Thursday, October 28, 2010

Have you seen anyone lately?

Hey Fellow Paddlers,
Many of us like to "get away" or "get isolated" when we take our trips into the BWCA or Quetico. Of course, certain times of the paddling season are better for this such as early or late in the season. There is probably no doubt that this area of the lower 48 is one of the best places to travel if you want to see how many days you can go without seeing anyone. Interesting concept anyway.

My trip with my uncle in 2009 was a perfect example of what I am trying to talk about. You can read about that trip if you go down to the April 22, 2010 blog date. That journey we went 6 1/2 days without seeing a single person. The trip we just took in late September also got us isolated. We didn't see another paddler for about 6 days as well. There was a little asterisk to this, however. When we took a short day trip from Takucmich to La Croix, we did see a motor boat at a distance. Does that count as seeing another person? Probably, but we thought it wasn't quite the same as seeing paddlers on your lake or at portages, etc.

So, with this topic of isolation, let us know how long you have gone without seeing someone. During the summer months, it might only be a 24 hour period. But, doesn't that feel really good to know there is a chance these days to actually get away from the crowds?

We hope you'll share some of your experiences. I've had some clients tell me with bright eyes "we didn't see anyone for two days"! So, I know it is an important thing to some of you.

Enjoy the quiet!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday in Ely, Minnesota

Good Morning,

It is rainy in Ely, which is ok. October has been an incredible month, but it has been dry, so we need some moisture. We have two parties still out in the Boundary Waters, which is testimony to the kind of fall we have had. Paddling has been great. Normally our paddling season is a bit iffy in late October, but this year has rewarded us with great weather. Who knows, we might even send some folks out in early November.
For those of you who are Green Bay fans...congrats. The Vikes lost a heart breaker last night; however, it is a long season and we will see what happens. At least Drew's Chicago Bears lost as well.
Earlier this month Diane and I went over to the North Shore and camped at Tettegouche State Park. There are some wonderful hiking trails at the park. Diane and I walked a 6 mile loop one of the days and it was pretty cool.

Diane striding out with purpose. I have to really scramble to keep up with her.

We saw lots of old growth pine, maple, and birch. The roots of this white cedar were pretty cool.

A view from one of the trails high ridges.
Well...have a good day wherever you are. Be kind and walk gently through your day. We think of all of our clients throughout the year and hope you will come and visit us in Ely soon.
Bert Heep...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Airstream Trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Hi Everybody...

Earlier this month I celebrated my 66th birthday. I certainly do not feel that old, but as we all know the years keep on flying by. I enjoy my work at Piragis Northwoods so much that I plan to work for a few more years before I "RETIRE". In anticipation of that grand event Diane and I fulfilled a dream we have had for years and purchased an Airstream trailer. Our hope is to be able to travel all over our beautiful country and do some paddling along the way. We hope to visit many of you who have invited us to stop in if we are in your neck of the woods.

Normally, Diane and I take a fall canoe trip; but we were so excited about our new Airstream that we opted to take a road trip instead. So, we packed up and headed for the Keweenah Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We did not take our canoe with us on this trip, but that is the plan for future adventures.

We had 10 days and decided to take our time. Wow...what a great time and what beautiful country. For those of you who have spent any time around Lake Superior, you know that it is an incredible Lake and has a magical draw. Starting at the Porcupine Mountains we traveled up to Copper Harbor. We base camped there for a few days and drove all over and saw beautiful beaches, countless waterfalls, hiked some wonderful trails, and met some very friendly people. On the way south we toured an old copper mine in Hancock (Quincy Mine) and got acquainted with the history of copper mining. In many ways, it was the same story as the iron mines in the Ely area.

If you drive directly to Copper Harbor from Ely it is about 750 miles round trip. We ended up putting 1250 miles on the Airstream with all of the side trips and country roads. We stayed at some beautiful campgrounds, and often were the only people there. Some places were closed, but we enjoyed not having to compete with crowds of people. The weather was rain and temps were in the 50's and 60's. We loved the Airstream and enjoyed hearing people say..."Nice rig you've got there!".

So...don't be surprised if we pull up into your drive way some day soon. We hope to see as much of this beautiful land of ours as we can in the years ahead. Oh yes...Ely will always be home and we will spend lots of time paddling the BW and Quetico, but we want to expand our horizons.

I will attach a few more photos for you to enjoy. Let me know if you have been to the Keewenah. If you would like to take a trip there, let me know and I will be happy to share some of our discoveries with you.

A beautiful beach just outside of Eagle River.

Some old growth pines in an area called Estivent Pines

A section of the Sturgeon River

US route 41 starts in Copper Harbor MI and ends in Miami Fl. Diane wanted to keep on heading South.

Presque Isle State Park in the Porcupine Mountains at the end of another beautiful day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bear research and protection Ely's radio collared black bears

Lynn Rogers Speaks to Ely's Tuesday Group about Bear Research and protection of radio collared research bears during hunting season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Invititation from Steve Piragis

News from Piragis Northwoods Company and the

Hi, Steve Piragis here.

I'm writing from my desk as some of the last paddlers of the season head out into the beauty of the Boundary Waters for one last canoe camping adventure. The weather here is fantastic, there are absolutely no bugs, the fishing is hot and most of all, it is just a great time of the year to sit around a campfire after a refreshing day of paddling.

I want to go again right now. I've been taking day trips in the new Wenonah Canak. I know for a fact that I will want to go paddling in February, when it is 40 below zero here and we're skiing on top of the lakes. I will long for that campfire smoke, the whispering of the water against the rocky shoreline. I will be itching to travel in a small craft on wilderness waters.

Instead of dreaming about it, some of us are going to do something about it. My new friends in Tanzania have a motto that I'd like to share. It is worth remembering and putting into practice. "Memories are made of the things you do, not the things you wish you had done" I don't know about you, but this is the last winter I want to just wish that I was paddling. This winter, I want to get out there and paddle.

Africa holds a special place in my heart. There is something that I cannot quite put my finger on that happens when light of the sun comes crawling up the ancient rocks in the country where life began. It is illuminating in deeper ways than I've found words for. It lights you up from the inside out. Life is teeming everywhere, and yet all life, hangs on the precarious balance of water. The same water that is so near and dear to us for recreation. Laying my head down on at night on the wide expanse of the African plains, listening for the growl of Lions was eye opening to say the least. No other place on Earth that I've travelled has filled my heart and head with such appreciation of nature or love of life.

I've always wanted to blend this overwhelming sense of adventure and intrigue with paddling. As you know, this is easier said than done. Finding the perfect mix is not an easy task. Enter, Tanzania.

Most safaris in Africa are about 7-10 days and you spend all of your time in vehicles viewing animals and driving from location to location. While seeing the animals is amazing and the countryside is beautiful after a while you have the desire to get out of the vehicle and be active.

Therefore it is not uncommon, after a safari, because of the distance traveled, to extend your time in Tanzania doing something else whether it is tracking chimps, hot air ballooning, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro or some other activity. One activity that has never been offered is to kayak through lakes, rivers and calm ocean waters of Tanzania.

Having been clients themselves on safaris as well as great kayaking trips our friends in Tanzania know the concerns and expectations of those who embark on what for many is a once in a lifetime trip. Clients want to know and see that all logistics have been taken care of, that the equipment is top of the line and in first class condition, that the people are experienced and know how to make a trip fun while at the same time safe and secure.

Our guides, Steve and Teena have been in Tanzania for over 12 years and in that time have managed lodges and camps and organized top of the line custom safari trips. As clients, you will stay in beautiful lodges or luxurious camps; have the best vehicles and most qualified and personable English speaking guides.

Together, we have put together a great kayak trip. Our itinerary takes us to the most beautiful places to paddle in Tanzania. We use first class gear from the US and Australia. All of our boats, which are fiberglass, have been handmade by Steve and have been designed to provide comfort and stability. We carry radios, satellite phones, tow ropes and all other necessary gear for your comfort and safety.

Our trips are designed for all levels of kayak experience including those who have never paddled before. They will provide a sense of fun and adventure.

Check out the Trip Itinerary, Guide Bios and Photo Gallery at:

Please feel free to email me with any questions you might have about the trip or to reserve your spot today! Thank you for taking the time to read my adventurous note, and if you know of someone who may be interested in making memories in Africa, please forward it to them.

Steve Piragis, Piragis Northwoods Company.
1-800-223-6565 or my cell phone number: 218-343-3294