Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BWCAW Permit Lottery

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. We have had some warmer than normal temperatures around the Ely, Minnesota area lately. Yesterday we did get a little snow. It's finally feeling more like winter.

Quick reminder that the BWCAW permit lottery is underway. December 1 through January 15, 2010 you can apply for a BWCAW permit. It is the first chance to get a permit for the up coming canoe season. If you have specific dates or a specific entry point in mind it might be a good idea to apply for a permit now. After January 1, 2010 BWCAW permits are first come first serve. We are happy to help just call Spirit of the Wilderness (800-950-2709) to answer questions or to book your canoe trip.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Signs of Moose on Big Moose Hiking Trail

I ventured out to the Big Moose Lake hiking trail, located about 28 miles North of Ely on the Echo Trail. The 2.5 mile walk to the lake starts out very smooth and easy, but eventually gets a little more rugged. There are spots that can be rather rocky and a couple of stretches in the low areas were very wet and boggy. The trail winds through multiple Aspen and Jack pine stands of trees before emerging at the lake shore, which is in a sheltered bay. To the left of the landing was a campsite on a point that looks like it would be a nice place to camp. There were big tent pads right on the shoreline and decent fishing from shore. While we rested at the lake I witnessed a fisherman trolling the bay in his canoe. He caught a number of Small Mouth Bass.

One great thing about this area is that the terrain and vegetation are prime habitat for moose. While hiking I found signs of moose everywhere I looked. There were piles of scat (poop) and tracks. One of the neatest things was looking six feet up into the Aspen and Maples and seeing all the spots the moose had been browsing (nipping tree buds off and eating them during winter). Along the trail we also found evidence of wolves, pine martins, and owls (again from scat and tracks). Some of the local flora has started to bloom such as the Large Leaf Aster with their tiny white flowers and the bright red berries on the June Berry Bushes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's time to start picking Blueberries!

The blueberries are making their appearance in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness & Ely, Minnesota. It's just the start of the blueberry picking season. Right now you may mainly find them in the sunny warmer spots. It will still be a little bit before the shady locations will have better quantities.

Blueberries tent to like acidic soil. They tend to like to be around Jack pine trees. They are typically in partially shaded wooded areas. A blueberry picking spot is something that most will keep a secret so they can return each year with out much competition.

Happy picking!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

It is always fun to celebrate in Ely, MN. There are a number of events planned for the day. The parade and the fireworks are my favorite.

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Portaging Tips for the BWCA

One of my favorite feelings when I enter the BWCA is the sense of camaraderie and courtesy. People spending time in our beautiful wilderness area are generally happy and willing to help a stranger that crosses their path. People have offered to lend me a hand, or greeted me with a smile and a wave out there more times then I can count. It's a special thing that brightens my trip. I think it's important to show people courtesy and respect in return especially when I am portaging. Here are some portaging tips that will make your trip and other paddlers' trips a little more friendly.

-Allow people portaging canoes to have the right away on the trail. They can't see as well and they may have a heavier load than people carrying packs. The quicker they can get to the end the better. If two people carrying canoes meet on a hill, the person going down hill should step off to the side and let the person going up the hill pass.

-Give people time and room to get down the portage trail. If you are paddling up to a portage and see a group, stay back until you see them walk down the trail, and give them a few minutes. Clogged portage trails are no fun, and waiting at the end of the portage trail with a canoe or heavy pack on your shoulders while someone is trying to get on the lake is tiring. Also, remember the the 9 person/4 watercraft rule. Only 9 people and 4 watercraft can be in one spot at one time in the BWCA.

-Try not to widen portage trails by walking around puddles and mud. This causes more of an impact and bigger trails.

-To minimize forgetting your favorite fishing pole or paddle on the portage trail, avoid putting your things on the ground. Your gear should go from canoe to person, and person to canoe. Another way to remember everything is to always make only one pile of gear on each side of the portage. Try not to spread out your packs, lifejackets and paddles where they can easily be forgotten.

-Watch where you place your foot when portaging. Twisting an ankle can be easy if you are walking down some of those rocky portage trails.

-Lend a hand! If you see someone struggling, offer to carry something for them if you have an extra hand. They will be so grateful. You never know when someone may return the favor to you.

-Try to wet-foot portage. This will lessen the chance of scratching, or putting a hole in your canoe by putting on the canoe while you are still in the water. Your feet will be wet while you are paddling, so make sure you sun your feet out to dry them at camp to prevent foot fungus. It's easy to prevent!

- Always load your canoe when it is completely floating in the water.

- Take one last look around before you paddle off from the portage. A quick and easy way to double check that you have all your gear. Also look around you and admire your surroundings. After all this is one of the reasons you are here.

I hope these tips will help you on your next canoe trip. Happy portage trails!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The walleyes are biting.

This 30 1/4 inch Walleye was caught Wednesday, July 1, 2009 in Fall Lake. Congratulations to Tom W. for the catch. He was using one of is father's old Rapala lures with almost all of it's paint chipped off.

The last few days have been rainy and overcast. This photo just goes to show that when the weather is less than perfect some of the nicest fish like to bite. Walleyes typically become more active when the light conditions are low. Mornings and evenings or overcast days are great times to fish for walleyes.

For more Pictures of Fish registered at Spirit of the Wilderness go to our Facebook page Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting ready for a brisk week in Ely.

Quick Note: Wild strawberries are blooming!

If you haven't experienced putting up a tent in northern Minnesota you will soon find out that there is about two inches of top soil pretty much every where you go. This is because glaciers skidded their way across Minnesota 10,000 years ago during the last ice age making it hard for us in 2009 to stake down our tents. But it isn't all bad, because they were responsible for carving out all those wonderful lake beds, cliffs, and exposed rock that make up the BWCA and northern Minnesota. Have no fear, there is another way to prevent your tent from flying into the lake. Just tie a piece rope around your stake hole, find a good sized rock, log, or base of a tree, and tie the other end to it. Repeat this process until you have all 4 corners secure.

Happy Camping!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hegman Lake Day Trip

It was a perfect day to head out to see the Pictographs on Hegman Lake just north of Ely on the Echo trail. We strapped the canoe on the car and took off. It was a feeling of excitement and contentment to be heading out in a canoe once again.

The portage from the parking lot to the lake was peaceful. I always view it as getting prepared to experience something wonderful. The warm weather brought the comforting smell of the pines. The north woods have this smell that just brings me back to the many BWCA canoe trips that have given me so many wonderful memories. It just seems as though my stresses just melt away and the busier pace of everyday life can be left for the slower paced canoe trip. It helps to clarify my thoughts and recharge my soul.

Once at the waters edge we climbed into the canoe and start gliding away from shore. We paddled a bit, crossed the short portage into North Hegman Lake and headed towards our main destination. We arrived at the familiar rock face. We gaze up and search for the pictographs that can be a bit tricky to find the first time. It really is amazing to be able to take a day trip to see such old art work. We studied the pictographs and took a few photos to remember our day.

The next stop was bog just up the lake. It is always fun to see all the different plants that make the bog their home. As we get to the bog we can see the that pitcher plants are plentiful and red this time of year.
We spent some time exploring the portage at the northern end of Trease Lake. We were hoping to see a few Lady slipper orchids, but we are a bit early. We began our paddle back and found the perfect rock to stop at and take in some sun and a little lunch. We watched a few other groups pass. They all seem to be enjoying the trip as much as we were. After lunch we make our way back to the portage which leads to the parking lot. As we head to the car to begin our entry back into our busy lives we fall quiet reflecting on our beautiful day trip and hope it won't be too long before we can take another trip.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trails are clear and the ticks are here!!

With spring having sprung we're all getting the itch to get out and get moving! Took the dogs on a beautiful hike on the Angleworm hiking trail, north of Ely about 20 miles on the Echo Trail. Let me tell you it was a heck of a work out after hibernating all winter! The terrain is pretty hilly and rocky. So take care not to twist an ankle and wear a good set of sturdy boots. With all the rain this spring the trails are also still soggy and sloppy in some areas. After walking in about 3 miles to the old Angleworm Lookout Tower, the dogs and I settled in for a snack on the edge of a breath taking overlook of the lake.

It was so great to finally see the woods greening back up, tiny crocuses are finally starting to push their way up through the pine duff and into the warm sunshine. I think that all the north woods creatures are just as excited as the people are! On my 6 mile walk I saw deer, wood chuck, king fishers, and even a cow moose. Still a little too early for any baby moose or deer, but they'll be here soon by the looks of their mommas.

Just a reminder, on your way out of the woods be sure to double check yourself, and dogs if you brought them, for the infamous wood tick. I've already found a couple of the creepy crawlers climbing up my pants leg! Ticks or not it was still an absolutely amazing hike and would recommend it to anyone ambitious enough to get out and go!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spirit of the Wilderness is open for the season!

The time has finally come and Spirit of the Wilderness will be open for the 2009 canoe season starting Thursday, May 7, 2009. We are looking forward to getting to see all of our returning guests from the last 10 years we have been in business. We are also looking forward to meeting all of our new guests heading up for their first time this summer.

The Minnesota Fishing opener is this Saturday, May 9, 2009. This could be considered another holiday to many that love to fish. It is the kick off to the summer. Let's hope for good weather and lots of fish.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Garden at Spirit of the Wilderness

I noticed this morning that some of the hardy perennials are poking their heads up from the ground...yarrow is one..a sign that we are starting to get warmer days. The daffodils and tulips are about 4 inches high. About the time the tulips and early daffodils bloom, the bass will become more active in the shallows and starting to nest.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

When will the ice go out?

We are just waiting to hear 5 little words this time of year ..."The ice has gone out." It's a guessing game many in Ely, Minnesota like to participate in. If you were to walk around town you would probably over hear " So, when do you think the ice will go out?" "Not sure, should be any day now."

Those of us that enjoy paddling canoes and kayaks can't wait for the open water of spring. The melting of the lake ice is a welcome sight. Sure, we might have enjoyed a little ice fishing, cross country skiing or snowmobiling on the frozen lakes, but it is an exciting time of year to know that the summer sports are just around the corner.

Some our smaller lakes have already seen the last days of ice cover until next winter. Driving around yesterday we were able to see how dark the ice is getting on many lakes. Dark ice is a sure sign that it will not be much longer before the ice is out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring is in Ely, MN !

Spring has finally arrived in Ely, MN this week. We are sitting at about 63 degrees today, Wednesday, April 15, 2009. The snow seems to be melting quickly, but not fast enough for those of us who are looking forward to getting in a little paddling. We still have some patches of snow in the trees and the shade. The lakes are still iced up at this point. It will be a bit longer before we see open water. Let's hope for some more warm weather.

It is time to start spring cleaning and time to get the Spirit of the Wilderness Shop and canoes ready for another great season to canoe and camp in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

It won't be much longer now and we will be unpacking new and exciting product for the shop. It is always fun to see the new camping gear, clothing, footwear and fishing tackle that arrives every spring.

Just a few more weeks and we will be open for the 2009 season. We look forward to seeing everyone and hearing your stories about your canoe & fishing trips this summer. It's not too late to book your Boundary Waters canoe trip. Give Spirit of the Wilderness a call at 800-950-2709 to reserve your trip.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ely Guide Company Fishing Report

Here is a fishing report from the last few days:

I made it out fishing the last few days enjoying some sunshine and warm weather at times. I was able to fish with an old buddy of mine from the twin cities Mike R.

Saturday the 28th of March: We went out on one of my favorite pan fish lakes and found our selves fishing in our tee shirts. We managed to catch some small crappies and blue gills that we decided to let go. We were using small Northland Gipsy Jigs with wax worms and crappie minnows fishing in about 10-15 feet of water on some weed lines. There was about 20 to 24 inches of ice. Remember to use caution this time of year on the ice; there are spots that are not safe. Current areas and sun beaten shorelines are opening up.

Sunday the 29th of March: With only a couple of days left in the trout season Mike and I decided to go after some lake trout. My friend Mike had never caught a lake trout. I explained to him that lake trout can be challenging at times and not to expect a whole lot of action. We went out on Burntside Lake and searched for some Lakers. We fished with out success in three different spots for about six hours. We were using tip ups with ciscos, and we were jigging with spoons.

Monday the 30th of March: After spending a day out on Burntside with no success I had to go out again. I wanted to end the season on a positive note. I went out on Burntside again with a friend from town. We had some action immediately with a couple hits. I was using a big spoon with half a piece of cisco. I decided to change to something smaller, so I went with an orange Rapala Jigging Rap. As soon as I let my lure to the bottom I had a fish on. I iced one Laker about 3-4lbs and dropped my jig back down and immediately caught a second fish about the same size. This was the fastest I had caught two Lake Trout thru the Ice! We were using Rapala Jigging Raps and tip ups with ciscos. We were fishing from 35 to 50 feet of water. There was approximately 24 inches of ice. We used a snowmobile to get around. Again we enjoyed the sunshine for a few hours until the clouds came in and it cooled down a bit. We managed to catch three lake trout which were a perfect eating size!

Tuesday the 31st of March: Decided to hit a crappie spot on the last day of March. I thought with the snow storm approaching the slab crappies would be hitting. With the high winds and colder temps I brought along my fish house to stay warm. I’m glad we did! It was challenging just to get the portable fish house from blowing away. With the lack of snow on the ice there was nothing to anchor the house. Well we managed to catch a few crappies in the morning enough for a good meal, and then call it a day. We were fishing in 25-30 feet catching the crappies about half way down. We used small jigs with crappie minnows.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Welcome to Spirit of the Wilderness News

Welcome to the Spirit of the Wilderness News blog. We hope to keep you updated on what's going on in the BWCA and around Spirit of the Wilderness Outfitters. We plan to updated with fishing reports, BWCA & Quetico trip stories, and more.

We are looking forward to the arrival of spring. With a few more inches of snow the last few days it seems like it might be a bit longer before we can start paddling across open water.