) review. The CBPO may initiate a video chat to further interview travelers. Once the CBPO reviews the trip, travelers will receive a push notification and an email with their admissibility decision and next steps, if applicable.

Getting Started

Travelers should download the ROAM app on their web-enabled smart device. Note that a free account is required to use the ROAM app. After opening the ROAM app, tap “Sign In”.

  • Travelers who do not have a account should “Create an account” and follow the instructions
  • Travelers who already have a account should sign into their existing account, and will be redirected back
    to the ROAM app

After signing in to the ROAM app, users can create and save traveler and conveyance profiles. These profiles can be reused for repeat entry into the United States.


To use ROAM on your mobile device, download the app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. In certain locations, the ROAM app can also be accessed on tablets at partner locations.

For any questions or concerns about the ROAM app, please email us at


Posted in News

Get Outside and visit a State Park

Minnesota state parks to offer free admission on June 9
Gov. Mark Dayton is encouraging Minnesotans to get out and enjoy the state’s outstanding outdoor opportunities by proclaiming June 2018 as Great Outdoors Month.

The proclamation cites the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors as one incentive to visit Minnesota state parks and trails.

As an added incentive, the Department of Natural Resources will continue its longstanding tradition of waiving the requirement for a vehicle permit (a $7 value) and providing free admission at all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on Saturday, June 9, which is National Get Outdoors Day, an event held annually on the second Saturday in June.

“Exploring Minnesota state parks is a great way to spend time with friends and family, get active, and enjoy our state’s many natural wonders,” Dayton said. “This Saturday, I encourage all Minnesotans to ‘Get Outdoors’ and experience a state park or recreation area near you.”

Many special programs will take place throughout Great Outdoors Month and on National Get Outdoors Day to help make each visit memorable and fun for visitors, said Erika Rivers, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “Our goal is to connect new people, especially families with young children, to the outdoors.”

Special programs taking place June 9 at Minnesota state parks include:

Pop Can Casting, 11 a.m.-noon, Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul. Make a fishing pole with a pop can. Bring a clean can with the tab still attached and meet at the fishing pier.
Peregrine Falcons, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Gooseberry Falls State Park, Two Harbors. Drop by the Visitor Center Auditorium to see live falcons and learn about these remarkable birds from Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society.
Outdoor Recreation Day, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Father Hennepin State Park on Lake Mille Lacs near Isle. Displays, demonstrations and activities, including stand-up paddleboarding, fish identification, and a kids fish casting range. There will also be a special appearance by Smokey Bear (11-11:20 a.m.), followed by Archery in the Park (1-3 p.m.) for ages 8 and older.
Family Outdoor Fair, noon- 3 p.m., Whitewater State Park near Winona in southeastern Minnesota. Make a walking stick and visit activity stations, including archery, trout fishing, geocaching, canoeing, bird watching and more.
Minnesota Zoomobile, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Minneopa State Park in Mankato. Live animals, storytelling, and an ice cream social.
Nature Photography, 2-3 p.m., Big Bog State Recreation Area in Waskish. Join a naturalist to learn some basic techniques. A limited number of digital cameras will be provided, or visitors can use other digital equipment (cell phone welcome, too).
For a complete list of statewide programs, with times and locations, visit

Free loaner equipment—Most parks allow visitors to check out GPS units, binoculars, fishing gear and Kids Discovery Kits (featuring activities, stories and tips to help ensure a child’s park visit will be fun). For more information on where to find the free stuff—not just on National Get Outdoors Day but every day—visit

For more information, contact the DNR Information Center by emailing or by calling 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

Posted in News

Take a Kid Fishing at Voyageur

From the MN DNR

Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is June 8-10
On Take a Kid Fishing Weekend from Friday, June 8, to Sunday, June 10, Minnesotans can fish without licenses if they take children 15 or younger fishing, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“Fishing together with kids can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and have some memorable experiences,” said Jeff Ledermann, DNR angler recruitment, retention and education supervisor. “We encourage people to give it a try. It’s fairly easy to buy or borrow fishing poles, and one good way to start is by fishing for bluegills with small hooks, bobbers and live bait.”

Minnesotans 15 and younger don’t need fishing licenses any time of the year. Take a Kid Fishing Weekend is a way for adults and kids to fish together without the step of buying a license.

The DNR’s Take a Kid Fishing Weekend page at includes links to a beginner’s guide to fishing; DNR’s Fish Minnesota page that includes regulations and locations of easy-to-access fishing piers and shorefishing areas; and information about fishing in Minnesota state parks.

Fishing gear is available to borrow at state parks and the DNR’s I Can Fish! program teaches the basics of fishing and runs throughout the summer at state parks. Even when it’s not Take a Kid Fishing Weekend, Minnesota residents generally can fish in state parks without a fishing license if the body of water does not require a trout stamp.

Posted in fishing

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