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Voyageur Canoe Outfitters' 2008 Spring Newsletter
Our Lives Began at the End of the Gunflint Trail
Blackstone Lake in the Quetico Park
A Luxurious Camping Trip
Paddle? We just had a baby!
4th of July Storm
New Arrival November 10, 1999

Our Lives Began at the end of the Gunflint Trail

In April of 1993 Mike and I made a trip up the Gunflint Trail which would forever change our lives. We were going to check out an ad we saw in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "Resort of a lifetime on the Gunflint Trail." We originally wanted to own a canoe outfitting business, but thought with a resort at the end of the Gunflint Trail, we could make it into a canoe outfitting business. So there we were driving up the trail with snow still in the ditches on our way to Voyageur to meet the Real Estate Agent.

Upon our arrival at Voyageur I wondered why we had just driven 6 hours to get to a muddy parking lot with three run down trailer houses and a little building with no toilet! An outhouse caught my eye and I was ready to turn around and go home to St. Cloud, Minnesota. We were greeted by an extremely large and friendly man, Don Enzenauer.

Don was wearing a blaze orange hunting cap and huge bib overalls. A very friendly man, but not what we expected for a business owner on the Gunflint Trail. Those of you who knew Don Enzenauer would know what I'm talking about. Don brought us into his "store" which was a cement block basement with a couple of shelves and an old cash register. He went on to tell us about how he started the business from scratch, first by buying the land, then the trailers, a few boats and canoes and eventually building bunkhouses across the river, and did we want to go and see them?

I wasn't very impressed with this side of the river and wasn't very eager to trudge across a supposedly "frozen river" in April, but away we went anyway. And that trip across the Seagull River is what forever changed our lives.

Wow, this place had potential. Six cute bunkhouse/cabins awaited us in a beautifully wooded area only accessible by boat or canoe, or in our case, by foot. I was impressed, Mike was ecstatic and we knew this is what we wanted.

The Realtor told us another couple was going to come and check the place out the next day. This bothered us since we negotiated on an outfitting business in Ely for over 7 months and didn't end up as the owners. But everything happens for a reason, so we needed to wait and consider our options.

Well, as luck had it, Don Enzenauer to a liking to us "kids" from central Minnesota and less than a month later we were driving up the Gunflint Trail again, but this time for good. We were now the proud owners of Voyageur Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail. Who would have guessed I would live in a little house with no indoor plumbing for 5 years? Not me. And who can believe that was almost ten years ago?

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Blackstone Lake in the Quetico Park

We started our trip to Blackstone Lake right from our dock. We were dropped off by towboat at Hook Island and headed to the Quetico Park. After checking in with the ranger and purchasing our overnight camping permits we paddled to Silver Falls. We portaged across Silver Falls, Mike carrying the canoe and a pack and Sue carrying a pack and paddles. The Silver Falls portage is a long, 125 rod, somewhat challenging, beautiful portage with awesome views so be sure to take the time to look! A swim at the end of the portage is a good reward to look forward to.

Onward we went toward our destination of Blackstone Lake. We took the creek path to get into Blackstone. It was a beautiful paddle through narrow waters and over beaver dams. We saw a cow moose and to our surprise a buck deer! This was quite rare to see a deer that far north so we took our time paddling closer to him while he was drinking from the creek. We made it into Blackstone and headed for a campsite. We chose a beautiful site and had the lake all to ourselves, what a treat!

We had a great time camping in Blackstone. We explored the other portages, tried our luck at fishing, paddled around the perimeter of the lake and relaxed at our campsite. We didn't see any other groups while camped there and this was in July! It was extremely hot during our trip, so a lot of time was spent in the water cooling off. Lying in the hammock, listening to the loons and breathing in the fresh air; the joy of a canoe camping trip.

We took the portage route out of Blackstone Lake and headed back towards Silver Falls. It was a bit more exhausting travel, but we just took more breaks. The creek route in was more of a tedious time consuming route, with pulling over beaver dams and pushing through shallow waters whereas the portage route required more endurance. We lunched on a rock and took dips to cool off after portaging. This too was a gorgeous route to paddle out of the Quetico Park.

Blackstone is a great lake to set up a base camp in and do some fishing. It usually requires a full day of travel on each end of the trip to get in and out with the use of the tow boat service. If you choose to paddle from our dock, then plan an extra half of a day for each way. If you're looking for a good 5-6 day base camp trip in the Quetico, then try out Blackstone Lake this summer.
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A Luxurious Camping Trip

There is a difference between staying in a Motel 6 and a Marriott Suites. This difference is similar to a canoe camping trip in comparison to a boat and motor trip. As avid canoers we had never taken a boat and motor camping trip up here. With Abby being only 8 months old this July, we decided we would try it, just so we could get out into the woods.

Boy, were we pleasantly surprised with our boat and motor adventure. We motored across Saganaga to the Northern Light Portage, a flat 20-rod, easy, portage. We were smart and brought a surrogate Grandma Darlene with us to help with Abby during our camping trip. She kept Abby busy while Mike and I hauled things across the portage. Luxury items such as a screened in tent, camp chairs, and even a cooler with ice! Then the necessities, motor, gas, food and other camping supplies. We managed to get it all into the boat we have stored in Northern Light Lake and shoved off for our campsite.

Mike and Darlene had fished Northern Light Lake a number of times, so they knew where we were headed, Abby and I were just along for the ride! We pulled up to a beautiful island campsite and started to make camp. The amenities we had with us would have made living at this campsite a breeze.

The campsite turned out to be magnificent. Our screened in tent housed our portable dining table and chairs, which also doubled as our card table. We could eat and relax in comfort without the bugs bothering us. Our meals were terrific, since we had ice along we could feast on great, fresh food and ice cold drinks.

Mike and I ventured off to find some fish for dinner one night while Grandma and Abby held down the fort! We were only anchored for a few minutes when the walleye started biting. We were catching fish left and right and then we heard a splash in the distance. A moose had wandered down to shore to get a bite to eat herself. We watched her and kept catching fish until our marine radio filled our ears with Abby's cries. It was time to head back to camp. We were out for less than an hour but had a great time catching fish and watching the moose.

We went exploring the big body of water one day. It was a rainy, windy, and cold day, so Abby and Grandma stayed at camp. We checked out campsites, found the pictographs and explored the lake. It was a quiet day and we hardly saw any other boats even closer to where the resort and cabins were, about a 45-minute boat ride from our campsite.

We were sad to be packing up camp on our last day. The weather was of course beautiful with the sun shining in our faces as we headed home.


Paddle? We just had a baby

As an outfitter we hear lots of reasons why people are not taking a canoe trip this year. One we hear quite often is that, "we just had a baby." Well we had a baby last November and did not want this to keep us from taking a canoe trip this season. We thought Abigail would enjoy herself and it turned out to be an awesome experience for all of us. Although taking an infant on a trip may not be for everyone there are a few things that can make the experience easier. Here are some things we did to paddle with Abby.
  • We sat her in a Rubbermaid container to keep her dry and somewhat immobile. It also allowed her to sit up with her life vest on.
  • We had her get used to wearing her lifevest around the house prior to the trip.
  • We tied toys to the side of the canoe so when she did decide to throw them overboard they were not lost forever.
  • We kept snacks and beverages handy.
  • We kept portages to a minimum and paddling time short to keep her interested.
  • We brought along extra paddlers to help out. A grandma does wonders in the middle of the canoe.
  • Use all other paddling common sense and wear hats, sunscreen, bug repellant and netting.


Voyageur Canoe Outfitters Welcome the Newest Voyageur to Their Crew!

Abigail

Voyageur Canoe Outfitters was excited back in February when they learned about the arrival of a new member to their crew. It would be a nine month wait for the little voyageur to arrive, with a scheduled arrival of October 27th. Through Sport Show Season, Spring Fishing Opener, and as any pregnant women would agree, the hottest summer ever, we anxiously waited. Some of you may have notice Sue bobbing in the water for relief, but real relief didn't come until November 10th 1999. Abigail Elaine Prom arrived at 9:55PM weighing 9 pounds 1 ounce and measuring 20.4 inches in length-a definite keeper by any means! She has been a real joy to have around and may be the cause of the late release of the newsletter! Anyway, be sure to welcome her to the crew when you see her next summer. She'll most likely be strapped into a pack on top of Mike or Sue, her very proud parents!


4th of July Storm

On July 4th 1999 a straight-line windstorm blew through the center of the BWCA downing many trees in its path. This storm is believed to be the worst in 1000 years. Many of our guests were out to witness this spectacular show of mother nature. There were no casualties an the BWCA and Voyageur and it's guests didn't even have any injuries. Some groups came off of the water in the next 24 hours not knowing if they should continue on or come back. Others had the idea they were in the wilderness and this is what it is all about and continued their voyage.

Within weeks the Forest Service crews cleared nearly all of the portages and the campsites so that the canoeists could continue to use the wilderness.

About 2/3rds of the BWCA suffered little or no damage and the Quetico was unaffected.

The windstorm is part of what the idea of what wilderness is all about and will provide some new opportunities. This may start the regeneration of the aspen-conifer forest and may benefit species such as grouse, deer, and moose. The addition of prey will also help it's predators like the timber wolf. There are also some new vista which otherwise were blocked by dense trees.

The downed, dying timber has created a more likely prospect of forest fires. To reduce the fuels outside of the BWCA the forest Service is removing it by logging, work contracts, and prescribed burns. Inside the wilderness it will be left to nature to decide.

There is always potential for fire in the BWCA. We have been here for 7 years and have experienced 2 fires. The blow down increased the fire potential therefore the Forest Service is taking steps to educate the users of the BWCA on how to help prevent forest fires as well as what to do if you are on a trip when one is burning. We may see more fire restrictions like no open fires (cook stoves only) or certain times you can have fires (6pm to midnight) when conditions get dry.

People come to the BWCA to have a wilderness experience. There are certain inherent risks taken when camping in the wilderness. Forest fires have been a part of this area for thousands of years and will be for thousands more. If you have any questions or concerns then please call us to discuss them. We look forward to hearing from you. Join us this summer to expedience the forever-changing wilderness of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Quetico bear


 

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