Two weeks after I met Merlyn Carter, he was tying my 17-foot Old Town Royalex Tripper to a float on his De Havilland Single Otter bush plane. A year later he was my best friend. Our friendship continued unabated for 30 years until he lost a battle and his life to an unprovoked and predatory assault by a bear on the shores of Nonacho Lake, Northwest Territories.
I know most of my blog readers are canoeists. At first glance, you may not be interested in an aviator. But Merlyn’s life is a story every wilderness traveler, every adventurer, every dreamer needs to read.
The hard cover, library edition of Merlyn Carter Bush Pilot is finally complete and published. Researching, writing and finding a publisher for this book was a four-year journey. I traveled the Northwest Territories, Northern Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Toronto, Washington DC and everywhere in between to do research, … Continue reading
I am dating myself, but I grew up humming John Denver’s song Calypso and huddled around the TV when one of the Jacque Cousteau SCUBA specials came on. Diving amongst coral reefs surrounded by resplendent fish of every color and shape it was a dream. I did get my SCUBA cert in 1970 but it was a long time before I ever had the opportunity to dive in tropical waters. This past winter I spent almost two months in the Caribbean. I was with Sue Plankis who had never dived. We decided to both get certified, so did a lot of research and checked out dive shops in Costa Rica, Cozumel and Roatan to find the best place to be trained.
We found it. And it is available for you.
It is an incredible maze of cabins, decks, pools, fountains, and artwork, right on the Continue reading
Back in Minnesota after almost four months of travel and adventure in Central and South America. I love long days and it was such a pleasure to be in Futaleufu, Patagonia on New Year’s Eve and watch the sun finally go down at 9:30 pm.
A big objective of my travels was to put together some commercial trip options for the winter of 2018-19 so that my blog readers, friends, and past crews can join me on some most remarkable adventures. My mind is now full of great ideas and a few warnings. I met some terrific outfitters that I will recommend in future blogs. Outfitters with whom my involvement would not help you, and you would be better to just cut me out of the equation. I did some other trips that were just not exciting enough, safe enough or reasonably priced enough for me to have anything further … Continue reading
In Chile now, but taking a moment to reflect on a great couple months in Central America. A big reason I travel in winter is to discover new paddling destinations for my canoeing crews of year’s past. Last winter I was on a mission to check out the Zambezi. Many friends were interested in joining me, after I had smoothed out the details, on a future expedition down that iconic African river. That will not happen. My reconnaissance was a death-defying experience. Although I will not stop friends from paddling the Zambezi, I won’t choose to accompany them and I will recommend they make sure all their final arrangements are in order in case they are returned home zipped up in a bag. For me, it was a harrowing 6-day trip, but one of my life’s greatest adventures. One and done, and the Zambezi is not something I want to … Continue reading
A blog post will be coming soon about paddling adventures in Central America. Especially a week-long sea kayak trip I made on Costa Rica’s Osa’s Golfo Dulce. Yes, I did cross over to the dark side and pick up a double-bladed paddle and sit in a kayak for many miles. Here’s my take. Canoes will always be my first love and canoes are the way to travel on river trips, and canoes are the only boat that makes sense canoe camping in the BWCA and Quetico. But out on open water? On sounds and the Great Lakes and on the open ocean? Sea kayaks (or sailboats) make the most sense.
Yesterday, I completed a 2-day whitewater rafting trip on the Pacuare River. For class … Continue reading
It’s as if I’ve been living in the stomach of a whale. Burps from sea grass, salty spitting spray, the throb of the ocean’s surging surf. Just 22 feet from the Caribbean, my Honduran cabin on Turtle Beach was a great place to spend three weeks.
I love the water – the rivers of the arctic, the lakes of the boundary waters, canyon rivers surrounded by deserts, tropical rivers carving through the jungle, and coral reefs. That last one spurred me to travel to Roatan Island. Maybe I could lead groups, not as a dive master, but more as a coordinator? I would love to share my passion for exploring coral reefs with my canoeing expedition crews.
My SCUBA certification was earned back in 1970. It was time for a diving tune-up. I took PADI open-water course from Clearwater Adventures conveniently located just three rods from my cabin. Denisse Mazu, … Continue reading
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
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
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE SPRING 2017 BOUNDARY WATERS JOURNAL REPRINTED HERE WITH PERMISSION OF STU OSTHOFF BWJ PUBLISHER
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
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