I leave tomorrow on a small expedition down the Noatak River north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Our route is just over 400 miles from the Gates of the Arctic National Park in the Brooks Range to the Inuit village of Noatak — almost on an estuary of the Bering Sea. We have 15 nights on the river, which will make our run one of the fastest ever recorded. Not because I like to go fast, but just to squeeze the trip in the time we have allotted. Joining me will be my niece Karen Kelley, engineer and veteran of three other arctic trips with me in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of Canada; Sue Plankis, friend, naturalist and canoeist extraordinaire; and my youngest daughter Zoe, a strong young woman with a heart of gold. That’s right, three women and me. Does that sound like a book title? I … Continue reading

Recap of the Peculiar 2013 Ice Out




The final 2013 ice out dates have been recorded for the lakes in the BWCA. For many, even those that have reliable records back over 50 years this was a record late break-up. For others, this was the latest break-up since 1950. Either way it was an extraordinary spring especially coming on the heels of 2012 which saw some of the earliest ice-free dates ever recorded. Here are some specific ice out dates this spring. Saganaga 5/19, Vermilion 5/17, Knife 5/16, Sawbill 5/15, Moose 5/14 . These dates were over two weeks later than the norm and over a month later than last spring.

With high temperature records being broken early this summer from arctic Alaska to the desert Southwest, how was it that Quetico-Superior had such a cold spring, and does this year’s spring weather refute the theory of global warming? Climatologists will be the first … Continue reading

Lake Superior’s Susie Islands

Susie_Islands_Paddle_RouteBack from Lake Superior’s Susie Islands. I had a great weekend plying these sacred and spectacular islands at the edge of the Canadian border. Four years ago as part of a centennial celebration of Quetico Provincial Park and Superior National Forest I joined eight others on a voyage in a 26-foot North Canoe from the stockade at Grand Portage to Fort William in Thunder Bay. That route passed through the Susie Islands. I was awestruck by their beauty. At that time the lake was angry with huge swells and water crashing against cliff faces (and  two of our paddlers vomiting over the gunwales as green as lima beans and smelly sick). It was not a time to linger, but I vowed that some day I would return. My good friend, Dick Pula, has trusted friends in the Grand Portage First Nation band and he secured permission this spring for … Continue reading