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.

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/.


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.


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


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.  


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

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Great Northern Radio Show is Coming to Ely for a Live Performance on Sat., June 14

ELY, Minnesota — The Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio (KAXE.org) brings its unique blend of music, storytelling and comedy for the first time to Ely Saturday, June 14th at the Vermillion Community College Theater.

The Great Northern Radio Show is written, produced and hosted by Iron Range author Aaron Brown, of Balsam Township in Itasca County. Brown grew up near Zim and Forbes and teaches at Hibbing Community College. He founded the show in 2011 to showcase the talent, creativity and unique stories of northern Minnesota for a broader radio audience.

“You’ll recognize the format from popular variety shows like the Grand Ol’ Opry, Lawrence Welk, Wits and Prairie Home Companion” said Brown. “But we bring something different. We are a big show that brings high quality, contemporary entertainment to the mid-sized cities and small towns of northern Minnesota. These places become part of the show; every episode is a love letter, an album for the place where we broadcast.”

The “first couple” of the Iron Range music scene, Germaine Gemberling and Rich Mattson, will be among the featured performers in the June 14 Great Northern Radio Show live in Ely, Minnesota. Also in the show: The Surf Monkeys and Whirled Music, who are holding a CD Release Party in Ely after the show.

The show airs live from 5-7 p.m. on June 14th. Free tickets are available for those attending the live broadcast. You must be seated by 4:30 p.m. and reservations are recommended by calling KAXE at 800-662-5799.

Northern Community Radio is excited to bring Great Northern Radio show to the vibrant town of Ely. It will feature musicians Germaine Gemberling and Rich Mattson plus The Surf Monkeys, Whirled Muse and Nickolai Koivunen is back on keyboards. The Great Northern Radio Show players include Jason Scorich of Duluth, Sara Breeze of Bemidji, Erika Kooda of Grand Rapids, Britt Aamodt of Elk River, Lynn O’Hara of Ely, and Matt Nelson of Washington D.C. originally from Hibbing.

Guests for the Ely Great Northern Radio Show include Mike Hillman, Amy Freeman, Jason Zabokrtsky, Brian and Andrea Strom of Ely and Cory and Doris Kolodji from Hibbing.

The 5 p.m. June 14th show will air live on 91.7 FM KAXE on the Iron Range, 103.9 FM in Ely, and on 90.5 FM KBXE in Bemidji and Bagley and 89.9 FM Brainerd. The show is also rebroadcast on independent public radio stations throughout Minnesota and distributed as a podcast at www.kaxe.org.

The Great Northern Radio Show After Show Dance Party will be at the Ely Community Center immediately following the show featuring a CD release party for Whirled Muse featuring Eli Bissonett, Joey Kenig and Robin Anders. For tickets call Music Outfitters in Ely or online at www.musicoutfitters.com.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Minnesota DNR Statewide Fishing Regulation Proposed Changes

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources intends to adopt rule amendments and to repeal rules governing various fishing regulations.

Notice of the DNR's of intent to adopt rules without a public hearing is scheduled for publication in the
May 12, 2014, issue of the State Register. Please review the entire Dual Notice for more details.

Rulemaking documents:

Dual notice of intent to Adopt Rules published on May 12, 2014, in the State Register (www.comm.media.state.mn.us).
SONAR (Statement of Need and Reasonableness)
Proposed rule language
Agency Contact person:

Linda Erickson-Eastwood
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 20
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4020
Email: linda.erickson-eastwood@state.mn.us
Telephone: (651) 259-5206 or 1-888-MINNDNR

Among the changes to be considered are the following.

Trout regulations
Open trout lakes in Becker, Beltrami, Cass, Crow Wing, and Hubbard counties to winter trout fishing. Little Andrus (Snowshoe Lake) Cass Co; Allen and Pleasant Lakes, Crow Wing Co.; and Bad Medicine Lake, Becker Co. will remain closed to winter fishing.

Other Game Fish Regulations
- New statewide catch and release seasons for bass and sturgeon,
- 50" minimum size limit statewide for pure strain muskie
- Open Spring Lake, Itasca Co to whitefish netting
- Restrictions on where nets can be placed for smelting on Grindstone
- Close the taking of flathead catfish during the winter
Border Waters
Changes to simplify, provide additional opportunities, make changes that are consistent with the Minnesota inland regulations, or make consistent with the bordering state's regulations for Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Canada
Clarify the no-culling rule
- Require a barb on arrows used for bowfishing
- Remove obsolete and redundant rules for bowfishing, aquatic plant control of lotus, Take a Kid Fishing, Mink and Somers Lakes (Wright County), and licensing requirements.
- Technical changes for Lake Superior rules to clarify that the lake proper is included as part of the existing rules.
- Technical changes that move rule language from one part to another for consolidation or clarification: Annie Battle (Ottertail County), La Salle (Hubbard County), Moody Creek (Itasca County), and Pike River (St. Louis and Carlton County)

Special note about Muskie size limit:

The portion of this package that is proposing a 50 inches size limit for muskie on inland waters (Minn. Rules, part 6262.0200) was superseded by legislative actions. According to Laws of 2014, Chapter 290, Section 66, all inland waters will have a minimum size of 54 inches, except for the Muskie-northern pike hybrid lakes in the seven-county metro area and those that the commissioner establishes a minimum size limit of 48 inches. Consequently, the DNR will only be taking comment for hearings on the proposed Muskie rule changes relating to border waters (Chapter 6266).
Legislative language as passed:


By March 1, 2015, the commissioner of natural resources shall amend Minnesota Rules, part 6262.0200, to provide that the minimum size limit for muskellunge in all inland waters is 54 inches, except for: (1) muskellunge-northern pike hybrid lakes in the seven-county metropolitan area; and (2) individual lakes where the commissioner establishes a minimum size limit of 48 inches. Minnesota Statutes, section 97C.005, does not apply to establishment of size limits for individual lakes under this section. The commissioner may use the good cause exemption under Minnesota Statutes, section 14.388, subdivision 1, clause (3), to adopt rules under this section, and Minnesota Statutes, section 14.386, does not apply, except as provided under Minnesota Statutes, section 14.388.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Superior National Forest Ely Area High Water Warning

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
CONTACT: Becca Manlove, Information Officer, West Zone, Superior National Forest, 218-365-7569 or 218-365-7600.

Prairie Portage:

The buoys that usually mark the entrance to the falls at Prairie Portage are missing. Crews are working to replace them but may not be able to get new buoys in place until water levels recede. If you are unfamiliar with the Moose Chain (Moose, Newfound, and Sucker Lakes) pay close attention to your map. Use extreme caution when approaching the portages.

High Water in other areas:

Across the Forest, water levels are high making river travel, approaches, and exits from portages more dangerous. In addition, the water is very cold and hypothermia is a real concern.

· ALWAYS wear your life jacket. Your body’s “gasp reflex” to extreme cold water may compromise your ability to swim.

· Hug the shoreline as you approach portages.

· Discuss your route with your permit issuer for current conditions and cautions.

· Share information about flooded portages with other visitors.

Watch the Superior National Forest website for additional alerts and information about current conditions. www.fs.usda.gov/superior

Thursday, May 15, 2014

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - May 15

Current Ice Conditions:

West Side: Except for Snowbank, most lakes in the west zone are open.
- Moose Chain to Prairie all open. All of Basswood, Knife and Ensign are open.
- Burntside is open.
- White Iron, Bear Island, and Shagawa are open.
- Snowbank has only a little bit of ice.
- Rivers are open.
- Lakes One through Four, Insula, and Alice are open.
- Up the Echo Trail: Jeanette L. and Big L. are open.
- Kekakabic and Knife Lakes are open.

East Side: Lakes on the east side of the forest on the southern half are mostly open.
- Outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Crescent, Fourmile, Toohey, and Lichen are open.
- Mid- Trail and West Bearskin not open--slim chance of it opening by the weekend.
- Gunflint Lake open up to Magnetic Lake but there is still ice on the shores.
- Round Lake Open
- Missing Link Lake open
- Saganaga and Greenwood are NOT open.
- Seagull open
- Ham Lake open- Cross River and Cross Lake- open
- Probably nothing open yet in the Vento area (Daniels, Duncan)
- Bog, Quadga, Kawishiwi, Isabella, Koma, Malberg, Polly, and Perent Lakes are OPEN.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - Second Report received on May 7

Current Ice Conditions: Conditions are changing quickly. Rains, warmth, and wind could give fisherman much more open water by the weekend.

From FS pilots today:

· Newton (between Fall L and Pipestone) is open.
· Pipestone is 60% open.
· Jackfish is still frozen.
· Mud is 50%, Rice is 80%, and Ella Hall is 20% open.
· Garden is 75% open.
· Kempton is open.
· Pickerel is 50%.
· Wood is starting to open.
· Fall—there is ice on the west end and by the 4 Mile Portage.
· Most of Basswood is tightly frozen but Back Bay is 50%. Hoist Bay is frozen.
· Lakes 1 thru 4—shorelines are open but still 75% ice. May see some changes in the next few days.
· Kawishiwi R. and west bound there is some open water and may open by the weekend. Gabbro and Bald Eagle (southern end) are 25%. Three Mile is 60%.
· Snowbank and going east most of the lakes are frozen tight to the shore.

Reports from others:

· The road into Mudro Lake is in very bad condition. Low clearance vehicles and two wheel drive vehicles will probably not make it.

Road Reports from Gunflint (Grand Marais) Engineer:

· The Grade: (170) is snow free, but really rough – even “rutty”.
· You can’t get into Wilson Lake Campground and probably won’t be able to for at least a few more days, probably not by this weekend.
· From Lake County 7, going on FR 166 (600 Road) to the 342 Road, (Two Island River Road) there is about 1-2” of snow at the intersection of 166/342, so no travel down on the 342 road for several days.
· From Lake County Road 7 to Richey Lake Road it is still snow covered, but passable by pickup or four wheel drive, car travel would not be advised. Temperance River Road (343) you could drive up the first four miles but lots of trees were down. There is still snow on the road, probably only advisable with a pick-up truck.

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - May 7, 2014

We just received this ice out report from the Forest Service.

Superior National Forest Ice Update
May 6, 2014 PM report

Current Ice Conditions: Remember, ice is never completely safe and now is a particularly dangerous time. Also, ice packs shift with winds so the exact location of an ice pack may change quickly.

From FS pilots--a seeding mission was flown today and this is the pilot’s report:
  • There is very little open water right now. 
  • If we get a break in the weather, conditions may change very quickly—even as soon as this weekend.
  • Where there is current, ice is breaking up.
  • Much of Fall Lake is open and some portions of Pipestone Bay are open.
  • Smaller lakes and ponds are dark and are starting to break up. 
  • Portions of Birch Lake are beginning to open up. 
  • Most lakes east of Insula are pretty solidly ice-covered still. 
  • The Little Indian Sioux and Nina Moose (aka Moose/Portage Rivers) Rivers are open but the lakes are mostly still frozen. 
  • Reports from others: 
    • Much of the eastern end of Fall Lake is open.
    • The southern tip of Pipestone Bay was open to just north of Wegens Point two days ago.
    • The road into Mudro Lake is in very bad condition. Low clearance vehicles and two wheel drive vehicles will probably not make it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


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 it will go big on the small screen — and launch a 24/7 all-Ely, all-the-time network — The Ely Channel.

“The Ely story has legs — as well as fins, antlers and just about everything else,” says newly named Ely Channel network executive Jeremy Williams. Williams, along with several other former locals, is convinced that a televised trip to the town at the end of the road — Ely — might be just what this country needs.

Cable carriers in Kansas City, Kan. and Claremont, Calif. have already signed up. In a several rural markets, The Ely Channel has replaced bigger players such as al Jazeera, and in one case, CNN.

The Ely Channel will unveil a full schedule of programming at the New York City TV upfronts later in April. But the network has already begun production on several shows, including Iron Range Chef, Sauna Wars (heavily pixilated to comply with FCC standards) and a singalong, call-in show, Campfire!

“There is a webcam up on Sheridan (Street) for a few years, and that’s become pretty popular. A lot of folks tune in from all over just to see what’s going on in town. I guess this (station) will be sort of like that, only with sound,” says Linda Fryer, Ely Tourism. “And of course, there’s our Ely cable station that’s already airing local news and happenings, including the popular Snorkeling with Mikey. We’ll be able to bring programs like that to a much wider audience.”

“In Ely, we’ve got the corner on nature — with summer and winter activities galore,” says Williams. “In fact, research shows there’s strong interest in rural and nature-based programming in general, and in Ely and the Boundary Waters specifically.” Special materials are also being developed to help bring The Ely Channel into the classroom for schools throughout the country.

The Ely Chamber has diverted dollars to seed fund the channel, and is asking for the public’s help in making this effort a success. “We need folks who love this area to contact their cable companies to request The Ely Channel,” says Fryer. “Whether they’ve been to Ely before or not, we know that people will travel to experience the magic of Ely in person once they get a dose of our million acres of unspoiled wilderness on their flat screens. If not, we’ve got a whole lot of fancy TV equipment that’ll end up on Craigslist!” The city is considering launching an angel investment round of financing to grow programming on the channel as well.
For more on The Ely Channel, or to book a trip to town to see first-hand America’s Coolest Small Town, visit http://www.ely.org.