A Week in January – A Winter Trip Report

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Have You Read Our Other Content?

Smoke On the Horizon – How Fire Towers Changed BWCA History

By Riley Smith | July 19, 2022

A drive out from Ely today, and you won’t see many fire towers. They’ve vanished as antiquated methods of dutiful rangers past. But less people remember how those fire towers have shaped our wilderness experiences.

The Route Planning Game

By Riley Smith | June 15, 2023

“Probably the best remedy for the canoe freak is map watching. Pouring over maps can often get you through the canoeless season when nothing else can. I recommend it highly. If you coat the maps with plastic, you can even use them as tablecloths, curtains, and all sorts of things. However, no matter what you…

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.

10 Tips and Tricks for Nightime Canoe Travel

By Riley Smith | July 21, 2023

The vast majority of BWCA visitors paddle and hike during daylight hours and for good reason. It’s safer, there’s more to see, and daylight travel aligns with normal sleep cycles. Night travel, on the other hand, provides a higher risk of getting lost while paddling; it’s also easier to fall and get hurt while portaging.…

Map Mondays – Week 1 – Hog Creek to Skipper/Portage

By Riley Smith | June 26, 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 week is a big trip of nine nights from Hog Creek to Skipper/Portage. It’s certainly a big and challenging route, but…

How to Name Over 1000 Different Lakes – The BWCA

By Riley Smith | October 14, 2022

The Boundary Waters have seemingly endless lakes bearing names from Ojibwe, French, English, or English mistranslations, misspellings, or honest translations of the Ojibwe. Many have fascinating backstories of how they came by their names. Some lakes have seemingly had the same name as long as time can remember while others have switched multiple times. This…

Map Mondays – Week 6 – Duncan to Duncan

By Riley Smith | August 14, 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 week is a nice sightseeing and exploring kind of route entering at Duncan Lake east of the Gunflint Trail. Total Mileage:…

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…

A History of the Humble BWCAW Fire Grate

By Riley Smith | September 29, 2023

Across the BWCAW there are campsites big and small. Some have shallow water and sandy beaches, others sit perched high upon rocky outcroppings. Some sit close to shore while others are tucked back into the forest. Some are perfectly suited for a single tent while others could easily accommodate the maximum 9-person group and then…

Map Mondays – Week 11 – Morgan to Lake One

By Riley Smith | September 13, 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 week’s route running from one of the BWCA’s quietest entry points to one of the busiest, embraces a mentality of solitude…

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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