Category Archives: Inspiration

Paddlesongs: How one country songwriter married his love of music and canoeing

Paddlesongs: How one country songwriter married his love of music and canoeing

In 1994, Nashville singer-songwriter Jerry Vandiver, whose song “It Doesn’t Get Any Countrier Than This” had just been recorded by Tim McGraw, portaged a behemoth of an aluminum canoe across a rocky and root-filled portage. He was no stranger to paddling; he’d moved that canoe from his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri, to Nashville when he set out to see if he could make it in the country music business. But this was his first trip to Quetico Provincial Park, and lugging that canoe over such a challenging portage inspired himContinue Reading

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters: The family behind the legacy

There is an outfitter at the end of the Sawbill Trail where customers and staff return year after year, a network of people connected to the place and the family at its center. The Hansens, and now the Shirleys, have been running Sawbill Canoe Outfitters since 1957, where annual traditions, lifelong friendships and marriages have been born.
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Plugged In

Plugged In

Dave and Amy Freeman spent a year in the Boundary Waters, using social media to inspire others to protect the wilderness.Continue Reading

Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

Morning Light – A Canoe Built by Campers at Ogiche Daa Kwe

There is something delicate about the look of a skin-on frame canoe. In the sunlight, the wooden frame shows through its skin, as do the shadows of paddlers. Looking down into the boat, the line where water meets air is visible. Yet it is a seaworthy craft, light enough for the youngest and oldest of paddlers to carry, and, at girls’ wilderness camp Ogiche Daa Kwe, a perfect metaphor for community. Last summer, campers and staff at the Rainy Lake camp built a 17.5-foot wilderness traveler skin-on frame canoe. Continue Reading

Voyageurs—A Must Visit National Park

Voyageurs—A Must Visit National Park

The National Park of Minnesota’s north woods celebrates the Park Service’s Centennial. One hundred years ago this August 25th, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the National Park Service. For the century since, the agency has managed an ever-growing roster of places deemed worthy of perpetual protection. There are mountains and deserts, coasts and ocean,…

Something in the Water Bent Paddle Brewing

Something in the Water

Bent Paddle Brewing of Duluth joins the call to protect the planet’s most precious resource. By Greg Seitz The water of Lake Superior is famous for its beauty, depth, cold, and power. It is also gaining a reputation for making great beer. It is pure and pristine, perfect for brewing. The owners of Bent Paddle…

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

Wild Minds: Scientists Study the Boundary Waters Brain

by Greg Seitz Does your brain work better in the Boundary Waters? Paddlers have been pondering the profound psychological shifts that take place in the wilderness for as long as humans have been seeking refuge there from the hectic modern world. Now, a researcher from Nebraska has shown that creativity and other cognitive abilities skyrocket…

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Thoughts From Our Readers

Why Do We Return to Wilderness? Thoughts From Our Readers

  “On my early trips it used to take several days for the wilderness to “sink in”; now I find myself immersed almost immediately. I think it is because it is now a comfortable place for me. In my memories I can’t capture this feeling, contentment, and peace of mind. I can’t even describe it.…

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

Sigurd Olson’s Legacy Returns Home

By Greg Seitz The soul of Sigurd and Elizabeth Olson lives on at their home in Ely. The soul smells of fresh-baked cookies in the kitchen. In the writing shack on the property, it smells of cedar. It sounds like a breeze rustling the tall red pines Sig planted as seedlings, of croaking ravens and…

Paddling on Route 66

Paddling on Route 66

by Larry Christianson Paddling season arrived for me with great personal meaning as this is the time where I planned to catch up to my age in the sense of arriving in autumn at boundary waters canoe trip number 66 at age 66. A long-term goal that has been lurking out there on my life…

Photo Round-Up: Fall Beauty In The Quetico-Superior Region

Photo Round-Up: Fall Beauty In The Quetico-Superior Region

Get inspired by canoe country autumn splendor in these photos recently shared on social media sites. The leaves are blazing in canoe country, sunsets are spectacular, solitude is abundant. Here is a collection of photos from social media we’ve curated to celebrate this beautiful bonanza, and perhaps inspire one more canoe trip this fall:Continue Reading

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

Fostering Growth and Sparking Curiosity in Youth

By Adam Maxwell During the summer of 2013, I spent my time leading wilderness trips for Camp Lincoln in Brainerd, Minnesota. Camp Lincoln is one of the oldest traditional summer camps in Minnesota. It hosts over four hundred campers each season, with campers generally staying at camp for a four week session. Some of the…

Longtime Sawbill Resident and Wilderness Advocate Bill Hansen YouTubes Two Lynx

Bill Hansen, whose parents began Sawbill Canoe Outfitters in 1957 and who has built his outfitting business into one of the most respected in the BWCAW, had the pleasure of spotting two conversing lynx last week while driving down the Sawbill Trail. Lynx are seclusive but iconic predators of the boreal forest and rarely seen…

Local Musher Wins Beargrease

Nathan Schroeder from Chisholm, MN won the nearly 400 mile sled dog marathon which started Sunday, March 10, and ended Wednesday, March 13. This is the second John Beargrease victory for Schroeder who also won in 2010. It was the 29th running of the event on Minnesota’s north shore. Complete results and videos of the…

20,000 Plan to Attend Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin

March 8-10 are the dates for one of the world’s biggest paddlesport shows, Rutabaga’s Canoecopia. Hundreds of vendors and dozens of presenters converge on the Alliant Energy Center and for three days to entertain, teach and sell, the virtues, skills, history and gear of canoeists and kayakers. From bear-proofing a campsite to the life and…

Minnesota Moose Population Drops by a Third in One Year

According to Saint Cloud Times reporter Glenn Schmitt, MN DNR aerial survey results last month indicate a 35 percent drop in the northeast Minnesota moose population from the previous year and a 52 percent decline from 2010. The current estimate of the moose population is 2,760 animals down from 4,320 animals in 2012. Although DNR…

Submit Your Favorite Boundary Waters Story to the BWCA Reader

Barry Johnson has canoed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for 24 years. That’s 24 years of portaging, windy lakes, buggy nights and lots of memories–essentially, 24 years of stories. Johnson was recently featured in the StarTribune because he’s commemorating those stories in a new publication, the BWCA Reader. And he wants your stories, too.…

Obama Writes Letter for Ely Time Capsule

How’s this for a little Friday fun: A time capsule being buried in Ely, MN will include a note from President Obama expressing his hope that balance can be struck between energy use and wilderness protection. According to the Pioneer Press, the handwritten note came in response to a request made in March of 2012…

Reminder: Summer BWCAW Permits Available Starting Today

Reservations for all entry points can be made on a first-come, first-served basis starting today. Reservations can be made online www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. With over 1,500 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites, and more than 1,000 lakes and streams waiting, the BWCAW draws over 250,000 visitors each year. Any group or individual making an…

John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Postponed

Lack of snow has forced organizers of the John Beargrease Sled Dog marathon to postpone the event. The event has been rescheduled for March 10. The combination of scant snowfalls this season and recent rains has made the trail unsafe for dogs and mushers. The Duluth News Tribune reports that if conditions have not improved…

It’s Time to Start Planning Summer BWCAW Trips

Varnish those paddle blades, oil the Duluth Pack straps, grease those tent zippers and scrutinize the maps. Paddlers who want to realize their summertime paddling dreams need to start planning now. In addition to tuning up the gear and planning a route, campers need to reserve their desired entry point for their desired departure date. Access…

New Sled Dog Race Comes with $25,000 Purse

A new three-day sled dog race aims to highlight northern Minnesota’s sled dog heritage next month. Racers will depart from Grand Portage on Sunday, January 6, and return on Monday January 8 after visiting Grand Marais and the Gunflint Trail. According to an article in the Duluth News Tribune, organizers wanted to unite different communities…

New Film: Sled Dogs to St. Paul

When former Minnesota State Representative Frank Moe mushed his team of sled dogs into St. Paul last winter, the runners on his sled sparked as they crossed snowless patches on the road. Moe and his team of 10 sled dogs carried 13,000 signatures on a petition against sulfide mining–they’d ridden all the way from Grand…

Replinger Honored for Bringing Girls into Outward Bound Programming

We were happy to see Jean Replinger in a slew of newspaper articles this month–during the 1960s she helped open Outward Bound to girls. More recently, as an officer of the Oberholtzer Foundation, she’s been a great help and resource for Wilderness News thanks to her dedication to the north country. An article by Karin…

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

The Wilderness Canvas: YMCA Camp Menogyn

By Fred Sproat Wilderness is many different things to many different people; it can be a grocery store or a sanctuary, a playground or a classroom. It can be all of the above or something completely different. I have made the canoe country wilderness my office by turning passion into profession and working as a…

Oberholtzer Foundation Wins Grant

The Ernest Oberholtzer Foundation recently received an Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society for restoration work at the late wilderness advocate’s Mallard Island residence.Continue Reading

Wilderness News Print Edition – Spring 2011

The Spring 2011 Issue of Wilderness News Print Edition is now online! Experience Lake Superior from a kayak, travel back in time with an early voice for the Boundary Waters, and follow urban teens-at-risk into the wilderness in canoes they built by hand.
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Book Gathers Boundary Waters Writing

A new book — The Firegrate Review: A Canoe Country Chapbook — published by the wilderness advocacy group Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, gathers the BWCA experiences of 19 writers in a collection of stories, essays, and poems.Continue Reading

Big Bill Wenstrom – Last Man Standing

Sig Olson’s readers were introduced to Big Bill Wenstrom in Open Horizons (p. 97). Sig wrote: “It was Big Bill Wenstrom who taught me how to throw on a canoe. He didn’t tell me, but I noticed the ease with which he did it, the balancing on his thighs, the short kick of the hips, the twist of the arms as the canoe went overhead…”Continue Reading

Book Review: Our Neck of the Woods

As essay collections go, Our Neck of the Woods is more of a confessional than a nature tale. Up and down the state, and via every outdoor pastime (fishing, hunting, skiing, canoeing, camping), writers confess to a love of Minnesota …Continue Reading

Painting History

In 2006, Quetico Provincial Park’s French River proved impassable by kayak—so Ken Lister crawled upriver through the slippery, overgrown underbrush. His destination? French River Rapids. Lister suspected that an oil painting by Canadian artist Paul Kane portrayed the rapids. If correct, he would disprove widely held notions about the painting’s origins, and possibly discover a new understanding of the fur trade. Continue Reading

Wilderness News Profile: Frederick Winston

In 1964, Fred Winston received an inquiry following Wilderness News’ inaugural publication: “I can see that there are many sides to Minnesota’s wilderness problem. But which side are you on? What are you trying to prove?” In his reply, Fred Winston set the tone for the Quetico Superior Foundation’s role in the ever changing wilderness debate and set an example of activism.Continue Reading

Dorothy Molter Museum Remodeled

Ely’s Dorothy Molter Museum got a $16,000 facelift recently, thanks to an $8000 grant from Minnesota Iron Range Resources, the and matching private donations. The museum that recognizes the last person to live in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area now has a remodeled interpretive center.Continue Reading

Gunflint Green Up Sprouts New Life In Forest – And Community

Hundreds of people descended upon the Gunflint Trail outside of Grand Marais last weekend to plant thousands of pine seedlings and green up the fire impacted forest. Wilderness News Online caught up with Quetico Superior Foundation board member and Gunflint Trail property owner Dyke Williams, who had the opportunity to join the annual event. Read our Q&A.Continue Reading

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