How to Hike the BWCA this Fall

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How to Plan a BWCA Route: The Treebear Way

By Riley Smith | July 12, 2022

Amidst guiding, outfitting, and plenty of personal trips in between, I have been blessed to “cross the line” into the BWCA 88 different times. I look back at all those incredible memories and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Boundary Waters still has plenty of surprises in store and so many more…

10 Lost Routes in the BWCA

By Riley Smith | February 22, 2023

Warm weather in February is a dangerous thing. If it’s too warm, the mind starts wandering ahead to summer canoe adventures. Warm weather only intensifies the time spent pouring over maps both in remembering treasured trips past and scheming the ones to come. And for me, one of the things I’m looking for on the…

What’s Old is New Again on Chapman St. – Ely, MN

By Riley Smith | May 25, 2022

Summer is nearly upon us and the streets of Ely are bustling with canoeists, campers, and fishermen eager to enjoy their trips to the BWCA. Hopefully we’ll talk with many of them at Portage North and Sundog Sports in our new and improved retail space which we look to reopen sometime this June. And as…

The Magic of a Winter Wilderness

By Riley Smith | January 25, 2023

The Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota are special. There’s no denying that. Every year, hundreds of thousands flock to this northern wilderness area to experience a landscape where canoes outnumber the cars and a wild landscape is, in some ways, locked in time. But every winter as the canoes are tucked away, the summer tents…

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…

2022 Border Challenges

By Riley Smith | September 2, 2022

  Everywhere one walks and paddles in the BWCA there is a unique connection with the past. Every lake, every portage is filled with stories of legendary figures and lives lived. And through those stories come the marvelous tales of adventure and achievement born of adversity and hardship amidst the beauty. This coming week, a…

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…

The Tail of the Thunderbox

By Riley Smith | November 7, 2023

A few weeks back, we delved into the story of the BWCAW fire grates. No story of the BWCAW campsites would be complete, however, without the other ever-present campsite feature. The feature goes by many names: the latrine, the throne, the BIFF, the privvy, the facilities, and so many others depending on your group. Just…

A Week in January – A Winter Trip Report

By Riley Smith | February 7, 2023

  The week we had looked forward to had come around again: the Week of Winter annual BWCA trip. This tradition is relatively new, last year was our first, but it seems poised to be a trip that continues annually. January is a fascinating time to take a week long BWCA trip both because winter…

Gear Features: We’ve got your back(straps)!

By Riley Smith | August 2, 2022

  At Portage North and Sundog Sport, we sell gear that we would want to use and that we can trust. In that pursuit, we are constantly improving our gear so that it can be more enjoyable to use, more trustworthy, and easier to make to a high standard. Much has changed since Portage North…

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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