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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dogsledding in the FALLING SNOW!

While we've fortunately had adequate snow for dogsledding this winter, we sure haven't had the typical piling on of the white stuff.  This week I guided a couple of families from the Twin Cities area.  They arrived from the brown landscape of the Cities and enjoyed the fresh falling snow on White Iron Lake.  About four inches have fallen, and there are "snow globe" flakes still gentling falling this morning.  We don't typically pile four people on a dogsled, but this made for a fun family photo opp.  Mishka is the dog with the white face smiling at the camera above.
 And there's Otok (the dog) smiling as he runs by, above.
Kent, above, held on tight as his dogs launched with a great burst of forward speed... or he was just hamming it up for the camera as he passed by.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When to See Full Moons and New Moons in the Boundary Waters in 2012

With some advanced planning, you can be sleeping in the Boundary Waters under your choice of a full moon or a new moon.  

A full moon provides perfect light for night paddling and other nighttime activities.  The moon rays cast shadows across the rocks, and the beams shimmer off the lakes.  Such a setting may inspire you to howl at the moon, and listen for what howls back. 

Plan a trip around a new moon to see a purely starlit sky with views of bright constellations and the spectacular Milky Way!

Full – May 5
New – May 20

Full – June 4
New – June 19

Full – July 3
New – July 18

Full – Aug. 1 and 31
New – Aug 17

Full – Sept. 29
New – Sept. 15

Full – Oct 29
New – Oct 15

At Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service, our goal is to provide you the best information and outfitting for a successful Boundary Waters canoe trip.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Best Dates to See Meteor Showers and Shooting Stars in the Boundary Waters

Plan your next Boundary Waters canoe trip for the best chance of seeing shooting stars! You’ll escape light pollution and find the Boundary Waters is a great location to view meteor showers. Imagine lying on your back after a day of paddling and seeing shooting stars all around you! Here are the dates and descriptions for some of the major meteor showers of the 2012 paddling season.

May 5-6, 2012  Eta Aquarids
If you’re planning an early trip to the Boundary Waters this season, try staying up late or waking up early to catch these shooting stars. Look toward the southeastern part of the sky at about 4 a.m. until just before dawn and see if you can spot the brightest stars in May!
Moonrise: 8:23p.m.  Moonset: 5:07a.m.
Sunset: 8:25p.m.  Sunrise: 5:42a.m.

July 28-29, 2012  Delta Aquarids:
Look for shooting stars between moonset and dawn for this meteor shower. In the Boundary Waters, you may see 15-20 meteors per hour in the southern part of the sky. Typically, your best bet at catching these shooting stars is approximately 2 hours before dawn.
Moonrise: 4:57p.m. Moonset: 12:57a.m.
Sunset: 8:49p.m.  Sunrise: 5:39a.m. 

August 12-13, 2012  Perseids:
This is the big one!  It is expected by many to be the best meteor shower of the season.  In the dark sky, these meteors can peak at over 50 each hour. These meteors are often bright and leave persistent trains. Look for them late into the night and into the early hours of the morning.  Photographer Layne Kennedy joined us for several cloud-free nights in the BWCA during the Perseids.  In the above image taken on Lake Agnes, he captured not one, but TWO shooting stars in the same exposure. Look closely. Both shooting starts are in front of the lighter-colored Milky Way.  During this dramatic celestial display, we laid on our backs for hours on a rock point, repeatedly exclaiming, “there’s one.”  We spotted as many as a half dozen in a single minute. 
Moonrise: 1:04a.m. Moonset: 5:00p.m.
Sunset: 8:26p.m.  Sunrise: 6:00a.m. 

October 7, 2012  Draconids:
This meteor shower is best viewed in the northern hemisphere, especially in light pollution-free places like the Boundary Waters! Unlike most, this meteor shower is best viewed in the evening rather than after midnight. Additionally, the number of meteors per hour is difficult to predict for this shower – some years there’s a handful of meteors and other years can have hundreds! Moonrise: 11:29p.m. Moonset: 2:12p.m.
Sunset: 6:35p.m.  Sunrise: 7:15a.m. 

At Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service, our goal is to provide you the best information and outfitting for your successful Boundary Waters canoe trip.  Best of luck with your star gazing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Protect the BWCA - Sign this Important Petition to be Delivered by Dogsled to the Capitol

dave_amy_freeman300.jpgBoundary Waters guides, Dave and Amy Freeman, are teaming up with former state legislator and Grand Marais-area dogsled racer Frank Moe for an epic trip from Northern Minnesota to the State Capitol in St. Paul in early March. They are calling for the protection of the region's natural heritage, including clean water and wilderness. Dave and Amy will be delivering petitions from Ely to Finland, Minnesota by dogsled. Frank will continue with those petitions and many more on to the State Capitol.

You have seen the lakes, rivers, and forests of Northern Minnesota first hand and understand how special this area is. Please join Dave, Amy, Frank, and thousands of others by signing the petition that will be delivered to the State Capitol by dogsled.

Please, watch the videos below to learn more about the Sulfide Mining that is proposed near Ely and sign the petition below.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Quetico Provincial Park Fishing Licenses Change

The Ontario fishing license process is undergoing some changes for 2012.  We received the following notice from Quetico Park indicating that licenses may no longer be available at the Quetico Ranger Stations, and suggesting that visitors should apply for their Ontario fishing licenses online or by phone.  This is the message we received from Quetico Park:

Currently we are undergoing talks with the MNR [Ministry of Natural Resources] in regards to Quetico Park's ability to sell fishing licenses using the new automated licensing system.  At this time it is unknown if we will be able to provide this service to our customers.  Because of this uncertainty, we ask that you inform your clients and request they obtain their outdoors card and fishing licenses prior to arriving at the park.

Licenses can now be obtained online at www.ontario.ca/outdoorscard.   Licenses can also be obtained over the phone by calling 1-800-288-1155 or in person at issuer locations. Licensing Help Line 1-800-387-7011.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Support Clean Water and the Boundary Waters by Passing this Resolution at the Minnesota Caucuses on Feb. 7

We encourage Minnesotans across the state to pass the following reasonable resolution at their caucuses.


--  Minnesota’s natural heritage requires protection of the Lake Superior Watershed, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and other treasured forest and wetland habitats in Northern Minnesota;
--  Tens of thousands of Minnesotans’ existing and future jobs are dependent upon preserving Minnesota’s heritage of clean air, water and lands;
--  The history of sulfide mining is one of environmental disaster, and there is no evidence that mining for copper, nickel, and other non-ferrous (non-iron) metals from
sulfide rock in Northern Minnesota can be done without harming Minnesota's fresh water resources, fish, plants, wildlife and human health,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that no sulfide mines shall be permitted if they threaten Minnesota’s water resources and natural heritage.

Here's more info related to the resolution:
Why do we need to protect Minnesota’s natural heritage resources from sulfide mining?
Minnesota has a unique opportunity to prevent the permanent, toxic damage to our unique natural heritage that has occurred EVERYWHERE ELSE sulfide metal mining has been done. Our Lake Superior Watershed, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, wild rice, healthy fish and clean water are at risk from sulfide mining. There is no example in the world where sulfide mining has been done in a water-intense area without leaving a legacy of acidic and toxic water pollution and never ending clean-up costs for taxpayers.

What about the economy?
Sulfide mining threatens tens of thousands of Minnesota jobs dependent on clean water, healthy fish, and natural heritage. New sulfide mining would add relatively few jobs to the job market, as mines have become highly automated. Mining is proposed by huge global companies that will export raw products and profits out of the country without any plans for value-added local industries (producing finished products).

Don’t we need new copper and other metals? 
Copper and other metals are important to the modern economy. But less that 10% of copper uses require virgin mined metal. Copper is one of the easiest metals to recycle. Currently, the U.S. only recycles about half of its copper scrap, while exporting the remainder, which is mostly post-consumer scrap.  Recycling copper saves up to 90% of the energy used by mining and processing virgin ore.

How is sulfide mining different from iron mining that has been done in Minnesota for decades?
Unlike most iron ore, the rock from which copper is mined has high levels of sulfide. Once the small fraction of metals is extracted, mountains of waste rock are left in stockpiles that create sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water, which leaches toxic metals into streams, rivers, lakes and drinking water.