Voyageur Quote: "The wonder of a single snowflake outweighs the wisdom of a million meteorologists."  Francis Bacon



Voyageur in a Winter Snow



Weather Report

     Mother Nature treated us to a White Christmas on the Gunflint Trail and for that we are grateful.  December started out with a good amount of snow but then after about December 15th, we didn't get much more until the last day of the year.  It snowed throughout New Year's Eve so 2007 started with a fresh coat of snow on the ground.  We were hoping that meant there would be lots more snow on the way but instead of snow we got rain on the 4th of January.  Thankfully we have received more snow since then and the temperatures have cooled off.  The forecast calls for more winter like temperatures and snow, so we'll keep our fingers crossed.  





Sleeping Bears







Winter Tracks













 Wildlife Report:   Sleeping Bears-   When I think of an animal that hibernates my thoughts turn automatically to "bear."  Bears find a place to spend the winter and then hibernate.  My world as I knew it changed the other day when I came across something in a book that says bears do not actually hibernate.  According to one website I found bears do not lower their body temperature enough for it to be considered hibernation.  However, I found many references to bears hibernating including one on this website. 

Once considered not true hibernators because of their high body temperatures in winter, black bears are now known to be highly efficient hibernators.  They sleep for months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating.  Hibernators with lower body temperatures, such as chipmunks, woodchucks, and ground squirrels, cannot do this.  These other mammals must awaken every few days, raise their temperatures to over 94°F, move around in their burrows, and urinate. 

 So in spite of the few articles that are contrary to my popular belief I will still say, "Bears hibernate."  A bear spends all summer eating to prepare for a long winter's sleep.  The bear must consume large amounts of food so it can survive the winter cold without eating.  The bear's coat will get thicker for heat conservation and brown fat will develop around its heart, lungs, and brains.  The metabolic rate will be cut in half allowing the bear to live off of its fat stores for the winter. 

Black bears also greatly reduce their kidney function in winter.  They do not urinate for months but still do not poison their bodies with waste products such as urea.  The urea is somehow broken down and the nitrogen from it is reused to build protein.  This ability to build protein while fasting allows the bears to maintain their muscle and organ tissue throughout the winter.(website)

     In reading about bear hibernation I came across an unfamiliar word, "torpor."  This was the word used to describe the state of an animal that wasn't really hibernating.  A definition I found on the web said,   "The dormant, inactive state of a hibernating or estivating animal."  I personally think the hibernation/torpor debate is something for scientists to talk about in the lunchroom.

    Whether or not a bear is in a state of hibernation or torpor it doesn't really matter.  A bear accomplishes a great feat every year when it can go up to 7 months without food, water, or going to the bathroom.   It seems logical to me to believe an animal that sleeps throughout the entire winter and doesn't have to get up to go pee is doing something right, hibernation or torpor, I'm impressed.




Adopted Dog




Pink Paddles

Purchase a Pink Paddle today and help find a cure for breast cancer tomorrow.





 The Boundary Waters Blog








What's New? 

Black and Pink Magic- Adding to the excitement of this year's Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon is not only the fact we have adopted a dog that will be running in this year's race but also have developed a partnership with Pink Paddles and Black Magic Kennels.  The goal of the partnership is to raise breast cancer awareness and money for research. There's still time to adopt a sled dog of your very own before the Marathon at the end of this month. 

     Mark and Mary Black are owners of Black Magic Kennels and we have formed a partnership between their kennel and our Pink Paddles business.  When you adopt a dog you will be making a difference in the fight against breast cancer.  A portion of each adoption fee will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation with hopes of raising $1200 this year.

     Mary and her husband have participated in the Beargrease 490 mile race a combined total of 15 times. The sport of mushing has a wide popularity with female athletes and so there was a natural link between Mary and me, owner of a canoe outfitting business.   Why not promote adventurous sports for women while raising the awareness of a disease that kills a woman in the United States every 13 minutes?  Heads will turn and people will become more aware of breast cancer when they see the 2004 John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Champion Mark Black with his team of dogs at check points during this year's race.  His entire team of dogs will be wearing pink jackets with pink patches on them. 

     We invite you to be a part of this exciting adventure.  You can adopt a dog, purchase a paddle or buy a patch to help us reach our goal.  You can also cheer for Mark Black and tell your friends about this exciting partnership and that will be helping us raise awareness for breast cancer.

The Boundary Waters Blog The cost of Quetico Park overnight camping fees is being increased again this year.  If you want to travel into Canada you need a Remote Border Crossing Permit this year and maybe a passport next year.  To find out more about topics like this and other important wilderness information be sure to visit the Boundary Waters Blog.







Snow Scene





Product Review: Thermette- Companies are continually coming out with new products for camping and the great outdoors.  I am usually pretty up to date on whatever is "new" on the market, but I had never heard of a Thermette Cooking Stove.  I guess the reason I hadn't heard of a Thermette is because it isn't exactly new, in fact, it is quite old.

According to their website , "The Thermette was first invented in 1929 by New Zealander John Ashley Hart but became a cultural icon and found its true home and place in New Zealand's history during the Second World War. For New Zealand soldiers fighting the deserts of North Africa the Thermette became a standard and treasured piece of equipment and earned the nickname the `Benghasi Boiler'.     

   This old and treasured piece of equipment was used to boil water without using "fuel."  The only thing needed to start a fire for the Thermette is some sort of forest debris such as small sticks or pine cones.  The Thermette can still be used to boil water today and can also be used for camp cooking.     

   The Thermette is about 15" tall and weighs 2-3 pounds depending upon if it is made from copper or tin.  It has a unique cone shape inside that allows water to boil quickly once a fire is built in a compact base beneath it.  If you don't want to leave a burnt ring on the ground then you can use a the removable fire base.  If you want to cook with the Thermette then you can add the cooking ring to the top of it.      

  The Thermette sounds like a neat product for boiling water and cooking.  It would be nice to not have to carry fuel around and the empty canisters as well.  It would not be able to be used during a fire ban and finding dry fuel after a number of days of rain may be more difficult than finding debris to burn in New Zealand.  Check out their website for more information and to watch video clips of the Thermette in action. 



Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

"Where the Trail Ends Your Voyage Begins"
Mike and Sue Prom

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Skill: Working Green-  Hopefully you are all still sticking to your New Year's Resolution to do your part in living a greener life.  While no one can be expected to be perfect everyone can make small changes that will equal big differences to our planet earth.  Make each work day even more productive by following as many of the guidelines for saving resources at work from the NRDC website.

The Problem
The average workplace uses thousands of supplies on a daily basis -- and accounts for a lot of what we use and throw away.

What you can do

  1. Buy energy-efficient office equipment - Energy Star-rated equipment is an option at work as well as at home. Energy Star equipment has power management features that allow it to reduce its power use or turn itself off when not in use. According to the EPA, Energy Star-labeled equipment can save up to 75 percent of total electricity use.
  2. Recycle - If your office doesn't have a recycling program, work with your office manager and custodial staff to set one up. Paper, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles are easy to start with, and additional materials can be added as the staff gets used to recycling. Set up bins in convenient areas to collect each type of material your office recycles, and make sure everyone knows they are there.
  3. Commit to environmentally friendly purchasing practices - Encourage your company to make a commitment to purchasing paper and plastic materials made with post-consumer recycled content. Companies should avoid paper products made from 100 percent virgin fiber content, and switch to paper that is 30 percent post-consumer content at minimum. For more on how green purchasing practices can push the paper industry toward more sustainable production methods, click here. Also look for plastic and metal products made with recycled or scrap material.
  4. Be thrifty with paper - Don't print out each memo or email you receive. Read and delete the ones you don't need to save and electronically file others you might refer to later. Make sure your office copier can make two-sided copies, and badger everyone to get into the habit of doing so. If people don't take the hint, arrange to have your copier's default set to the two-sided rather than one-sided option. High-speed copiers that are set to automatically make two-sided copies reduce paper costs by $60 per month -- and, of course, save paper. Save even more paper by using the blank sides of used sheets of paper for note-taking and printing drafts.
  5. Use reusable utensils for office parties - If you work in one of those offices where there's no excuse too small for a mid-afternoon get-together, encourage the office manager to invest in a set of dishes, cups, and utensils that can be used each time, rather than breaking out plastic utensils and paper plates.
  6. Bring a waste-free lunch - Store your food in reusable containers rather than wrapping it in foil or plastic. Keep a knife, fork, spoon, and cloth napkins at work to avoid the need for plastic utensils and paper napkins. Bring your hot or cold drinks in a thermos, and drink them from a mug you keep at your desk or in your work area.




Lake Trout 


 Fishing:  Fishing Opener-   Trout fishing within the Boundary Waters opened on the 30th of December and Trout fishing everywhere except Canada opened the 13th of January.  Lakes that border with Canada such as Saganaga and Gunflint also opened on the 13th.  Canadian Trout fishing in the Thunder Bay District doesn't open up until February, but the Rainy River District is open now and that includes Cache Bay, one of our favorite winter destinations.  Come on up and enjoy a wilderness ice fishing adventure.





 Thank you for reading our newsletter.  We hope you enjoy it and tell others about it. 

  Mike, Sue and the Voyageur Crew