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, March 29, 2010

End of the Dogsledding Season

Dogsleds are done for the Minnesota season. We took a last run with the dogs by wheeled cart this weekend. The above photo is Scott from the Twin Cities driving a dog cart. His wife, Christine, is on the cart behind him. The dogs kicked up some of our springtime mud onto Christine - but we were all smiles as you can tell. And the mud made for a good reason to take a sauna followed by a refreshing dip in the lake!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

EPA Says Sulfide Mining Proposal is Environmentally Unacceptable - Sign a Petition for Govt Agencies to do what the EPA Says

In February, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that the PolyMet mine proposal for a new sulfide mine in Northeast Minnesota presented unacceptable risks to the environment. The agency gave the proposal its lowest rating and termed the proposal, "environmentally unacceptable." The EPA has only branded 41 proposals out of almost 40,000 proposals in the last 23 years as environmentally unacceptable.

The EPA also said the project should not proceed as proposed, and that the company and the responsible government agencies (the MN Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) should do remedial work to bring it up to standards. In other words, the EPA said the proposal had failed the class and should not move on to the next level.

The “Send PolyMet to Summer School” petition (sponsored by Friends of the Boundary Waters) simply calls for PolyMet and the agencies to do exactly what the EPA said they should. Rather than proceed to the usual next step in environmental review, they should do more work and give the public a chance to review it and offer feedback.

We should protect the future of clean water, such as the water flowing over Curtain Falls in the Boundary Waters in this photo.

Sign the petition at http://ga0.org/campaign/polymet_summer_school.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wilderness Wedding

We celebrated in a big way at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge this weekend. Sunday was the marriage of two wilderness guides, Dave Freeman and Amy Voytilla. The couple planned an unusual wedding. Guests rode dogsleds, skied, or hiked to the wedding site - a campsite on the shores of White Iron Lake near Ely, MN. The tall pines made a beautiful cathedral! Happily, the weather was incredibly accommodating: temperatures close to 60 degrees, sunny, and barely a breeze. Following the ceremony, the wedding party and some guests departed, not in a limo, but by dogsled.
On Earth Day, April 22, the newlyweds will begin their 2 1/2 year "honeymoon." They will be off on a big journey: the North American Odyssey. Dave and Amy are part of the Wilderness Classroom Organization, and will be traveling 11,700 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled over the next two and a half years. Their journey will be followed online by thousands of school children, who get to weigh in on their travel decisions, learn about the special places and animals of this continent, and learn to dream big themselves. You can check it out at http://www.wildernessclassroom.com/ or http://www.northamericanodyssey.com/.

We congratulate Dave and Amy (above) and wish them best of luck on their marriage, their biggest adventure of all!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Canadian Lynx Tracks

We came across these tracks on Pipestone Bay of Basswood Lake recently. My first thought was of a massively oversized rabbit. They're obviously too large to be a Snowshoe Hare, but they have a similar repeating pattern.

I had a hunch on the tracks' true origin, and checked with Tom Rusch at the DNR to get his thoughts on the animal that left them behind. Tom and I agreed that they look like Canadian Lynx tracks. Tom mentioned that, like Snowshoe Hares, the two big prints at the top of the "T-shaped pattern are the hind legs of the lynx, and the smaller prints are from their front paws.