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Gotta go Skiing

Thu, 01/29/2015 - 11:11pm

This morning it was beautiful outside and I really wanted to go cross-country skiing. Unfortunately there were more urgent and important things to do than spending an hour or two in the woods.  I realized today how little I have been outside this winter and it makes me sad.

Before the kids were born I pretty much went cross-country skiing or snowshoeing every day when there was snow. It was something I obviously took for granted at the time. Last winter I only went cross-country skiing once! I should be able to double that this year quite easily, but I’ve heard “should” is a fantasy.  Let’s hope not.

Before I can go skiing I need to get my ski pass and that takes a couple of minutes to do. I also need to get new ski poles. I received some for a Christmas gift this year but unfortunately they are too long and Mike hasn’t been able to remove the baskets or handles in order to cut them down to the correct size.  That means I need to get another set of poles before I go skiing and that too takes a few minutes to do.  My minutes are pretty limited right now.

The Voyageur Brewing Company is opening on February 12th and there is still plenty to finish before then. The place looks amazing and the beer tastes even better. I’m so excited for all of our Voyageur summer guests and neighbors to be able to stop in before or after(or both) their trips and have a beer or pick up a growler to bring home.  I know you’ll love it.

I may just have to disappear into the woods for a couple of hours. I’m sure I’ll be more productive after spending time in the woods, I just gotta get out skiing sooner rather than later.

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Eagle’s Eggs

Wed, 01/28/2015 - 9:28pm

The eagle has landed.  Landed back at the nest and laid three eggs! You can check it out the live feed video to see for yourself.

January 28, 2015 – Eggs and video upgrade


How ‘eggciting’, we now have three eagle eggs! As appears to be the norm for the DNR EagleCam nest, this pair has again laid their eggs earlier than we would have anticipated. In 2013, the pair laid during the first week of January. In 2014, the pair waited a little longer and started laying eggs on Valentine’s Day in mid-February. This year, the eggs were laid approximately as follows-

#1 – Laid on the 19th or 20th of January
#2 – Laid on the 22nd of January
#3 – Laid on the 25th of January
Minnesota temperatures have been hovering above average, which will increase the chances of successful hatching. If all goes well, we should see the first egg pip around February 24th. Throughout February and March eagles all over Minnesota will be laying eggs and tending nests. This is a great time to get outside and watch eagles hunt and forage for food while they prepare for their new mouths to feed. Consider taking a walk outside and see if you can spot some eagles in action. Areas of open water along big rivers (such as the Mississippi) are great places to take a short walk to view eagles and much more! Bring some binoculars! More on wildlife viewing.

For more information on our MN weather, visit the DNR’s Current Conditions webpage – the nest is located in Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

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New Fishing Regulations in 2 BWCA Lakes

Tue, 01/27/2015 - 2:03pm

I’m not surprised the DNR has decided to make changes to the walleye limit on Saganaga and Seagull Lakes in the BWCA. There had been a few public meetings where many people voiced their opposition to the new rules which dropped the limit from 6 walleye down to 3 walleye in possession.  There is a new regulation saying the fish must be at least 17 inches long as well and these rules will be in place for 10 years.  Gull Lake and I’m assuming the Seagull River(even though we’re not considered part of Saganaga according to the USFS) is also included in this new regulation.

What does that mean for me? Not too much because I can’t remember the last time I caught even three walleye in the same day. If I do catch them then I usually throw them back anyway. It might affect those who want to have a meal or two of walleye but hopefully the new regulations will help the fishery.

Locals claim the DNR is responsible for the lowered walleye population from year’s past.  It’s rumored the DNR took way too much spawn from the walleye of Saganaga Lake for too many years. I don’t know how much they took and I do know they have been trying to stock the lake in years past but from what I hear only with walleye not big enough to survive all of the predators in the lake.  I also don’t know what the DNR plans to do as far as stocking in the future.  Only time will tell.

New walleye regulations on some lakes in the BWCA

By Josh Lee

January 26, 2015 Updated Jan 26, 2015 at 4:13 PM CSTDULUTH, MINN. ( — Authorities are tightening walleye regulations for three lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and loosening regulations for another popular northern Minnesota fishing lake.

The Department of Natural Resources announced the changes today as part of special regulations effective March First.

Walleyes taken from Lakes Saganaga, Seagull and Gull in Cook County, must be at least 17 inches long and the bag limit has been reduced from six to three.

The change is meant to protect small walleye in those lakes, all of which are partially in the BWCA.

Walleye taken from Lake Winnibigoshish, must been between 18 and 23 inches.

Effects of this regulation will be studied for the next 10 years, and will be reviewed with the public in 2024.

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Fresh Snow on the Gunflint Trail

Mon, 01/26/2015 - 9:04pm

We received some fresh snow today and it looks like a winter wonderland again.  The additional snow will be nice especially for the North Shore where it was scarce. It will help the cross-country ski trails and the North Shore snowmobile trail and make the trails on the Gunflint even better.  I’m sure the Beargrease participants don’t mind the snow either because at least it means it isn’t freezing cold outside.  Now if I can just find some time to get outside and enjoy the snow, I hope you can do the same!

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Crazy Doesn’t Begin to Describe It

Sun, 01/25/2015 - 10:30pm

The “It” I am referring to is something that is supposed to resemble our life. I’m not sure if it’s me or Mike or the combination of the two or the addition of the two kids that made us crazy but our lives are definitely crazy. Thank Goodness for great friends, Tony & Hannah and cell phones with wi-fi.

One question I ask myself frequently is, “Why didn’t I let Josh quit hockey when he wanted to give up in Kindergarten?” The other boys in his class were playing hockey so he thought he should play hockey too. The only thing was he had never skated and didn’t have an older sibling that he had watched play. When he couldn’t skate as fast as the other kids he decided he didn’t want to play but we insisted. “You’re a part of a team, you wanted to play, you signed up and you don’t have to play again after this year, but you’re not quitting now.”

Maybe if we hadn’t been carting him all over for the past 7 years we wouldn’t have agreed to having Abby play volleyball on a team in Duluth this winter. Guilt makes you do crazy things. Like drive down to Cloquet on Friday for a 2pm hockey game and back to Duluth for a 7:30pm volleyball practice then back to Cloquet the next day for a 10am and 2pm hockey game. Then ditch your son with another hockey family so you can get up at 4:30am to drive to St. Paul for a volleyball tournament and not get home until 10pm.

I wish I could say this week will be better only it won’t.  Josh has practice in Silver Bay Monday night, practice in Two Harbors Tuesday night and Abby has practice in Duluth on Wednesday night. Then on Thursday night it’s back to Duluth for a hockey game and Friday head down to the cities for another volleyball tournament on Saturday and Sunday while Josh has a game in Ashland, Wisconsin on Saturday as well.  Maybe the next weekend will be better? Nope. Hockey in International Falls on the weekend and volleyball in Duluth on Sunday.

Yes. We are crazy. Crazy about our kids and their athletics. The insanity will end all too soon and we’ll be wishing we were chasing around with them again, at least that’s what other parents tell me. I don’t think any of those parents ever spent as much time on the road as us, but I do believe I will miss it. So, until they say, “Uncle.” I’ll say, “Hurry up, we gotta go.”

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Beargrease Begins Tomorrow

Sat, 01/24/2015 - 8:25pm

The 31st running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins tomorrow in Two Harbors, Minnesota.  The race normally begins in Duluth, Minnesota but due to the lack of snow it is beginning a little farther north.  The start of the race is always fun to watch. The dogs bark and jump and jump and bark as they wait for their turn to start.  As soon as they are free to run they quit barking and fall into their own rhythym.

If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow head on up to Two Harbors and check out the Beargrease!

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Vote for Grand Marais as America’s Coolest Small Town

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 7:53pm

I know Grand Marais is a cool town, even in the summer thanks to Lake Superior.  In all seriousness, Grand Marais, Minnesota is a semifinalist in the “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest sponsored by Budget Travel.  I’m sure you think Grand Marais pretty cool too, if so then go online and vote for it.  That would be cool if it one…

Is Grand Marais ‘America’s Coolest Small Town’? PAM LOUWAGIE | Updated 1/22/2015 The Boundary Waters gateway city is one of 15 semifinalists in Budget Travel’s online contest for “America’s Coolest Small Town.”

Just how “cool” is Grand Marais?
Elizabeth Flores

First, Duluth-loving voters took to the Internet to catapult the Lake Superior city to the title of Outside Magazine’s “Best Town in America.”

Now fans of Grand Marais, the tiny tourist destination up the shore, are campaigning for a contest of their own.

The Boundary Waters gateway city is one of 15 semifinalists in Budget Travel magazine’s online contest for “America’s Coolest Small Town.”

The city became a semifinalist after receiving 472 nominations online. It’s competing with towns from Maine to Hawaii during online voting which closes at 11:59 p.m. on February 25. The top 10 towns will be featured online and in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

The only other Minnesota town to be a finalist was Ely, in 2010.

To vote on this year’s contest, go here.

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Gum in the Boundary Waters

Thu, 01/22/2015 - 7:29pm

I usually don’t bring gum into the BWCA with me but now I might. Check this out!

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Paddling Entertainment

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 9:38pm

If you’re a paddling enthusiast looking to be entertained then you might want to check out a couple of things. One is a television show called the “Paddling Bryans.” I haven’t watched it yet but a friend suggested I check it out on Facebook.  It’s about two Canadian guys named Bryan who travel around by canoe and I imagine they have awesome Canadian accents that would be fun to listen to.

When you can’t go paddling it’s always nice to watch shows about it or hear about it.

Adam Maxwell will be giving a presentation at the University of Minnesota Duluth on February 23rd.  He, along with some other paddlers are the ones who canoed to the Arctic this summer.  It’s from 7-8:30pm at Duluth’s Bohannon Hall and it’s free. Below is the description of his presentation.
Program description:
During the summer of 2014 a crew of 6 young men and women completed a
canoe expedition covering 920 miles from Northern Saskatchewan to Whales
Cove, Nunavut, led by UMD graduate Adam Maxwell. Adam will share
stories and photos of their travel which began in the boreal forest then into
the arctic tundra and eventually to the coast of Hudson Bay. Wildlife sightings
included thousands of caribou, musk ox, polar bears, and a wolverine. The
crew faced many challenges including long portages, a busted canoe, and
several low water streams. In addition to hearing stories about this expedition
join in a conversation about the planning of northern river travel, including
ways that college students can take advantage of their large amount of free
time over summer break to complete a budget conscious trip with very little
transportation cost.

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What Time is it? BWCA Permit Time!

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:30pm

Well, it’s almost Boundary Waters permit time. Reservations for all entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning January 28, 2015, 9 a.m. Central Time.  It isn’t a mad rush for permits on the Gunflint Trail side of the BWCA so if you don’t have your travel plans set yet then don’t fret. We have great availability for most entry points well into the summer season.

It is however never too early to start planning your Boundary Waters canoe trip. It’s nice to get a couple of them on the calendar nice and early so other activities don’t get in the way of your paddling and camping fun.  Prioritization is what it’s all about. I know I wish I could have spent more time in the woods this past summer.

I’m hopeful for a quality canoe trip with my family this summer. Last summer was way too busy with Abby at camp every other week it seemed. With Hannah and Tony here this winter and staying for next summer I know when we go paddling we’ll be leaving our guests in very capable hands.  Speaking of Tony and Hannah, that’s who you’ll be speaking with if you’re ready to make your BWCA permit reservation with Voyageur.  They are answering phones and holding down the fort while we travel all over for sports for our kids.  Feel free to give them a call, they will be happy to help you plan your trip and reserve your permit for you.

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Guess the Name of the Beer Contest

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:58pm

I know many of you have been following along with the Voyageur Brewing Company adventure. We’re getting closer to opening and we couldn’t be more excited. We want to share that enthusiasm with you and invite you to take part in a fun contest we’re having. I’m posting hints to what one of our beer names is going to be on the Voyageur Brewing Company Facebook page.  I’ll be doing this for each of the four beers we hope to have ready by opener.  The first person to correctly guess the beer name will win a growler filled with that type of beer.

I’ve been having some technical difficulty with the link, if the above links do not work then you can try this one.  Or just find the Featured App on the Facebook page.  You can visit our website and sign up to receive our email newsletter if you’d like too.  Who knows, maybe you will guess a name we’ll end up using for a future beer!

guess the beer name contest


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Gunflint Trail Fishing

Sun, 01/18/2015 - 9:09pm

Here’s a write up about ice fishing for trout on the Gunflint Trail written by one of my High School friends. Glen is an outdoor writer for the St. Cloud Times.

Winter trout season kicks off across Minnesota GLEN SCHMITT, Times outdoors writer 10:26 a.m. CST January 17, 2015

(Photo: Courtesy of Glen Schmitt)

Minnesota’s inland trout season opened Saturday, which means anglers can hit lakes outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in search of stream trout and lake trout. The trout season on lakes entirely within the BWCAW opened on Jan. 1.

Basically, there are two types of trout lakes within the state. Stream trout lakes are designated fisheries stocked with rainbow, brook and brown trout or a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout called splake.

The other is a lake trout fishery, and the only trout species they typically have in them are lake trout. It’s rare to find a fishery with a combination of lake trout and stream trout in it.

Gunflint Trail trout

Most quality trout lakes are scattered across northeastern Minnesota and trout fishing is extremely popular throughout this region, especially during the winter months.

This weekend’s trout opener is a big deal up and down the Gunflint Trail, according to Steve Parsons, fisheries supervisor with the Department of Natural Resources in Grand Marais. Visiting and local anglers alike know that if you want to experience some exceptional trout fishing in Minnesota, the northeast is the place to go.

“We have more lakes with trout in them up in this area than anywhere in the state,” Parsons said. “Trout are the main fishing opportunities in this area during the ice fishing season and we see a lot of anglers taking advantage of it.”

Parsons added that lake trout receive the most attention in his area. Brook trout and splake also are popular species to fish for, with rainbow and brown trout garnering less fishing pressure.

Lake trout populations within the northeastern lakes have been built and stabilized through natural reproduction. Although some stocking of lake trout is done, Parsons said it just isn’t that successful.

The size structure of these lake trout really varies from one body of water to the next. Anglers will encounter fish weighing from 2 to 20 pounds, but lake trout in the 2- to 5-pound range seem to be average in most lakes.

The key to finding the biggest lake trout in the northeast is locating lakes with an abundance of ciscoes. Ciscoes, rich with oil, are a primary food source for lake trout, so they tend to grow bigger in lakes that provide ciscoes as forage.

“If ciscoes are present, that’s likely where you’ll find fish up to 20 pounds,” Parsons said. “But we do have lakes without that type of forage so the lakers don’t grow that big, but those smaller fish are the best eating trout you’ll find.”

Along the Gunflint Trail, anglers should look to lakes such as Saganaga, Greenwood, Gunflint, Clearwater, West Bearskin and Loon as likely targets for lake trout. While you can get close to a few of them with vehicles, accessing most trout lakes in this area involves using a snowmobile, snowshoes or cross-country skis.

While lake trout reproduce naturally, stream trout rely on stocking efforts by the DNR to build their numbers. Parsons said lakes in the northeast are stocked annually or every other year with some combination of stream trout.

Most stream trout run from half a pound to 11/2 pounds. But Parsons pointed out that bigger stream trout are found the farther off the Gunflint Trail you’re willing to go. It’s not uncommon to catch 2- to 4-pound brook trout and splake on select lakes tucked back in the woods.

“We have some exceptional stream trout lakes and some good-sized fish if you don’t mind putting in the effort to find them,” Parsons said. “I anticipate one of the best trout seasons in a long time; we have good ice, not much snow, and no slush so people will be able to move around on these lakes this year.”

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Under Ice Fireworks

Sat, 01/17/2015 - 8:52pm

I bet if I show Josh this video then he’s going to want to try this.

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Photos from Around the North Shore

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 10:37pm

We have such amazing photographers and so many wonderful things to take pictures of in our neck of the woods.

Gail Merton Photo

Jamie Rabold photo

Paul Pluskwik

Find More of these awesome Gunflint Trail moose photos on Facebook.

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