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.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

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 few days for the young ferns to unfurl, so it is a fun discovery to spy these young plants before they have their big flat leaves of the summer. We found these on a day trip this week into the BWCAW, on the Isabella River.

Bracken ferns are an abundant plant in the BWCAW. Some people say that bracken ferns are good mosquito repellent. Just take one full-sized leaf and set atop your head or stick in your hat, and see what you think.

Entry and photos by Wilderness Guide Kate Ford

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Find your way to BWCAW canoe trip outfitting with our new sign

Our new sign went up in front of our outfitting shop at 129 E. Sheridan St. in Ely, MN today. We are on the main drag so you can't miss us when you arrive in town. The shop is open by appointment now for our outfitting and guide service guests. We are looking forward to launching lots of fun boundary waters canoe trips from our Ely base this summer!

Thanks to Kara at Border Country Signs for helping us with the new sign. That's Jason and Kate in front of our outfitting shop.

Friday, May 14, 2010

BWCAW Fire Ban Lifted Effective Today at Noon


Good news for campers today! The last two months of very dry weather forced a fire ban over much of our corner of Minnesota. It rained and rained all day yesterday - a cold, soaking rain. It was enough to precipitate the following welcome message from the Forest Service this morning:

As of noon today, Friday, May 14, 2010, fire restrictions are lifted in the Superior National Forest. Campfires and charcoal grills are allowed at anytime of day. As always, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, fires are allowed only within steel firegrates at designated campsites.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Changes to Fire Restrictions Effective Today; Fire Ban Continues in BWCAW

Forest Service to adjust campfire restrictions on the Superior National Forest and reopen Kekekabic Trail


The USDA Forest Service is adjusting campfire restrictions and closures on the Superior National Forest.

The Forest Service will re-open the Kekekabic Trail and associated trails to public use beginning May 5, 2010.

Also beginning Wednesday May 5, 2010, campfires will be allowed any time of day ONLY in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds.

On all other Forest System lands, roads and trails, within the boundaries of the Superior National Forest, building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or wood/charcoal burning stove continues to be prohibited. The prohibition on campfires, charcoal and wood-burning campstoves includes the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Gas and propane stoves are permitted anytime of day in any area of the Superior National Forest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Forest managers are making this change in response to recent precipitation and green growth in northern Minnesota which has decreased fire danger in many areas. Conditions in the Arrowhead Region continue to contribute to high fire danger and the need to reduce potential human-caused fires.

Previously, due to extreme fire danger across all of northern Minnesota, the Forest Service had prohibited campfires, charcoal and wood-burning campstoves in all areas of the Superior National Forest and the Chippewa National Forest and closed the Kekekabic Trail system. Restrictions on the Chippewa National Forest have since been lifted.

For additional information, please contact Superior National Forest at 218-626-4300 or 218-365-7600.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

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 the most durable canoe trailers available. This photo shows our six-place canoe trailer with box by Remackel Welding. As we talked with other outfitters about canoe trailers that last the longest under heavy use, we repeatedly heard about the custom trailers by Dennis Remackel. He’s been making them by hand for several decades.

Dennis gives people several options to customize their trailers. Rust is the nemesis of a trailer, so we chose to have the trailer hot-dip galvanized. Once welded together, the trailer is dipped in molten zinc resulting in a trailer that won’t rust and never needs painted. The cool-factor is pretty high, and the practical durability factor is even higher.

We chose a few other options also. We ordered an extended tongue to allow room for a couple canoes on the roof of the towing vehicle. That allows us to transport eight canoes - two complete BWCA canoe trips. Also, the canoe racks are removable so the "canoe trailer" converts to a simple utility trailer. We also like the added steps on the back of the trailer, wheel wells strong enough to stand on, and a plywood step on the tongue. The plywood is all marine grade.

If you take lots of canoe trips and want to tow your own canoes, then you may want to consider one of Remackel's four-place canoe trailers with a large box and optional box cover. See photos on the Remackel website.

Shown in front of the new trailer are Dennis Remackel and Kate Ford.