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Curt Johnson: There's no place quite like the Boundary Waters

It's sundown in the wilderness. All you can hear is the cry of a loon and the crackling of your campfire, as wood-smoke drifts gently across the water.

It's sundown in the wilderness. All you can hear is the cry of a loon and the crackling of your campfire, as wood-smoke drifts gently across the water.

You spent the last three days paddling to this perfect place, and now it's time to relax. There's no place on earth like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of Minnesota.

The BWCA is an expanse of lakes and forest stretching for 150 miles along the northeast border of Minnesota. Part of Superior National Forest, the BWCA is federally protected as a wilderness preserve, with all but a few lakes designated as paddle only, no motors allowed. Overland trails called portages link the lakes, and canoes and gear are carried from one lake to another

Mother Nature shows her majesty in many ways in the Crane Lake area of the BWCA. Miles of waterways, forests and rocks all beg to be explored. Loon and eagle sightings are prevalent.

It is common to see deer at any time of the year along with black bear and moose Fishing is still a major activity. Walleye, northern pike, small and large mouth bass, black crappie, lake trout, lake sturgeon and pan fish are caught in these waters.


Beginning in the picturesque village of Grand Marais on Lake Superior's north shore, the Gunflint Trail winds 63 miles northeast to Lake Saganaga, at the Canadian border in the BWCA. Like the early explorers, you can paddle or boat the expansive waterways or you can hike or bike among wildflowers and ferns in the fragrant pine and balsam forests.

In the Ely area of the BWCA, you'll discover how life takes on a new meaning. Relaxing is easy. The air is clear, the water pure, the woods are inspiring, the sights breathtaking and the night sky is bright with millions of stars.

Boating alert

High water levels on many lakes and rivers in Minnesota are expected to remain for several weeks. Recreational boaters and anglers, canoeists and kayakers who are heading out should be aware and take precautions.

This is especially the case across the central part of the state from the Twin Cities north through the Brainerd Lakes area.

"High water has made certain shoreline areas extremely vulnerable to erosion from boat wakes," said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. "It's amazing how much erosion can happen as a result of boat wakes. Foundations of homes, trees, and the shore are all subject to washout."

The safety issue comes from debris that is washed into the water by rain and higher lake levels. Since some of the debris floats at or just below the surface, a boat that is moving fast may not see it in time to avoid a collision -- resulting in a broken propeller, capsizing, damaged lower unit on the motor or worse.

Bowhunter deadline


The Minnesota DNR is reminding young bow-hunters that the application deadline for the annual three youth archery deer hunts is quickly approaching.

Applications for the Camp Ripley Archery Hunt to be held Oct. 11- 12, and two Arden Hills Army Training Site hunts to be held Oct. 16-17, and Oct. 18-19 are available through the DNR and Minnesota Deer Hunters Association web sites. Completed applications must be postmarked by Aug. 1.

The hunts are open to archers age 12 to 17. Go to www.mndeerhunters.org or www.mnarchery.com .

Johnson, who works with the Minnesota Office of Tourism in St. Paul, can be reached at (651) 297-3488 or via e-mail at curt.johnson@state.mn.us

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