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.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The No-Name Lake

Many years ago, I bushwacked into a no-name lake in the heart of the wilderness.  On my map, the lake had no depth markings, so I didn't know if enough depth existed to support fish - though it had enough surface area that I sensed it might.  And I decided to trudge in with a fishing pole to answer that question.

As I emerged from the thick underbrush to finally see the hidden waters, I looked to my right and spied a moose leisurely grazing in the shallows.  Nice surprise. 

Then I made three casts that resulted in another fine surprise. 

On the first cast I caught a monster smallmouth bass - one of the largest I'd ever landed.  On the second cast I caught a handsome and beefy northern pike.  I laughed.  "Not bad. Two for two."  On the third cast, I pulled in a walleye with shoulders like a football player.  I laughed harder.  A true three-for-three Boundary Waters trifecta! 

I'm glad that lake doesn't have a name. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ely's Dorothy Molter Museum to be Featured on PBS


RARE FINDS will feature Ely's Dorothy Molter Museum on Monday, November 26 at 7:00pm on WDSE-WRPT PBS North 8.1/31.1.  This show will also be re-broadcast on Sunday, December 2 at 3pm on Create and at 5pm on PBS North.  This is a great chance to learn more about the last legal resident of the BWCAW, and to get a look inside her original cabins.

Friday, September 28, 2012

BWCAW Campfire Restrictions Lifted

PRESS RELEASE
Superior National Forest
September 27,  2012
Contact:   Kris Reichenbach, 218-626-4393

Forest Service Lifts Campfire Restrictions in BWCAW and Re-opens Areas in Knife Lake Area

Due to cooling temperatures and shorter days, the Forest Service is lifting restrictions that previously limited the hours for campfires in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).  Wilderness visitors may now use campfires, charcoal, and wood-burning camp stoves at all hours of the day. 

Forest managers have also determined that it is safe to re-open the area inside the BWCAW along the Canadian border and around Knife Lake to public use.  Reconnaissance of the Emerald Lake/Ft. Frances #59 wildfire  indicated very little evidence of active fire behavior.  The area inside the BWCAW was closed earlier this month while the fire was actively burning on the Canadian side.  Fire crews will continue to monitor the fire area.

Dry, sunny weather is inviting visitors to the Forest to view fall colors and for early hunting season.  Forest managers ask that everyone continues to be extra careful with all open fires as conditions are still dry in the woods. 

For updates regarding conditions on the Superior National Forest, please check the Forest web site at:www.fs.usda.gov/superior.

For information regarding fire conditions and restrictions across Minnesota, check the Minnesota Interagency Fire Information website at:   www.mnics.org

Friday, September 14, 2012

BWCAW Fire Updates from USFS



CONTACT:  Superior National Forest, Kawishiwi Ranger District , 218-365-2093, 218-343-3026; Inciweb.org or www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior
Special Notifications:  Various closures are in effect due to the Parley Fire, the Hoist Bay Fire, and the Canadian Emerald Fire near Knife Lake. Please see the details below.  Public Safety crews are posting these areas.  Also, fire restrictions remain in effect in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Campfires are allowed only between 7 p.m. and midnight.
Current Fire Activity: 
Parley Lake Fire, due to better mapping, this fire is at 35 acres, within the BWCAW, T66 R12 S18, east of the Beartrap River, north of Sunday Lake, west of Sunday Bay of Crooked Lake, discovered Sept 12. Aircraft are continuing water drops. Ground crews are on scene. Containment – 10%.  Personnel – 28.  Closures:  Campsites on Sunday and Saturday Bays of Crooked Lake, the Beartrap River, and Zones 1, 2, and 5 of the Sundial Primitive Management Area are closed. Travel through Sunday and Saturday Bays is still being allowed.
Hoist Bay Fire:  Remains at  2 1/2 acres, T64 R10 S17, between Hoist and Back Bay of Basswood Lake. This fire was detected on 9/12/12. Aircraft water drops continue.  Fire crews are on scene.  Containment – 75%.  Personnel – 8. Closures:  Four mile portage, Ella Hall, Muskeg, Slumber, and Mud Lakes (out of Fall Lake) plus Back Bay and Hoist Bay of Basswood.  Additional portage closures include Pipestone to Back Bay, Back Bay toward Half Dog Island/Basswood, and from Hoist Bay to Good Lake.  Public Safety crews are notifying visitors in the area. 
Fort Frances #53, also known as the Norway Point Fire remains on Canadian soil and is being monitored by Quetico and U.S. personnel.
Fort Frances #59/Emerald Lake Fire, between Knife Lake and Emerald Lake, approximately 500 acres, and continues to be very active. The fire remains on the Quetico side and a Canadian fire crew is on scene. A closure has been put in place on the U.S. side to ensure visitor safety.  Closure:  From the US/Canadian border heading south along the section lines of T65N, R7 W, sections 21 and 28, including all campsites on islands and peninsulas on adjacent lands, the following lakes, portages, and campsites are closed:  from the US/Canadian border on Knife Lake to the east end of Swamp Lake, South Arm of Knife Lake, Little Knife Lake, Amoeber Lake, Topaz Lake, Cherry Lake, Hanson Lake, Clam Lake, Lunar Lake, Lake of the Clouds, Rivalry Lake,  Gijikiki Lake, Ester Lake, Ottertrack Lake, Rabbit Lake, Ashdick Lake, and Swamp Lake.  Portages from South Arm of Knife Lake to Bonnie Lake, South Arm of Knife Lake to Sema Lake, South Arm of Knife Lake to Eddy Lake, Swamp Lake to Saganaga Lake are closed.  Northbound travel from Bonnie Lake, across the Bonnie Lake to South Arm Knife Lake portage, and west bound transit through the South Arm Knife Lake to Knife Lake and out of the closure area is allowed.  Closure signs will be posted.
Peterson Lake Fire on the east side of the forest near Horn Lake: T 62 R4 S14, SW of the NW, detected 9/12, is one quarter acre. Aircraft and ground crew work continues.
Mora Lake Fire on the east side of the forest, detected on 9/12, one tenth of an acre.
Resources Available: Forest Service Fire Engines, aircraft in Ely include two Forest Service Beaver float planes and one Cessna on floats, one Type 2 helicopter, and two Type 3 helicopters.  CL215s and more helicopters are available if needed.
Controlled Fires:
Cummings Lake Fire: T64 R14 Section 28, BWCAW; declared ‘controlled’ on 9/12/12. The fire line is holding well but the fire will not be out without significant rain or snowfall. This fire will be monitored by both ground and air crews.
Camp Lake Fire is one tenth of an acre. Declared ‘controlled’ on 9/12/12.
Fires Suppressed and Declared Out:
The Batista Fire near Batista Lake, Township 66, Range 13, the northeast corner of Section 9—east of (U.S.) Agnes and west of Iron Lake, was declared out. Wooden Leg Fire (T64 R9 Section 13: -91 25.43, 48 01.42) out. The lake, portage, and trail closures associated with this fire are lifted. Fire restrictions (fires only between 7 p.m. and midnight) are still in effect in this area as well as within the entire BWCAW.
Birch Lake #2 Fire was fought by Forest Service, Morse/Fall Lake, and Babbitt Fire Departments. The fire is declared ‘out’ at one tenth of an acre.
8 other fires were declared out between September 6th and 10th.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

BWCA Lake Closure Lifted, Fire Restrictions Still On

CONTACT:  Superior National Forest, Kawishiwi Ranger District , 218-365-2093, 218-343-3026
Special Notifications:  The warm, dry, and windy conditions continue. A fire restriction for the entire BWCAW remains in effect, allowing visitors to have campfires only at night from 7:00 pm to midnight.  Gas and propane stoves are permitted anytime.
Current Fire Activity: 
The Batista Fire near Batista Lake, Township 66, Range 13, the northeast corner of Section 9—east of (U.S.) Agnes and west of Iron Lake, received water drops by the Forest Service floatplane and Sikorsky Type 2 helicopter yesterday. A crew was flown in this morning and more bucket work will be done by the helicopter.
Fort Frances #53, also known as the Norway Point Fire, continues to burn in the Quetico. U.S. and Canadian crews are monitoring this fire. It is listed at approximately 40 acres.
Resources Available: Forest Service Fire Engines, approximately 30 personnel. Aircraft in Ely are two Beaver float planes, a Sikorsky Type 2 helicopter, and a Type 3 helicopter.  CL215s and more helicopters are available if needed.
Contained Fires:
Cummings Lake Fire: T64 R14 Section 28, BWCAW; crews anticipate calling this fire controlled after the line is tested today with dry, windy conditions.
Fires Suppressed and Declared Out:

Out on 9/11/12: Wooden Leg Fire (T64 R9 Section 13: -91 25.43, 48 01.42) BWCAW: declared out 9:30 a.m. today. The lake, portage, and trail closures associated with this fire are lifted. Fire restrictions (fires only between 7 p.m. and midnight) are still in effect in this area as well as within the entire BWCAW.

Out on 9/10/12: Rivard Fire, R 61, R 13, portions of Sections 23 and 24,

Out on 9/6/12: Beartrap Fire;
Out on 9/7/12: Cloquet Line, Hawk’s Nest, Thunder Lake, Spring Creek, Fire Lake, and Aikio Fires.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Recent BWCA Wildfires are Contained, Controlled or Out

Here's the update from the USFS

Special Notifications:  A fire restriction for the entire BWCAW continues to be in effect.  It allows visitors to have campfires only at night from 7:00 pm to Midnight.  Gas and propane stoves are permitted anytime.

Current Fire Activity:
All fires are contained, controlled, or out.  However, if weather conditions become dry and windy, there is the possibility that additional lightning strikes may pop up and become active. 

Resources Available: Forest Service Fire Engines, approximately 65 personnel, including 2 out of state ground crews-one 10 person and one 20 person, 2 helicopters/8 available in the state, 2 CL215s available in the state, and the Beaver float planes.

Contained Fires:
Cummings Lake Fire: T64 R14 Section 28, BWCAW; On a peninsula separating the west end of Cummings Lake from the northeast side of Otter Lake.  50 Acres. 100% contained.  Mop up efforts are underway.

Controlled Fires:
Wooden Leg Fire:  T64 R9 Section 13: -91 25.43, 48 01.42, BWCAW: Approximately ¼  acre.  Due to effective mop up efforts this fire has been moved from ‘Contained’ to ‘Controlled’.  The closure of Ensign and surrounding lakes and portages remains in effect at this time. Warmer temperatures, higher winds, and dryer conditions are expected early next week. A closure map can be found on the Superior National Forest website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/superior/home

Closures:  Ensign, Vera, Trident, Frog, Splash, Spigot, Perdu, Trader, Shallow, Arkose, Explorer, Bedford, Wooden Leg, Grub, Ashigan, Missionary, Boot, Haven, Abinodji, Swing, and Gibson Lakes. The Snowbank Hiking Trail from Boot Lake west to the Trailhead is also closed.  Sucker Lake has a few campsites closed near the Splash portage.

Suppressed fires now ‘Out’
Beartrap Fire, Out on 9/6/12
Cloquet Line Fire, Out on 9/7/12
Hawk’s Nest Fire, Out on 9/7/12
Thunder Lake Fire, Out on 9/7/12
Spring Creek Fire: Out on 9/7/12
Fire Lake Fire:  Out on 9/7/12
Aikio Fire, Out on 9/7/12

Friday, September 7, 2012

BWCA fires update from USFS

Special Notification:  A fire restriction for the entire BWCAW beginning Sept. 6th allows visitors to have campfires only at night from 7:00 pm to Midnight.  Gas and propane stoves are permitted anytime.

The fires listed below are only affecting a small portion of the BWCAW. All entry points remain open.  Closures of specific lakes or portages are being listed as needed.

Current Fire Activity:
•             Fire Lake Fire:  BWCAW, 1/10 acre, detected 9/6/12
•             Wooden Leg Fire:  T64 R9 Section 13: -91 25.43, 48 01.42, BWCAW: Approximately ¼  acre. 
The Wooden Leg Fire (located between Moose and Snowbank Lake) was knocked back with CL215 water dropping aircraft but continues to show fire activity and is putting up smoke.  This fire, although very small at this time, is located near blowdown with a heavy balsam regrowth.  Fire crews are currently working their way in to where it will be safe to work.  Closures:  As a precautionary measure, a closure is now in effect for Ensign Lake and nearby lakes including Vera, Trident, Frog, Splash, Spigot, Perdu, Trader, Shallow, Arkose, Explorer, Bedford, Wooden Leg, Grub, Ashigan, Missionary, Boot, Haven, Abinodji, Swing, and Gibson. The Snowbank Hiking Trail from Boot Lake west to the Trailhead is also closed.  Sucker Lake has a few campsites closed near the Splash portage. Public Safety crews continue to sweep and will be posting portages leading to that area. 
•             Cummings Lake Fire: T64 R14 Section 28 on a peninsula separating the west end of Cummings Lake from the northeast side of Otter Lake.  50 Acres. 80% contained.

Suppression action is being taken on all of the fires listed above.

Resources: Forest Service Fire Engines, approximately 65 personnel, including 2 out of state ground crews-one 10 person and one 20 person, 2 helicopters, 2 CL215s available in the state, and the Beaver float planes.

Contained and Controlled Fires:
Cloquet Line Fire, contained 9/3/12
Aikio Fire, contained 9/4/12
Hawk’s Nest Fire, controlled 9/5/12
Thunder Lake Fire, contained, 9/6/12
Spring Creek Fire: contained 9/6/12

Suppressed fires now ‘Out’
Beartrap Fire, Out on 9/6/12

Canada:
Fort Frances #53, the Canadian Fire on Norway Point of Basswood Lake, was approximately 40 acres. Fire continues creeping to the north, deeper into Canada, clearing up ground debris and brush with only occasional tree torching, smoke throughout, no major activity.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wooden Leg Fire BWCA Closure Map, and Fire Activity Report from USFS




Current Fire Activity:

·         Wooden Leg Fire:  T64 R9 Section 13: -91 25.43, 48 01.42, BWCAW: Approximately ¼  acres.  The Wooden Leg Fire (located between Moose and Snowbank Lake) was knocked back hard with CL215 water dropping aircraft but continues to show activity. Because it is located near blowdown with a heavy balsam regrowth, it is unsafe to put fire crews on the ground.  Due to these circumstances, a decision was made to close Ensign Lake and nearby lakes including Vera, Trident, Frog, Splash, Ashigan, Missionary, and all lakes within the Spider Primitive Management Area (Neglige, etc.)  The Snowbank Hiking Trail from Boot Lake west to the Trailhead is also being closed.  The portage from Boot to Ensign will be closed.  Sucker Lake will have a few campsites closed near the Splash portage. Public Safety crews are sweeping the area today and will be posting portages leading to that area.  The above map reflects the closure area.

·         Cummings Lake Fire: T64 R14 Section 28 on a peninsula separating the west end of Cummings Lake from the northeast side of Otter Lake.  50 Acres. 60% contained.


  • Saturday Bay Fire, Crooked Lake: T6 R12 Section 14 on the Kawishiwi District of the BWCAW ¼ acres

  • Thunder Fire: T66 R 12 Section 34: -91 50.62, 48 9.51, BWCAW  ¼  acres,

  • Spring Creek Fire: T65 R12 Section 7  BWCAW ¼ acres

  • Beartrap Fire: T65 R12 Section 4: -91 51.78, 48 8.99, BWCAW, ¼  acres

  • Hawk’s Nest Fire: T64 R11 Section 30: -91 46.95, 47 59.93, Superior National Forest, ¼ acres

Suppression action is being taken on all of the fires listed above.

Canada:
Fort Frances #53, the Canadian Fire on Norway Point of Basswood Lake, was approximately 40 acres. Fire continues creeping to the north, deeper into Canada, clearing up ground debris and brush with only occasional tree torching, smoke throughout, no major activity.

Special Notification:  A fire restriction for the entire BWCAW beginning Sept. 6th allows visitors to have campfires only at night between 7:00 pm to Midnight.

Friday, July 27, 2012

BWCAW Fires Update from USFS Received on July 26

Update: 7-26-12

CAUSE : Most fires are believed to have been caused by lightning. One fire was from an   escaped campfire. 
AGENCY:  Superior National Forest
RESOURCES:  Fire patrols and fire suppression are being done with Forest Service DeHavilland Beavers. Helicopters are assisting suppression efforts with water drops.
FIRE INFORMATION:      (218) 365-7600

TODAY’S MESSAGE:  This will be the last update on these fires. 1” of precipitation fell across the forest early July 25th with an additional small amount early today. With the significant precipitation, crews made good progress and many of the fires have been either declared controlled or out.  Only the Yodeler fire is still smoldering. A fire is consideredcontained when there is a fire line (which may include natural barriers such as lakes) encircling the fire, but the fire is not under control. A fire is considered controlled when there is a complete fire line around the fire and all hot spots that are an immediate threat to the fire line have been cooled down.

Additional Information:
·         When the Yodeler Fire was spotted late in the day on 7-23-12 it was estimated at one tenth of an acre. Its location is T66, R14, Section 36 (the school section north of Shell Lake in the northwestern portion of the BWCAW). The size is now estimated at 1.1 acres. A crew is mopping up hot spots and anticipates calling the fire controlled within a few days.
·         The Coleman Island Fire is on a peninsula of a large island in Lac LaCroix. This fire was discovered on 7-22-12. Declared out on 7-25-12.
·         Merrit Lake 2 was detected on 7-21-12. It was designated as controlled on 7-25.
·         The Hustler Lake Fire was detected on 7-23 and was called out on 7-25.
·         The Perent Lake Fire on the southeastern edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is approximately three acres. First detected on 7-3-12, this fire was designated controlled on 7-24-12.
·         The Portage River Fire was discovered on July 21 and deemed controlled on 7-24. Its location is: T65, R14, S14: ¾ of a mile north of the Echo Trail and ¼ mile west of the Portage River.
·         The Ed Shave Fire is south of Ed Shave Lake, east of Big Lake: T65, R13, SW corner of Section 36. This fire is one fourth of an acre in size and was controlled on 7-23.
·         Forest Service crews are also clearing forest roads in the Lake Leander area due to damaging winds earlier this week.