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Fall Leaves at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

Fall Colors on Minnesota's North Shore
A Walk in the Woods 
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Autumn Sunrise
Sunset in the BWCA
Autumn Sunset 
Jessica Voyageur Crew Extraordinaire
Voyageur Crew Member Extraordinaire Jessica
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Pagami Creek Fire in the BWCA
Pagami Creek Fire
Plume of Smoke from Pagami Fire

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
--George Elliot

October in the Boundary Waters

It's hard to believe it's October when the temperature has been in the mid-70's each day. The skies have been clear, the sun hot and it feels more like August than October.  The high temperature for October is 77.9 degrees and the average temperature is 55.6 degrees.  The leaves on the trees have started to change and a few are scattered on the ground. It's been amazing weather to be out canoe camping in the Boundary Waters and I'm very envious of all of those folks who have been able to take advantage of it. October weather can be questionable for canoe camping with temperatures in the teens and snowing or wonderful like this October has started out.

This September was also a great month for canoeing in the wilderness. With the exception of a couple of rainy and windy days the weather was fantastic. We had very little precipitation during the month, less than 2 inches, which caused conditions to dry out considerably. The high temperature for the month was 84.5 degrees, the low 27.4 degrees for an average temperature of 53.3 degrees, 5 degrees warmer than last September.  It was so dry the USFS implemented a partial fire ban and then a full fire ban. Officials were very concerned with the Pagami Creek Fire burning they instituted a fire ban for most of Northeastern Minnesota for a week or so.

The fire ban has since been lifted and guests are allowed to have campfires any time. The nights have been cooling off so a campfire is a great way to end a day of paddling. The stars have been shining brightly and the northern lights have made several appearances. It's a quiet time in the canoe country and on the Gunflint Trail. If you haven't visited us in the fall before then I encourage you to do so now. I know you'll love it just as much as I do.

Bear Tales from Beyond the BWCA

It's seems like every where there are bears there are bear stories to be told. I've heard of bears with their heads stuck in jars, stealing candy bars and even one stuck in a car. We've had bears on our deck, climb in the back of our truck and even walk into one of our cabins one time. We haven't had any bear stories as good as our neighbors for some time.

We have had a large mother bear and two cubs trolling the neighborhood ever since the blueberries were done growing. One night one of our guests heard a noise by the bathhouse and looked out of the window only to see Momma Bear knocking over garbage cans. He thought he would go outside and shoo her away but when he opened up the door to the bunkhouse I don't know who was more scared, him or the cub that was sitting on his deck. The cub took off along with its sibling and crawled up a tree in the driveway to escape. The Momma Bear gathered her cubs and left soon after that.

Trail's End Campground is just a mile from us and the bears decided to check out one of their dumpsters. They were all able to get in quite easily but only Momma Bear was able to get out. When the campground managers went to check on the dumpster they were surprised to see two bear cubs inside. The bears were stuck in the dumpster until the managers tipped the dumpster over for them to crawl out and join their Momma once again.

Over on an island in Seagull Lake less than two miles from us and Trail's End Campground is Wilderness Canoe Base. They have some sort of walk-in cooler in a shed outside that doesn't have a lock on it. This Momma Bear is not only strong but also smart and she was able to open the door to gain access to a bunch of refrigerated food. When she had her fill she went outside but her cubs didn't follow closely enough behind and weren't strong enough or smart enough to get out of the cooler. They spent the rest of the night eating and making a mess of the cooler until they were let out by staff the next morning. I guess they left the walk-in cooler in less than sanitary condition.

This Momma Bear is teaching her cubs some very bad habits and folks in the neighborhood are tired of seeing her and her cubs in their garbage and on their decks. Unfortunately for her and her cubs someone has been granted permission to shoot them as nuisance bears. Usually when that has happened in the past with other bears the bears never come back so they never get shot.  I'm hoping that's the case with these three bears in spite of the trouble they have caused. We are all living in the woods together so we should learn how to share their territory with them.

Voyageur Crew

This time of the year we work with a skeleton crew at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. With our kids back in school we spend quite a bit of our time driving up and down the Gunflint Trail I'm coaching 6th Grade Volleyball for the 4th year in a row and Mike is coaching youth tackle football this year. Abby participates in 6th Grade Volleyball and Josh in tackle football so it gives us an opportunity to spend time with our children

This means someone has to fill in for us and we're lucky to have John, Jessica, Kristi and Victor to help this Fall. There aren't that many guests coming up but with scheduling around days off, weddings and mini vacations we've needed that many people to allow things to run smoothly.  We're lucky to have such capable people as part of the Voyageur Crew.

Pagami Creek Fire

Unless you have been out of the country lately you have probably heard about the Pagami Creek Fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Lightning struck a tree 14 miles east of Ely on August 18, 2011. The fire remained small like many lightning strikes in the wilderness do. The USFS monitors lightning strikes and keeps an eye on them when fire conditions become prime for a forest fire. Towards the end of August USFS officials decided to do a controlled burn to protect cabins & businesses on the Fernberg Road north of the Pagami Creek Fire. By this time the fire had consumed around 144 acres and was relatively inactive.

The USFS used helicopters and land crews to ignite the controlled burn in order to make a fireline that would prevent the fire from jumping out of the BWCA and into populated areas. This action grew the fire to over 1000 acres and Mother Nature decided she didn't want to play nicely. There were around 100 firefighters involved with the fire for the controlled burn and on Monday, September 12th they were helpless against the wrath of Mother Nature and the fury of the Pagami Creek Fire.

The parched land and dry trees were consumed faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The fire raced over 14 miles in one day and caused the evacuation of campers and home owners near Isabella, MN and the Sawbill Trail. The fire moved so quickly there wasn't time to think and public safety was priority number one. The smoke created by the fire could be seen from outerspace and the fire created its own weather system complete with lightning and even higher wind speeds. The fire raged on into the evening and when it finally slowed down estimates of acreage burned were around 70,000.

Mother Nature did not want to cooperate and before fire crews could get a handle on the Pagami Creek Fire it burned over 90,000 acres most of which is located in the BWCA far away from us. There were over 900 firefighters on the fire at one time and crews worked tirelessly to get the fire contained. As of press time it is over 71% contained and crews are optimistic it will not get any bigger.

There were a couple of days when the smoke was really thick. One day it could be smelled as far away as Indiana. Folks in Wisconsin and Illinois reported a strange smell and one day in Grand Marais the kids had to have indoor recess due to the quality of the air. The wind pushed most of the smoke away from us at Voyageur so we were lucky we didn't have to experience the smell of smoke again.

Windy, warm and dry weather is in the forecast and this will keep the 436 firefighters busy.  There will be fire crews watching the Pagami Creek Fire until a blanket of snow covers the earth and we know the Pagami Fire is out once and for all.

Last Minute Vacancy in our Water's Edge Cabin

Here's a great opportunity to come up to Voyageur for a fall vacation.  Come see the fall colors, look for wildlife, visit Chik-Wauk Museum and enjoy the peace and quiet.  The Water's Edge Cabin has two bedrooms and room to sleep up to 10 people comfortably.  The forecast is calling for a beautiful weekend with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's.  It's a great time to paddle the wilderness lakes or hike trails in the woods.  Two nights in the Water's Edge Cabin for four people is normally $600 but we're offering two or three nights this weekend for only $350. We'd love to see you at Voyageur this weekend!