Voyageur Tip:  "Incompetence spawns scary adventures.  Knowledge, preparation, and judgement make memorable experiences."  Inspired by Arctic explorer Vihjalmur Steffanson






Pine Grosbeak 




Weather Report

Bitterly cold.  This is what the weather has been for the past two weeks.  We have had numerous nightly low temperatures in the negative 20's and 30's.  It's been a week since the temperature has made it's way above zero.  This weekend the temperatures are suppose to make it above zero and possibly up into the double digits, we'll keep our fingers crossed, inside our mittens.  There is about 5 feet of snow on the ground and when it's above zero I put my snowshoes on to walk in the woods.  There is nothing like winter quiet when the only sound you hear is the crunching of your feet on the snow.


Pine Grosbeak(Pinicola Enucleator)-  This bird is often seen on the Gunflint Trail during winter.  We see large numbers of them on the road during midday eating something off of the snow covered surface.  We're not sure if they are eating the salt or gravel or if they are eating seeds or berries that may have blew onto the road.  We do know they tend to travel and feed in flocks.  They are about the size of a robin and the male is a bright and beautiful red.  To hear their musical sound or learn more about this bird check out this site. 



Cross River Gunflint Trail








What's New?

Mike spent a portion of last week at our nation's capitol representing the Northcentral Region of the Professional Paddlesport Association.  While there the group spoke with a representative from the National Safe Boating Council on the importance of water safety.  Derek Crandall from the American Recreation Coalition urged leaders in the paddlesport industry to get more kids outdoors.  With the majority of kids spending their days and nights at the computer, playing video games or watching television there is little time for them to enjoy outdoor recreation. So help do your part and introduce a kid to the great outdoors this year.

Meanwhile back at Voyageur I was busy taking care of our home, business and kids.  I had a northwoods learning experience of my own with temperatures 20 and 30 degrees below zero and a half of a foot of new snow.  I got to try plowing snow with our truck, realized how much work it is to keep a fire going to heat our house and frost bit my index finger trying to get a vehicle to turn over in the bitter cold.  Needless to say, I'm glad Mike is home!

The Quetico Park permits can be reserved five months prior to the start date of your trip.  This means if you are planning a canoe trip for July then you can reserve those permits in February.  The Quetico Park reservation lines open at 7:00 AM and the permits go fast.  You can reserve your permit by calling 888-668-7275 or we can reserve one for you.

Congratulations to Jeff Stenroos the winner from our last newsletter.  He won a copy of the fun and useful  Magical Maps Program.


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Recognizing the Class System-  The Boundary Waters and Quetico Park are comprised of thousands of lakes interconnected by portages.  There are rapids and waterfalls connecting some of these lakes but all have portages around them.  There isn't such a thing as running a rapids when help may be a day or more paddle away.  In the canoe country wilderness you are urged to portage around any moving water for your safety.  But, while we wait for the Boundary Waters to become water again you may want to get your paddle wet in a nearby river.  The rating of difficulty of a portion of a river is done by a Class System and here the American Canoe Association will explain their ratings.

  • Class I- Moving water with few riffles and small waves.  Few or no obstructions.
  • Class II- Easy rapids with waves up to three feet and wide clear channels that are obvious.
  • Class III- Rapids with high, irregular waves often capable of swamping an open canoe.  Narrow passages that often require complex maneuvering.  May require some scouting from shore.
  • Class IV- Long, difficult rapids and constricted passages that often require precise maneuvering in very turbulent waters.  Scouting from shore often necessary and conditions make rescue difficult.
  • Class V- Extremely difficult.  Long very violent rapids with highly congested routes that nearly always must be scouted.  Rescue conditions are difficult and there is a significant hazard to life in the event of a mishap. 
  • Class VI- Difficulties in Class V carried to the extreme of navigability.  Nearly impossible and very dangerous.  For experts only.



 Mukluks Website


Product Review 

Steger MukluksSome of you have asked how we can tolerate the cold weather and going outside to recreate in spite of it.  I do not go out of the house in the winter without wearing my mukluks.  These are boots that are made in the Northern Cree Indian Style in Ely, Minnesota.  My favorite pair are made of moosehide and canvas and keep my feet toasty warm.  Why do they keep my feet so warm?  The concept is like a mitten, mukluks are flexible and roomy allowing your feet to move around and supply your nerve endings with warm blood.  If your toes can wiggle then they won't get cold.  These boots are so lightweight you barely notice you have them on and are just as comfortable wearing them inside as outside.  There are many styles to choose from and all of them will make trekking through the snow in sub-zero temperatures a pleasure for your feet. 



Fishing Report  

Winter Fishing- Ice fishing is full swing in the Boundary Waters.  On the opener Saganaga Lake anglers caught their limits of 20" plus Lake Trout and someone even caught a 24" Walleye.  On smaller BWCA lakes like Paulson(J.A.P.) and Tuscarora there were large numbers of smaller Lake Trout taken.  Winter fishing in the wilderness is an adventure in itself.  No motorized augers are allowed so just drilling a hole through 3 feet of ice is a challenge in itself.  Getting into some of the backcountry lakes requires snowshoeing or cross-country skiing as snowmobiles are not allowed in the BWCA.  If you are looking for a real wilderness adventure come on up to the Boundary Waters this winter.