Category Archives: Techniques & Advice

Leek Stalks

Stalking the Wild Leek (with recipe!)

wild leeks in woodsDelicious Wild Edibles

It’s the time of year when one of the most delicious wild edibles thrusts itself out from under the leaves with reckless abandon—the wild leek. Here in Duluth the leek is often the very first green you’ll see in the woods. This makes them easy to find if you what to look for.

wild leeks greenLeeks prefer areas in stands of hardwoods, like maple and ash, with plenty of moisture. A seasonal creek bank is a good location. Their life cycle is short and they will soon be shaded out by emerging tree leaves. So get them while you can! They are easily dug with a hand trowel but are connected to a root system you must sever before being able to lift them from the ground.

 

 

Wild Leek and Potato Soup Recipe

Leek Stalks

My favorite recipe for leeks is Wild Leek and Potato Soup. A version of it follows. Happy Hunting!

Wild Leek and Potato Soup
2 c. leeks, diced
4 T butter
salt and black pepper, to taste
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 c. warm milk

Saute the leaks with butter, salt and pepper.
Peel and dice potatoes and add to mixture in the pan when leeks begin to look translucent.
When potatoes begin to brown, add chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer until potatoes are tender.
Turn off heat and when boil ceases slowly stir in warm milk.
Garnish with a leek and a crusty baguette.

PICT7206.JPG

HOW TO PLAN A BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA (BWCA) TRIP

HOW TO PLAN A BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA (BWCA) TRIP

I posted this a few years pack and we still get requests for the packing list. Here you go and enjoy!

PLANNING • Where to begin? Well how about with choosing your companions! People you know that can handle some work and getting back to nature. The BWCA does have a party limit and campsite limit. Nine people and four watercraft are the maximum allowed in the BWCA. Chose a date that works for everyone and plan for some alternate dates for your group in case the permits are gone already. Advanced planning is key. There are several books on the market that explain planning for a trip in detail.Here a two of our favorites: Canoe Country Camping and Exploring the BWCA .

DATES • From May 1st to September 30th you will need to obtain a BWCA permit. Permits in certain areas go fast so reserve early! You must enter the BWCA on your specific permit date, not the day before or after. The Duluth Pack store at 365 Canal Park Drive is a BWCAW Permit Station, stock up on everything you need when you pick it up at Duluth Pack.  Permit tip!  Make sure to add extra group alternate leaders on your permit, you are not able to change them once submitted.

ROUTES • For your first time out I would choose a route with limited portages. I would suggest, once your party is determined, to have a group meeting. Choose a leader to pick up the permit, decide who will be in charge of what meals and what everyone is bringing so there are no unnecessary duplicates. Check out the various entry points and maps for the best location. Once you choose your route, buy maps for the lakes you will be paddling. A set of maps for each canoe is helpful in case you are separated. A beginner and popular route is Lakes One, Two, Three, and Four out of Ely, MN off the Fernberg Trail. Entry point 30. There are lots of campsites on each lake and limited portages. The further in you travel the less people you will see.

Experienced campers should check out entry points with limited entries and/or every other day permits. You will see less people the longer portages you take away from all other entry points. Also consider planning your trip during off peak times, the middle of the week, late Fall or early Spring.

PERMIT • You can obtain a BWCA permit from this website or by calling the Duluth Pack retail store at 218-722-1707.

You must watch a video when you pick up your permit, once you watch the video you will get a card so you won’t  have to watch the video again that year. Permits can only be picked up the day before, or the day of your entry date, by your group leader or an alternate leader listed on the permit. Office hours do vary so check with your permit pickup location for their office hours.

FOOD AND GROUP SUPPLIES • If this is your first trip you may want to consider contacting an outfitter to provide you with canoes, Duluth Packs, and various gear. Here is a partial list of outfitters.

  • You will need:

canoes

WHAT TO PACK  Personal use.

Extra- here is something fun! Fishing gear, book, and camp chair.

Sunset over Ice

Avoid Cabin Fever during the Leap Day Blizzard

Snow has finally come to Duluth, and many of us in the north woods are enjoying a snow day as we hunker down during this leap day blizzard. What are you going to do as the storm rages and you fight off the feeling of cabin fever? Let me throw out some ideas to keep you from going stir crazy and at the same time continuing to dream of open water.

Make it a movie day – Pop in a Cliff Jacobsen or Bill Mason video in the DVD player and escape to the lakes and rivers of the north. It is a great way to pick up some new skills or just revel in the scenic beauty captured on each disc.

Condition the leather on your canoe packs – Grab the Lexol conditioner and rub it into all the leather on your packs, really soak those straps. Yeah, I know this doesn’t sound like a great way to spend a free day, but it will pay dividends when the ice melts.

Get the snowshoes ready – rest assured at some point this wind is going to lie down, and you can get out and play in the fresh powder. Tighten those bindings and plan on shoeing away in Jay Cooke State Park or up the Superior Hiking Trail.  Both have great trails to test out the snowshoes, and don’t forget to take your camera along to capture what might be the only storm of 2012.

Dive into good book – My favorites are from Sigurd Olson or John Krakauer. With Olson you can relax and enjoy the soothing picture he paints of the wilderness complete with sights and sounds. Reading Krakauer gives you the vicarious experience of high drama adventure.

Spread the maps out and route a trip – Now this sounds more like it! Stretch all your maps out on the floor and plan a trip for the summer of 2012. Choose an entry point, book it at Recreation.gov, and if you have any questions give an expert at the Duluth Pack store a call.

There you go, now you have a few ideas to help you spend your snow day. My plan is to grab the camera and get some shots of the gently falling snow. OK, maybe not so gently.

The walleye stamp from the Minnesota DNR

How to find walleyes in the wintertime

Winter is here! Well, the snow cover is lacking, but there is good ice on many lakes. Lurking under that ice is the elusive walleye, however you are going to have to know where to find them. Please remember that ice is never safe; so always check the local conditions before you head out.

Just like summertime walleyes the wintertime fish like structure. The difference you are going to find in the winter is that the structure which is holding fish will be deeper. Use your depth maps and your locator to find humps and lines of structure that may be 25 to 30 feet deep with good drops on either side. Get your holes drilled by the late afternoon, because when the sun starts heading for the horizon you want to have a line down.

Drilling multiple holes will help you cover several different depths along a line of structure or a sunken island.  Spend ten to fifteen minutes jigging in each hole and then move to the next one. Keep the presentation slow and easy letting your jig spend more time hanging than moving. And remember: “if you aren’t fishing on the bottom, you aren’t fishing.”

In the winter smaller jigs are better than larger for walleyes and I prefer the brighter colors tipped with a shiner or crappie minnow. At the present time, local reports are telling us that fish also being caught on fatheads. You may even find yourself in the situation where a naked jig will work with that slow presentation.

Again, before you head out on your favorite frozen lake, make sure the ice is plenty thick to hold you safely. The Brainerd Jaycees Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake has been postponed to February 112012 due to ice conditions. Safety should always be the first concern before venturing out on the ice. Take the necessary precautions.

Good luck with the walleyes, and be safe.

Portage trail at LIttle Indian Sioux

How to repair your damaged Kevlar canoe

Your fancy Kevlar canoe found a rock and there is now a three-inch Kevlar baring gash in your boat. Or how about this one? Your wonderful, canvas Duluth Pack snuggles nicely in the canoe, but your buddy dropped his external frame hiking pack and left a quarter-sized ding in your hull. Accidents are bound to happen, and everybody finds a rock sooner or later, it is a fact of paddling in Minnesota.

The thought of repairing that high-tech Kevlar boat may seem daunting, but simple repairs are completely within the realm of the do-it-yourself Boatwright. However, if you wrapped your ride around a rock, and it resembles something closer to a crumpled hanky than to a canoe I recommend taking it to an expert.

Here is a rough guide of the steps I would use to repair Kevlar boats at the outfitter.

  1. Find a resin repair kit Click here, check with an outfitter or call your original boat manufacturer. Short of finding a repair kit with all the pieces check out West Systems and their 105 resin combined with their 205 hardener. Through West you can also track down the fiberglass cloth and the cheesecloth you are going to use for your repair. Add a comment in the box below and I can forward you a repair list and links to the sites.
  2. Assess the damage to the boat. Light scratches are something you are going to have to live with if you paddle Kevlar. Damage so severe that is changes the shape of the boat will have to be handled by an expert. The repair I can help you with are the minor scratches and dings where Kevlar cloth is showing.
  3. Prep the area. Clean around the damaged area so there is no mud or scum where you are going to lay down resin. Use some sand paper to rough up the area, maybe 60 or 80 grit. The goal here is to give the resin something to hold onto.
  4. Cut your fiberglass cloth and cheesecloth to cover the area. Don’t skimp here, for gashes where Kevlar shows go at minimum one inch on either side of the scratch. For circular dings double the size of the dinged area.
  5. For the remainder of the repair: if you are inside, make it a WELL-VENTILATED AREA, and WEAR A MASK. If you are outside, most people like the mask as a precaution.
  6. Mix your resin. Follow the instructions on the label; it takes very little hardener or catalyst to get this reaction going. Good mixing canisters to use are those plastic deli containers you can throw away when done. My favorite brush to use was the one-inch foam brush, cheap and easy to pitch when done. OK, now you have about 15 to 20 minutes to work, so don’t mix more than you can apply in 15 or 20 minutes.
  7. Repair the area. Apply a light coat of resin to the area, lay down your fiberglass cloth, and gently cover the fiberglass with another coat of resin. For deep dings that occur on the inner hull where you have Kevlar, then foam, then Kevlar. Take a few strands of fiberglass, ball it up, and place into the hole with resin on it. Then lay down your fiberglass cloth, and apply more resin. For holes that have gone all the way through the hull use fiberglass cloth and perform your repair on both sides of the hull.
  8. Apply your cheesecloth, and gently flatten with nearly dry brush. For large repaired areas this is a must, it will help keep air bubbles to a minimum and really help smooth the resin as it dries.
  9. Sand to prepare for second coat. When the resin has hardened, meaning you can’t easily push your thumbnail into it, remove the cheesecloth and sand with about a 150 or 200 grit sandpaper. If there are a large number of imperfections in your repair area use the lower grit. Now clean the area again, and let dry.
  10. Mix second batch of resin and apply. Shouldn’t need the cheesecloth this time provided it goes on nice and smooth, but if you have doubts apply more.
  11. Let dry again, and lightly sand with 200 grit or higher sand paper.
  12. If you have questions about this process, or would like more information on tools, tricks, or techniques leave me a comment below. And as I wrote earlier, if the damage on your boat is more than a simple ding or scratch bring in an expert for a consultation. There are Kevlar magicians out there who can make your boat look good as new.