BWCA

On the trail of the Pagami Creek Fire
June 11, 2014 by Sally Rauschenfels

On the trail of the Pagami Creek Fire

We paddled toward the burned southern shore of Lake One in search of the famous Pagami Creek Fire. Three years after the famous fire burned here, we headed out for a day of discovery. … read more


German Expressionism hits the North Woods
February 26, 2011 by Andrew Slade

German Expressionism hits the North Woods

Seen on a well-used National Forest outhouse at a ski trailhead in Ely:  This well-weathered man reminded me of the woodblock prints of the German Expressionist, like this one from Max Kaus. When we arrived in Ely for our winter break, the woods were full of snow, but it was a crusty, angular, and shall we say depressing snow. Like the angular cuts in those woodblocks. Actually, there was a lot of German expressionism during our week up in the Ely woods.Like my older son, in his first year of German, teaching his younger brother how to insult someone in that … read more


Approaching Eagle Mountain
September 21, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Approaching Eagle Mountain

This is heresy. The hike to Eagle Mountain is not all that great.The hike up Eagle Mountain, Minnesota's high point, is terrific.To climb Mt. Everest, you must first schlep for a week to basecamp, then start climbing. To climb Denali, most parties nowadays get flown in to Kahiltna Glacier and avoid days of criss-crossing glacial streams by foot.To reach Eagle Mountain, you must persevere through two, TWO miles of hard hiking through flat and rocky terrain. You cross three boardwalks, and in those few instances the woods open up just a bit and you can see around. Otherwise, it's a … read more


Blowdown? What blowdown?
August 31, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Blowdown? What blowdown?

It was ten years ago this summer that a wave of destruction passed over the BWCA and rolled across the North Shore and Lake Superior. I remember how the sky turned green in Little Marais and my weather-wise wife exclaimed, "Something's coming!"Ten years later, it takes an experienced eye to see the impact. I hiked around Blackstone Lake east of Ely this weekend. I remember the trail well before the blowdown, as it was the main corridor for Outward Bound groups headed in for rockclimbing at Ennis Lake. And I hiked it five years ago, when you could still see … read more


Boys just wanna have fun
August 18, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Boys just wanna have fun

Who-da thunk it? Roasting apples on a BWCA fire grate. A few minutes each side over the fire, and then apple pie yumminess.My son Hans and his friend Albert found all sorts of ways to get their jollies in the wilderness during their inaugural BWCA trip last week.What, no library? Tell your own stories.No online games? Learn new poker games in the tent.No dessert on night one? Roast some of the heavy apples before the big portage the next day.And if there's no waterslide, find your own water park, a cliff around the corner on Ahsub Lake.As a long-time YMCA … read more


At portage’s end
August 16, 2009 by Andrew Slade

At portage’s end

It was a dark and stormy night...No, wait.It was a dark and muggy day. Three first-time wilderness trippers and one tired old guide were on their third day already, six portages past puddly bogs from Disappointment Lake to Ensign Lake. It had been wet, but more to the point it had not been dry. Just because it doesn't rain doesn't mean you stay dry. The sky hd been a deck of clouds for days. Humidity and canoe bottom bilgewater gets into everything. "Dry" clothes. Camera lenses. The "powdered" milk. No sun to dry them out.The tired old guide had slept … read more


Roughing it on the Border Route Trail
June 15, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Roughing it on the Border Route Trail

Is the Superior Hiking Trail too cushy for you? Too many bridges over streams? Too many handrails on those steps? Just can't stand seeing other PEOPLE every 20 minutes?Man up. Get out on the Border Route Trail. It's rough out there!I've been looking for trails to include in the forthcoming Hiking the North Shore. For me to include a trail in a book, the trail needs to be fairly easy to find and not too difficult to follow. The BRT can be hard to find and hard to follow.If you're accustomed to the Superior Hiking Trail, you'll find the BRT … read more


Women who run with the wolves
April 12, 2009 by Andrew Slade

Women who run with the wolves

It was March 1992. I could hear the wildness in her voice. My lovely wild wife, on the phone. She had been out on the ski trails outside Ely and was calling me at work. Deer hair on the ski trail. Spine tingles. Wolf scat. Fresh steaming deer carcass in the middle of the trail. Invisible eyes in the forest trained on her. The women in my life run with the wolves. Sally runs with the wolves. And now, so does our poodle Chloe. Now here we are in April 2009. How lovely it is to ski across a frozen … read more


The Last Temptation of Winter
April 8, 2009 by Andrew Slade

The Last Temptation of Winter

Stand on a Boundary Waters lake in early spring and experience temptation. The surface of the wilderness lake is flat and smooth with well-hardened snow. You could go anywhere, especially on skate skis that would fly across the wilderness. Before the day warms up, the snow pack in the woods is crusty hard. You could walk anywhere. Cliffs rise around the shore, with just enough snow on them for easy access. You could climb anywhere. With all this temptation, what is a guy to do? Ski, walk or climb...or all of the above?The Slade and Rauschenfels clan chose "all of … read more


More pines, more poodles
February 25, 2009 by Andrew Slade

More pines, more poodles

A week in the woods on the edge of the Boundary Waters, poodles and part poodles everywhere. Chloe the standard poodle was the trail boss, at first. I took her for a short walk in on the Bass Lake Trail toward Dry Falls. This photo makes me laugh, because it's the same pose and attitude as Jim Brandenburg's pictures of wolves Only wolves don't have collars or puffy white curls. www.jimbrandenburg.com/gallery/shows/wolves.Princess Chloe would be eaten alive by wolves.Later in the week we were joined by Chloe's "cousin", Zoe (yes, the names rhyme). The Zoe-ster is a golden doodle, with … read more