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.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Beavers at Work

One of the most industrious critters we see in the Boundary Waters is the beaver. I'm amazed at how quickly they can build a dam. I've paddled into the wilderness where the was no beaver dam, and then paddled out the same stream five days later to find a new large one. We typically see beavers when they are swimming around camp. This video, in contrast, shows rare footage of them walking around out of the water and building a lodge.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Float Planes For Our Fly-in Boundary Waters Canoe Trips are Being Readied for Summer

This time lapse video from Quetico Air Service shows them moving float planes this month as they prepare for the summer fly-in season. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Excellent Economy Rain Gear for a Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

I pulled my first pair of DriDucks rain gear from the trash bin.

A guest had decided to "decommission" his rain suit after several Boundary Waters canoe trips, but it looked to have a lot of life left, so I fished it out.

That "recycled" rain suit got a lot of use and a lot of love around the shop for a long time.  And it's what sold me on the line of rain gear sold by FroggToggs.  

You can spend $300 on rain gear tops and bottoms, but they may not work as well as the DriDucks Dura-lite3 model by the FroggToggs company - and for a bargain price of $40.  That's the model in this photo, and here's a link to the company website.

Here's what's to like:
  • Reliably waterpoof.
  • Lightweight and compact storage in your canoe pack. 
  • Full cut to allow air circulation, reduce moisture vapor buildup, and allow a comfortable seated position in a canoe. The free range of movement is excellent for portaging canoes and packs. 
  • Durable.  They don't snag and shred on an overgrown portage or bushwhack to gather firewood.  They are not prone to splitting out in the crotch. 
  • They don't seem to get soaked through and soggy like some more expensive rain gear.
  • They zip all the way up to your chin, shielding rain and wind from your neck.  
  • The bottom of the jacket is cut full and does not have an elastic bottom, so water flows away better when seated in a canoe.
  • Elastic wrist cuffs to keep water from running down your arm while paddling.
  • A draw chord waist you can synch tight so the pants don't sag.
  • A full cut and effective hood that doesn't sag over your eyes, moves nicely as you turn your head, and allows decent peripheral vision.
  • The legs fit over knee-high rubber boots and are generous in length.
  • They double as a basic wind layer or mosquito layer.
  • An unbeatable price point.  These are an awesome inexpensive investment in safety and comfort.
For the price, they are definitely the best rain gear we've found for an adventure paddling the Boundary Waters.  They are far better than the vinyl "plastic bag" type of rain suits.

It may be down-pouring, but if you stay dry, then you'll stay warm and comfortable, and you'll keep the fun meter pointed in the right direction.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Video of an Unusually Overgrown Portage in the BWCA

Recently we posted a video of a typical BWCA portage. This new video shows a more remote portage that is on a designated travel route, but is more overgrown than typical BWCA portages.  It is the portage going southeast out of Beaver Lake, in a lightly used area of the BWCA.  The location is about two days of travel from the nearest entry point.  Even though the portage is somewhat overgrown with brush, there is still an obvious footpath underneath.  Most BWCA portages are not as overgrown as this one.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Video of a Typical BWCA Portage

This video shows a typical Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness portage. It is the portage going west out of Jordan Lake in the BWCAW. Portages are trails connecting bodies of water.  They are the efficient route for carrying your canoes and gear between lakes on a wilderness canoe trip.

I tell people if you think you've found the portage and it looks like a wild animal trail, then it is probably a wild animal trail and not the portage.  There are no signs posted indicating the location of a portage, but portages are accurately shown on our large scale navigation maps.