Map Mondays – Week 3 – Crab Lake/Cummings Lake to Big Lake

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Let’s Break the Ice on a BWCA November Canoe Trip!

By Riley Smith | November 18, 2022

  It’s been snowing all week here in Ely which points to a winter season fast approaching. In the meantime, this is one of the more challenging seasons for wilderness travel with many big lakes still open, smaller lakes starting to freeze, and trails and forests covered in fresh, wet snow. To the majority of…

Map Mondays – Week 8 – South Kawishiwi to Moose Lake

By Riley Smith | August 28, 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: 51 milesNights: 4Paddle Distance: 46.7 milesPortage Distance: 4.4 miles Day 1: Miles: 9.4Target Campsite: Kawishiwi River…

Six Rules for BWCAW Portage Etiquette

By Riley Smith | May 15, 2024

If you are new to wilderness canoe camping, especially in a heavily used wilderness area like the BWCAW, then the group traffic at some of the busier portages in Canoe Country may come as a shock. Here are six [written and unwritten] rules you should apply the next time you portage on a well-congested portage trail.…

A Bird’s Eye of the BW – Telling the Story from Above

By Riley Smith | April 13, 2023

It started as a funny game of sorts. As I was scrolling past google satellite imagery dreaming of future canoe country routes and trip plans, I would begin noticing the occasional canoe group on the photos. I soon began looking for them. It was a game of “I spy,” picking out small floating canoes and…

Map Mondays – Week 10 – Angleworm to Wood

By Riley Smith | September 11, 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: 45.5 milesNights: 5Paddle Distance: 36.7 milesPortage Distance: 8.7 miles Day 1: Miles: 7.6Target Campsite: Thunder LakeDescription:…

Echoes of ’93 – Managing a Complicated Wilderness

By Riley Smith | February 3, 2023

“There is currently too much visitor use in some areas of the BWCAW on some days. Excessive use results in the following impacts: Off-site camping on non-designated sites which impacts vegetation, soils, and heritage resources. Some designated campsites and portages are too heavily impacted based upon our LAC inventory data. Approximately 85% of all existing…

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…

How to Name Over 1000 Different Lakes: Part 2

By Riley Smith | October 27, 2023

Last year, we published an article about Boundary Waters lake names, their inspirations, their backgrounds, and which themes and names are common or often repeated. Among 1100 different lakes in the BWCAW alone, there are quite a variety of names! In this sequel article, we are visiting the BWCAW, Quetico, and Voyageurs National Park to…

Overnight to Dorothy’s – A Trip Report

By Riley Smith | August 23, 2022

  I will admit that sadly I never met Dorothy Molter. When I took my first Boundary Waters trip, she had already been gone for 17 years. And yet, like many of us who have only enjoyed the stories, she remains a revered figure in our local history. And it’s the same for so many…

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…

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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