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.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bear Dog

You never know what surprises you might get from the wild animals of the north. Early Monday morning out at the Girl Scout Canoe Base near Ely, two staff members awoke to the sound of the pet dog Lexee's loud woofing.

Lexee was terribly agitated about something happening, so they followed her as she ran toward the kitchen. As they came around the corner they spied a quick glimpse of a very large black bear standing on the deck with its paws through the open window nonchalantly stealing fruit from a bowl.

Lexee, a 70-lb dog, tore toward the likely 300 pound bear. The bear fled without hesitation, and Lexee followed close behind as far as she could. No need to worry about the bears as long as Lexee the Bear Dog is close by.

Before going back to bed, Lexee did get a treat and plenty of love for staying alert and selflessly defending the unsuspecting staff from this stealthy bear!

By guest blogger Wilderness Guide Kate Ford.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Float Plane View of the Boundary Waters

Bud from Van Air flew me and a client on an aerial float plane tour of the BWCA and Quetico today. The top-down view provides a whole new perspective on how much of this area is covered in water. And what a beautiful pattern the lakes make with the peninsulas and bays, islands, rocks and rugged granite topography. A boundary waters region flight is a truly memorable way to get an overview of some of what makes this region so special.

This photo shows the east end of Lac La Croix on the border with Canada. Warrior Hill is in the lower right part of the photo.

BWCA Happy Honeymooners

In the parking lot at the entry point this week, you couldn't miss the "Just Married" written across the vehicle's window.

So, when we met a young couple on the portage, we asked if it was them. Sure enough, they'd spent their honeymoon camping in the boundary waters.

It had been a cold and rainy week that actually set some record cold temps, but you'd never know it by the smiles on their faces.

A marriage that starts with a week-long BWCA canoe camping trip is certainly bound for success. We wish Phillip and Megan Knapp from Carlstad, MN, only the happiest of marriages!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bear Activity at Campsites on Disappointment Lake in the BWCA

I've received my first report this summer of bears hanging around a campsite. There has been a mother and her cub entering campsites on the east end of Disappointment Lake. Disappointment Lake is one portage east of Snowbank Lake.

Keep a clean camp to discourage bears. If you have a bear in camp, then make loud noises (banging pots and pans and such), and throw rocks at the bear to convince it to leave.

Hopefully we will have a good upcoming berry crop that will fatten up the black bears and discourage them from looking for food at campsites.

I snapped this photo of a bear and cub at the North American Bear Center near Ely this spring.

July 19, 2009 update: There have been reports of bears in campsites on Parent Lake, which is one portage west of Disappointment Lake. It's probably the same bear.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Winter and the 4th of July

Some people say there are two seasons up here: Winter and the 4th of July. That's not quite true. But, once Independence Day rolls around, it is time to think seriously about keeping warm when the snow flies.

Today Kate and I split wood. This photo is her with a rented log splitter. It felt good, like we were the smart squirrel holing away nuts for the upcoming long winter.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

How Long Before a BWCA Canoe Pack Sinks?

We set out to answer that question this week. With the help of the guides at the Girl Scout Canoe Base near Ely, we loaded two canoe packs, dumped them in the lake, and waited to see if they would sink.

For the first pack, we used a typical Duluth-style #3 canoe pack with personal gear for a week: 2 sleeping bags, 2 therm-a-rests, 2 bags of clothes, 2 sets of rain gear, some misc. fishing equipment, camp shoes, and bug spray. For the second pack, we used a typical narrow Duluth-style equipment pack loaded down with pots and pans, saw, stove, fuel bottle, tarp, 2 four person tents with poles, toilet paper, flashlight, rope, wash kit, and grill.

After twelve hours in the water, both packs remained afloat. This photo shows the red equipment pack still floating after twelve hours in the lake.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Patriotic Portagers in the Ely Parade

Small town Independence Day parades across the country reflect the communities that host them. Ely is no different. In the "canoe capitol" of the world at the edge of the BWCA, there must be canoes.

Today the Girl Scout Canoe Base guides portaged canoes in our parade. They even demonstrated, in formation, how to do solo lifts: picking up the canoes and putting them on their shoulders. The crowds responded with raucous applause.