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.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

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 of wild rice, we slowly filled the bottom of our canoe. The wild rice has a relatively short season and we fortunately made it out just before most of the rice had dropped naturally into the water.

The below photo shows a close-up of the wild rice grains before they are parched and finished.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

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 around the campfire with an acoustic guitar would be fun.

This video shows Wilderness Guide Kate Ford playing the guitar and singing "Light of the Campfire" with Maria Allen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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 sign. We later learned that, due to weather conditions, the planned Four Mile Portage prescribed burn was not ignited.

In addition to the Wind Lake prescribed burn that we watched yesterday, the Forest Service also conducted a prescribed burn this week around Boot Lake, near Snowbank Lake. I have not heard of any additional planned burns, and the lakes temporarily closed for the burns this week have reopened.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Prescribed Burns in the BWCAW

Today we fished and watched the smoke rise from the Wind Lake controlled burn in the BWCAW. This photo shows our view.
The US Forest Service is attempting to reduce the potential for a wildfire that might result from the unusual fuel loading caused by the 1999 blowdown event that toppled many large trees in the area.
The Forest Service reports they consider the Wind Lake burn successful with 95% of targeted fuels consumed.