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Techniques & Advice, The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Dear Bears, keep your paws off my canoe packs

July 29, 2011
This large black bear would love to peek in your canoe packs

It’s Blueberry Festival weekend in Ely, Minnesota! And, being that blueberries are one of the favorite treats of our big, black friends it is time for another bear report from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Two weeks ago a bear on Disappointment Lake tore into a food pack that was hanging from a tree. Bears are determined and don’t care that Cinco de Mayo has passed; therefore they love to play piñata with a hanging canvas backpack.

Please make sure your hanging pack is well off the ground, as much as 12 feet or more. Also, keep the pack away from the tree trunk. A hungry bear will climb the tree and reach out or climb out to get your pack.

Better yet…throw your food pack in the canoe when you leave for the day.

Yogi and Boo-boo are much smarter than you think. A bear on Basswood Lake came into camp and was able to crack open a bear-resistant container. According to the North American Bear Center in Ely, a bear will make 40 attempts at a food source before giving up. More proof that there is no such thing as a “bear-proof” container.

Like humans, bears are creatures of habit, when they find a campsite, or a series of campsites that have food they will make regular rounds. One such bear is on Malberg Lake, he just keeps coming around looking for a handout. And while he may not find or take anything, he visits camp multiple times.

Many bears have just simply lost their apprehensiveness around humans. There is a bear in the Upper Basswood Falls area that has been trying to get invited to a campsite breakfast. Last week, one group of campers didn’t feel like guests early in the morning, so they left without telling the bear.

Keep your camp clean. Hang your food pack. And NEVER take food into the tent.

Have a great time on the water, and send me some photos!

Paddle me back to DuluthPack.com

 

Techniques & Advice, The Lowdown

The Duluth Pack experts head out on Lake Superior

July 27, 2011
Three kayaks of Duluth Pack experts head for the sea caves

Duluth Pack experts head out on the water

It is hard work being an expert in the Duluth Pack store. Between the canoe packs, the paddles, and all the camping gear there is a lot to know to provide customers with the best outfitting service in Duluth, Minnesota. No store or staff knows their stuff like the pros at Duluth Pack. From the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the Superior Hiking trail, to any adventure you can dream they will give great advice.

Naturally then, with so much wonderful gear at their disposal the Duluth Pack staffers want to take it out and play.

Last week ten of those store experts headed out to the Mawikwe Bay Sea Caves (formerly the Squaw Bay Sea Caves) for some kayaking and canoeing on Lake Superior. About four miles to the northeast of Cornucopia, Wisconsin are sandstone cliffs which have been eaten away by thousands of years of wind and water. Today you can explore by boat the caves and arches carved out of the amazing red rock.

Please check out the photo gallery contained below, it is a sunset not to be missed. And, be sure to stop by the store at 365 Canal Park Drive, the experts on the water are also the experts on the trails.

Take me back to DuluthPack.com

The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Forest Fires and the Sunset

July 25, 2011
A Bombardier fire plane lifts off the surface of the lake.

Imagine this: your boat is full of canoe packs and pushing hard westward into the setting sun. Both the fishing rod and the camera are out as you try and grab a few walleyes and some great shots of the amazing sunset. It is almost time to find a campsite, but you just aren’t ready to leave the water yet. The sun dipping below

the horizon has captivated you and your bowman, both.

The sky is full of reds, oranges, and pinks as if it is ablaze tonight. And in some ways it is on fire tonight, or at the very least fires are contributing to the brilliant sunset. What is creating these vivid sunsets are the fires burning in Canada, specifically Ontario. As the smoke fills the air and drifts into the U.S. it creates the crimson and other colors you see as the sun goes down in the evening.

As of July 24, 2011 there were 118 fires burning in Ontario, with new ones reported each day. At the present time there are fire restrictions in the northwest portion of the province. Currently, those restrictions do not include Quetico Provincial Park, but the Ministry of Natural Resources is asking everyone to be vigilant about fire prevention.

In terms of the “Made in America” fires, not so many are burning at the present time. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) saw two small fires burning on Kekekabic Lake, but those are now winding down and should be no threat to paddlers.

Remember to keep your campfires within the fire ring, and under control. Please put your fire out completely before going to bed, or leaving the campsite for the day. And while the BWCAW has been wet this season, it doesn’t take much for a fire to get out of control and cause a lot of damage.

Enjoy those colorful sunrises and sunsets, and get out on the water!

Help me get back to the DuluthPack.com homepage.

The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Minnesota state parks set to reopen

July 22, 2011
SplitRock

The long national nightmare is over.

Ok, not so much, but the Minnesota government is back up and running which means the state parks will be opening for visitors again this weekend. It will take some time for all the parks to come back to full strength, so we will have to be patient in the days to come.

In the meantime, ready your Wanderer and Ramble pack for the parks that are open. Here is just a sampling of state parks near Duluth, which are beginning to reopen again.

Cascade River is open

Gooseberry Falls is partially open

Grand Portage is open

Hill Annex Mine is open

Jay Cooke is partially open

Judge C.R. Magney is open

Savanna Portage is open

Split Rock is open

Temperance River is open

Tettegouche is open

Please realize you may experience partial services and other deficiencies in areas that are not fully open just yet. If you have questions about any other state parks or campgrounds please refer to the link below for information straight from the DNR.

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/reopen/index.html

Good news is: all the state trails are open or partially open for business. Get out there and enjoy those. Also remember, the Superior Hiking Trail never shut down, and you never need a permit, so keep using that trail up and down the north shore.

Additionally, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness never shut down. Permits to the BWCAW are continuing to be issued, including at the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park. I took just a quick peek at permit availability, and while some popular entries are booked up, you can still find other good entry points through August.

Get those canoe packs loaded into the boats and get on the water, plenty of summer left. You can never see too many sunsets while in the Boundary Waters or Quetico.

 

The Lowdown

100 Years: A Great “Duluth Pack Day”

July 19, 2011
Piper shows off her new Duluth Pack sticker

 

 

Piper shows off her new sticker

 

It was 1911, and Duluth was the Zenith City, more millionaires per capita than any other city in America. Awnings were going up by the dozens around town as shopkeepers dressed up their storefronts. And a French-Canadian named Camille sold the rights to his “Poirier Pack,” a canoe pack with a revolutionary sternum strap, and traditional tumpline to Duluth Tent and Awning.

On Friday, July 15th, 2011, in the Duluth Tent and Awing factory, Duluth Pack celebrated 100 years at our 1610 West Superior Street location. Mayor Don Ness presented us with a proclamation making it “Duluth Pack Day” in the city. Our front sidewalk was heavy with local dignitaries and media for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Following the ceremony we held an open house with tours of our grand, old facility and fired up the grill to serve lunch to our guests. Over 200 people came to see all that goes into making a pack right here in Duluth. Starting with the cutting of the leather and the canvas, upstairs to sewing the pack together, next to the rivet station, on to clipping and turning, and finally out to shipping.

It was all hands on deck as our production staff answered the many questions and comments from our visitors. Most just watched as the bags were assembled, and marveled in the realization of all the hard work that goes into an “American Made” bag. We have quality people building our quality product, and what fun it was for them to share their expertise with our highly interested guests.

Thanks to everyone who came out Friday to support our 100th anniversary in our factory on West Superior. Everyone here at Duluth Pack had a great day, and really enjoyed meeting all of you. Camille started us off 129 years ago, so we are looking forward to another great 100 years.

If you missed the chance to get a factory tour during the open house, come on by any weekday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and we will show you around. Of course don’t expect the grill to be up and running, but you never know.

Head to DuluthPack.com

 

The Lowdown

Super Fan Contest Voting

July 18, 2011

The judges have put their collective heads together and chosen photos from three fans that we believe represent “Super Fans.” And while we received and looked at a lot of great shots, these three were the ones that passed through all the rounds of tough judgement calls.

Check out the photo gallery attached and vote for your favorite here in the blog or on our FaceBook Fan page. Cast your vote for either “Canoe,” “Table,” or “Alps.”

The winner will receive a $100.o0 gift card, which can be used online at www.DuluthPack.com or in our Canal Park store.

Thanks to all who participated in the contest as a celebration of 100 years at our West Superior Street location in Duluth. More than 200 people toured our factory on July 15th, and really experienced what “Made in America” looks, feels, and sounds like.

The winner will be announced very soon. And as always bribery will accepted but not condoned.

The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Superior Hiking Trail experts at Duluth Pack

July 11, 2011
A hiker takes a lunch break while hiking the SHT

The Duluth, Minnesota area has several crown jewels of recreation. The lakes, the rivers, the state & national parks, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to name just a few, are priceless. One of these up and coming masterpieces in our own backyard is the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT).

When fully complete, the Superior Hiking Trail will be a 277-mile footpath in northern Minnesota. Created in 1986, the trail follows a rocky ridgeline that roughly parallels the north shore of Lake Superior. As the SHT climbs and descends you can’t help but be awed by the many magnificent vistas and overlooks.

The trail begins south of Duluth near the town of Carlton, and winds its way north toward Canada. The trail ends with a link to the Border Route Trail north of Hovland, MN near the U.S. and Canadian border. The Border Route trail continues to the west linking with the Kekakabic trail and ending near Ely, MN.

Along the way you will find 82 wilderness campsites and a trailhead about every five to 10 miles. Hikers may enjoy adventures all the way from a variety of day-hikes to complete trail through-hikes with everything in between. Neither permits nor reservations are required on the SHT, and dogs are allowed on leash only.

The trail was built with blood, sweat and volunteers. They are the ones who originally cut the trail and the ones that keep it open. Present volunteer opportunities can be found up and down the trail, including work to close a gap in the Duluth area. If you or your hiking group would like to help on the trail check into the Superior Hiking Trail’s Association website at SHTA.org.

The Duluth Pack store at 365 Canal Park Dr. is the go-to source for all information pertaining to the SHT. Not only are there experts on staff to help you learn more, but many have hiked the trail around Duluth and up the North Shore. They can also help you find trailheads in the city and ones nearest the store. The SHT Association sells a complete set of maps and the book “Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail.” All the above, in addition to special edition t-shirts, can be found at the Duluth Pack Store.

And the most important thing to remember is that the Superior Hiking Trail is open for business. While the Minnesota State Parks are shut down during the budget impasse, the SHT remains open.

Go grab your Wanderer or your Rambler pack and get out on the trail!

Hike me on back to DuluthPack.com

The Lowdown, Trip Planning

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Open for Fishing

July 8, 2011
A nice smallie resides in a fly fisherman's net

A nice smallie resides in a fly fisherman's net

In last week’s blog I gave you an update on bear reports coming from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. As of this writing not much has changed, and no new problem bears have been reported. Keep your camp clean, protect your food pack, and all will be good.

Here in Duluth we have one curious bear making news and that is Dylan the Bear out on Park Point. Seems Dylan swam across from Superior, WI sometime in May and has been raiding the local bird feeders. Other than a few upset robins and finches he hasn’t been much trouble. However, there is a live trap set for him in an effort to relocate Dylan to a less residential neck of the woods.

The news I have for you today is two-fold; first, the BWCAW is open and unaffected by the state government shut down in Minnesota. Second, the fish are biting, and it is time to get out on the water. After spending some time roaming around at recreation.gov (that’s where you reserve your BWCAW permit) it is apparent there are still permits to be had for good entry points. Book a permit today, and then choose the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park as your permit issue station.

The bait shops in Grand Marais are reporting that fishing is good in general in the east end of the BWCAW. Walleyes are starting to slow down, but if you know where to find them a shore lunch is in your future. Smallmouth bass are being caught while still in shallow water in the lakes. Fishermen are finding surface lures and very shallow runners are catching these smallies.

The report out of Ely is a little bit different; walleyes are being caught at a pretty good pace in 12 to 18 feet of water. In the evenings they are coming shallower onto structure in the eight-foot range. At the present time anglers seem to be having the best luck with leeches. Smallmouth bass in the Ely area are running a bit deeper than their eastern brothers. Fisherman are catching smallies in five to eight feet of water on Rapalas and other shallow to medium running lures.

If you are a fly fisherman, and would love to see some flies tied this Saturday, July 9, head on over to the Duluth Pack store at 365 Canal Park Drive. EJ from the Great Lake Fly shop will be there from noon to 3:00 p.m. demonstrating his tying abilities with flies and streamers made to entice the big ones. As always there is no charge for the fish stories or other lies told.

Get out there and enjoy the adventure!

I am completely hooked! Take me back to DuluthPack.com

The Lowdown

Duluth Pack factory celebrates 100 years on West Superior

July 7, 2011

Bryan models his retro look to kick off "Super Fan" contest

Duluth Pack is celebrating 100 years of manufacturing at 1610 W. Superior Street in Duluth, Minn. And we would like all our friends and families to help us celebrate.

For those near the Duluth factory location we will be hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house on Friday, July 15th. The festivities begin at 11:00 am on the sidewalk in front of the factory with the mayor of Duluth proclaiming it “Duluth Pack Day.” Please come and join us, and help us kick off our next 100 years on Superior Street.

For all our fans spread across the seven continents we want you to help us celebrate, too.

We are looking for a favorite photo of you and your clan decked out in the finest of Duluth Pack gear. Post a shot of you in front of the Taj Mahal wearing a Duluth Pack t-shirt. Or send us a photo of your family climbing Mount Kilimanjaro wearing matching cross paddle sweatshirts. From Kathmandu to Timbuktu it is up to you to pick your favorite and then post them to our Facebook fan page or send them into the blog. Emailed photos will also be accepted at: [email protected]

We will throw all the photos into a Duluth Pack baseball hat and draw out one lucky winner. That winner will receive a $100 DuluthPack Gift Card which can be used at our website or at our flagship store in Canal Park.

Seem too easy for you hardcore Duluth Pack fanatics? You’re right it is. In an effort to find the biggest Duluth Pack fan out there we are also going to have a “Super Fan Photo Contest.” Face painters, daredevils, and questionable characters of all kinds have always been our favorites here in Duluth. And, while we don’t encourage anything illegal a photo from the edge just might prove how fanatical you are about our gear.

Post your “Super Fan” photo to our Facebook fan page, to our blog or email to [email protected] and our blue-ribbon panel of judges will select three favorites. Those three will then be posted for the world to see, and the Duluth Pack faithful to judge. When the masses have spoken the last one standing will be judged “Duluth Pack’s Super Fan,” and be given a $100 Duluth Pack gift card to further spread the word.

So get those entries posted quickly, our judges are fading fast.

The Lowdown

Boundary Waters bear report for July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011
MyBear

Thousands of visitors head into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) every year for a myriad of reasons. Some go for fishing, some just look forward to the solitude of the lakes and rivers, but almost every paddler wants to see wildlife. In my mind the big three of wildlife sightings in Minnesota are wolves, moose, and of course the friendly black bear.

Ursus americanus is North America’s smallest and most common species of bear, and they can be found all over the BWCAW. The majority of human encounters with black bears are completely harmless, and most can be chalked up to a great experience. However, there are a few pesky bears that could make your wilderness adventure somewhat more exciting.

Here is a quick report  (July 1, 2011) of a couple bears not working and playing well with others:

On Basswood Lake, across from Washington Island there is a bear cleaning up fish guts and food remains from a dirty campsite. This is another great reminder to keep your campsite clean and dispose of fish remains in a proper manner. Also, never take food into your tent; you don’t want a late night visit in your nylon home.

Along the middle arm of Knife Lake and the middle section of Kekekabic Lake there has been a sow and her cub cruising campsites looking for food. Good advice would be anytime you see a mother and her cub give them a nice, wide berth.

On Disappointment Lake there is a very persistent and vocal bear staking out one of the campsites. Apparently, this bear knows and remembers which trees have hidden food in the past. The bear comes into the campsite, checks out the pack-hanging trees, and will woof if confronted.

Hanging your food pack at night is a good idea, and the bear on Disappointment Lake brings up a couple of things to remember. First, choose a branch high enough off the ground that even if a bear does come into camp he can’t play “piñata” with your food pack. Second, keep the pack away from the trunk of the tree so when he climbs his long arms can’t just reach out and rip the pack open. Third, if you leave during the day take your food pack with you; there is just no reason to tempt a hungry bear.

Have a great time out in the woods this summer, and remember: you are a visitor in the BWCAW. The bears live there.