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, April 30, 2011

Ice is Out on Shagawa Lake in Ely, Minnesota

Ice is out on Shagawa Lake on the edge of Ely, MN, today!  White Iron Lake is mostly ice free, but there's still a big sheet of center ice down by Silver Rapids.  We're welcoming some guests from Florida for a canoe trip this week, so it's a good thing the hard water is going away!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Northeast Minnesota Sulfide Mining Conference in Duluth on May 7

Anyone who cares about the Boundary Waters should learn more about sulfide mining proposed in the BWCAW watershed, and just outside the BWCAW boundary.  This event is such an opportunity.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Angleworm Hiking Trail in the BWCAW is Partially Flooded

We received this notice from the USFS today.  Apparently beaver activity is causing significant flooding of the Angleworm hiking trail at the south end of Angleworm Lake.  The flooded area is near the portage trail to Hegman Lake, and that portage may also be impacted by the flooding.  Click this image for a more detailed image showing the particular location.

A navigation map and compass are important when hiking the Angleworm Trail under normal conditions.  These changed conditions may require additional orienteering expertise, and some bushwacking.  More information is available at the Superior National Forest website here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tomahawk Road (FR 377) Washout Means Detour to BWCAW Entry Points: Bog Lake (#67), Isabella Lake (#35), and Little Isabella River (#75)

Heavy spring melt water has washed out a sizable portion of FR 377 (Tomahawk Trail) west of FR 373 rendering the road impassable.  The Superior National Forest website says there is no predicted repair date at this time.  See the map below for suggested alternate routes.  Click here for the Superior National Forest website and latest info.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

900 Miles by Dogsled in the Northwest Territories


On Monday, April 11, four Minnesotan adventurers and twelve sled dogs wandered in off the ice of Great Slave Lake. Their arrival in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories marks the end of a 900-mile trek by dogsled and ski. Dave and Amy Freeman along with Ellen Root and Van Conrad began on the banks of the Mackenzie River at Norman Wells, Northwest Territories on February 7.

While traveling through the northern wilds of Canada, they were fortunate enough to see wolves on the prowl, a herd of caribou, and wolverine. In addition to their time in the woods they stopped in various First Nations communities along their route. Their visits to Tulita, Deline, Gameti, Whati, Behchoko, and Yellowknife were filled with excitement as the expedition team gave presentations and dogsled ride at local schools.


This is the third stage of a much larger expedition. In April of 2010 the Freemans launched the North American Odyssey, a 3-year, 11,000-mile human- and dog-powered expedition, with the purpose of calling attention to North American waterways and wilderness. The expedition serves as a call to action, urging people to simplify their lives, reduce their carbon footprints, and get outside to enjoy nature. Their message has been heard by about 70,000 school children from around the globe so far.

These students are actually following the expedition team's every move through the internet. Whether they are traveling by kayak, canoe, ski, or dogsled, Dave and Amy update an education website: www.WildernessClassroom.com. This is where students, teachers and parents interact with the expedition team. A second website, www.NorthAmericanOdyssey.com, serves as a blog for adults to follow the adventure.


The odyssey will continue after the snow melts. For now, Dave and Amy are returning to the U.S. to conduct school presentations. In June they will resume canoeing south through central Danada, kayak across the Great Lakes, finishing up by following the annual whale migration down the Atlantic Coast, to the Florida Keys.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Come Visit Us at the Outdoor Adventure Expo

We will be in Minneapolis at Midwest Mountaineering's Outdoor Adventure Expo this weekend, so come on by. Everything in the store is on sale, and there's a lot of great people to talk to. We love to talk about the Boundary Waters, so send your friends on down too! More info can be found at their website. We will be there on Friday from 2-9, Saturday 9-6:30, and Sunday 10-5.

Jason will be presenting A Boundary Waters Guide's Top Five BWCAW Canoe Routes at 2:15 p.m. on Saturday in the Hanson Hall, Room 108, at the Expo. It will be full of great information about some of his favorite places in the Boundary Waters for people of varying experience levels. See you then!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Announcing "Ely Outfitting Company"

We are happy to announce that "Border Lakes Outfitting Co." is now "Ely Outfitting Company" (www.ElyOutfittingCompany.com). Our guide service is still "Boundary Waters Guide Service."

Our new outfitting name makes it clear that we are based in Ely, Minnesota, and provide BWCA and Quetico canoe trip outfitting services for friends and families. "Ely Outfitting Company" is a brand new name to the area, and we look forward to it becoming synonymous with quality canoe trip outfitting services in Ely. Our current guests need not do anything related to their reservations. And all of the people you've come to know are still here and providing the same worldclass service and quality outfitting equipment. This is a name change only.

It is somewhat bittersweet for us to say goodbye to the Border Lakes Outfitting name. The name had a long tradition - stemming from the 1920s. However, times change. In the twenties, people commonly referred to this region as the border lakes. The term remained while one of my personal heroes, Ely environmentalist and author Sigurd Olson, owned Border Lakes Outfitting in the 1930s. That dramatically changed with the passage of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act in 1978. After the Act, people began to more commonly refer to this area as the Boundary Waters. Over the last thirty years, the border lakes term has mostly disappeared, and been replaced with Boundary Waters. Because of this change, some guests found the Border Lakes name confusing, and we hope to clear up that confusion with our new brand.

Ely, Minnesota, is the canoe capital of the country and the foremost launching point for trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Frommer's Budget Travel recently recognized Ely as the Coolest Small Town in America. In short, Ely, Minnesota, is the ideal location for friends and families to start their Boundary Waters canoe trip adventure. We are also investing in Ely through our recent purchase of in-town real estate. We will be developing the new property for the long-term home of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service.

Please update our new contact information. We will be transitioning our email addresses to info@elyoutfittingcompany.com during 2011. Our phone number remains the same.

Thus, the sun sets on our use of the name Border Lakes Outfitting Co., and the sun rises on "Ely Outfitting Company." Thank you for your understanding, and all of your support as we grow and serve you better than ever.

Monday, April 4, 2011

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


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

We will be at our booth in the Grand Lobby during the 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. show. At 1:30 p.m. Kate presents a seminar entitled Women in the Wilderness: Boundary Waters Canoe Trips for Women and Families. Women benefit so much from the Boundary Waters wilderness experience, and in this seminar, she will explain all the reasons why, debunk the reasons why not, and elucidate the how-to. Lots of pretty pictures will be shared, too!


The show is free to the public. More information and directions to the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester can be found by clicking here.

Please come on by and be sure to say hello and get more information. See you there!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Some Bald eagles around Ely, MN, are sitting on their eggs now.

But further south, near Decorah, Iowa, a Bald Eagle pair are tending to their newborn young. Two eggs just hatched, and there is a third egg that has not hatched. See them live, on a really great web cam, right now!



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