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Updated: 3 hours 32 min ago

Lunar Eclipse

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 7:40pm

One thing nice about last night’s lunar eclipse was we knew when it was going to be so we could set an alarm clock and not miss it.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten up if Abby hadn’t expressed interest in seeing it but since she wanted to we both went out to see it.

The shadow was just beginning to cover up the moon when we went outside around 1:00am. Just one look and Abby had seen enough. It was a clear, cool night and the moon was big and bright. I saw it earlier in the evening around 9pm and it was huge and gorgeous. Luckily Layne Kennedy stayed up and took some nice pictures so I can share them with you.

Lunar Eclipse

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Fun Fishing Facts

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 4:26pm

Less than a month until the Minnesota Fishing Opener but who knows if we’ll have open water or not.  Until then you can entertain yourself with these fun fishing facts provided by the Minnesota DNR.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  April 14, 2014

Minnesota fishing facts

The following information about fishing can be used in stories in preparation for the fishing opener on Saturday, May 10.

Anglers and waters

About 1.5 million licensed anglers.
About 500,000 people are expected to fish on opening day of the walleye and northern pike season, Saturday, May 10.
Minnesota has 11,842 lakes, 5,400 of which are managed by DNR fisheries. There are 18,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams, including 3,600 miles of trout streams.
Average annual expenditure per angler is about $1,500. 1
Although not every kind of fish lives everywhere, 162 species of fish can be found in Minnesota waters.
Participation and the economy

Fishing contributes $2.4 billion to the state’s economy in direct retail sales, ranking Minnesota fourth in the nation for angler expenditures. 1
Fishing supports 35,400 Minnesota jobs. 1
Minnesota ranks second in resident fishing participation at 32 percent, second only to Alaska. 1
Minnesota is the third most-popular inland fishing destination in the country. 1
Minnesota ranks sixth among states with the highest number of anglers. The top three states are Florida, Texas and Michigan. 1
Who goes fishing

Most resident anglers – 855,000 of them in fact – are from urban areas. The remaining 474,000 resident anglers live in greater Minnesota. 1
Men account for 66 percent of resident anglers. Women account for 34 percent. 1
Fishing habits

Significantly more time is spent fishing on lakes rather than rivers and streams. 1
The average Minnesota angler spends 15 days fishing each year, with 84 percent of resident anglers never fishing anywhere else but Minnesota. 1
The most sought-after fish species, in order of preference, are crappie, panfish, walleye and northern pike. 1
1 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (www.census.gov/prod/www/fishing.html).

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Thinking About Summer

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 9:33pm

If you haven’t put your canoe trip on the calendar yet then it’s time to do so. I have to do the same thing or the summer flies by without them happening.  The challenge is finding room on the calendar for all of the trips I want to take.

Last year I took Josh and a friend into a secret lake in the BWCA for a few days and they want to do a repeat of it. They had a grand time paddling around the lake, catching fish and swimming.  I also took Josh and 5 of his friends for a basecamp trip on Saganaga for a few nights. They too want to do that trip again this year. Then there’s the church youth group that wants to go out into the Boundary Waters again this summer and my one girlfriend and I want to get out together again. We want to take a family trip and I’d love to get a solo canoe trip in as well.  I fear there aren’t enough days in the summer for all of the paddling and camping I want to do.

If only the paddling season lasted as long as winter has this year.  Hopefully you will be able to get all of the canoe trips you want to take to fit onto your summer calendar, it’s definitely time to start thinking about summer.

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Snowy Sky

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 6:09pm

After yesterday’s nice and sunny sky today’s sky is a stark contrast. It’s been a dreary day and the sun did not even peek out to say, “Hello.”  We even saw some snow flurries in the sky. I won’t let that dampen my enthusiasm for the nice weather that is eventually going to be the main stay.  While the cold wind may have been blowing it cannot last much longer.  The lakes will thaw, the snow will melt and summer will be here once again.

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What Do the Following Things Have in Common?

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 3:45pm

Butter Braids, magazines, Schwan’s, Little Ceasars and Special Cookies all have something in common.  They are all things my kids have been trying to sell for fundraisers this year. I used to think having Abby sell Girl Scout Cookies was a pain but now I know that I had barely scratched the surface of fundraising.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I remember selling light bulbs and poinsetta plants door to door when I was a kid but in case you haven’t noticed, times are different these days. Even in the small town of Grand Marais you don’t send your kid door to door. First of all they don’t have any free time to do it, second of all they don’t know everyone and lastly it’s not the smartest or safest thing to do.

I understand fundraising can keep overall costs of a program from being super expensive.  I just sometimes wish they would charge more or offer a buy out because it’s the parents who end up dealing with the deliveries.

I recently heard a friend of mine say, “How many magazine subscriptions does one person need?” One would be too many for me so when I get those envelopes in the mail I just toss them into the garbage. The kids get “points” for just mailing them out anyway.

So, if you ever find yourself in need of a magazine subscription ask me, chances are I could fit it into one of the many fundraisers my kids are doing. And when you come to my house don’t be shocked to find 20 Little Ceasar Pizza Kits, 30 buckets of frozen cookie dough or a stack of Butter Braids in the freezer, it’s a heck of a lot easier just to buy them all and eat them ourselves then ask another person if they want to buy something to help my kid.

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Quetico Park Has New Blood

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 8:09pm

New and hopefully improved leadership for the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.

New leadership for Quetico Park

by Jessica Smith on April 9, 2014

Quetico Park’s new superintendent, Trevor Gibb, hails from London – “Ontario’s banana belt” in his words – but has clocked a few miles around Canada. While most recently he served as assistant superintendent for the Cochrane area cluster of 29 provincial parks, he started out working in the provincial parks system in 2003 at the Killarney wilderness park as a warden, before advancing.

Because “the role was seasonal, I was able to do my education in the winters.” He earned his geography degree at the University of Western Ontario, then completed a teaching degree at Mt. St. Vincent University, Hailfax, in 2009. The next year he spent teaching high school at Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. The community of 5,000 Inuit residents had class sizes similar to Atikokan’s.

“It was an amazing experience. I had the students out on the ice once a week, skiing, traditional fishing and seal hunting. Sometimes I would give my head a shake, and think ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to take these kids out and do these traditional activities with them,” said Gibb.

His return to park management in Cochrane was as a replacement to Jennifer Lukacic who came to Quetico in 2011 as an assistant superintendent. (For the past five months, Lukacic has filled in as acting superintendent here, following Jeff Bonnema’s departure.)

“Parks are where my values lie. I love protected areas and getting out in the wilderness,” said Gibb.

He has been on the job for three weeks, and part of his work has been on the public review of the preliminary park management plan. He said he is committed to working with all stakeholders, including Lac La Croix FN, which shares in managing the park’s western area through the 1994 Agreement of Co-Existence. (He and assistant superintendent Blier visited Lac La Croix last week.)

The management plan, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2010, “may be finalized in the next couple of years. We’re not going to rush it; we want to make sure [we] get input from all those who have a local interest,” said Gibb, who will address Council April 14 to introduce himself to the Town and discuss management plans and objectives.

Handling one large park like Quetico is no less complex than the ‘clusters of smaller parks in the northeastern part of the province he said.

“Quetico is such a complex park, that there are a number of pieces to deal with,” he said, adding however, that in the past, he has overseen areas where it was logistically very difficult to get into all of the parks (many, like White Otter, that are non-operating), requiring travel by train, float plane or helicopter. In that respect, “It’s nice to be able to focus on one piece of real estate.”

“I understand Quetico is a special place within Ontario Park’s system, and the importance of maintaining its impact on a provincial, national and global scale, and maintaining its ecological integrity and its value to park users. And also the importance of that continued partnership with Lac La Croix in the management and operation of the park.”

Gibb said he loves the north, snow (he’s already bought a snowmobile and hopes to get involved in curling and cross-country skiing), and the wilderness areas, and as someone who enjoys fishing and canoeing, he is looking forward to hitting the lakes here. Gibb adds that he is going to have to learn the ‘hut stroke,’ as he has observed it seems to be the preferred paddling technique here.

He will be joined here shortly by partner Bridget, a biologist who is studying for her Masters at the University of Manitoba.

Jason Blier

New assistant superintendent Jason Blier (pronounced the French way, Blee-eh) and wife Crystal actually moved here when he began his position last fall. A self-described “northern boy” born and raised in Schreiber, he said Atikokan and Quetico is a great place to put down roots. Like Gibb, his education background isn’t in park management. In fact, he studied physics, math and computer science at Lakehead University and electrical engineering at Confederation College – what he calls a “techy geeky background.”

“I love the mechanics of things like snowmobiles, computers… I love diving into a technical manual. I’m a lot of fun at parties,” he joked. (That passion has come in handy for Gibb however, who relied on Blier’s technical expertise in his snowmobile purchase).

So with a technical background, how has he wound up working in parks?

“My whole life has revolved around parks. I am a child of parks,” said Blier. “My earliest memories were camping in parks with my grandparents and parents, and that helped formed my values system.”

He started out as a maintenance worker in 1996 and held various positions in parks such as Neys and Rainbow Falls, before becoming acting superintendent for a year and a half for the 27 parks in the Nipigon and North Shore area. In fact the park cluster he managed shared a boundary with Gibb’s jurisdiction. Since 2008, he has served as assistant – and most recently acting superintendent – of Kakabeka Falls and its 12 adjacent provincial parks.

Blier will take on the operations, logistics and staffing functions for Quetico, and said he sees “a bright future for the park.”

Since he has already had a little time to settle in here, he said he loves the town, is fascinated by its history (particularly the Steep Rock Mine diversion, both the engineering brilliance, and the environmental quandary left in its wake), and the wilderness here. He enjoys paddling, but his water vessel of choice is a kayak.

“My wife is very happy here too; we plan on making this our home,” he adds. The couple are animal lovers and own horses and three dogs.

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Mexico Kayaking Adventure

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 4:26pm

I don’t have time to keep up on everything and somehow I missed the release of 3 more episodes of the Red Bull Mexico Kayaking Adventure.  While it looks like fun I can’t imagine paddling those places. It looks beautiful but scary.  I think I’ll stick to the BWCA for now!

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Another Epic Voyage

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 5:20pm

Three of our past Voyageur Crew members are embarking on a wilderness adventure with three other modern day Voyageurs.  Adam Maxwell, Jake Bendel and Tessa Olson will be spending their summer paddling and camping and I’m so very jealous.  It looks like another wonderful adventure they have planned with 900 miles from Saskatchewan to Nunavut.  I look forward to telling you more about their journey this summer and you can read about it on their website and “like” their Facebook Page.

Modern Day Voyageur

Tessa Olson

Ready to Paddle

 

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Monday Funny

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:47pm

Shoveling a tennis court so there can be a High School tennis match this week. That’s what one of my friends did on Saturday in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  Josh and Abby with Baseball and Softball games scheduled for tomorrow? Not on any field in our School’s League. Games have to be postponed until a later date.  Gotta love this video and cartoon that depict how many of us feel about the latest and hopefully last 6 inches of snow that fell on Friday.

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Melting Snow

Sun, 04/06/2014 - 6:35pm

There’s still snow and there’s still ice but today’s high temperature on the Gunflint Trail was 53 degrees, warm enough to melt some snow. According to the map below there’s still a good amount of snow cover in Northeastern Minnesota and I imagine it will be around for awhile longer.

Lake Superior still has a large amount of ice on it and the shipping season is off to a slow start because of it.  According to JOHN PEPIN – Journal Staff Writer (jpepin@miningjournal.net) , The Mining Journal,

Dobson said the ice thickness the cutters are encountering was at least three feet in some places, four feet in others. In the middle of Lake Superior, ice rubble fields six feet thick were being encountered…He said the cutters can be moving along decently and then hit a “rock solid” section of ice. In some cases, ships have needed four hours to move one mile.

A few more days of 50 degree temperatures will surely help.

 

 

 

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Horny States

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 4:49pm

The title of an article I found online intrigued me and I just had to read it.

 

The first thing to know is that horns and antlers are completely different things. For starters antlers are temporary, whereas, like herpes, horns are forever. Therefore it would have been scientifically inaccurate for us to include such antlered animals as deer, caribou and elk. That said, we’re happy to report that we’ll be publishing a follow-up piece, “What Are The Antleriest States?” next week. Please check back for it.

As it turns out, there are only five horned animals native to the U.S. — bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goat, muskox, and bison — and they all reside in either Alaska or the West. It’s a scientific fact that any state east of Texas is not the least bit horny.

Our findings include:

• Not only is Alaska obsessed with smoking porn, but it also happens to be the horniest state in the union. Just under 80,000 wild bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and muskox call the Last Frontier home.

• Colorado, known not for smoking porn but smoking pot, is the second horniest state. The largest bighorn sheep population calls the Rockies home, along with a growing number of potheads with bongs strapped to their foreheads.

• It’s only fitting that Montana, with its strong ranching roots, comes in at third. The Treasure State is of course home to part of Yellowstone National Park, where the nation’s largest natural bison population resides.

Frankly we had no idea what to expect when we began our research. We assumed all states were equally horny, except perhaps Kansas or Nebraska. But we were blown away by the horny numbers, and we hope you were too. Now back to our study on the adverse effects of caulk blocking.

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Yet Another Snow Day!

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:25pm

This is not funny anymore. Winter can go away and stay away. Another winter snowstorm and another day of school getting cancelled.  It’s got to end sometime…

The ice on Lake Superior is causing problems for the shipping industry. The bright side of it?  It makes some pretty sounds and beautiful scenery. But it too can go away any time now.

 

 

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Motor Boat, Motor Boat

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 6:59am

The title of this post reminded me of a childhood chant so I had to look it up.

“Motorboat, Motorboat”

Motorboat, motorboat go so slow (sing slow while spinning in a slow circle)
Motorboat, motorboat go so fast (sing faster while spinning in a faster circle)
Motorboat, motorboat, step on the gas! (sing/spin as fast as you “can,” end by blowing bubbles)

Little did I know it also refers to something else that I will not show you a YouTube video of today.

The blog post is about getting your motor boat ready for summer.  Many BWCA canoe country enthusiasts also have boats they need to get ready so when and if the ice does finally go out they are ready!

Get Ready to Splash

We’re coming off what seems like an Endless Winter, with even traditionally tropical regions getting cold temperatures if not snow.  Regardless, it’ll soon be spring and that means it’s time to get your boat ready for the water.  Here are some check points to consider.

  1. De-winterize your engine.  Issues with oil are a leading culprit of engine problems, so start there.  If you didn’t winterize your boat, change your engine oil, your filter, and your lower unit, too.
  2. Inspect your fuel system.  Look for leaks or cracks in hoses that came from cold temperatures.  What to look for: soft, brittle or cracked hoses and replace where necessary.  Be sure exhaust and ventilation systems are working properly, too.  Replace water pumps that are over two years old.
  3. Fluids.  After you’ve finished the oil, check your power steering, power trim reservoirs, and coolant.
  4. Propellers.  Inspect propellers for cracks, pitting, or dents.  If they can be repaired, do so, and if not replace.  Also check the cotter pins and bearings that secure your propeller.  Lubricate the propeller shaft and torque to specifications.
  5. Hulls.  Look for blisters or cracks, and if your boat has been on jacks then look for distortions.  Clean with a hull cleaner and apply a fresh coat of wax or bottom paint.
  6. Electronics.  Remove all terminals and clean with a wire brush to improve contact points. If they are corroded then replace. Charge your battery and be sure that it continues to hold a charge.
  7. Belts and Cables.  Like hoses, belts and cables can deteriorate over time.  Be sure they are tight and that there are no cracks. If you see a lot of black near the pulleys then be concerned.  Check steering, throttle and shift cables and ensure proper tightness and smooth movement.
  8. Hook up your boat to your truck and inspect your navigational signals. Also check out u-bolts that hold bunks and lubricate rollers.
  9. Fire it up.  Add rabbit ears connected to a hose and crank the outboard.  Fill with new gas.
  10. Check all safety gear like anchors, flares, radios, and PFD’s.

Soon, winter will be in our rear-view mirror, and by getting our boats ready for the season we’ll have a great time on the water.  I can hardly wait!

 Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.

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Are Your Kids Too Young To Paddle?

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 6:46am

Abby was 8 or 9 months old when we took her on her first canoe camping trip into the Boundary Waters. We probably would have taken her when she was younger if weather or time had allowed us to do so.  We placed her in a Rubbermaid container in the middle of the canoe and tied toys to the handles of it so she could throw them out of the box but not lose them forever.  We provided snacks, toys, songs and she of course enjoyed her time in the canoe.

We’ve camped in the BWCA with her and Josh numerous times since then and each time is magical. There isn’t a perfect age when your kids are ready for a wilderness canoe camping trip. I think it’s more about the parents being ready for the adventure than the kids. Young kids are adaptable, resilient and happy whenever they are “home” which is wherever their parents are. Whether it’s on a sandy beach or camping on a rocky outcropping they will thrive if they know they have their parents.

And talk about thriving. What an incredibly awesome paddling journey this family took together.  I wish we would have done something similar when our kids were little and I wish we could do it now that they are older.  Don’t wait until your children are old enough or the perfect age, whenever you take them canoe camping is the right time.

What an incredible opportunity and story. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Have Kids, Will Paddle from Dan Clark on Vimeo.

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