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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

North American Odyssey Homecoming through the BWCAW

Dave portaging near the Taltson River in the Northwest Territories.

Dave and Amy Freeman, their friend Bryan Hansel, and their dog Fennel hiked down the Grand Portage to Lake Superior yesterday, completing their 2,300 mile paddle from Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories to Grand Portage, Minnesota. This marks the end of the fourth stage of Dave and Amy's North American Odyssey, an 11,700 mile expedition by canoe, kayak, and dogsled.

The end of their route has taken them through Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Dave and Amy are thrilled to be back home near Grand Marais as they wrap up this 5-month leg of their journey. Bryan Hansel joined them at Crane Lake for the final 240 mile stretch.

Amy gazing at majestic Manitou Falls on the Fond du Lac River in Saskatchewan.
This stage of the North American Odyssey began in the last week of May while ice still covered most of Great Slave Lake. Dave and Amy worked their way up the remote Taltson and Tazin Rivers in the spring. The clear, cold waters of Lake Athabasca and Reindeer Lake were also on their route, along with the algae-filled waters of Lake Winnipeg. They saw plenty of moose, black bears, loons, tundra swans, and even a couple of woodland caribou.

The purpose of the North American Odyssey is to raise awareness of North America's waterways and wilderness. It is also 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 65,000 school children from around the globe so far.

Dave and Amy update an educational website, www.WildernessClassroom.com, where students and educators interact with the expedition team. A second website, www.NorthAmericanOdyssey.com serves as a blog for armchair adventurers to see what they are up to.

Bryan, Dave, Amy and Fennel heading out on the last stretch of Stage Four.
The Freemans began the North American Odyssey in the spring of 2010 near Seattle, Washington. They paddled the Inside Passage and then headed inland, working their way up to the Mackenzie River delta. They then turned south and paddled upstream until the snow flew and spent last winter dogsledding across the North West Territories to Fort Resolution.

Despite this homecoming after about five months of paddling, the couple are just over halfway done with the North American Odyssey. They are taking this winter break to give school presentations and attend other speaking engagements. They will be guiding dogsled trips over in Ely, too. In the spring, they will dust off their paddles once again and travel through the Great Lakes out to the East Coast, where they plan to follow the annual whale migration down the Atlantic Coast to the Florida Keys.

Everyone is invited to their pizza bake and slide show at North House on October 27th in Grand Marais. The pizza bake starts at 5 pm, followed by the slide show at 6:30. The Wilderness Classroom will provide the dough, cheese, and sauce. Bring your favorite toppings and invite your friends. All are welcome!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Northern Lights in the Boundary Waters

Some guests spent a week  paddling one of my favorite BWCA canoe routes recently.  Besides some amazingly warm and lovely late-season weather, they also had a front row seat to a spectacular northern lights display. 

Kudos to them for bringing along a nice camera and tripod that allowed them to capture this image of the northern lights reflecting on Crooked Lake in the BWCA.

The northern lights are not more prevalent at a particular time of year, but it is more typical to see them on late-season canoe trips.  Why?  It must be dark to see the northern lights.  It gets dark earlier in the late paddling season.  Thus, people are more likely to be awake and, say, sitting around a campfire in the dark at 9PM and catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis in September or October. 

Thanks to our outfitting guests, Kate and Berry French, for sharing this photo.