Quetico Park Stops Accepting American Express

We received the following notice today: Effective January 16, 2017 the Province of Ontario will no longer accept payments by AMERICAN EXPRESS CREDIT CARD.   The Province continues to accept payments by VISA CREDIT CARD and MASTERCARD CREDIT CARD when making a payment through the Ontario Parks reservation service. Payment by cheque or money order…

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Foss Lake Fire May 24 Update

Foss Lake Fire AM Update Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:00 a.m. MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander  Fire Information Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#               Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com Phone: 218-365-2216 (new number)    Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 am–6 pm Size: 1015 acres                         Containment: 55 percent   Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016 Resources: 6 crews, 2 CCMI camp crews, 2 helicopters, 4 engines, 1 water tender, 217…

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Foss Lake Fire May 22 Update

Foss Lake Fire AM Update Sunday, May 22, 2016, 10:00 a.m. MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident CommanderWeb address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.comPhone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Size: 1008 acres Containment: 30 percent Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1…

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Foss Lake Fire Update for May 21, 2016

We received this last night: Foss Lake Fire AM Update Saturday, May 21, 2016, 11:00 a.m.MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident CommanderWeb address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.comPhone: 218-208-4544 Location: US Forest Service office, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 a.m.–8 p.m.Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016 Size: approximately 440 acres Containment: 10 percentCurrent Situation: A Minnesota…

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Foss Lake Fire Update

USFS Update Date Issued: May 20, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.                  Incident Commander Type III: Timo Rova Fire Information: Phone: 218-208-4544 Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016                     Size: Approximately 440 acres            Containment: 10 percent Location: This fire is located 10 miles west of Ely, MN, in St. Louis County, one mile west of the southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of…

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Early Registration Discount for 2015 BWCA Canoe Trips – Act Now!

This is no fish story.   Sign up by January 28, 2015, for your Boundary Waters canoe trip, and receive a 5% early registration discount on rentals, outfitting packages, and guided trips. This makes an outstanding value even better! It’s our way of saying thanks to our loyal guests, and encouraging you to sign up early for…

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Love for the Boundary Waters – Guest Entry by Lucy Soderstrom

Lucy Soderstrom addressed a youth gathering in Washington DC this week as part of a youth event celebrating wilderness.  The BWCA can have a profound effect on young people.  Here is her talk: I’m a 17 year old who has come to love the Boundary Waters wilderness. For the past 5 years I’ve been taking…

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Save the Boundary Waters

  The Boundary Waters is a special place. If you’ve been here, you appreciate that. It seems a land frozen in time – both primordial and immortal. Its grandeur seems so strong, its granite ridges so permanent, its waters so immense and pure – it seems the hands of man could hardly impair such a…

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The Winter Camping Symposium is Oct. 23-26 in Sturgeon Lake, MN.

The Winter Camping Symposium is Oct. 23-26 in Sturgeon Lake, MN.  There are a bunch of interesting presentations and workshops.  If you camp in the winter – or have an interest in learning more about the unique experience – this is the place to connect with great info and people who share your interest.  Also,…

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“River of Doubt” Centennial Canoe Expedition Completed

You may recognize Dave Freeman or Paul Schurke from around the shop. They just completed a major canoe expedition down the Rio Roosevelt (formerly known as the River of Doubt). Read on for the scoop on their grand adventure. Pimenta Bueno, Brazil – July 3 – Minnesota adventurers Dave Freeman and Paul Schurke, who have…

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CITY OF ELY, MINN. TO LAUNCH NATIONAL CABLE CHANNEL

On heels of local reality show production, Ely develops an entire network Ely, Minn. — April 1, 2014 — Many have heard that Ely, Minn. — gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area — has been selected as the location for a living off-the-grid-themed reality show. Buoyed by the attention, the city today is announcing…

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Do I need an even number of people for a Boundary Waters canoe trip?

No.  If you have an odd number of people in your group, then you may choose a three-seat canoe.  Our favorite three-seat canoe is the Seneca made by Wenonah.  Made out of Kevlar, it is 19’4″ and weighs only 55 pounds.  It includes three “real” seats.  That makes for a comfortable spot for the middle…

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Bushwhacking the Boundary Waters Without a Boat

Jason Zabokrtsky, of Ely, MN, is attempting to cross the BWCAW and Quetico on foot, alone, and off-trail from Atikokan, Ontario, to Ely, Minnesota, from October 11 – 25. Jason Zabokrtsky, of Ely, is trading paddles and Duluth packs for trekking poles and a backpack during a bushwhack across the Boundary Waters without a boat. …

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August 29 BWCAW Fires Update and New Campfire Restrictions for Some Areas

CONTACT:  Becca Manlove, Information Officer, West Zone, Superior National Forest, 218-365-2093; 218-343-3026. Campfire restrictions for the Gunflint and portions of the Tofte Districts will go into effect after midnight tonight. Fires will be allowed only between 7 p.m. and midnight in the restricted area. The restrictions apply only to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness…

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Boundary Waters Trip Video

A group of Boundary Waters canoe trip guests canoed, portaged and fished July 22 – 26 and they’ve already put together this great time lapse video of their trip.  Awesome!

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BWCA Chronology

Did you know that in 1969 the maximum group size in the Boundary Waters was 15 people?  Today the maximum group size is nine people with a maximum of four watercraft.  Learn more fun BWCA facts in the very best online chronology of the history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness at  http://www.wilbers.com/BoundaryWatersCanoeAreaWildernessChronologyLong.htm.  The…

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Perfect Boundary Waters experience

There’s a chance for some beautiful weather in the Boundary Waters, and this last week was just right. We enjoyed several perfectly still days on a five-day trip recently. This wild rice sunning itself on the surface of the water didn’t have the slightest breeze to push all the blades in the same diretion.  …

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Moose Resting – Drive Carefully

You never know what you may see on the drive Up North.  Nace Hagemann (www.nacehagemann.com) photographed this cow moose and her two calves on the Gunflint Trail just outside of the BWCA recently.  Thanks to Nace for allowing us to share his incredible photo.

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A Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Latrine

Behold the throne of the Boundary Waters!  All BWCA designated campsites have open-air pit latrine toilets like this one.  They provide for a nicely hygienic campsite.  Toilet paper can go in the latrine, but it is important to remember that the latrines are not for trash. It is a little known fact that BWCA campsites…

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Amy and Dave Freeman Complete 11,700-Mile Human-Powered North American Odyssey

Amy and Dave Freeman.  Photo by Bryan Hansel, www.bryanhansel.com. Our friends Amy and Dave Freeman landed their kayaks in Key West on Thursday, April 4, 2013, completing a 3-year, 11,700-mile expedition across North America by kayak, dogsled and canoe.Over 80,000 elementary and middle school students from around the world have participated in the expedition virtually.…

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Ely Outfitting Company’s Response to Ely, Minn.’s Social Media Ban

In light of Ely, Minnesota’s recent ban on all forms of social media, Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service has changed our network hosting provider, and will be updating our Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and Pinterest accounts remotely from the Canadian side of Basswood Lake.  We will be camped at a five-star wilderness campsite…

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ELY, MINN. ANNOUNCES A BAN ON ALL SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVITY

Measure aims to get people outdoors, where the air is clean — and only the birds tweet ELY, MINN. — April 1, 2013 — Today, the Northern Minnesota town at the end of the road, Ely, Minnesota, has cut off access to social media within its borders. Ely city officials made the decision to ban…

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Beavers at Work

One of the most industrious critters we see in the Boundary Waters is the beaver. I’m amazed at how quickly they can build a dam. I’ve paddled into the wilderness where the was no beaver dam, and then paddled out the same stream five days later to find a new large one. We typically see…

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Excellent Economy Rain Gear for a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

I pulled my first pair of DriDucks rain gear from the trash bin. A guest had decided to “decommission” his rain suit after several Boundary Waters canoe trips, but it looked to have a lot of life left, so I fished it out. That “recycled” rain suit got a lot of use and a lot…

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Video of an Unusually Overgrown Portage in the BWCA

Recently we posted a video of a typical BWCA portage. This new video shows a more remote portage that is on a designated travel route, but is more overgrown than typical BWCA portages.  It is the portage going southeast out of Beaver Lake, in a lightly used area of the BWCA.  The location is about…

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Video of a Typical BWCA Portage

This video shows a typical Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness portage. It is the portage going west out of Jordan Lake in the BWCAW. Portages are trails connecting bodies of water.  They are the efficient route for carrying your canoes and gear between lakes on a wilderness canoe trip. I tell people if you think…

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The No-Name Lake

Many years ago, I bushwacked into a no-name lake in the heart of the wilderness.  On my map, the lake had no depth markings, so I didn’t know if enough depth existed to support fish – though it had enough surface area that I sensed it might.  And I decided to trudge in with a…

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Ely’s Dorothy Molter Museum to be Featured on PBS

RARE FINDS will feature Ely’s Dorothy Molter Museum on Monday, November 26 at 7:00pm on WDSE-WRPT PBS North 8.1/31.1.  This show will also be re-broadcast on Sunday, December 2 at 3pm on Create and at 5pm on PBS North.  This is a great chance to learn more about the last legal resident of the BWCAW,…

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A Black Bear Swimming Across Knife Lake in the BWCAW

Seeing wildlife in its natural setting is one of the great treats of a Boundary Waters canoe trip.  Our guide, LynnAnne Vesper, snapped this photo of a young black bear swimming across Knife Lake this week.  Seeing a black bear on trail is particularly nice when it’s not sniffing around for your food pack.

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Cow and Calf Moose on the Moose River

It’s an aptly named river.  Our guide, Max Pittman, took this photo recently while paddling down the Moose River.  Our guests, John and his boys, got mighty lucky to see this cow and calf moose (in the background in the river) up-close!  We’ve had more moose sitings on the Moose River north from BWCAW entry…

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Why we do what we do

This photo of Boundary Waters Guide Service is courtesy of TripAdvisor Sharing the Wilderness with people is a real privilege.  When guests share a Boundary Waters experience with us, and then provide feedback, it really matters.  Thanks to our recent guest, Rick, for sharing the following feedback: I contacted Jason, the owner of the service…

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Ice Skating On Frozen Lakes

Our winter season is ending abruptly, and we’re making the most of it. Ice skating is a great way to be out on the lakes now at the end of the season. On a warm and sunny late-winter day, the snow on top of the ice melts into water. Then, over the course of a…

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Dogsledding in the FALLING SNOW!

While we’ve fortunately had adequate snow for dogsledding this winter, we sure haven’t had the typical piling on of the white stuff.  This week I guided a couple of families from the Twin Cities area.  They arrived from the brown landscape of the Cities and enjoyed the fresh falling snow on White Iron Lake.  About…

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When to See Full Moons and New Moons in the Boundary Waters in 2012

With some advanced planning, you can be sleeping in the Boundary Waters under your choice of a full moon or a new moon.   A full moon provides perfect light for night paddling and other nighttime activities.  The moon rays cast shadows across the rocks, and the beams shimmer off the lakes.  Such a setting may…

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Quetico Provincial Park Fishing Licenses Change

The Ontario fishing license process is undergoing some changes for 2012.  We received the following notice from Quetico Park indicating that licenses may no longer be available at the Quetico Ranger Stations, and suggesting that visitors should apply for their Ontario fishing licenses online or by phone.  This is the message we received from Quetico…

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How Long is the Little Gabbro Lake (BWCAW Entry Point 33) Portage?

View Larger Map Depending on who manufactured the maps you’re looking at, you may find the Little Gabbro Lake portage listed as 104 rods, 200 rods, or 290 rods.  It’s the only BWCAW portage I’m aware of that has such wildly different lengths listed on different maps.  It’s not unusual for the same portage to…

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Changes to BWCAW Entry Permit Quotas for the 2012 Season

The US Forest Service has notified us of the following changes due to the Pagami Creek Fire:  Forest Service staff evaluated BWCAW campsites within the Pagami Creek Fire burn area and determined that some need to be closed until they can be rehabilitated. Some campsites have safety hazards such as hazard trees and some have…

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Boundary Waters Photo Workshop with Layne Kennedy set for June 19 – 24, 2012

This unique Photo Workshop trip is a great opportunity to develop your photography skills under the direction of renowned magazine and nature photographer Layne Kennedy.  A Minneapolis-based professional photographer, Layne’s newest book on the Boundary Waters, titled “Paddle North,” was released in November 2010.  Layne’s work is also featured frequently in Smithsonian, Life, Newsweek, Forbes,…

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Happy Boundary Waters Holidays

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service! We hope you enjoy your winter looking forward to your next canoe trip in the Boundary Waters, and we hope you enjoy our festive and well-lit approach to the holidays!

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USFS Ends Lottery System for Most BWCAW Permits

Summer BWCAW canoe camping trips still require quota entry permits, but the Forest Service has changed the way early planners apply for those permits. For years, early planners applied for permits during a Dec. 1 to Jan. 15 “lottery” period. In the lottery, you selected a desired entry point and date. At the end of…

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North American Odyssey Homecoming through the BWCAW

  Dave portaging near the Taltson River in the Northwest Territories. Dave and Amy Freeman, their friend Bryan Hansel, and their dog Fennel hiked down the Grand Portage to Lake Superior yesterday, completing their 2,300 mile paddle from Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories to Grand Portage, Minnesota. This marks the end of the fourth stage of…

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Northern Lights in the Boundary Waters

Some guests spent a week  paddling one of my favorite BWCA canoe routes recently.  Besides some amazingly warm and lovely late-season weather, they also had a front row seat to a spectacular northern lights display.  Kudos to them for bringing along a nice camera and tripod that allowed them to capture this image of the…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 26

With the Pagami Creek Fire now 53% contained and almost a thousand people assigned to the incident, we are going to stop posting these daily updates.  Of course, we will provide important news as it arises.  TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 53% contained. Size remains the same at 93,459 acres. Today warmer dryer…

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American Black Ducks in the BWCA

The American Black Duck is more brown than black. It was named as such because it appears black from a distance. We spied these ducks recently, camouflaging themselves surprisingly well among the lilypads, which still had a bloom or two remaining. See how many ducks you can spot in the two photos. (Click the photo to see…

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Pagami Creek Fire Update – Sept. 22

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire remains at 30% contained and 93,669 acres. Between 0.2–0.5 inches of rain fell on the fire area yesterday. Since Sunday, 0.75–1 inch of rain has fallen on the fire. Three crews will be flown into Kawishiwi Lake today to start work on the eastern perimeter. On the southern perimeter, crews…

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Autumn Arriving in the Boundary Waters

Autumn is on its way. Several nights ago, our nights saw freezing temperatures, as low as 22 degrees. “Good sleeping weather” as Minnesotans call it. Good thing for down coats and hot water bottles! Every morning we watched the mist gently swirl on the lake’s surface as it started to lose some of its heat…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 21

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 30% contained. The size decreased to 93,669 acres because of more accurate GPS mapping on the northwest side. Of the total acreage, 9,274 acres are outside the wilderness. Between two tenths to one half of an inch of rain fell on the fire yesterday. Eleven canoes were airlifted…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 20

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire is now 23% contained. The size remains unchanged at 93,898 acres. Although the fire area received a half inch of rain on Sunday, when fire-behavior specialists flew over the fire on Monday afternoon they observed some trees torching, which is an indication that the fuels are still quite dry.…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 19

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek fire is now 19% contained. Fire behavior was minimal Sunday, largely due to the one-third inch of rain that fell across the fire area, and the size remained the same at 93,898 acres. Today, fire-behavior specialists expect minimal to no fire spread with a little creeping and smoldering over the entire…

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Photos of Basswood Lodge on Basswood Lake

One of our canoe trip outfitting guests shared some historic photos from the old Basswood Lodge on Basswood Lake near Ely, MN.  The photos are from the collection of her late father, Harold Rosencrans, of Lebanon, Ohio.  Harold vacationed with his family on Basswood Lake.  The photos may be from the 50s or 60s.  Above…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 18

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The fire is now 11% contained. The size increased slightly on Saturday from 93,472 acres to 93,898 acres. Crews completed structure protection on 30 structures on the south side of the fire. Air resources were used to their maximum capacity yesterday. Four helicopters flew a total of 25 hours dropping water on the fire…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 17

TODAY’S MESSAGE: The incident commander announced Friday evening that the fire is 8% contained. Also, fire managers were able to more accurately map the fire’s perimeter on Friday and decreased the acreage from an estimated 100,000 acres to a more precise 93,472 acres. Minnesota’s Governor Dayton, Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and Representative Cravaak toured the fire…

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Pagami Creek Fire USFS Update – Sept. 16

TODAY’S MESSAGE: Doug Turman’s Northern Rockies Type 1 National Incident Management Team assumed management of the Pagami Creek Fire yesterday. The fire is still under the unified command of the Lake and Cook County sheriff’s offices and the Superior National Forest. Moderated fire behavior continued yesterday with the cooler temperatures, higher humidities, and lighter winds. Operations…

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BWCA Fire Ban Effective Now

We just received a call from the Forest Service stating that a total fire ban is now in effect for the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  No campfires are allowed in the Boundary Waters until further notice. 

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Pagami Creek Fire Update for Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011

Contact: Fire Information 218-365-3177 TODAY’S MESSAGE: The Pagami Creek Fire continues under Unified Command of Lake County, MNICS, and the Superior National Forest. Acreage increased yesterday due in large part to improved mapping of the fire perimeter as the smoke cleared. The fire did push farther south, exiting the southern Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)…

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Pagami Creek Fire Talking Points from USFS

Talking Points for Tuesday, September 13, 2011   1.        Large portions of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) are now closed to visitor use, due to the Pagami Creek fire which has been exhibiting extreme fire behavior and fire spread. There are not enough public safety personnel to provide safe passage…

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Official USFS Closure Notice for Areas in the BWCAW and Superior National Forest

Under authority of the Act of Congress of June 4, 1897, 16 USC 551, and pursuant to the Secretary of Agriculture’s Regulations set forth at 36 CFR 261.50(a) and 261.50(b), and 261.50(f), the following acts or omissions are prohibited on portions of Superior National Forest System lands, roads and trails, Lake County, Cook County. Minnesota,…

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Pagami Creek Fire Update – Sept. 13

TODAY’S MESSAGE: Yesterday, a finger of the Pagami Creek Fire made an unprecedented 16 mile run to the east, reaching the edge of Polly Lake. The fire became a plume-driven event and reached in excess of 60,000 acres. The fire is now under Unified Command with Lake County Sheriff’s Office as full partners of management…

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Pagami Creek Fire – Sept. 12 Update

TODAY’S MESSAGE: Yesterday, strong north winds drove a point of the Pagami Creek Fire south toward the Isabella River. Approximately 50 campers from the river and lake routes south of the fire and 70 campers along the eastern front of the fire were assisted out of the wilderness by Public Safety Crews. Entry points near…

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BWCA Fire Restrictions Effective Today

Effective September 12, 2011, campfires are only allowed in designated campsites within firegrates between 6PM and midnight.  I snapped this photo of the Fire Danger sign outside the USFS Kawishiwi Ranger District office yesterday.

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Pagami Creek Fire in BWCAW – Sept. 11, 2011

TODAY’S MESSAGE:  Yesterday’s dry air and north winds pushed the Pagami Creek Fire farther south yesterday. In consideration of today’s high fire indices, fire managers began a proactive movement of campers from Lakes Two through Hudson, nearby routes, and the Isabella River within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Specific closures are listed below. Most…

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Pagami Creek Fire in BWCA Prompts Temporary Closures

Unseasonably dry, warm conditions and low relative humidities yesterday allowed the Pagami Creek Fire to burn actively south of the Lakes One and Two area. The burn out operation conducted last weekend was successful in reducing the threat of the fire escaping the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and threatening the Fernberg corridor to…

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A Win for Wild Horizons in the Wilderness

When AT&T decided to build an exceptionally tall 450′ cell tower at the top of a high ridge bordering the BWCAW, the nonprofit advocacy organization Friends of the Boundary Waters took action.  For the most part, BWCAW horizons are unimpaired by signs of civilization.  The Friends want to keep it that way.  The new tower’s…

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Protect Collared Research Black Bears

We are supporting an effort to encourage black bear hunters to not shoot collared research bears. The effort is called the Black Bear Hunters Jackpot and rewards bear hunters if no research bears are killed or injured during the black bear hunting season that begins this week. Although Minnesota law does not make it illegal…

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Bald Eagles in the BWCAW

Nevada Smith and his family recently paddled up to Lac la Croix for a week. The guys were fishing and saw this bald eagle intently watching them. Eventually, after much successful fishing of their own, they watched as the bald eagle came soaring down, scooped a fish out of the water they had recently caught…

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Fishing Licenses Available Again

As of this morning, the Minnesota government is back up and running. Fishing licenses are for sale again, both online and in person. Perfect time to plan your Boundary Waters vacation and do a little (or a lot!) of fishing!

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Another Successful Women’s Guided Canoe Trip in the Boundary Waters

I just finished guiding a great group of three ladies in the Boundary Waters. These women have known each other for years. They were always a little jealous of their husbands’ canoeing trips, and thought this could be their chance. We were out for three days, and enjoyed excellent, sunny weather. We were surprised to…

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Newest Book on Dorothy Molter

The authors behind the latest book on Dorothy Molter, the Root Beer Lady of Knife Lake in the BWCAW, are having a Book Release and Signing Party at the Dorothy Molter Museum. Come on out this Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm.

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Kids and Watercolor in the Boundary Waters

Josie (age 10, from Wisconsin), painted these pictures while on a BWCA canoe trip this week with her younger brother and parents. Her savvy mom packed along a backpacking style watercolor kit for her kids. Sure enough, they found plenty of subjects to paint.  The above Bald Eagle perched contently at the top of a…

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Dragonflies Emerging From Fourtown Lake in the BWCAW

One of the great things about late spring and early summer in the Boundary Waters is the overwhelming sign of new life.  It seems everywhere you look there are birds on nests or with young in tow, flowers cover the forest floor, and insects such as these dragonflies are emerging to a new life of…

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Turtles are Venturing into BWCA Campsites to Lay Eggs Now

We found this snapping turtle in a BWCAW campsite on the Kawishiwi River recently.  The snapping turtles and painted turtles are venturing onto land right now to dig holes and lay their eggs.  We were surprised to see that this turtle had selected the area immediately adjacent to the campfire grate for its place to…

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Father and Son Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

I spent a week in the BWCAW with Gary and his 18-year-old son, Blake, this month.  As a young Boy Scout in 1970, Gary traveled the Boundary Waters.  His youthful canoe trip experience really left a life-long impression on him.  He wanted his son to have a similar opportunity to explore the wilderness as a…

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“Northern Exposure” in Real Life: Moose in Ely

Many might remember television’s Northern Exposure, with its wandering moose in the opening credits. Ely has its own moose, seen earlier this week walking the streets of downtown.  The yellowish sign in the background with the arched lettering is Britton’s Cafe on Chapman Street in downtown.  Photo by Amy Kireta.

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“Paddle North: Canoeing the Boundary Waters-Quetico Wilderness” Wins Top Honors

Congratulations to photographer Layne Kennedy and author Greg Breining.  Their new book on our beautiful region received top honors in the General Nonfiction category at the NE Minnesota Book Awards last night. We are exceptionally pleased to sponsor a Boundary Waters Photo Workshop with photographer Layne Kennedy on August 16-21, 2011.  Space is still available. …

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Early Season Solo Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

I enjoyed a five-day early May solo canoe trip this past week. The temperatures stayed pleasantly warm, even hot during the middle of the days (especially with my wool pants!). The Little Indian Sioux River flowed calmly north. After a few portages through Pawness Lakes, Shell and Little Shell, I enjoyed dinner on Lynx Lake,…

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Pussy Willows Welcome Spring Near Ely, MN

Before the snow has fully dissipated in the wetlands, a furry white harbinger of spring appears on the willow trees.  The snow-white and silver-gray pussy willows have emerged around Ely. The flowering catkins are said to have received their name from their resemblance to tiny furry pussy-cats. I photographed these pussy willows near Ely this…

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900 Miles by Dogsled in the Northwest Territories

On Monday, April 11, four Minnesotan adventurers and twelve sled dogs wandered in off the ice of Great Slave Lake. Their arrival in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories marks the end of a 900-mile trek by dogsled and ski. Dave and Amy Freeman along with Ellen Root and Van Conrad began on the banks of the…

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Women in the Boundary Waters Wilderness: Canoe Trips for Women and Families

You’re Invited! Come hear Boundary Waters Guide Service’s own Kate Ford speak at A Day For Women in Rochester, MN, at the Mayo Civic Center this Saturday, April 9. This show features all things geared toward women. And, I contend, what better activity for women and their friends and families than a Boundary Waters canoe…

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Icy Conditions Keep Us Dogsledding

Spring is on its way. We finish up the last of our dogsledding season this week. Temperatures will reach up to the 40s later this week and we will shortly see our snow disappear. But we felt lucky that these last few days have stayed cold, with overnight lows even below zero. The warmer temperatures…

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Lily the Black Bear and Her Cubs Welcoming Spring Near Ely, MN

It is a sure sign of spring when our local black bears become more and more active. This video shows some wild research bears and cubs near Ely, MN, this week. The North American Bear Center is studying them in their natural environment. This den cam gives us a great look at what is happening…

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A Job in the Woods

Here’s an opportunity to work in the outdoors with young people improving the trails in Superior National Forest.  Note the job application deadline is March 20, 2011.   Position: Field Specialist – Trail Maintenance Number of Positions Available: 2 Location: Ely OR Grand Marais/Tofte Minnesota Term: April 11 – September 15, 2011 Schedule: Full-time, Temporary,…

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Late-ice Crappies are Biting

It’s the time of year that ice fishermen are in search of late season crappies.  We found these slabs this week suspended at about 17 feet deep.  I’m looking forward to the fish fry.

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WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog 130 Mile Race Champion J. Ross Fraboni

I just returned from the finish line of the WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog race.  This photo shows the 10 dog race winner, J. Ross Fraboni of Duluth, arriving at the finish line in Ely this morning.  Fraboni took first place in the 130 mile race, followed closely by Jennifer Freking of Finland, MN, in second…

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Lake Surfaces Have Firmed Up Around Ely, MN

After a winter season with lakes of all sizes mired in deep and sometimes impassable slush, conditions have suddenly changed.  Last week’s warm temps reached almost 60 degrees F and settled or melted the the fluffy lake snow that had insulated the slush.  Then, some solidly cold and windy weather froze over the slush.  I’ve…

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Lac La Croix First Nation Motor Use in Quetico Provincial Park

The Ojibway members of the Lac La Croix First Nation village are allowed special privileges to use motorized boats on certain lakes within Quetico Provincial Park, and to use float planes to access certain lakes in Quetico. These designated lakes may vary annually. The 2011 season lakes the Ojibway guides may use motors on in…

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Ely Winter Festival Snow Scuptures

These are just some of the examples of amazing snow sculptures exhibited by some wonderfully talented artists in the park in Ely now as part of the Ely Winter Festival.

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Ely Winter Festival – February 3 – 13, 2011

We celebrate winter in Ely, Minnesota.  The Ely Winter Fest is February 3 – 13.   I snapped this photo in 20 below Fahrenheit temps this morning.  The massive snow cubes are set up in the park in Ely.  The next step is for the snow carvers to start there work beginning on Feb. 3. …

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Dog-Sled-Mobiling?

Much of the country has been getting record amounts of snowfall. While Ely itself may not be breaking records just yet, we are enjoying a real winter this season. Every few days or so, it snows another couple inches or more. Unlike with cars, extra snow while dog sledding is not too problematic, normally. More…

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Severe Slush Continues on Ely Area Lakes

The ice road on Shagawa Lake has been shut down due to slush, and advanced dogsled camping trips are making major reroutes due to severe slush on Ely area lakes.  While guiding dogsled trips, I am virtually always staying on previously used trails to avoid the slush.  This photo shows an example of what happens…

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Lily the Black Bear Gives Birth to Two Cubs Near Ely, MN

Lily the black bear, one of the research bears studied by the Wildlife Research Institute near Ely, MN, gave birth to two cubs on Friday.  This is the second year in a row that Lily gave birth on the Institute’s live webcam.  To see what’s going on in Lily’s den and try to spy a…

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“Very Nice Weather”

I’m wrapping up guiding a four-night dogsled trip and Jan, with utmost sincerity, says, “We’ve had very nice weather this week.”  You’d never know Jan experienced the coldest week this year – with lows dipping to 38 below zero Fahrenheit.  That’s actual air temp.  Another morning hit 27 below.  While this wasn’t a camping trip,…

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Moon Halo over Ely, MN

I spied this moon halo last night as I drove home from our canoe trip outfitting shop in Ely.  Moon halos are created when millions of tiny ice crystals high in the atmosphere reflect light.  The shape of the ice crystals results in a focusing of the light into a ring around the moon.  Because the…

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Winter Travel Routes Wind Through Labrador Tea

Our winter traveling world varies dramatically from summertime.  During summer, paddling and portaging in the wilderness, we mostly avoid wetlands – for they harbor masses of mosquitoes.  Plus, the prospect of stepping into a particularly mucky spot and going in up to your knees or (gasp!) waist is not most peoples’ idea of summer fun. However, the onset of winter means the mucky…

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Slush alert for Ely area lakes!

After almost a foot of snow in the last several days, many lakes are mired in slush. This pic shows the bottom of my skis slushed/iced up after trying to ski across White Iron Lake today.

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Winter’s Arrival in Ely

Last week’s spring-like weather has given way to winter. Yesterday it started snowing and today, we woke up to about four inches of the fluffy white stuff. We have buttoned up all of our summer gear and are getting ready for another Northwoods winter. Bring on the dog sleds!

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Final Canoe Repairs of 2010

Above average temps in the fifties today allowed me to do some maintenance on “Lilly,” a cedar strip canoe I built several years back.  She took the 2010 season off while I worked on some fiberglass and epoxy repairs to the turn of the bilge.  I put the first coat of varnish on the hull…

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Moose Brains

Today’s Halloween, so here’s a moose brain.  It’s about the size of a grapefruit.  While this post is a lighthearted holiday entry, the brain shown here is undergoing important scientific research that may help people better understand the moose population in Minnesota.  I helped extract this brain from a bull moose harvested up the Echo…

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Garrison Keillor, Eat Your Heart Out

Lake Wabegon is Garrison’s fictitious community on the edge of the prairie. It’s full of Norwegian Lutherans and colorful characters. Here in Ely, Minnesota, we live on the edge of the wilderness with plenty of colorful characters, and some Norwegian Lutherans. Today we’re driving south to see the live performance of Garrison’s radio show, A…

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Pine Marten Breakdown

I awoke to a Pine Marten peering from an overturned canoe outside my bedroom window this morning.  Then a second one appeared.  Then they loped around the cabin to the deck.  Once on the deck, one of them took up residence in a flower pot, and the other one decided that looked like a fine…

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Women in the BWCA Wilderness

I recently guided two all-women’s camping trips. What a blast! Both groups of talented, smart and go-get-em women sought out a female guide for their Boundary Waters camping experience. I have guided canoe trips over ten summers for teenage and adult women in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park, working at…

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Boundary Waters Autumnal Colors

Fall colors are here! In fact, they are at peak already. If you’ve got the time, head on up to Ely and enjoy the beautiful colors. Here, two photos from recent guided canoe trips. These beautiful light purple flowers really complement the yellows, oranges and red of the autumn woods.

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Bob Cary Print Sale and Our Last Hurrah of the Summer

Jackpine Bob Cary is an Ely legend: a radio personality, an artist, a fisherman, and generally a beloved character who passed away a few years ago. His daughter Barb Cary Hall is hosting a big sale of all things Cary, including his prints, both color and black & white, and his books. Many of his…

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Bluegills in Their Underwater World

We found these extraordinarily curious Bluegills on Hustler Lake in the Boundary Waters. They are called Bluegills thanks to the dot of color you can see on the side of both fish. That blue or black spot is actually an extension of the gill cover. They are excellent fish to eat, and these particular fish…

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Day Hiking in the Boundary Waters on the Sioux-Hustler Trail

I guided a group of five strong sixty-something hikers this week. It was their first canoe trip, but certainly not their first experience camping! These pleasant folks from Virginia have been hiking and backpacking on some big adventures all over the United States. With this background, the group was keen on hiking for a day…

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The Lovely Painted Lady

Greetings from this lovely Painted Lady butterfly living near Wood Lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness! This beautiful butterfly may look familiar to you, and for good reason: they are quite common, even around the world. They migrate from Mexico all the way to Canada just below the Arctic circle and are also…

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Trail Work in the BWCAW

We ran into this group of hard-working Minnesota Conservation Corps volunteers out on the trail recently. It had been a hot and humid week, and this day was certainly no exception. These folks had been working hard most days since mid-June. Often, portages require some maintenance, particulary those that are heavily-used or particularly wet. As…

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Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly

We found this pretty butterfly out in the Boundary Waters recently. It alighted on our dark-colored life jackets, shirts and pants multiple times. Perhaps it was warming itself, even with the sun already fairly high. It is the Compton Tortoiseshell (nymphalis vaualbum), which is a species found in much of the northern half of the…

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Cedar Waxwings and Pin Cherries

Summer is a busy time for Cedar Waxwings here in northern Minnesota. Much of the summer, you will find these birds on their perfect perch waiting for dinner to pass by. When the 7-inch bird spies its scrumptious meal of mosquitoes or moths, it swoops down, snatches the bugs up, and returns to the same…

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Underwater Photography in the BWCA

Travel in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is mostly via lakes and waters. So how do you deal with cameras around all that water? Some people embrace the water and bring along waterproof cameras. They definitely take some of the stress out of the possibility of dunking an expensive camera. Kate is carrying a…

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Fly Amanita – Storybook Mushroom in the BWCAW

Fly Amanita is the quintessential toadstool we started drawing as kids in elementary school.  It’s also known as the “fly mushroom” or “fly poison mushroom” because it is believed a saucer containing Fly Amanita in milk will attract and kill flies.  The young mushroom begins covered in a universal veil and may be misidentified as…

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Sulfide Mining on the Edge of the BWCAW

Border Lakes Outfitting and Jason Zabokrtsky teamed with the Friends of the Boundary Waters recently to raise awareness for the potential environmental impacts of proposed sulfide mining operations on the edge of the Boundary Waters.  Jason guided the group of environmental advocates and media representatives, including Stephanie Hemphill of Minnesota Public Radio and John Myers…

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Ely, MN – The Coolest Small Town in America

Ely, MINN – National travel magazine Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel has named Ely, Minn. as its 2010 “Coolest Small Town in America.” The magazine received 147 nominations, then selected 21 American towns that stood out from the crowd to open up to public online voting. In online voting, 439,411 votes were received, and Ely captured 118,899 of those—27…

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Common Merganser and Ducklings on Lake One in the BWCAW

  We paddled to a quiet bay away from the main travel route to look for wildlife on a guided day canoe trip today on Lake One. Luckily, we spied this Common Merganser and her ducklings. The young were probably born in a hollow tree – where Mergansers typically nest. The mother must have just…

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Young Fern Fronds Unfurling in the BWCAW

Summer is on its way! The leaves are exploding out everywhere, and closer to the ground, the ferns are coming out in their own way. The tightly-curled immature fern fronds are called fiddleheads. As a fiddle player myself, I can verify that they do indeed resemble the top of my instrument. It only takes a…

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A Canoe Trailer That Will Last

We picked up a new canoe trailer today at Remackel Welding in Forest Lake, MN. Around Ely, canoe trailers bounce down some pretty rugged roads. Names like “Echo Trail” and “Tomahawk Trail” reflect the rustic nature of the routes here. These roads and harsh northern elements put canoe trailers to the test. Meet one of…

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Sap Remover

Five-year-old Lucas trotted out of the woods with his hands above his head shouting: “I need the sap remover! I need the sap remover!” Sure enough, the spring sap is running and he found it. But, no problem. He just needed the liquid hand sanitizer out of the toilet paper kit. It’s a good tip…

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March BWCAW Canoe Trip

It’s almost never possible to do a Boundary Waters canoe trip in March. But, with our early spring, and summer-like temps, I eagerly watched the forecast in hopes of just such a March trip. Sure enough, the rivers freed up from ice quickly and even some of the lakes were going out by the end…

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World Event Missed While On Trail – Boundary Waters Renamed

On the paddle to the takeout after a camping trip, the question often arises: “What major news did we miss while in the wilderness?” I returned from a two-day BWCAW trip late tonight and hardly considered what might have happened during such a brief jaunt out. However, I was shocked when I found this major…

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End of the Dogsledding Season

Dogsleds are done for the Minnesota season. We took a last run with the dogs by wheeled cart this weekend. The above photo is Scott from the Twin Cities driving a dog cart. His wife, Christine, is on the cart behind him. The dogs kicked up some of our springtime mud onto Christine – but…

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EPA Says Sulfide Mining Proposal is Environmentally Unacceptable – Sign a Petition for Govt Agencies to do what the EPA Says

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that the PolyMet mine proposal for a new sulfide mine in Northeast Minnesota presented unacceptable risks to the environment. The agency gave the proposal its lowest rating and termed the proposal, “environmentally unacceptable.” The EPA has only branded 41 proposals out of almost 40,000 proposals in…

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Wilderness Wedding

We celebrated in a big way at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge this weekend. Sunday was the marriage of two wilderness guides, Dave Freeman and Amy Voytilla. The couple planned an unusual wedding. Guests rode dogsleds, skied, or hiked to the wedding site – a campsite on the shores of White Iron Lake near Ely, MN. The…

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Canadian Lynx Tracks

We came across these tracks on Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake recently. My first thought was of a massively oversized rabbit. They’re obviously too large to be a Snowshoe Hare, but they have a similar repeating pattern. I had a hunch on the tracks’ true origin, and checked with Tom Rusch at the DNR to…

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Perceptive dogsledders preempt peeing dog

Bill and Ann on a dogsled trip this week figured out the dog Lewis (shown here). Lewis wanted to pee at the top of every hill.  His top-of-hill leg-lifting meant their dogsled stopped shy of the crest and they had to push it to get it over the top. Then they got an idea.  As…

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Snow Sculptures in Ely at the Winter Festival

The Ely Winter Festival wrapped up this past weekend, just as I wrapped up a dogsled trip. I made it to see the snow sculptures in Whiteside Park in the afternoon. Come late January every year, large blocks of snow get set up in the park, which professionals and amateurs then sculpt into unique, creative…

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Sled-joring

Kids come up with the darndest of ideas! I’ve been guiding a parent-child trip, and we spent this afternoon playing on the lake by the lodge with a few dogs. Everybody tried skiing, and even those who were total beginners stayed upright much of the time. The skiing was a quick introduction to the next…

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North Pole Shakedown

Every winter, adventurous sorts come to the woods outside of Ely to prepare for attempts to reach the North Pole by dogsled or ski. It is an opportunity for these people to see how their cold weather systems perform and learn skills for dogsledding and cold weather travel and camping. We call these North Pole…

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Painting with light in a Layne Kennedy photo workshop

Layne Kennedy is at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge this week leading a dogsledding photo workshop. I’m one of the dogsled guides on the trip. It is a joy to work with Layne and absorb his contagious enthusiasm. Layne is a professional magazine and nature photographer. At the beginning of the photo workshop week, participants draw “assignments”…

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Wet snow is weighing down branches and small trees

The recent wet snow has wreaked havoc with area trails. Though the snow-covered trees make a winter-wonderland scene from the highways, drooping trees and branches have seriously restricted travel on winter dogsled and ski routes through the woods in the boundary waters. Most of our dogsledding trails are outside the BWCAW, and therefore we’ve been…

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Video of Birth of Lily the Black Bear’s Cub near Ely, MN

This video shows the actual birth of Lily the Black Bear’s cub near Ely, MN, around noon today. You will see the cub’s paw reach out from behind Lily’s leg and hear the cub’s sounds as it cries out for the first time. I just spoke again with Dr. Rogers and he says that Lily…

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A Dogsled Guide’s Day Off

People often ask me what dogsled guides do on our days off. I tell them that our days off tend to look a lot like our days on. For example, I had this week off from guiding to celebrate a late Christmas with my parents who visited from Iowa. What did I find myself doing…

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Deep Freeze Temps and Hand and Foot Warmers

With low temps around 30 degrees below zero, we cracked open some hand and foot warmers for the dogsledding trip this week. I just finished guiding a trip with a nice family from near New York City. It turns out one of them worked as a hand and foot model. She really appreciated the hand…

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Building a Quinzee Snow Shelter

The dogsled camping group this week is game for just about anything. I really like their eagerness to try new things. Today the whole group joined in to build a traditional snow shelter called a quinzee. The above photo shows our finished product. A quinzee is made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow.…

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Dog food?

My first dogsled camping trip of the season launched this week. It is four days and three nights on trail. This morning around the campfire Jen (a guest from Minneapolis) peaks into the breakfast pot and says: “Hhmm. That looks delicious. Uh, this may sound awful, but when I first saw thatI thought it was…

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Boundary Waters Bus

Before restrictions on motors in the BWCAW, land-based motorized vehicles made their way into some remote places. For example, this old International Harvester bus transported passengers across the Four Mile Portage between Fall Lake and Hoist Bay on Basswood Lake. The passengers would be either starting a canoe trip or going to one of the…

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Pine Marten on the Hunt

This frisky Pine Marten is hanging around the cabin, eating birdseed from the feeders and chasing wildlife. I photographed him today. Recently I watched him chase a Red Squirrel up a spruce tree, and then give up on the chase to await an easier ambush. Then I spotted him bounding through the fresh snow after…

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Last Boat Ride of 2009

Most folks had their motorboats winterized by the end of October. Virtually all other boats were tucked away by mid-November. But, this photo shows how one motorboater can lay claim to the title of last boater on Shagawa Lake in 2009. To say the least, it’s unusual to be boating on an ice-covered lake. But…

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Northwest Passage Dogsled Expedition – Why They Do This

Tomorrow Chris and Lisa start driving north. The accompanying photos show the sparkling new 14′ sledge which they will christen once arriving in Inuvik. Why do they do this, and why is this expedition unique? This is nothing less than an epic journey. Chris and Lisa will face the extremes of adversity: bone-chilling cold of…

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Northwest Passage Dogsled Expedition

Note: This is part one in a series about Chris and Lisa’s Northwest Passage Dogsled Expedition. Chris Maher, of Ely, and Lisa Strom, from Sweden, are making final preparations for an epic dogsled expedition of the Northwest Passage – from Inuvik (near the north end of the Northwest Territories of Canada) to Churchill, Manitoba. Chris…

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Pot Black Miracle

To those of us who have spent what feels like an overly significant part of our lives attempting to scrub every speck of pot black from our camp cookware – let today be the beginning of a new era! Let this be the end of soot covered “mechanic’s hands” stained from carbon that outlines one’s…

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Wolf Attacks

Wolves are generally not dangerous to people, and I’m unaware of any human injuries related to wolves in the BWCAW. Instead, if we see wolves on a Boundary Waters canoe trip, we feel especially lucky and pleased. The same can’t be said for domestic dogs and their interactions with area wolves. Wolves are probably one…

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“Lakes, A Love Affair” Movie Trailer

Kerry McNally is a Twin Cities television personality and former Discovery Channel host. I guided him this summer on his first trip into the BWCAW. He found the Boundary Waters so inspiring that he’s featuring footage from our canoe trip and scenic plane ride prominently in his new movie. It’s called Lakes, A Love Affair.…

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Tamarack Trees are in Full Color

Tamarack trees are ablaze in golden yellows now. After a summer innocuously blending in with spruce and fir trees, they are bursting with color. They are particularly striking against a backdrop of evergreens. The photos show Ely-area Tamarack trees this week. Once the dogsledding season arrives, the tamaracks will be totally barren. Tamaracks are the…

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October Snow in the Boundary Waters

As soon as October 1 rolls around, I’m ready for snowflakes that don’t stick to the ground. Once the dogsledding season starts on December 1, I’ll be ready to wake up to several inches of snow. However, it is just plain premature for two inches of snow to be weighting down the tents of late-season…

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Poison Ivy in the Boundary Waters

Western poison ivy leaves are not a celebrated fall color, but they can be as crimson as a red maple leaf. The above photo shows poison ivy recently at the sand beach campsite on the west end of Mile Island on Fall Lake. Some Northwoods guidebooks gloss over or fail to mention western poison ivy.…

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Harvesting Wild Rice in the Boundary Waters

Today we paddled back in time and harvested wild rice by canoe in the BWCAW. Mirroring the traditional ways of the Sioux and Chippewa in this region, we paddled and portaged our canoe to a wild rice stand. The above video shows us using smooth wooden poles, called flails, to tap off the ripe grains…

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Campfire Song in the BWCAW

It is unusual to bring a guitar into the BWCAW. Everything must by portaged and paddled, after all. And you don’t want to disturb the wilderness experience of other travelers. But, it can be done, and we did this week. We paddled into the wilderness with some friends from Alaska and decided a relaxing song…

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Firefighting Equipment for a Planned Prescribed Burn in the BWCAW

Forest Service personnel paddled to our BWCAW campsite yesterday and notified us that we were required to leave our lake due to a prescribed burn of the Four Mile Portage. As we left the lake today, we saw these fire hoses and pumping equipment at the portage. They had also posted the below portage closure…

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Bald Eagle Wants a Loon’s Catch in the BWCAW

When we’re lucky, we see wildlife. When we’re really lucky, we see wildlife in action. The few times I have seen a loon eating fish, I have just caught a quick glimpse of silver as the loon swallows down its small meal after resurfacing. Today, my crew and I came upon a loon with a…

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Fishing With Kids in the BWCAW is Fun

A nice family from the Chicago area stayed at Fenske Lake Cabins near Ely this week and joined Boundary Waters Guide Service for a couple days of guided fun on the lakes. The whole family traveled by canoe to see some historic pictographs and pick wild blueberries yesterday. Today Keith took his two sons on…

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Bear Dog

You never know what surprises you might get from the wild animals of the north. Early Monday morning out at the Girl Scout Canoe Base near Ely, two staff members awoke to the sound of the pet dog Lexee’s loud woofing. Lexee was terribly agitated about something happening, so they followed her as she ran…

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Float Plane View of the Boundary Waters

Bud from Van Air flew me and a client on an aerial float plane tour of the BWCA and Quetico today. The top-down view provides a whole new perspective on how much of this area is covered in water. And what a beautiful pattern the lakes make with the peninsulas and bays, islands, rocks and…

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BWCA Happy Honeymooners

In the parking lot at the entry point this week, you couldn’t miss the “Just Married” written across the vehicle’s window. So, when we met a young couple on the portage, we asked if it was them. Sure enough, they’d spent their honeymoon camping in the boundary waters. It had been a cold and rainy…

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Bear Activity at Campsites on Disappointment Lake in the BWCA

I’ve received my first report this summer of bears hanging around a campsite. There has been a mother and her cub entering campsites on the east end of Disappointment Lake. Disappointment Lake is one portage east of Snowbank Lake. Keep a clean camp to discourage bears. If you have a bear in camp, then make…

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Winter and the 4th of July

Some people say there are two seasons up here: Winter and the 4th of July. That’s not quite true. But, once Independence Day rolls around, it is time to think seriously about keeping warm when the snow flies. Today Kate and I split wood. This photo is her with a rented log splitter. It felt…

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How Long Before a BWCA Canoe Pack Sinks?

We set out to answer that question this week. With the help of the guides at the Girl Scout Canoe Base near Ely, we loaded two canoe packs, dumped them in the lake, and waited to see if they would sink. For the first pack, we used a typical Duluth-style #3 canoe pack with personal…

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Patriotic Portagers in the Ely Parade

Small town Independence Day parades across the country reflect the communities that host them. Ely is no different. In the “canoe capitol” of the world at the edge of the BWCA, there must be canoes. Today the Girl Scout Canoe Base guides portaged canoes in our parade. They even demonstrated, in formation, how to do…

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Nina Moose Lake

We finished up the BWCA canoe trip today by paddling across a glassy Nina Moose Lake under picturesque blue skies with poofy white clouds.

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Lac La Croix Pictographs

One of my favorite BWCA pictograph sites is on Lac la Croix. The mystery surrounding the origin and meaning of these Indian paintings has interested me for some time. A friend who grew up in the Chippewa village on Lac la Croix once told me that the Chippewa do not know the origin or meaning…

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Father’s Day Walleye

Bob and his son Ben spent father’s day in the BWCA. I can’t imagine a more fitting place to spend quality time with your son. Ben caught his dad some walleye and smallmouth bass and we celebrated with a delicious boundary waters fish fry.

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Coffee and Bacon

Bacon and a cup (or 3) of Gene Hicks coffee makes the Boundary Waters an even better place. If you want to add some Ely flavor to your BWCA mornings, then bring along Gene Hicks gourmet coffee. The Good Morning blend shown above is my favorite coffee in the world. We pack it with all…

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Flooded Portage Near Oyster Lake

The portage trail between Hustler and Oyster Lakes in the BWCA is challenging. It is about a mile long. And it is known to be flooded for about a hundred feet at the Oyster end. Some recent rains meant a particularly deep wade for us today. We decided to put the canoes down, load them…

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White-tailed Buck on the Little Indian Sioux River

I launched a six day BWCA canoe trip with father and son guests from Chicago today. Bob snapped this photo of a white-tailed buck grazing near our entry point on the Little Indian Sioux River. This young buck has velvet on his antlers, and hardly seemed to mind us paddling past him. The buck appears…

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Smallmouth Bass Spawning Bed

The smallmouth bass are on their beds now. The male smallmouth bass have recently created visible beds in shallow waters along the shores of BWCA lakes and rivers. The male bass makes the bed by fanning the sand and gravel away from an area near a rocky shoreline. If a female bass is impressed, then…

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Beatty Rail Portage

An option for people who want to enter the BWCA or Quetico from the west end is to take a motorboat tow to Lac La Croix. The motor tow is an adventure in itself. During the trip to La Croix from Crane Lake, the motorboat is twice loaded onto a cart and pulled across portages…

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Dragonfly Nymph

I turned over some submerged stones in a BWCA lake this week looking for crayfish. Instead of crayfish, I spotted this dragonfly nymph. Dragonflies spend most of their lives under water in a nymph stage. As nymphs, they are aggressive predators. They are carnivorous and primarily eat insects, but are known to eat vertebrates such…

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BWCA Tombstone of Ella Hall

I know of one tombstone in the BWCA. It identifies the grave of Ella Hall. Over a century ago, the teenage Ella died on the lake that bears her name. I took this photo recently at the grave site. In the million-acre-plus BWCA it seems there should be more marked grave sites. I would enjoy…

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Back to Civilization

After a fun week of venturing through the BWCA with David and his sons, we returned to civilization today. This trip made memories of varied weather (sun, clouds, wind, rain…); long paddling days; an excursion to Thunder Point; sighting lots of wildlife including eagles, moose, otter, and loons; fishing for lake trout, pike, and walleye;…

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Juneberry Tree in Bloom – The “Popcorn Tree”

Sitting around our campfire on Disappointment Lake, David asked about the “popcorn tree” behind the tents. What a perfect description! Juneberry trees are covered in spectacular white blooms now. From a distance, they appear to be covered in snow white popcorn. Juneberry trees are often called “serviceberry trees.” Serviceberry is probably a more appropriate name…

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Thunder Point on Knife Lake

One of the most spectacular views in the BWCA is from the top of Thunder Point on Knife Lake. We day-tripped from our camp on Fraser Lake to it today. This photo is taken from the top of Thunder Point looking southwest toward the Isle of Pines. The Isle of Pines is the former home…

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Speckled Alder Catkins

These are catkins on a speckled alder tree. The tiny flowers on the male catkins are shedding pollen that pollinates the female flowers. The male catkins are 5 to 10 centimenters long. While gathering firewood today around our camp on Ima Lake in the BWCA, I worked my way through a dense thicket of speckled…

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Gear Review: BWCA Boots For Cool Weather

The safest way to get in and out of your canoe at a portage is to “wet foot” it. As you canoe up to a portage, turn your canoe parallel to the shore and step out of your canoe and into the shallow water before the canoe touches a rock. It is dangerous to try…

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Launching a Six Day BWCA Canoe Trip

Today I launched a six day BWCA canoe trip with a dad and his two sons. We put in at crystal-clear Snowbank Lake. This photo shows David proudly watching his sons, Eric and Peter, paddle away from our lunch spot on Ahsub Lake.

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Broad Leaf Aster and Charmin

Guest Blogger: Wilderness Guide Kate Ford. Spring is slowly creeping its way in. We are seeing lovely, warm, sun-filled days back to back with days of light snow or cold rain. Even with the wavering weather, May is providing the Boundary Waters with enough sun and warmth to coax our leaves out, as proven by…

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False Morels – Deadly Portage Mushrooms

False morel mushrooms are sprouting up along BWCA portages and area hiking trails. I saw my first of the season a few days ago. Yesterday we saw about a dozen along the Bass Lake Trail near Ely. These false morels are deadly. Eaten raw they may lead to diarrhea and vomiting within a few hours.…

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A Southern Belle’s Musings on the Boundary Waters

Editor’s note: Guest blogger Jessica Fuller provided this entry. Jessica is from North Carolina and ventured into the BWCA with Guide Kate Ford. In North Carolina, a dusting of snow means closed roads, cancelled classes and empty toilet paper aisles. In North Minnesota, it simply means it’s time for a trip to the Boundary Waters.…

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Today’s paddling advice from Mike Hillman

Winds gusting to 35 mph and snow whipping in your face greeted canoers this morning. Mike Hillman, host of the polka show on WELY radio today, provided some advice to those canoers: “Put on every article of clothing you have, and go east.” I took this photo at about 11 AM today.

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The North American Bear Center May Surprise You

One of the top fears of newcomers to the BWCA is bears. Specifically, peoples’ imagination can take a wild ride when visualizing bear encounters. However, the common fear of black bears is largely due to the media’s mischaracterization of our largely harmless black bears. If you’re one of those scared of a Boundary Waters trip…

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Snowshoe Hares Know It’s Spring

This is one of two snowshoe hares I’ve seen this week. Both of them have recently changed color from a snow-white winter coat to their summer camouflage brown. They know it’s spring and they’re blending in with the brown and nibbling at the green.

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Springtime Boundary Waters Moose

I photographed this cow moose and her calf today while paddling near Lake Four in the BWCA. As I paddled past a narrow inlet, I glimpsed what looked like an upturned tree root. I twice backpaddled against the wind to get a better look, then used my camera zoom to confirm they were moose. As…

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Wenonah – Where Canoes Are Born

We picked up new Wenonah kevlar ultralight canoes at the Wenonah Canoe Factory in Winona, Minnesota, this week. Owner Mike Cichanowski (above, left) greeted us. He grew up in Winona, on the banks of the Mississippi. He’s a paddler at heart and has inspired innovation throughout the canoe industry. His company is now the largest…

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Patriotic Urban Paddling

People often ask what we Boundary Waters guides do on our days off. My response is that our days off look a lot like our days on. For example, Kate and I are in DC visiting friends (it’s the Ely “mud season,” after all). But, you can’t keep us away from getting our paddling fix…

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Hudson Bay Recap

We’ve returned happy and healthy from our Hudson Bay dogsledding adventure. Every spring, after the Minnesota dogsledding season ends, Wintergreen Lodge leads dogsled adventures to various destinations such as the North Pole, Greenland, Svalbaard, other Arctic locations, and the Rocky Mountains. Eight of our Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge guides left Ely by truck and dog trailer…

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Dog Treats With a Twist

It’s a Wintergreen tradition to buy the dogs soft serve ice cream cones when returning from long trips. This is Daisy enjoying hers after we crossed the border back into the US today.

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Polar Bear Jail

As we arrived in Churchill, we dogsledded to the Polar Bear Jail. It is where problem bears are taken, on the edge of town. These photos show the polar bear traps used for the problem bears.

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Churchill Northern Studies Center

We spent our day dogsledding and skiing with our heads down and noses angled away from the wind. Sustained winds blasted us as we traveled along the coast of Hudson Bay to the Churchill Northern Studies Center. Wind speeds peaked at about 30 mph, with an air temp of about 0 degrees F today. The…

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Windbound

We are in the midst of an all out gale. Winds blowing upwards of 35 mph have stopped us in our tracks. Air temps are about 10F, but the wind chill has pushed temps into the deep freeze. Blowing snow is piling up in drifts around the dogsleds and we have hunkered down at an…

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Hudson Bay!

The weather has remained ideal. The sun continues to shine brightly and we are slathering on sunscreen. The wind has calmed today. The scenery is changing rapidly. As we move further north, the trees are getting smaller and smaller, and fewer and fewer. The efficient traveling conditions allowed us to log 25 miles today. Our…

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Covering Miles

We covered a lot of ground today – about 23 miles by dogsled and ski. We are passing through some brushy areas with small trees. The snow collects in these areas and can mean deep, fluffy, difficult to get a dogsled through, conditions. The dogs bottom out in the deep snow and the sled starts…

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Polar Bear Tracks

Today we traveled about 15 miles. The wind started out gusty. We saw several firsts. We saw tracks in the snow from polar bears (including tracks from a mother and two cubs, shown in the photo), caribou, wolves, wolverines, and fox. The wind subsided and a blazing sun is giving us a tan. The temps…

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We Launch Dog Teams

We’ve received several varying reports from the conductor regarding the arrival time for our drop off point. Originally we heard mid-morning. It kept getting pushed back due to the rough track conditions. At 1PM, the train screeched to a halt, the freight door slid open, and we started on assembly line unboarding. The train staff…

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Trucks, Trains and Dogsleds

We arrived in Thompson, Manitoba, at about 2:30PM. We drove straight to the train depot, staked out the dogs, and then put our sleds, dogs, and gear in order next to the tracks to await the next leg of our journey. We heard several times that the Tundra Train is “always late.” It remained true…

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The Dogs Know

At 6AM we arrived in the Wintergreen kennel to start loading sled dogs into the trailer, and launch our journey to Hudson Bay. That’s earlier than we are typically at the kennel. The dogs knew something was up instantly. I walked several dogs from their doghouses to the trailer. Lightning had a glint in her…

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Project Polar Bear Gear Pack Out

The below photo shows our smaller dogsleds used for lodge-based trips around Ely. They are now mere skeletons with their sled bags stored for the season. Today we are packing out dogsledding camping gear for Project Polar Bear. Guide Dave Freeman, the director of Wilderness Classroom, is shown above making a repair to the brushbow…

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Project Polar Bear – April 2 – 12, 2009

Between our Minnesota dogsledding season and summer BWCA canoe guiding season lies a wonderful opportunity for new adventure. This year most of our guides are going north to dogsled around Hudson Bay. We call it Project Polar Bear. You can learn all about it with real time online multimedia updates thanks to Dave Freeman, Amy…

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Wolf Tracks

We caught a glimpse of a lone wolf trotting across the ice while dogsledding home today. These are his tracks in the fresh snow.

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Trail? What Trail?

Seven strong young people with a zest for adventure allowed us to take a particularly challenging route, and cover over 50 miles by dogsled. Obstacles like scaling this rock face with a dog team started to seem simpler and simpler after the incessantly challenging terrain we regularly encountered. This is us leaving Lake One in…

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Late Season Luck

The late season weather and trail conditions can be variable. We had luck on our side for this trip. As everyone arrived, they needed windshield wipers to clear the drizzle. However, a cold front moved in just in time for our first full day of dogsledding. And we still have solid snowcovered trails, like the…

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The Last Hurrah

We call the last camping trip of the Minnesota dogsledding season “The Last Hurrah.” However, the title has a double meaning for the last hurrah trip I’m guiding this week. I’m in the woods with a group of seven twenty-seven-year-old bachelors celebrating their buddy Cory’s bachelor adventure. Cory’s getting married in July. That’s Cory flexing,…

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Project Polar Bear

When the Minnesota dogsledding season ends, we go north for Project Polar Bear. We are traveling by truck (and dog trailer) and train to Churchill, Manitoba, the first of April. Once there, we will be dogsledding and camping in what the locals have dubbed the “Polar Bear Capitol of the World.” The area is one…

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Sit-Skijoring

Curt (above) pioneered a whole new sport today we call sit-skijoring. Skijoring is when a person is on skis and tethered to a harnessed dog that pulls them. Sit-skijoring is when a person is on a “sit-ski” – the blue device above. Curt is using his strong upper body balance and the outrigger skis with…

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Bicycles and Dogsleds

That’s a bicycle seat on the back of one of the dogsleds. One of the fun things about journeying with people through the wilderness is adapting things to work in special situations. Curt, one of our dogsledders this week, doesn’t have full use of his legs. The bicycle seat innovation allowed him to drive the…

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Puppies!

Covy has puppies! These are two of the three of them hanging out on the porch at Wintergreen Lodge. The adult Inuit dogs don’t like the heat because of their thick insulating coats. Today’s temps hit an unseasonably warm 60 degrees. These temps are even too warm for the puppies. They did their best to…

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Barefoot Weather

How warm was it today? Warm enough that dogsledders Lilly and her dad, Paul, sat outside barefooted and in a t-shirt. This week I’m guiding a Continuing Medical Education Dogsled Trip with a group of doctors (including Paul, above). The trip includes some of the doctors’ family members. Even after today’s warm weather, we are…

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Pond Curling

So, how do we pass our time when not guiding dogsledding trips? Pond curling, of course! Well, that’s how we spent this afternoon after the dogsledding trips ended. The guides and everybody got together on our own home-made curling ice on the lake behind the lodge. Thanks to all the folks who took the time…

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Ever Wash These Things?

Joel, a dogsledding participant, held an armload of stinky dog harnesses and looked over at me this morning: “Ever wash these things?” In fact, the dog harnesses do occasionally get washed. This video shows the Wintergreen industrial dog harness washing machine – aka, a cement mixer with rocks, water, and detergent. Paul has an ultimately…

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Bubba – Pulling Harder Than Any Other Dog

GUEST BLOGGER: Wilderness Guide Kate Ford. The second annual Ely Wolftrack Classic sled dog race is happening this weekend, so Ely is buzzing with visitors. Tomorrow our friend Eva Kolodji will take her dogs out for the 30-mile race from Ely to Tower, which she estimates will take about 3.5 hours. That’s much less than…

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Canadian Border Dogsled Camping Route

I just returned from a 7 day dogsled camping trip from Gunflint Lake east along the Canadian border, through the BWCA. We ventured out with two groups of students from Lakehead Univ. in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Most of our Wintergreen dogsledding trips are not comprised completely of college age people. Thus, this felt like a…

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Snow Sculptures

Artists recently completed another display of incredible snow sculptures in Whiteside Park in Ely. The Snow Sculpting Symposium is part of the Ely Winter Festival. This snow sculpture is “They Called the Wind Mariah,” by Sherry Rovig, Nick Lee, and Dianne Goodwin. Three days of warm weather and drizzle after the carving means that photos…

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North Pole Shakedown

I just returned from a North Pole Shakedown. Adventurous people who want to ski and dogsled to the geographic North Pole journey to Ely for Shakedown dogsled camping trips. Participants learn dogsledding, winter camping, and skiing skills needed to successfully reach the Pole. This is their opportunity to determine if they have what it takes…

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Sourdough Pancakes with Historical Flavor

Thanks to some generous Elyites, I now have an Alaskan sourdough pancake starter with a hundred year history. But, how do the pancakes taste? I felt somewhat nervous after seeing the science experiment-type bubbles in the batter the first morning. However, the dogsledders loved them. It’s a good sign when the dogsled participants are demanding…

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Social Event of the Winter

Everyone knows the social event of the Ely winter is the annual Mukluk Ball! Kate and I donned our mukluks last night and joined some friends to tear up the dance floor. Hundreds of people danced to the tunes of the Lamont Cranston band. If you ever wanted to be a part of small town…

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No Ordinary Pancake

The sourdough starter story continues. After graduating from Ely High School, David attended MIT, graduating with a degree in engineering. His long-time friend, Sig Olson, Jr., insisted David and his wife visit him in Alaska. [Sig Jr.’s father is my favorite author and probably the person most responsible for creating the BWCA.] So, during the…

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Sourdough Starter Story – The Beginning

My sourdough starter story begins at Ely’s local radio station – WELY. When you live in Ely and you’re looking to find something or get rid of something, you call the radio station. Trader Craig is our local peddler supreme. Just give him a call at WELY, and he’ll broadcast your wishes on the Trader…

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Photo Workshop Themes

The Photo Workshop dogsledding trip has wrapped up. We are lucky to have professional photographer Layne Kennedy leading these trips. He is a wonderfully dynamic and talented photographer and teacher. The group learned a lot from Layne. One of Layne’s main ideas for better photos is to ask yourself, “What am I trying to say…

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Happy Dogs

There are many reasons why I return to guiding dog sledding trips at Wintergreen Lodge. One of the main reasons is that the dogs love to pull. If the dogs exuded some sort of complacency or indifference to pulling, or even if it seemed like pulling a sled burdened them in some sort of a…

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Night Sky in Motion

One of the fun experiments the photo workshop participants have done is try night sky shots. Last night Tom Sheley, of Columbus Ohio, captured this image. All the stars appear to be rotating around the North Star. I really like how the stars have color in this photo. No one has altered the picture with…

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Being Watched

Ever feel like somone’s watching you? We’re in the midst of the Photo Workshop dogsled trip. One of the participants, Jamie Thingelstad (http://www.thingelstad.com/) snapped this picture of some of the photographers shooting me and several dog teams breaking trail on Husky Pond today. Temps have been comfortable for this trip, with highs in the teens…

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Shooting into the Light

One of the things Layne Kennedy suggests is to consider shooting into the light for visual effect. This is a photo I took shooting into the late afternoon sun today. Lead dogs left to right are Suma, Matilda, and Juno (puppy). In wheel you see another puppy, Jack.

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Photo Workshop

I’m one of the dogsled guides on a Photo Workshop dogsledding trip that started today. Layne Kennedy is a professional photographer from the Twin Cities. He has led this workshop at Wintergreen for over a dozen years. I’m hoping I learn some pointers to help me take better photos for this blog. This is a…

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Eva Finishes the Beargrease & Delivers the Mail!

After 111+ miles, 14 hours on trail, and temps dipping to almost 30 below, Eva Kolodji finished the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon today! She is now the youngest woman ever to have successfully completed the race. Full race results are at http://www.beargrease.com/. A really nice article with Eva’s story is in the Duluth News…

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John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon – Hike! Hike! Hike!

Our favorite dog sled racer, Eva Kolodji, made history today. At 17 years, she is the youngest woman ever to attempt the grueling John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. She launched her team of 8 Alaskan sled dogs at about 1:30 PM in front of a packed grandstand of cheering wellwishers. Eva started running dogs five…

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Putting Up Ice at Will Steger’s Homestead

I spent today helping arctic explorer Will Steger fill his ice house with lake ice. His homestead is off the grid, on the edge of the BWCA. A whole crew of folks assembled to help cut, buck and stack these clear, over-sized ice cubes. We used a team of horses pulling a sleigh to haul…

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Birch Seed “Tracks”

These Paper Birch seeds fell from the catkins on the tree shown in the Jan. 17 post. The seeds gathered on the snow beneath the tree. Then, a slight breeze swept some of them into animal tracks, making it look like someone painted animal tracks in the snow. They’re possibly snowshow hare tracks. This is…

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Massive Snow Cubes

These are a couple of the massive snow-filled plywood forms sitting in Whiteside Park in Ely. Once the snow settles, the forms are removed and the resulting snow cube is the blank slate for snow carvers. The Ely Winter Festival begins on February 6. The Festival highlight is the International Snow Carver’s Symposium. The snow…

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History and TV

None of the Wintergreen guides have TV. Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge doesn’t have TV. None of the Boundary Waters Guide Service guides have TV. So where do you go when you feel compelled to be part of a historic event being broadcast on TV? The local watering hole. The nice folks at the Boathouse Brewpub in…

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T-Shirt Weather

After all of the 40 below weather recently, it felt mighty balmy when temps reached into the 20s ABOVE zero today! I stripped down to my T-shirt during the trip this afternoon. We are on a small bay off of White Iron Lake near Ely, MN, in this photo.

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Birch Catkins Releasing Winter Seeds

Paper Birch trees are starting to release their winter seeds. The catkin in focus has some of the winged seeds just barely hanging on. These shorter (about 1 1/2 inches) female catkins were pollinated last spring. The seeds have developed over the last seven months. Now they take flight on the wind. We are seeing…

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Who Knew?

A great quote from one of our dog sledding participants today: “Who knew you could have so much fun at 20 below?! “ Above is Mo on trail cooling down with a face full of snow.

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The Face of 40 Below

Tim, from Kentucky, is on a dogsled trip this week. He helped with feeding and caring for the dogs this morning, during the coldest part of the day. It took less than 15 minutes for his eyebrows and eyelashes to freeze up in temps south (not South Beach warm ‘south,’ but lower down on the…

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New Trip at 25 Below

Started a lodge-based dog sledding trip with four participants today. We launched our teams in temps colder than 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The folks are most surprised that they remained quite comfortable, even in the frigid temps. Chalk that reaction up to quality clothing (they all rented or purchased clothing from the Wintergreen clothing…

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Guides Do the Darndest Things

What is the psychological profile of a typical guide? Guides tend to be friendly, outgoing, interesting, and adventurous sorts. After watching Chris’ Greenland dog sledding slideshow, we sat back for pics from another guide’s recent travels with the nomadic people of Mongolia. Our youngest guide, Christina, is a Luther College student who did an independent…

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Seal Hunting by Dogsled in Greenland

One of our long-time Wintergreen dogsled guides, Chris Maher, decided to move to where they invented dog sledding: Arctic Greenland. He moved to Greenland in Spring 2008 and purchased a dog team. Now he spends his fall like the native Inuit people he lives with. He drives his team of Inuit dogs hunting seals by…

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Forecasting

It’s not too uncommon for forecasters to be 20 degrees off in their low temp predictions for Ely. Case in point: The National Weather Service and the rest of the forecasting crews predicted a low of -6 to -8 degrees Fahrenheit last night. We woke up to a somewhat chilly 29 degrees below. And a…

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Three-legged Dog

Over breakfast, a participant mentioned she had a three-legged dog pulling her dogsled the day before. My ears perked with concern. Then she said, “Yeah, Baloo was lifting his fourth leg to pee on every single tree that passed by. He may as well had only three legs pulling.” Above, Baloo.

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Kids and Dogs

Kids seem to take to dog sledding with a certain grace and ease that sometimes escapes adults. Here is Lill, age 8, from Texas with Lucy. Lucy is less than a year old, and is happy in lead. Lill and her twin sister, Georgia, did a great job working with the dogs. Georgia even caught…

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Beaver Family is: Home

We dogsledded by this beaver lodge today. For curosity’s sake, we stopped to see if it is occupied. If beavers are wintering over inside a lodge, then the warmth from their bodies melts a small chimney in the snow at the very top. Sure enough, beavers are present in this lodge. The photo shows Cassidy…

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Lufa Cooing

Lufa is a dog that really wants to be with people. She loves human attention. And the guides respond to it. She is the only dog in the kennel of about 80 dogs that is allowed to run free while we are in a winter camp. Lufa makes a unique cooing sound when she howls.…

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Dog Farts and Propane

The propane gas industry adds a rotten egg smell to their naturally colorless, odorless, and very explosive propane product. That’s a good start. However, sometimes that could lead to unsafe confusion. Is that rotten egg smell a dangerous propane leak, or just the Thanksgiving leftovers reminding me of their long-ago demise in the frig? Alas,…

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Kwitchurbeliakin

A saying from Ely’s famed Dorothy Molter: Kwitchurbeliakin. Try saying it out loud if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. Dorothy is regarded as the last person allowed to lawfully live in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. A self-sufficient, hardy woman, she did very little “belly aching.” Canoeists on Knife Lake loved to…

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Buster – Lucky Dog

Buster (above) is a lucky dog. His doghouse is near the main entrance to the kennel. That means he gets extra petting from guests. He’s one of my favorites because he is ultra-consistant and reliable. That means I give him some extra attention. But, he’s really lucky to just be alive. He was born a…

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What’s so great about 20 degrees below zero?

When it warms up to 0 degrees, it feels like a heat wave! So is the case today. I ski to work at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. It’s about a 15 minute ski from my cabin, depending on the weather and snow conditions. The short mid-December days mean that I’m typically skiing the route in the…

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New Twist in a Forest Fire Saga

Living in the North Woods means we are well aware of forest fire dangers. We are particularly conscientious about putting out our campfires. We know, in some cases first hand, about the devastating effects of forest fires caused by improperly extinguished campfires. Case in point. When I started guiding Boundary Waters trips in the mid-nineties…

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Pulling Puppies

Most Wintergreen alumni won’t recognize the names on these dog harnesses. They are the new duds for our puppies born in March to Lucky and Thule. Our dogs are purebred Canadian Inuit dogs and they are, quite literally, born to pull. For thousands of years, the Inuit (or Eskimo) people have relied on the breed…

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Winter Storm Warning Comes True

Those smart folks at the National Weather Service got it right this weekend. The following forecast came true: Weather report for Ely: … Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 12 PM CST Monday… Snow intensity will increase through the afternoon… persisting overnight. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches an hour. Winds of 20…

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Mugging for the Camera

The earlier post mentions that we recently finished a dogsled camping trip with the Travel Channel. As it turns out, one of our dogs is a natural for the silver screen. Calvin is the gray dog in lead in this pic. He has an uncanny ability to recognize a camera (still or video!) and put…

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Every Flake is Precious

We have luckily received just enough snow to keep our dogs running, participants mushing, and guides guiding. This pic shows one of our trails on White Iron Lake. You can see the black ice where the snow has blown away. Today we dogsledded primarily on the lake. Tomorrow we will head deep into the woods…

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Greeting the Dogsledding Season!

The dogsledding season is officially underway at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge. The guides just returned from the first dogsled camping trip of the season. This was no ordinary camping trip. It included the Travel Channel’s luminary, Samantha Brown, her personal stylist, a videographer, a sound guy, a producer, and a runner. We spent much of the…

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