10 Steps in Planning an October Canoe Trip to the BWCA

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How to Chase the Northern Lights – A Short Story

By Riley Smith | March 28, 2023

Article writing can be a process for me. I usually have five or six partial articles in the queue and sometimes take long breaks from one before coming back to it again. Sometimes there are complicated graphics or illustrations to put together or lots of research to be done. Very rarely is an article reactionary…

Map Mondays – Week 7 – Larch Creek to Brule Lake

By Riley Smith | August 21, 2023

As part of our continuing series on the “route planning game,” we are creating routes using randomly selected entry points, exit points, and number of days to create unique and fun BWCA routes. Let’s check it out! Total Mileage: 52.5 milesNights: 6Paddle Distance: 42.8 milesPortage Distance: 9.7 miles Day 1: Miles: 13.6Target Campsite: Saganaga Lake,…

The Ten Types of BWCA Campsite

By Riley Smith | November 30, 2022

Every traveler to the BWCA has their ideal of what a campsite should look like and what features it should have. Perhaps it has a sprawling camp kitchen or a nice overlook. Perhaps it’s perched on an island or alongside a sprawling beach. But whether the campsite is easy to access or is tucked back…

The Annual Border Challenges – A BeaV Perspective

By Riley Smith | August 25, 2023

We are a week away from the annual Minnesota Border Route Canoe Challenges hosted by The Water Tribe. Each year, a small-yet-dedicated crew set off from Sha Sha Resort near International Falls, from Crane Lake or Little Indian Sioux on the western edge of the BWCA, or from Moose Lake off the Fernberg with the…

In the Context of Wilderness

By Riley Smith | September 7, 2023

Earlier this week, September 3rd, was the 59th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act which established the BWCAW and 53 other areas as newly defined wilderness. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has since gone on to become one of the most well-known and widely-beloved wilderness areas in the country. In examining the BWCAW today,…

A Few Tips for Faster Portaging

By mlarson | June 3, 2019

“Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy,” said Bill Mason, the legendary Canadian paddler and environmentalist, in his 1984 film Waterwalker.  While there’s a gritty sense of satisfaction in carrying your entire camp over rocks, roots, and trees, for most paddlers portages are something to be completed rather than savored. And…

The Lost BWCA Entry Points

By Riley Smith | November 4, 2022

The Boundary Waters have always been steeped in discussions of how to manage the number of people who visit it. Unlike western wildernesses, there is no natural filter which prevents large numbers of visitors from enjoying it. Many wilderness areas are remote, buffered by dozens of miles of existing land that one must travel through…

Footsteps of the Past – Tracing Minnesota’s Historic Portages

By Riley Smith | July 14, 2023

. In 1992, a report was concluded as portages of historical significance were surveyed in order to be included in a bid for the National Register of Historic Places. As part of this survey, archeologists looked for signs of the past and recorded the conditions of the trails and how time had changed them. The results were varied. Some trails had vanished completely or become so overgrown that they were nearly impossible to follow. In a few places in Minnesota though, there are still opportunities to trod in the tread of voyageurs and native peoples alike with a canoe on your shoulders and a sense of adventure in your heart. The spirit of the portage is still very much alive in the land of 10,000 lakes. Here are some of the most historic portages in the state.

Map Mondays – Week 9 – Trout to Moose River South

By Riley Smith | August 30, 2023

As part of our continuing series on the “route planning game,” we are creating routes using randomly selected entry points, exit points, and number of days to create unique and fun BWCA routes. This route highlights a route across the rugged western section of the BWCA. Check it out: Total Mileage: 35.2 milesNights: 5Paddle Distance:…

The Evolving Food Pack – How Gear Improves Over Time

By Riley Smith | March 6, 2023

Every spring as outfitters begin gearing up for the busy summer season ahead, production begins to turn from winter dogsports back to portage packs. Alongside the new gear, a reunion of sorts takes place as old packs come back to us through the fall and into the spring as outfitters send in old gear for…

Author Bio:

Riley Smith

Riley is the Director of Community Engagement and Public Relations for Portage North and Sundog Sport. He comes from a background in wilderness programing and environmental education with four years of BWCA outfitting and guiding before taking this role. In his free time, he can be found out canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing, capturing photography, and writing.

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