Rio Grande Dreams

I cannot stop thinking about the Rio Grande. It was a magical trip and I will get some photos and stories up soon. I will also talk about our trip at the Midwest Mountaineering Spring Expo. It was too late to do a program on the Rio Grande at Canoecopia but I do have a couple sessions which I am co-leading with Boundary Waters Journal publisher Stu Osthoff  about canoe camping. Despite being busy catching up with business and preparing, and being lured into the woods for some of the best Nordic skiing of the season, I often find myself back on the Rio Grande. Once again I am sprawled on the river bank listening to the swish of the sediment load and held in the grip by the spirit of the canyons….. what a privilege it was to paddle the lower canyons. What a joy to revisit the experience … Continue reading

Thanks Sue

Sue Plankis was kind enough to write a guest blog while I was off the grid and paddling the Rio Grande last week. She mentioned the bird ecology classes she is co-leading with me this spring in the Boundary Waters. Sue’s only fault is she is too modest. Spending a few days in the forest and on the lakes with her will be like drawing back a curtain on wild nature. You will see plants and animals that although you may have walked past for years, you have never really seen. But maybe even more amazing might be her insights to the sounds of the forest that you never before distinguished and the clues they will provide. Even if you have not been that interested in birdwatching before, I … Continue reading

Thanks Sue

Sue Plankis was kind enough to write a guest blog while I was off the grid and paddling the Rio Grande last week. She mentioned the bird ecology classes she is co-leading with me this spring in the Boundary Waters. Sue’s only fault is she is too modest. Spending a few days in the forest and on the lakes with her will be draw back a curtain on wild nature. You won’t believe the birds you will see and learn about. Even if you have never been that interested in birdwatching this experience will add depth to your appreciation the mazing interelationships

Spring Thoughts in Winter

Submitted by guest blogger Sue Plankis

Two winter things happened in Minnesota this week that made me think of spring. The first was the City of Lakes Loppet where one skis 25 K along park-ways and frozen lakes from Theo Wirth Park south to Uptown. These are the same lakes which I paddle with my friend Bob Brown, well-known canoe and boat builder of Apple Valley. As I skied I could envision what this place would look like in just a couple of months; soft water, green leaves and singing birds. The second happening was that a girlfriend sent me a photo of a bird which she needed some help identifying. Sitting on a snow-laden bird feeder was an American Goldfinch. Most interesting was that it was a male starting to get his yellow spring … Continue reading

The Rio Grande

Off with a group of seven from all over the country to paddle the Lower Canyons of the Rio Grande. The picture is from my last trip to the Rio Grande in 2011 with Larry Rice, Fran Rulon-Millen, Cliff Jacobson and Darrell Foss. My Wildfire at the beginning of Mariscal Canyon, the last of the Upper Canyons, and close to our take-out. This time it’s the Lower Canyons –  full of mystery, magic and mystique. (and hopefully enough water to float our canoes).

I have been kicking myself all week because water levels have been up on the Rio Grande and wishing we had scheduled the trip for this week. Then I just read that winds were out of the southwest Wednesday at 60 mph, higher in … Continue reading

they were just a little later than expected

Earlier blog post to the contrary, it appears as if the winter of 2012-13 is the year of the Boreal Owl in the Quetico Superior. Over the last week, there have been several sightings of the owls all along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Several Boreal Owls have been seen in Two Harbors, Split Rock, Gooseberry Falls, Grand Marais and one was even spotted within the city limits of Duluth. Several birders, some from as far away as California, Oklahoma and Colorado, have flocked to the area to see or photograph the birds (personal communication, Jim Lind). The unpleasant part of these invasions or irruptions, as they are sometimes called, is that the birds are usually food-stressed (starving in some cases). Driven by hunger, but to a … Continue reading

Boreal Owl Invasion Fails to Meet Expectations in Minnesota

Boreal owls are extremely rare resident birds in Minnesota. The first nesting pair was not recorded until 1978.  But every once in awhile, due to the boom and crash cycles of sub-arctic rodents, Boreal Owls invade northern Minnesota. Last fall citizen scientist, Susan Plankis, reported that Minnesota birders believed that the winter of 2012-13 was going to be one of those years. Birder, Jim Lind did see one January 23rd in Two Harbors, and one was spotted earlier this winter in Sax-Zim Bog by Chad Heins and just yesterday a Boreal owl was spotted at Goosberry Falls State Park, but occasional sightings are not unusual even in a typical year. There have been reports of an uptick in Boreal Owls being banded in Quebec and eastern Ontario which is evidence of an invasion but not yet as far west as the Quetico Superior.

Boreal Owls are often remarked as one … Continue reading

BWCA Permits Available in One week

Varnish those paddle blades, oil the Duluth Pack straps, grease those tent zippers and scrutinize the maps. Paddlers who want to realize their summertime paddling dreams need to start planning now. In addition to tuning up the gear and planning a route, campers need to reserve their desired entry point for their desired departure date. Access procedures for the BWCAW have changed in the last couple years. Lottery applications for Fall Lake entry points D (Fall Lake & Beyond) and 24 (Fall Lake) and Moose Lake entry points F (Moose-Newfound-Sucker), G (Moose-Prairie-Basswood) and 25 (Moose Lake) are open now. Lottery applications close on January 21. All other entry point reservation are made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning 9 a.m. January 30th. Campers can secure a permit online or … Continue reading

cold day in minnesota

It is cold today. Not super cold, the Twin Cities used to average 30 days a winter below zero, but last year we had more days over 100 than below zero. So it is a situation of shifting norms or maybe hyped up weathermen that are recent transplants from SoCal. Tomorrow is predicted to be the first daytimehigh in four years that stays in the in below zero range, and that is a cold day. I actually like cold days and prefer a crisp sub-zero snap to those damp overcast days of November. I hope it sticks around for a week.  A good arctic snap will stem the flu epidemic and maybe knock down some of next season’s ticks and beetles.

Cold but depressingly snowless around here. I skied at Elm Creek (manufactured snow). A long drive and usually crowded with spandex sheathed nordic racers but today I had it almost to myself. … Continue reading

Happy I do not live in Siberia

There has been some disagreement and protest about the wolf hunt in Minnesota this year. The grass is certainly not greener on the other side of the pond. On January 15, the Russian Siberian Republic of Yakutia began a war on wolves. Of the estimated 3,500 wolves in the area, the Republic plans to kill 3,000 of the animals. Monetary rewards will be paid to the top hunters and trappers. This effort is in dramatic contrast to Minnesota DNR wolf management program. In a controversial, but tightly controlled fee-based public hunt, which has just concluded, approximately 400 of the state’s estimated population of 3,500 wolves were killed. Although I have not seen many wolves in Minnesota, I have had frequent encounters with arctic wolves in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I have been within a few feet of wolves several times and they have never acted aggressively. I have mixed feelings on … Continue reading