north of the sixtieth parallel

I just completed my 28th canoe trip north of the sixtieth parallel. This one was an exploratory expedition on the Kelly River. The Kelly is a rarely paddled river in the pristine Noatak watershed in northwest Alaska. The entire run is north of the Arctic Circle. It is known for gin clear water, extraordinary fishing for Dollie Varden char and when the salmon are running one of the highest density of fishing grizzly bears in the world. I had a crew of eight all of whom were veterans of previous far north, or Rio Grande trips with me. Each had special talents and they all blended well. I teased them that they comprised a team of bad ass paddlers which wasn’t far from the truth.

They deserved better weather and river conditions than they got.

The word from those that know the Noatak Valley is, one day of rain in … Continue reading

Isle Royale National Park Canoe Trip

Here I am, standing on Ryan Island which is the largest island on Siskiwit Lake, which is the largest lake on Isle Royale, which is the largest island on Lake Superior, which is the largest lake on the “island” called North America.

Isle Royale National Park (interior lakes) is a fun canoe trip, long easy portages, great wild flowers, good animal sightings – 3 moose, many beaver, otters, turtles laying eggs, swans, loons, eagles. Continue reading

Naked and Safe


Today, camped beside the Rio Grande in the depths of Bouquillas Canyon, I am only a stone’s toss from Mexico. Although I could not be much further from the BWCAW and still be in the United States, I am feeling the same solitude and safety that I experience in the boundary water’s wilderness so far to the north. What I crave and what I search for and find in wild places around the globe is the same. It is safety. In the city, suburbs, even when surrounded by cows or acres of corn in the countryside, I feel crowded, off-kilter, and as if I do not belong. In wilderness, wherever the lure of adventure draws me, I feel my inner source, my true calling. Only the climate, landscape, vegetation and wildlife changes. … Continue reading

Fishing Season is Upon Us, get the LEAD out. Do You Enjoy Loons? How About Swans?

The following was written by  Carpenter Nature Center Education Intern Annabelle Barr

Lead sinkers are commonplace and traditional in fishing, but research over the past couple decades has revealed that lead tackle has devastating effects on wildlife. Waterbirds, especially loons and swans, have taken the hardest hit from these poisonous sinkers. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency references two long-term studies that found that lead poisoning was the cause of death in about 25% of adult loons. Another study from Canada in 1998 reported that 23% of loons died from lead poisoning, and that 125 to 187 million lead sinkers are left in Canadian waters annually. These waterbirds often ingest the sinkers when swallowing small pebbles to help grind their food, and after ingesting the lead, the bird will show physical and behavioral symptoms that impair its ability to fly and make it more vulnerable to predators. The birds often die … Continue reading

Come join me…

The Great American Canoe Festival
Ely, MN
JUNE 10-11, 2017

The third annual Boundary Waters Expo
Seagull Lake public landing on the Gunflint Trail
June 17-18th, 2017

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