Welcome to the BWCAW blog of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service!

See our websites at ElyOutfittingCompany.com and BoundaryWatersGuideService.com.

We are a Boundary Waters canoe trip outfitter, Quetico outfitter, and guide service in Ely, Minnesota. This Boundary Waters blog shares photos, stories, humor, skills, and naturalist insights from guiding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Most entries are from our founder and head guide, Jason Zabokrtsky. He is the Boundary Waters Blogger.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

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 can also be made if you wish to make a reservation through the Ontario Parks call centre. Please ensure you have an applicable method of payment when making your 2017 Ontario Parks reservation through either our website or call centre.

Ontario Parks

Friday, January 13, 2017

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Permits FAQs

Do I need a permit to visit the BWCA? 
Yes. A permit is required whenever you enter the BWCA. For canoe trips starting from May 1 through Sept. 30, a quota entry permit is required and these permits are available to reserve on a first-come, first-served basis starting on January 25, 2017, at 9am CST.
How long can I wait to reserve my BWCA permit? 
For the best selection of quota entry permits, have us reserve your permit as soon as you've decided on an entry point and entry date. For the best selection of permits, we can reserve your permit as soon as all BWCA permits become available on January 25, 2017. While permits will still be available throughout the paddling season, you may need much more flexibility for your preferred entry point and entry date.
How much does a BWCA permit cost? 
BWCA permits are inexpensive. They cost $16 per adult per trip and $8 per youth (under 18 years) per trip, plus a $6 nonrefundable reservation fee per group, and a $10 nonrefundable permit acquisition fee per group when we reserve your permit. Thus, for example, the total BWCA permit fees for a group of four adults is $80.
What information is required to reserve a permit? 
Your exact entry date (the day you put on the water) and entry point are required and can not be changed. Other details of your trip, such as your group size, number of watercraft, trip end date, and exit point can be changed at any time. We reserve all BWCA entry permits for a group size of two adults with one watercraft and adjust to accurate numbers when we issue your permit at our shop either the day your trip launches or the day before it launches. Also, we recommend listing up to three Alternate Trip Leaders on your permit. If the listed Trip Leader is unable to do the trip, the permit may still be issued to an Alternate Trip Leader listed when the permit was originally reserved.
What is an "entry point"? 
The US Forest Service manages the BWCA and has designated about 70 different entry points. Entry points are specific locations where a group can enter the Wilderness. The Forest Service states how many permits are available at each entry point on a given day. Some entry points may have as many as a couple dozen permits available per day, and some may have as few as just one permit per day. One permit is good for a group size of up to nine people.
Is the permit price refundable if I cancel my trip? 
So long as your original permit is cancelled at least two days before the entry date, you will receive a refund of your original permit fee minus the $6 nonrefundable reservation fee and $10 nonrefundable permit acquisition fee. If your permit is cancelled within two days before your entry date, you will be refunded any permit fees paid less the price of two adult permits ($32) and the $6 nonrefundable reservation fee and $10 nonrefundable permit acquisition fee. There is no refund of permit fees for no shows.
What if I change my mind and want a different entry date or entry point? 
First, you must determine if an entry permit is available for the new entry date and entry point and reserve the new permit. So long as your original permit is cancelled at least two days before the entry date, you will receive a refund of your original permit fee minus the $6 nonrefundable reservation fee and $10 nonrefundable permit acquisition fee. If your permit is cancelled within two days before your entry date, you will be refunded any permit fees paid less the price of two adult permits ($32) and the $6 nonrefundable reservation fee and $10 nonrefundable permit acquisition fee.
How do I reserve a BWCA entry permit? 
We typically reserve the entry permit for our guests. Click here for our convenient online Trip Registration Form. When we receive your completed registration we will email you an invoice for the permit deposit and outfitting deposit. Once we receive your deposit we can reserve your entry permit. Alternatively, you may reserve your permit online at www.recreation.gov. If reserving your permit online, then list our guide service ("Boundary Waters Guide Service") as the issuing station so we may conveniently issue your permit when you pick up your outfitting.
Am I able to transfer my permit to someone else? 
No. They are not transferable. Permits can only be issued to either the Trip Leader or an Alternate Trip Leader listed when the permit was originally reserved.
We're experts at the Boundary Waters trip planning and permitting process and happy to help. Learn more at www.ElyOutfittingCompany.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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 total personnel

Starting today, fire updates will be released once a day in the morning.

Current Situation: Another day of strong winds tested the fireline yesterday, but the lines held and the fire did not grow. The progress firefighters have made allowed fire managers to consider over half of the fire contained. The hottest area of the fire is on the northwest side between Crab and Clark Lakes and south of Clark Lake. Helicopters were not needed yesterday for water drops. They provided support by hauling gear and supplies to and from the fire area. They will be available today for logistical support and water drops if needed. Ground crews will continue working to extend the containment line today by laying hose on already cut line and mopping up hot spots. Three crews continue to camp in the wilderness: two on Crab Lake and one on Clark Lake. The other crews hike to and from the fire every day. Firefighters have installed five to six miles of firehose and around the perimeter.

The Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad were demobilized from the incident yesterday. MNICS Team C appreciates the local expertise, structure protection, and equipment they provided to the firefighting efforts.
Weather and Fire Behavior: A quarter-inch of rain fell on the fire area last night, which is not enough to extinguish fire but is enough to significantly suppress and retard fire spread and new starts. The moisture will increase the effectiveness of firefighters’ suppression and mop-up efforts on the fireline today. Winds will be light and variable today, reaching 5–9 mph this afternoon. The temperature will be in the high 70s, and the relative humidity will hover around 35 percent. Fire behavior will likely be minimal today.

Closures: Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only BWCAW entry point that is closed. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:
·         portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
·         portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
·         lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
·         Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
·         portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

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 Commander
Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com
Phone: 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, 2016
Resources: 6 crews, 2 helicopters, 2 engines, 1 water tender, 180 total personnel

Current Situation: There was little growth on the fire yesterday. Accurate mapping data from handheld and aircraft GPS units resulted in the large increase in acreage. Along the east side of the fire, crews installed fire hose along a quarter mile of saw line. On the west side, they continued constructing saw line northward, nearing Clark Lake. Aircraft assisted ground crews with water drops. Two crews camped overnight on Clark and Crab Lakes, allowing them early access to the fireline this morning. A third crew will camp on Crab Lake tonight. Today, on both the east and west sides of the fire, firefighters expect to connect their saw lines as they work toward each other from the north and south. Four engines will be on the Wolf Lake and North Arm Roads today, prepared to respond to new fire starts that could occur. Four Forest Service wilderness rangers are on Crab and Cummings Lakes to ensure public safety for those who might be unaware of the closures.
They also continue to work with firefighters who are camping by helping them with wilderness and camping protocols. Firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, with their two fire boats, continue to assist the firefighting efforts and Burntside Lake residents through their presence on the lake. Members of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue squad continue to make contact, both by boat and road, with property owners on the west end of Burntside Lake.

Critical fire-weather conditions across northeast Minnesota prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning today—for gusty winds and very dry conditions—in effect from noon to 7 p.m. The statewide planning/preparedness level was raised yesterday to 5, the highest level.
Weather and Fire Behavior: Weather today will be dominated by high winds this afternoon, again from the south, gusting to 25 mph. Sustained winds will be 10–15 mph. Whitecaps are expected to remain on lakes after 10 p.m. as winds will continue overnight. Fire-behavior analysts say there is potential for a very active fire day (for example, single-tree or group-tree torching, short crown runs, and some rapid fire spread). Smoke might be visible to residents and visitors in surrounding communities. However, smoke does not necessarily mean the fire is growing larger: burning “islands” of unburned forest within the fire perimeter

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened. Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions today.

Closures: The Forest Service does not currently recommend BWCAW travel south of Big Moose, Big Rice, and Bootleg Lakes. Just one BWCAW entry point—Crab Lake entry point #4—is officially closed; all other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed

 portage Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
 portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
 lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark,
Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey
Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.
 Pine Creek east of Trout Lake
 portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The
closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/4740/.

RED FLAG WARNING

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 Commander
Web address: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# Email: FossLakeFireInfo@gmail.com
Phone: 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 percent
Current Situation: A Minnesota type 2 incident management team took command of the fire this
morning. Today they will work closely with the firefighters and managers who have been fighting the fire the past two days. Yesterday crews constructed fireline and installed hoselays along the east and west sides of the fire’s south end. A hotshot crew camped on Crab Lake last night and today will work on the north end of the fire. Eventually they will meet up with crews working from the south. Aircraft assisted ground crews by dropping water and retardant on the fire, particularly on the east side. Retardant has been dropped along the entire length of the east edge to limit fire growth toward Burntside Lake. Local firefighters from the Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, using their two fire boats, have been conducting structure-protection assessments of residences on the west end of Burntside Lake and will continue that work today. There are 80 personnel and 5 aircraft on the fire.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for dry conditions for St. Louis County that is effect until 8 p.m. Saturday, May 21.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Today will be warm and dry again with the temperature reaching the high 70s and the relative humidity dropping as low as 16 percent. Light afternoon winds will be from the southwest with gusts not expected to top 10 mph. Fire-behavior analysts expect fire activity to be light today. However, strong winds are predicted for tomorrow, which could potentially increase fire behavior.
With the weather change in mind, crews will prioritize the east side of the fire for their fire-suppression efforts today. The earliest chance of rain over the fire area is Monday.

Safety Message: The towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan are not threatened, nor are any
structures. Fire managers are planning for Sunday’s strong winds and red-flag-warning conditions.
Residents on the west side of Burntside Lake should be aware of changing weather conditions.

Location: The 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 Foss Lake, and south of Crab Lake. The fire is burning
north within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point is closed: entry point #4 Crab Lake. All other entry points remain open. The following BWCAW portages and lakes, including campsites, are closed:
• Crab Lake BWCAW entry point and portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake
• Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca,
Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta,
Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine Lakes and
associated portage trails 
• Cummings Lake portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake
• Pine Creek East of Trout Lake
• Pine Lake portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake

Closure signs will be posted at normal points of access to delineate the closure area. The
closure order and map are located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/#.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Foss Lake Fire Update


USFS Update

Date Issued: May 20, 2016 at 8:00 p.m.                  Incident Commander Type III: Timo Rova

Fire Information:
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 Foss Lake, and south of Crab Lake. The fire is burning north within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Description: Crews made good progress today, directly attacking the fire on its north, east, and west sides. Aircraft dropped fire retardant along the east side of the fire and water on the west side.

Background: The Foss Lake Fire began on May 19 as a prescribed fire to reduce surface and ladder fuels, to enhance wildlife habitat, and to encourage jack pine regeneration. Shortly after ignition, an unpredicted change in weather conditions brought higher winds, warmer temperatures, and lower relative humidity. A spot fire north of the control line escaped containment and the wind-driven fire spread to the north. Aircraft that were on standby responded quickly and, with the work of ground crews, were able to slow the fire’s eastward spread with water and retardant drops, protecting the west and north sides of Burntside Lake. The fire spread north to Crab Lake in the BWCAW. There was no fire growth to the south.

Message: There is no threat to the towns of Ely, Winton, Tower, or Soudan. No structures are threatened. Good fuel-reduction work completed over the last two years on Burntside Lake increases firefighters’ ability to manage the eastern edge.

Resources: 80 personnel and 8 aircraft. MNICS Type II Team under Incident Commander Brian Pisarek arrived today and will take command of the fire Saturday morning. The Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade and the Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department both have fire boats on Burntside Lake are conducting structure-protection assessments.

Weather: Saturday’s weather will be very similar to Friday’s. The temperature will be around 75 degrees. Relative humidity will be 20­–27 percent. South winds will be variable up to 7 mph. The earliest chance of rain over the fire area is Monday.

Closures: Currently, just one BWCAW entry point is closed: entry point #4 Crab Lake. All other entry points remain open. The closure area includes the following BWCAW portages and lakes, including campsites:
·         Crab Lake BWCAW entry point and portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake
·         Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine Lakes and associated portage trails
·         Cummings Lake portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake and Cummings Lake to Korb River
·         Pine Creek East of Trout Lake
·         Pine Lake portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs will be used at normal points of access to delineate the closure area. The closure area map is located at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4740/# 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Foss Lake Fire Near Ely, MN - BWCAW Entry Point 4 (Crab Lake) Temporarily Closed

USFS Update - Foss Lake Fire
Date Issued: May 19, 2016 at 9:30 p.m.

Fire Information: 218-208-4544 and updates will be posted on inciweb@nwcg.gov

Location and Size: Township 63 N, Range 14 W, Section 26. This fire is located 6 miles from
Ely, MN in St. Louis County, one mile west of the southwestern edge of Burntside Lake, north of
Foss Lake, south of Crab Lake. It is burning north into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCAW). There is no estimate on the size at this time. An estimate will be made
tomorrow morning when smoke has dissipated. No control or containment estimates at this time.
Description: The fire has laid down for the night. With decreasing winds and higher relative
humidity aircraft made good progress checking the growth of the fire on both the east, west and
north sides. There was no growth to the south. Aircraft and ground crews will continue to work
tomorrow to reinforce today’s progress. Additional crews and resources will also be arriving to
assist with management of the fire.

Message: There is no threat to the towns of Ely, Winton, Tower or Soudan. No structures are
threatened. Good fuel reduction work completed in the last two years on Burntside increases fire
fighters ability to manage the eastern edge.

Resources: 8 aircraft worked the fire this afternoon with success. 40 crews are on scene.

Closures:

One BWCAW Entry Point: #4 Crab Lake is closed at this time.

All other BWCAW Entry Points remain open.

An area closure including BWCAW lakes west of Burntside Lake, south of Cummings Lake and east of Trout Lake is planned. A list of lakes included in the closure area and a map will be published
tomorrow on inciweb@nwcg.gov

Monday, March 16, 2015

NEW KAWISHIWI DISTRICT RANGER TO JOIN FOREST LEADERSHIP TEAM ON SUPERIOR NATIONAL FOREST

DULUTH, MN (March 9, 2015) Gus Smith, new District Ranger on the Kawishiwi Ranger District of the Superior National Forest, comes with extensive fire experience and familiarity with our region. 

Before joining the Forest Leadership Team on the Superior National Forest, Gus served at Yosemite National Park for six years as the Fire Ecologist. At Yosemite he worked with academic and federal researchers on fire science research in the Sierra Nevada, ran the fire effects monitoring program, and developed science-based planning tools for wildland fire management. Prior to that, he was on temporary detail to the Sierra National Forest for four months and spent another four months in Washington D.C. working on a detail for the Department of Interior in the Office of Wildland Fire.

Before going west, Gus was a professor at Northland College in Ashland, WI. Gus says he fell in love with the north woods while there as a college student then went on to teach wildlife ecology and management and other natural resources and biology courses. He became interested in fire when he co-hosted a symposium on the Northwest Sands Ecosystem with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Gus also taught classes at University of Minnesota at Duluth for two quarters.

In addition to academia, Gus has worked as a leader with youth organizations. He instructed at two Outward Bound Schools and worked first as the wilderness tripping program director then as camp director at YMCA Camp Manito-wish, Wisconsin. As the wilderness program director, Gus says; “I spent a lot of time dropping kids off and picking them up in Ely and at the end of the Gunflint Trail and hearing their great stories from the trail. But I have been on a lot of great trips in the Boundary Waters and Quetico and think some of those early experiences drove me to a career in natural resources management.”

Away from work, Gus, enjoys any opportunity to be outside. He says: “I love to hunt for antler sheds or find unique places and features on the landscape. It doesn't have to be that spectacular to get me out - I often find an unnamed lake or beaver pond on a map and go try to find it.” Gus says he loves to cross-country ski, paddle (anything), fish, hunt, bird watch and also loves to read and cook.

Gus is married to Joy Meeker, a Minnesota native, who has four brothers living within four hours of Ely and parents in the Twin Cities. Joy is the Director of Education at Meridian University in California and hopes to continue teaching on-line graduate courses after moving to MN. Gus says he and Joy are really looking forward to becoming members of the Ely community.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

USFS Temporary Jobs in Ely and NE Minnesota Open for Applications today through Jan. 12


Temporary job openings were posted on USAJOBS.gov today, January 6, 2015, for seasonal jobs with the Superior National Forest in Ely, Aurora, Tofte, Cook, and Grand Marais. The listings will be open for only seven days until January 12th. Most positions will start in late spring or early summer and last 90 to 120 days. People interested in these entry level positions with the Forest Service will want to act quickly.

The positions include: Forestry Technician (Recreation) positions in Ely and Aurora; Customer Service Representatives in Ely and Tofte; Forestry Technician (Fuels) in Cook and Grand Marais;
and a Biological Science Technician (Plants) in Aurora. For more information regarding these positions, go to www.USAjobs.gov. In a basic search enter ‘Minnesota’ for location and ‘open today. You may search specific jobs using their announcement numbers:

• Forestry Technician (Recreation): 15-TEMP-R90462-4-RECR-DT-RK. For additional information contact Tim Engrav, 218-666-0025.
• Customer Service Representative: 15-TEMP-R9CSR-S9-DT-KR. For additional information contact Becca Manlove, 218-365-2093.
• Forestry Technician (Fuels): 15-TEMP-R90462-5-FUEL-DT-KR. For additional information contact Brianna Schueller, 218-387-3236.
• Biological Science Technician (Plants): 15-0909-9814DP-CW. For additional information contact Jack Greenlee, 218-229-8817.
• Links will also be posted on the Superior National Forest website http://www.fs.usda.gov/superior/ under Quick Links/Employment. You may also follow the Superior National Forest on Twitter.

Reminder: These announcements close next Tuesday, January 12th

Saturday, December 6, 2014

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 trips into the BWCA and Quetico through YMCA Camp Widjiwagan. My Dad signed me up for my first trip when I was 12. It was an 11 day trip where I’d be camping with kids I had never met with no modern comforts and no contact with my friends and family. I actually really didn’t want to go. But as it turns out, those eleven days were among the best days I had ever spent in my life. My trips have gotten progressively longer and more challenging and this past summer, I took a 31 day trip. The Boundary Waters have been so impactful on my life, helping me gain strength, respect, and I think most importantly, self-confidence.

I have a favorite campsite. I stayed there two summers ago. This campsite sits on an island on Russell Lake. What first caught our eye was the big rock in the sun, perfect for our early-afternoon snack--dried apples. While eating, we took a look around and realized, even though we had been planning to paddle further, we couldn’t pass this campsite up. So, we stayed. That night, we fell asleep to the sound of nearby waterfalls and were woken in the middle of the night by wolves howling just across the lake. We ended up staying another day and swam, we explored, and we made an extravagant breakfast of pancakes and then calzones for supper. Not that all days are pancakes and calzones. Most of my favorite days are ones where we put on lots of miles, accomplish tough portages, and get into camp late and exhausted, but also confident in yourself and your team.

Experiences like this are part of the reason I love this wilderness area so much. There are no guidebooks, signs, or people telling you where to go or when you have to be where. You plan your own route, making adjustments as you go. I think it’s really valuable to make connections with places, for me in this example, not only with the broader BWCA, but also, specific places, like the campsite on Russell.

In the Boundary Waters, there aren’t phones, there isn’t social media or other daily stressors. We need times when we get to unplug, times where we can ignore the clock and instead focus on how we feel, what we want to do. Where we can’t only rely on Google Maps and can learn again how to use an old-fashioned compass or the sun to find our way. And in the Boundary Waters, without these things, I get my best thinking done. It’s so important to me that this wilderness exists, and I take solace in remembering my experiences there and looking forward to many more to come. That I have a place where I can get lost in the wilderness.

The time I spend in the Boundary Waters is precious. It fills me with a peace and serenity that I’ve never felt anywhere else. I hope I will be able to take my kids out to the campsite on Russell Lake.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Summer 2015 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) Entry Permit Information



A quota entry permit is required for overnight trips in the BWCAW from May 1 through September 30. The quota system regulates how many groups can begin a trip at each entry point each day. There are over 70 entry points to the BWCAW.

Advance entry permit reservations are strongly recommended because there are a limited number of quota entry permits for each entry point. All quota entry permits for summer 2015 become available on a first-come, first-served basis on January 28, 2015.  There is also a very limited permit lottery system that only applies to certain entry points, and primarily relates to motorboat travel in limited areas. The lottery opens for applications on Dec. 16, 2014, and goes through January 13, 2015.  The lottery results are released on January 21. The lottery only includes the following entry points:  D (Fall Lake and Beyond - day use motor), 24 (Fall Lake - both overnight motor and paddle), 25 (Moose Lake - both overnight motor and paddle), F (Moose, Newfound, and Sucker - day use motor), and G (Basswood over Prairie Portage - day use motor).

Call us at 218-343-7951 for information on permit availability, and to reserve your entry permit. You can also check permit availability and reserve entry permits at www.recreation.gov.

Groups may only enter the BWCAW on the entry date and through the entry point specified on their entry permit. Permits may only be picked up the day before, or the day of, entry, by the trip leader or alternate trip leader designated on the reservation. Permits are not transferable.

Non-quota self-issued permits are free and required year-round for day use BWCAW visitors, and for all overnight visitors entering the BWCAW between October 1 and April 30.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

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 powerful place. 

But, our Boundary Waters is more fragile than it may seem. And it is threatened. A Chilean mining giant wants to put America's most polluting industry on the very edge of the BWCA.  They want to extract copper and nickel in trace amounts from ultra-hazardous sulfide ores. 

The sulfide ores are bad news for clean water. Once exposed to air, they create sulfuric acid that leaches out dangerous heavy metals and kills watersheds. And this mine would produce mountainous volumes of this ultra-hazardous waste rock - right on the very edge of the BWCA.

To put it lightly, this is risky business. The track record of these mining companies is horrible, and the legacy of these unique mines is one of broken promises and watershed pollution - every time.  

We must not risk the heart of the BWCA - its clean water.  We owe it to those who established this Wilderness to carry forward a legacy of preservation. And we owe it to the good of our society to protect the BWCA as an irreplaceable national treasure.  

Know that we will do our best to protect the Boundary Waters from this threat. And, fortunately, a good team of smart and passionate people with strong connections to the Wilderness are spearheading a national effort to save the Boundary Waters from this threat.  Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness is spearheading the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.  The campaign includes a growing coalition of national and state organizations, and it needs your help.

Today is "Give to the Max" day in Minnesota - an annual fundraising day for MN nonprofits. Your donation today as part of this special event will be doubled with matching funds.  Click here and donate at https://www.givemn.org/organization/Northeastern-Minnesotans-For-Wilderness

After today, you can still donate at www.SaveTheBoundaryWaters.org.

Thanks for supporting this important cause.  

Cheers,
Jason

Monday, October 20, 2014

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, Jason Zabokrtsky of Ely Outfitting Co. is the keynote speaker on Friday evening.  His presentation is titled, "32 Above: Tips for Winter Camping in Warmer Weather."  Expect some fun photos and videos mixed in with the informative talk.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

"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 been in Brazil since late May canoeing the Amazon's mythical "River of Doubt," successfully completed their 400-mile expedition today. During this centennial year, they have retraced President Theodore Roosevelt's epic 1914 first descent of the river that nearly cost him his life and now bears his name, the Rio Roosevelt.

Despite the challenges that plagued the 1914 trek, Roosevelt commented repeatedly in his diary about the stunning beauty of the jungle. Dave and Paul were pleased to find that although some areas near the river have been cleared for pasture, most of the Rio Roosevelt remains as pristine as it was in 1914. "We saw the same wildlife Roosevelt did – monkeys, caiman alligators, electric eels, cobras, peccaries, tapirs, capybaras, giant otters and even a jaguar. And the jungle supplemented our trail rations as it did his with piranha, catfish, heart of palm and Brazil nuts." said Dave.

"Roosevelt was our greatest conservation president," said Paul. "During his terms in office, nearly 250 national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and national monuments were established. It's a tribute to his incredible public lands legacy that the Rio Roosevelt remains a realm of natural beauty.

Dave and Paul arrived in the south central Amazon one month ago with 6 Brazilian teammates and plans to begin their journey near the river's headwaters just as Roosevelt did. But their arrival coincided with a violent outbreak of tensions between the Cinta Larga (the native people who control access to the upper Rio Roosevelt) and the Brazilian government. Therefore the team opted to paddle the lower section first. They launched from a downstream access point on May 30.

On the initial 18-day, 300-mile segment they ran many long stretches of rapids and endured a 2-mile portage through the jungle around dangerous water. But they avoided the numerous illnesses and mishaps in the rapids that befell Roosevelt's team and nearly cost our 26th president his life.

The expedition team camped at four of the same sites that the president did and they found that life along the river among native homesteaders, who tap the wild rubber trees and gather Brazil nuts from the forests, remains almost exactly as described in Roosevelt's journal. This lower stretch of the river took Dave' and Paul's team through the domain of the Zorro native people and they saw signs of their thatched-hut settlements along the shore. They actually paddled through a new reserve now being established on the lower Roosevelt to protect a primitive tribe that has only recently been sighted by aircraft but has had no contact with the outside world.

On Monday, June 16, the team reached the mouth of the Rio Roosevelt and the place where Roosevelt with his Brazilian colleague Colonel Rondon and their team completed their canoe journey 100 years before. Dave and Paul then renewed their contact with Cinta Larga and were granted access approval by a tribal chief. Dave and Paul paddled an additional 100 miles, beginning at the river's headwaters near the approximate place where Roosevelt began his journey 100 years ago. After negotiating several challenging portages, including one in which this sizable river is funneled through a 5'-wide rock chasm, they recently arrived at the main Cinta Larga village, completing their journey.

Dave and his wife Amy are 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. School children from around the world followed this expedition via Dave and Amy’s website, http://www.WildernessClassroom.org. Paul, who is known for Arctic exploration including the 1986 North Pole expedition with Will Steger, operates Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge in Ely, MN with his wife Susan.

Dave and Paul are available for phone interviews and can provide images from the expedition.

Contact: Amy Freeman, 312-505-9973, amy@wildernessclassroom.org