All Things BWCA Newsletter – March 2019

All Things BWCA Newsletter – March 2019

What’s Going on in the North Woods

  • bwca ely MinnesotaAround The Base
  • The Fishing Corner
  • Wilderness Wisdom
  • The Scout Scene
  • Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer
  • More Great Information

This newsletter is designed to help keep you current on the issues of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico Provincial Park, to give you information on Williams and Hall Outfitters, and to share some of our knowledge and love of the outdoors and the BWCA wilderness around us. We hope you enjoy these articles and share them with your friends.

Around The Base


by Blayne, our fearless leader

older canoeists bwca

Just this afternoon, a dear friend called and made arrangements for a canoe trip this coming summer.  He told me he was 70 now and that he had made (and survived) trips under all three regimes that have owned the business.  He is bringing his middle-aged kids and some grandkids. The kids first came as Scouts years ago and now want to bring their kids. We have had several similar discussions in the last little while and it has got me to thinking (OK, so something less than California falling into the sea got me thinking, agreed a fleeting occurrence).

williams and hall outfitters ely bwca

A typical mutl-generation trip in the BWCA

A Canoe Opens the Door to Wilderness

When Charlene and I first contemplated coming to the Boundary Waters over 3 decades ago, one of the main determinants was that it was a wilderness that welcomed infants to seniors, firm, infirm, and kinda firm visitors alike.  Some wilderness areas require the aspirant to set upon a horse for hours, or strap on a pack for miles of uphill slogging, not so the BWCA.  The luxury of having the canoe do most (not all) of the work opens the door to many who otherwise would have to partake of the wilderness on the Discovery Channel.

The key element, given the accessibility, is to pick the trip that fits your particular ability.  Reading an account of a recent Thru-Hiker on the Applachian Trail, he stated that the most important thing over the course of the hike was “to hike your own hike.”

older canoeists

So it is in the paddling world.  Don’t be cajoled by yourself or others into a trip that will be miserable or dangerous.  For example, instead of the epic paddle/portage repeat trips you have taken, how about a half day of paddle/portage and then a basecamp? See what I mean? Maybe we could pass on the YumYum portage. Just a thought.

The Feeling of Empowerment

One of the great dividends of being here for many years is being able to watch visitors return from their trips feeling like they just climbed Everest.  They did something that was perhaps a bit “on the edge” for themselves, but throwing caution to the wind, they leapt off into the wild and returned far more confident and knowledgeable than they ever thought possible. It is this feeling of true empowerment that has kept many returning year after year, always adding to their stories.

So, though we may be circling the grave, we aren’t there yet.   Maybe, we give the knees a little extra room in the canoe, or take a walking stick for the portage, or bring a satellite phone, let’s not throw in the towel. Let’s just pick our battles a bit more carefully. There are a lot more sunrises that need to be seen!

bwca canoe trip

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

The Off Season

by Dave, our Resident Fishing Expert (and all-around good guy)

In the canoe outfitting world, winter is largely considered to be “The Off Season”.  This winter has been however, anything but “Off”.  With the flurries and freezing rain at the end of last September and the half dozen measurable snows of October, it seems like it’s been winter since the last canoe docked for the season.

bwca thermometer

That’s Negative 40 Degrees

From a snow standpoint, we haven’t had any giant snowstorms on Moose Lake but it seems like it doesn’t stop for any great amount of time, either. While there are many places that have gotten a lot more than we have, we are staring to run out of places to put it.

Then there’s the permit issues. The launch of the new Boundary Waters permit system at the end of January went less than successfully. After a series of meetings with the Forest Service, training sessions and internal testing, the hope is in a successful re-launch on March 4th.

Northwoods Therapy

But winter in the Northwoods is a special kind of therapy for what ails you. A step outside the door on one of those wickedly cold nights to hear literally nothing…total silence, broken only by the startling “pop” of the contracting wood plank of the deck or the distant hoot of a single barred owl just to remind you you’re not alone. In the day, the woods are alive with activity…all the birds & critters seemingly unaware that it’s a hundred degrees colder than it will be, only a few months from now.

bwca winter wildlife

The cold and snow make it possible to get deep into the woods that normally (in the summer, that is) are impassible largely because of marshes, swamps and ponds. One recent snowshoe trek led a friend and me into a cedar swamp with eastern white cedars in excess of 4 or 5 hundred years old!

bwca skiing

When the stars (and the weather) align, a day on a lake with a campfire on the shore is as good a way to ease the tension as any day in the gym. When you can spend some time with friends out in the woods, on the trail or on the lakes, you can really understand why the so-called hearty few enjoy the “Off Season” as much as we do.

bwca ice fishing


Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota

A Good Hat for BWCA Canoe Trips

by Kevin

We spend a lot of time and money on wilderness canoeing equipment.  But sometimes the lowly hat is overlooked.   Hats are actually a very key piece of outdoor equipment.  Here are a few reasons why.

  • Hat protect you from the sun.
  • Hats help improve your visibility by shielding your eyes from glare.
  • The proper hat helps you regulate your temperature whether it is hot or cold out.
  • Hats offer protection from tree branches and ticks.

So Many Choices of Hats

williams and hall outfitters bwca canoe trips

The real trick is picking the right hat to bring on your BWCA canoe trip.  Consider some of the following criteria.

  • What do you expect the temperature to be? Do you want a warm hat or a ventilated hat?
  • How much sun protection do you want? Brim size is a factor.
  • Does your rain jacket have a hood? If not, you might want a rainproof hat with a wide brim.
  • Will you be wearing a bug net over your hat? If so, make sure it will comfortably fit over your hat.

Many great hat choices are out there.  Just give some thought to the one that will be best for you before you head out into the Boundary Waters.

PS – We have some nice hats at Moose Lake Trading Company – Click here.

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Scout Scene 

The Importance of Open Troop Committee Meetings

by Kevin

Scouting is going through some big changes.  With these changes come big decisions for both leaders and the boys, and now girls.  These big decisions will occur at all levels of the Troop:  Troop Committee, Patrol Leaders Council, Patrols.

scout high adventure bwca

The Temptation

With change comes the temptation to hold Adult Troop Committee meetings that are closed to non-member of the committee.  Committee members may tend to think they know best by virtue of their position and experience.  Experience is important but don’t overestimate yourself.

Open Up Your Committee Meetings

The BSA strongly discourages “secret” meetings but does allow closed meetings if needed.  However, such closed meetings are discouraged. Generally, parents and members should be encouraged to participate as much as possible.  Otherwise, you may send a signal that the committee does not want or need their help.  Creating buy-in from parents during times of change can be very important for the future of the Troop.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Boundary Waters Photographer 

bwca canoe trip photos

Spring BWCA Photo Tips

By Kevin

Are you planning an early season canoe trip in to the Boundary Waters?  If so, some great photo opportunities await.  Weather can vary greatly creating many motifs.  Nature is starting to put on a show including some flowers here and there.  Animals are becoming active again.  Consider these tips for better photos.

  • If you come across flowers, use them as foreground or points of interest.
  • Watch for misty mornings on the lake for great shots.
  • Cloudy days can make great shots in the woods.
  • Look for emerging growth on the forest floor for interesting close-ups.
  • Wildlife is often best shot from a low perspective
  • After a rain, look for interesting configurations of raindrops on leaves and trees.

The Boundary Waters offers amazing photo possibilities and early season may be the best time of all.

Shoot On!

We Can Help You Secure Your 2019 Permits for Boundary Waters  and Quetico Canoe Trips

Quetico Park permits are available no sooner than 5 months, to the day, ahead of the actual start date. Boundary Waters permits became available for application on a first-come, first serve basis beginning in mid-January.  Now is the time to apply.

Remember…We are happy to secure your Canoe Country permits at no extra charge!

williams and hall outfitters ely bwca permits

williams and hall outfitters quetico ely







Purchase Williams and Hall Merchandise Online

Great For Birthday Gifts!

Need a great gift for that paddler in your life.  You can always find Williams and Hall merchandise online.  Our online store is now called Moose Lake Trading Company.  Just click the link at the top of our home page or go directly to Moose Lake Trading Company by clicking on the logo.

williams and hall ely mn

We are ready to custom plan your 2019 BWCA canoe adventure. Just click the Gateway To Adventure sign to get started.

gateway to boundary waters canoe adventure

From your friends at Williams and Hall,                                                                             Charlene, Blayne, Dave and Kevin

Williams and Hall Outfitters and Canoe Adventures                                                                                        
(218) 365-5837

Paddle On.  Be Free.