Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Canoe Trip Photojournal, July 2011

Steve and Nancy recently took time out to get a canoe trip in. The weather here has been beautiful and the water is perfect for swimming. I don't know why they call these the dog days, they feel like paradise!

All shot a site on the east end of Loon Bay were the Heritage Creek flows into Lac La Croix. Cool temps over night resulted in fog over the warm lake but the day soon warmed up to the mid 80's with few clouds.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Boundary Waters Techniques: How to Lift a Canoe and Pack

Doing things properly in the wilderness can prevent accident and injury.  Proper instruction before your canoe trips is a responsibility we take seriously.  These basics are part of what our Outfitting Staff will cover with you when you arrive to begin your Boundary Waters Trip, but we know that some of you would like to get a head start on things from home.  Watch and enjoy.  Any questions, call or email us.  Stuff that works (when done properly) brought to you by Your Friends in the Great Northwoods.

Thanks to Zane who worked on this video as part of his internship program and thanks to Adam as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green Fire Film about Aldo Leopold shown in Ely tomorrow night.

July 21, 2011 7:00 pm in Ely, MN
Vermilion Community College Theater

"Green Fire" will be shown to an audience in Ely, MN. Curt Meine will be at the screening. Admission is free. The theater seats 190 people.

Vermilion Community College Theater
1900 East Camp Street
Ely, MN 55731
• Phone: 218-365-2618
The first full-length, high-definition documentary film ever made about legendary environmentalist Aldo Leopold, Green Fire highlights Leopold’s extraordinary career, tracing how he shaped and influenced the modern environmental movement. Leopold remains relevant today, inspiring projects all over the country that connect people and land.

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”
- Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949 

The impact of his own gunshot from a rimrock in Arizona changed Aldo Leopold’s own thinking, leading to the key insight that was the culmination of his life’s work: a responsibility for its health. Join us as we trace Leopold’s personal journey and follow the threads that connect to his legacy today.

The Green Fire Film Project

Green Fire was produced in partnership between the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Center for Humans and Nature, and the US Forest Service. The film provocatively examines Leopold’s thinking, renewing his idea of a land ethic for a population facing 21st century ecological challenges. Leopold's biographer, conservation biologist Dr. Curt Meine, serves as the film's on-screen guide.

Green Fire describes the formation of Leopold’s idea, exploring how it changed one man and later permeated through all arenas of conservation. The film draws on Leopold’s life and experiences to provide context and validity, then explores the deep impact of his thinking on conservation projects around the world today. Through these examples, the film challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship with the land community.

The high-definition film will utilize photographs, correspondence, manuscripts and other archival documents from the voluminous Aldo Leopold Archives as well as historical film and contemporary full-color footage on location, including landscapes that influenced Leopold and that he in turn influenced.

The film also features commentary and insight from some of today’s most recognized and credible scholars and conservation leaders, including: three of Aldo Leopold’s children—Nina, Carl, and Estella, Leopold scholars, noted environmental writers, scientists, humanities experts, public policy leaders, business leaders,; and leaders of non-profit groups inspired by Leopold.

Aldo Leopold Foundation
PO Box 77
Baraboo, WI 53913

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smoke in the Ely Area NOT FROM BWCAW

Smoke in the air is NOT from Boundary Waters:


Most of the Ely area as well as other parts of Northeastern MN are experiencing a strong smoke smell from Canadian fires. The majority of the fires in Canada are being managed by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) Districts Red Lake and Sioux Lookout districts. These districts combined, have a total of 76 fires involving 654224 acres. Most of these fires are lightning caused and will be managed by the OMNR. The inversion this morning is causing the smoke to stay in the area. Increased wind speeds and lower humidity, will decrease the smell of smoke to the area. 

Tracy Richards,
Visitor Information Specialist
Superior National Forest
Kawishiwi Ranger District

Boundary Waters Bear Watch Update 07 19 2011

Well, no "official" word on bear sightings in the BWCAW but some of our customers have kept us updated as they travel the wilderness by canoe.  They were kind enough to share where they (and apparently others) have seen bears on trail.


Thanks once again to the crew at Piragis.  Everything went well as usual.

Wanted to let you know we had a bear in camp 2 mornings while we were on Malberg.  The next camp down had issues as well the bear had been in that camp site at least 5 times (per the note that was left).  Thought someone might want a heads up!

Steve Banet


We picked up permit from you last Monday 7/11 -- just FYI, we camped one night at the Eastern most campsite ON the Horse portage,  just below the 3rd drop (?) of upper Basswood Falls.  We had a bear visit us twice; once in evening, and clearly this wasn't her first campsite tour!  We shagged her away, but she was in no hurry to leave, and paused to investigate tent and canoe on way out.  Then in the a.m. she returned, and we shagged her away again - however - she was a bit more assertive.  Needless to say, we skipped breakfast and headed west!

Also, I'm sure you know by now, there are signs up at West end of Wheelbarrow portage indicating "No camping:  aggressive bear in area".  I thought this might be helpful for folks to know.

Happy summer!
Jenny & Beth from Grand Rapids, MN

Monday, July 18, 2011

Quetico Fishing Pictures

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after.”
 Henry David Thoreau

That may be true.  It is also true that many men and women go fishing all their lives and never catch the size of fish you'll find in the Boundary Waters and Quetico wilderness waters.  For some of our outfitting trip clients, fishing is (need we say more) a passion.

Fishing certainly is a fun part of the canoe trip experience.  Whether you practice catch and release or catch and eat, it has rewards that other sports do not.  Fishing on your own can be a great time for reflection, relaxation and rendezvous with nature.  Fishing with a friend combines all those and more.  I've fished for hours with my friends and we've barely said a word.  Those unsaid words spoke volumes.  I've gone fishing on Father's Day with my Dad and treasured every piece of conversation we shared.  I call those days the "no-limit" days.

Catching up with old friends in a canoe that I've not spent time with since high school is something I'll never forget.  The catching those days didn't depend on whether the fish were biting or if they weren't.

"There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind." ~Washington Irving

"I love fishing.  You put that line in the water and you don't know what's on the other end.  Your imagination is under there."  ~Robert Altman

"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land.  It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn."  ~Chuck Clark

"Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali.  He was using a dotted line.  He caught every other fish."  ~Steven Wright

As promised, here are a couple pics from Brent and my most recent Quetico Adventures!  I’ve got many, many pics – however, these are some good ones with really nice sized fish!  The almost 30” lake trout is my biggest to date!  Brent caught his biggest walleye and pike, and we both caught 20 inch smallmouth up and down Wicksteed’s bays.  Great fishing this spring!

Cheri Henderson

Morning Fog on Glacier Lake
Cheri with 29" Lake Trout on Argo Lake

Brent with 20" Smallmouth on Wicksteed Lake

Cheri with 19" Smallmouth on Crooked Lake

Brent with 26" Lake Trout on Argo Lake

Moose on Darky River

Brent with 39" Pike on Wicksteed Lake

Brent with 25 inch (plus) walleye on Crooked Lake

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good Bye for now from Bert Heep

Dear Fellow Paddlers,

As we go through life we all experience watersheds along the way.  We graduate from high school, perhaps we graduate from college, we get our first major job, most of us get married, we have our first child, the kids grow up and we adjust to the “empty nest”, we become grandparents, and eventually we choose to “retire”.

Well, after 16 years here at Piragis Northwoods I have reached that watershed they call retirement.  I will be 67 years old this coming October and Diane and I want to have more time to paddle our canoe, travel in our Airstream, and spend time with our kids and grandchildren.
I have to say that of all of the jobs I have had in my adult life, working here at PNC in the Outfitting Department has been the best job I have ever had.  Over the years I have gotten paid to talk about what I enjoy the most - paddling a canoe.  Helping people plan a canoe trip, whether it is their first or twentieth has been a dream job.  The crew here at PNC has been top-notch and to work with them has been a privilege.

One of the things I have enjoyed most over the years is establishing a relationship with people who return year after year.   I will certainly miss that part of not working.  Of course, many of you have graciously extended invitations to visit if Diane and I happen to be traveling near your home.  The way I figure it out, Diane and I could get into our Airstream and visit friends from one end of the country to the next. So, don’t be surprised if some day you get a call asking if you have room for an Airstream in your driveway. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for enriching my life over the past years.   Your friendship, your thoughtfulness, and your loyalty to Piragis Northwoods will never be forgotten.
Several of you, upon hearing of my retirement, have graciously said, "What will Piragis do without you?"  Rest assured that everything will be just as good if not better.  Drew and Adam will not miss a beat and will continue to provide you with the best service and best gear available.

I look forward to the “freedom” of retirement.  My plate will be full, but I am grateful for good health, family and friends, and the blessing of living in a place like Ely.  I would love to hear from any of you who desire to keep in touch.  My personal email is
So, farewell friends, I raise my paddle to all of you.  Thanks for all the good memories. Perhaps we will run into each other on a portage or on the water.  You may not even recognize me as you say, "Who was that old man portaging that canoe?  He sure looked familiar."

Bert Heep

P.S. I will be doing a few phone shifts each week at the store to help out during the summer.   So, maybe we will talk again.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Boundary Waters, It's all in the way you see it.

When my son Simon was not yet two, we were driving by my work, here at Piragis, on a Saturday.  He kept pointing out the window saying, "Hat, hat" over and over again.  I didn't see any hats anywhere.  I'm not one to let things go, so that bounced around in my pea brain for quite a while.  What the heck was he talking about?  I even looked around on Monday to see if he'd lost a hat on the ground, or if he'd somehow spotted one in the grass by the canoe and kayak warehouse.

Nothing doin.

I know this is almost taboo, considering where I work and our love for everything lightweight, especially kevlar canoes, but at home I have an alumacraft canoe.  I still have it and use it for a variety of reasons.  The first and foremost is that it was our wedding present from my Mom and Dad.  One side has my name in those reflective license stickers, "TIM" and the other has my wife's "JEN".  Even though my back doesn't feel like it did in my twenties, I can still pop that 65 pounder up on my shoulders.  We've had a lot of fun times in that canoe.  Day trips and fishing trips and exploration paddles.  Kids and dogs all in piles on the floor.  :)  I've never taken it on a canoe trip and I won't.  I'm sentimental, not silly.  I'd rather pack along 20 extra lbs of food and luxury gear and borrow a Wenonah Champlain from work.

Anyway, we were going somewhere paddling together and I popped our canoe up on my shoulders and headed for the car.  Simon began shouting "Hat, hat, hat daddy." And suddenly it sank in.  Right through my thick skull.  Canoe.  Hat.  He knew you wore a hat on your head and he was used to seeing people around Ely carrying canoes up (on their heads).  He thought they were big hats.  Big yellow (or in this case, silver) hats.

It's all in the way you see it.  Wilderness is not for everyone, but it sure is wonderful for those of us who love it.  Keep your HATS ON!