Hitch #5 was fast and furious, covering more ground in less time than before. The Team returned to Seagull Lake and revisited sites to monitor change. On Day 3 we came off Seagull and headed out from Round Lake to Gillis crossing 8 gnarly portages that we renamed the "Final Exam" (It had a better ring to it than the "Death March.") It made for a grueling day, but ended with a great spot to stop and take in the BWCAW while we looked back on the season.
Day 5 & 6 were day trips to inventory weed points for tansy and goutweed. The team split into two groups and one encountered the largest plot to date of hawkweed that spread out like carpet. No luck treating that living room! The other hiked to the highest point in Minnesota--in a morning. Not too tough because the high point in MN is 2,301 feet, named Eagle Mountain.
The Team rallied for two days to clean up an entire season of gear, washing trucks, tents, Duluth packs, PFDs and cookware--and even helped write parts of the Final Report. Folks did a smashing job! The season ended with a celebratory dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant. Jack Greenlee joined us and heard many of the highlights from the season.
Thanks, Team for all the heart and hard work you put in to make an positive impact on the BWCAW. The weeds will be back next year--hope you will too!
Check out more about our season in the Final Report.
In the spirit of the Unicorn,
1. Every sight around you belongs on a postcard.
2. You regularly become light-headed from laughing too much!
3. A 20,000 square foot plot of seeding Canada thistle and Hawkweed makes you feel at home.
4. Your largest crew member regularly breaks out in song.
5. It feels strange to walk a trail without a Duluth pack and canoe on your shoulders.
6. Paddling 10 miles around with 400lbs in your canoe is a regular occurrence.
7. It’s raining…
8. Dinner is backcountry lasagna with 53g of protein in every serving.
9. You share a house with bears, moose, wolves, and turtles.
10. Everyone around you is dressed to the nines on Friday.
11. Paddling in the pouring rain is a highlight of your hitch.
12. Trying to figure out the ingredients of Gordo’s Surprise (a mac and cheese “based” dish) is a sport.
13. You have a unicorn as your mascot.
14. Dance parties can occur at any moment…
15. Lying on rock just feels right.
10. Raspberries. Blueberries. And coming soon, Thimbleberries.
9. Pulling acres of Canada Thistle in raging heat and humidity allows for generous amounts of time to quote South Park.
8. Every lake is different.
7. You can play Scrabble on 2.6 billion-year-old granite.
6. Exposure to oppressive mosquito populations improves ninja motor skills and builds character.
5a. July 13th’s menu. Breakfast: sweet potato and egg burritos. Lunch: pasta salad with sundried tomatoes and Mike Stefancic’s homemade cheddar (aged 4 months). Dinner: salmon pesto polenta with kale and fresh Parm. Dessert: unicorn treats.
5b. You will become ripped from portaging said menu items in Duluth packs.
4. Working in the interface between two wildfires makes for interesting botany and fire ecology lessons.
3. The sublime feeling of quietly dipping your paddle in the early morning, with coffee mug resting in the bottom of your canoe.
2. That moment where you rip off your uniform after a work day and jump in the lake. (Even the government encourages Safety Swims!)
1. Sleeping with your rain fly off, you may be woken by the Northern Lights.
by Zach Evilsizer
Day One. The first day of hitch we all pile into the trucks. After loading the boats, we were off for Seagull Lake. Six hours and many sing along songs later, we put the boats in Seagull Lake and headed out to find our base campsite. We chose a base camp on the northwest side of the lake, a peninsula affording beautiful waters on sides, a good boat launch and great swimming. While it had great tent sites, a stellar bathroom was found a trek away—but the view was well worth the hike!
After setting up our base camp, we took the evening to rest and prepare for hard days of work ahead. It was at this time that we noticed in our haste that a few essential things were missing for our trip. Among these things were: weed maps, kitchen dish hammock, and invasive transport bags—oops! A few technical issues also showed up: only one usable Juno.
However, we are we remedied the minor inconveniences and strove for a successful hitch. Julie and Toby figured out weed points using the GPS, Juno and the campsite map, while an extra footprint made a great workaround for a kitchen hammock.
Day Two started off amazingly! A moose cow and her calf swam by the edge of our campsite early. The work day included a hunt for an evasive invasive: cypress spurge. Only evasive because it had eluded crews two years in a row! During lunch Toby radioed into the Forest Service for extra batteries in case we ran low on juice. After some sparse communication, they delivered a twenty-four pack of batteries to the truck on the dock halfway across the lake. We would try our best not to need the batteries and only retrieve them and lose half a day of work after the Juno had no battery at all and we depleted our radio charges, we got back to work.
Day Three we portaged across to Rog Lake, an easy task given that our boats are empty. On the seven campsites we visited we got our first taste of the work to come. A number of campsites were covered in thistle. Thistles are a whole different demon than the hawkweed or the oxeye daisy that we had to remove on the last hitch. Thistles are a shade loving plant that likes to hide in thick vegetation and undergrowth. On top of that if you get your hands on bull thistle, the spines on the leaves poke right through leather gloves. Boy howdy did we have are work cut out for us.
Day Four is where we started getting into the groove of things we portaged our canoes hopping lakes into Jasper Lake. On the other side of the lake we treated the portage trail leading into Kingfisher Lake from Jasper Lake, so that on the way back to base camp we could get the rest of the weed points. Overall, we saw and made a difference at Seagull, Alpine, Jasper, and Kingfisher lakes that day paddling eleven miles and portaging 426 rods. The day also presented us with our first encounter with spotted knapweed in the form of a sole plant.
Day Five was really a weed heavy day even though we only visited nine weed points we managed to identify and treat 21 different instances of weeds on Alpine lake. The sun really beat up the team today trudging through waste deep brush looking for the last bits of pointy thistle.
Day Six we stayed on Seagull accomplishing a large number of weed points, this day was also our first encounter with tansy. A much easier plant to pull than thistle for sure but its more bushy nature makes treating it a chore of its own. Overall six miles were paddled and we had some visitor contact and education to split up our day, which is always friendly and welcome.
Day Seven: getting out. We decided to do a couple of weed sites on our way out the first of which is when the Juno finally ran out of battery so we opted to write down our numbers and log them after we got back to VCC and recharge the Juno.
The folks at our last weed site recommended us to hike up the Palisades and see a view of the entirety of Seagull Lake. The view there was spectacular, and made the trip that much more meaningful, and special. Check out our dance party on top of the Palisades at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBB3EMv4jjM&feature=youtu.be!
A couple thousand miles away from Ely, MN, Katie Lamke calls the town of Petaluma, California home. She is currently studying Environmental Biology at Humboldt State University in Northern California. Katie is also an athlete on the HSU Women’s Rowing Team, who won the national championship title this year (shout out to the team). She looks forward to spending the Summer exploring the Boundary Waters of the Superior NF and earning the Badge of Badassery with her crew.
Will was born just outside of Chicago, Illinois. He currently lives in Ashburn, Virginia, and attends school at Virginia Tech where he studies Biology. Will enjoys skiing, hiking, cannoning, and camping. Given his love for the outdoors and current interests, a summer “roughing it” in the Superior National forest seems to fit. Will looks forward to exploring the BWCAW, having fun with his fellow corps members, and making a lasting impact on the environment. It’s going to be a good summer, Oh You Betcha!
I am 22 years old. I picked the Lake Superior crew because of my love of canoeing, camping, and the wilderness. I like getting caught in the rain, long walks on the beach, and the color magenta. The SCA Superior 1 internship allows me to combine my hard work ethic and outdoor experience with amazing people and a stellar job opportunity which adds up to an unforgettable summer experience.
Julie Tierney, a native of the great, beige land of Cary, NC, is currently trucking towards a BS in Environmental Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. After discovering the tree-ring patterns in the irises of her eyes, she decided to pursue a career path in ecological research. Julie looks forward to fighting as a conservation warrior of the BWCA, armed with a paddle and a hori-hori. When not at the front-lines of environmental stewardship, Julie likes to play guitar, sing traveling songs, sew, and watch B-list sci-fi flicks.
Kristen is happy to be living north of the 47th Parallel North and serving her second season with SCA. She comes from East Lansing, MI where until recently she enjoyed a rather quiet life as a substitute teacher. While Kristen has a Zoology degree from Michigan State, she plans to learn as much local botany and plant ecology as possible this summer. She is terrifically excited for moonlit paddles, shanties, saunas with birch boughs, swimming breaks, wolves, fresh fish, and physical labor. Kristen looks forward to continuing her conservation work in the future, wherever she may be. She currently has no complaints.
Born in Colorado, and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Jordan now attends college at The University of Michigan. Having visited the Superior National Forest before and growing up within the wonders of the natural world, striving to make a difference for generations to come here in the BWCAW comes naturally to him. After this season with the SCA, Jordan’s future aspirations include obtaining a degree in Environmental Science, completion of a master’s program, and a continuance of service to the environment and those who enjoy it with as much passion as he does. Jordan is thankful for the opportunity to make a difference, and hopes to lead by example in his everyday life.
Born of wild spaces, my background in Outdoor Education follows my passion for connecting people to nature. I have lived and worked throughout the country including some of my favorite places: Yosemite National Park, Northern Arizona and Grand Teton National Park. Although I grew up in Northern Colorado, I call the San Francisco Bay Area home. I am excited to be back in the Northwoods again and paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCAW).
By William Thompson
Day 1. At 6 am alarm clocks sounded the start of our first hitch. Sun shining above, we loaded our truck, picked up our canoe trailer, and started on the four hour dive to the BWCAW (Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness). After a stop for gas and snacks, we rolled into the Brule Lake parking lot. With a sense of joy we unloaded our truck and enjoyed a quick turkey sandwich in the parking lot.
Paddles finally in the water we set out across Brule Lake. After thirty minutes of paddling winds began to pick up on the lake causing large swells. With the weather in mind, we began our search for a campsite. We looked for over an hour, but had little luck. Unable to find a campsite, we trekked to the next lake up and set up shop. Finding a wonderful little campsite on an island, we settled in for the night anxious for our first strenuous day of work.
Day 2. The next day brought an unexpected turn of events. After breaking down camp and preparing to leave for the day, the weather report predicted a grim forecast of high winds and thunder storms. We quickly set up camp again and began a day of learning. We inventoried plants on the island and talked about risk management for part of the day before calling it quits and settling down. We also a learned how to play Carcassonne (a wonderful board game).
Day 3. Eager to set out on Day 3, we got up and prepared for the long day ahead. This day marked our first full day of work and paddling. In a glorious fashion, we paddled 14.5 miles, portaged 310 rods (rod = 16.5 ft) and crossed 5 lakes. Along with this we inventoried 8 weed sites and began to understand the work in front of us. At days end most people seemed pretty exhausted, but happy none the less.
Day 4. With Day 4 came another hard day of work with 8 miles of paddling and 13 new weed points. During the day we encountered hawkweed and the occasional oxeye daisy. The day went as planned and seemed normal. While sitting around cooking dinner, a brilliant flash and a tremendous boom entered our camp. A minute later we found ourselves in a large thunderstorm and with it, in lighting position. Lighting position is a flat footed squat, and it’s not very comfortable to sit in for any length of time. While in the lightning position a chorus of songs broke out among the group and lifted sprits a bit. An hour later we were free from our awkward squat and allowed to eat our much awaited dinner. Most of the crew was pretty soggy from sitting in the rain and decided to head to bed early.
Day 5. was centered mainly on travel. We canoed 10.25 miles and portaged 260 rods (0.8 mi) to end up on Henson Lake. The day was marked with a few long portages and hefty weed sites. On a brighter note, the sun came out and we got a chance to dry our things and take a quick swim. By this point in our trip our crew really began to click and everything was going according to plan.
Day 6. The following day marked our last full day on the water of the BWCAW. We set out with a weed intensive day in mind and did just that. After our 10 weed points for the day we settled down in camp and enjoyed a few games of Carcassonne and watched the sunset on Winchell Lake. Soon after everyone crashed, dreams of society in their heads.
Day 7. The day started off with a gloomy sky and promises of rain after 10 Am. We set off portaging our canoes over 323 rods (1.0 mi.) and traveling a total distance of 7 miles back to Brule Lake. On our way back to Brule, we were greeted with a moose sighting. We quietly enjoyed watching the large Bull Moose from across the lake. The moose eventually left and we set of back to Brule Lake for a few last weed points. After some rain and weed points, we loaded up our trucks and set back off to society. A quick coffee break and some singing in the car and we were back. Everyone got back and passed out for the night, waiting for our hitch preparation the next day.
Our first hitch was a great success with many triumphs and laughs. We have a few days off now, but were looking forward to the rest of our summer up here in the Superior National Forest.
by Katie Lamke
Obviously TLA stands for “Turtles Linger Afterward” and nothing more...maybe.
As our crewmembers arrived to Ely, MN, whether by plane or car, we were all introduced to a world of Triple Letter Acronyms that we would become part of our summer. A majority of our CMO, or Corp Member Orientation, consisted of activities that allowed us to begin the formation of our team. A group favorite was a game called Thunderbutts; each person grabbed their own wrists behind their knees and we tried to knock each other over by pure gluteus maximus power. We also added one member to our team, Uncle Electra Sparklepants (UES). She/He, depends on the day, is a stuffed unicorn that travels everywhere with us.
After our three short days together, which felt more like a month, it was time for us to fly out to Seattle, WA for CMT…any guesses on that one? Corp Member Training. We had some free time before it was time to board, and decided to take Uncle Electra for a walk. We ran into our pilot by chance, he was kind enough to take a picture and even let Uncle Electra into the cockpit later on (legit).
At CMT, we had spent our week going though various trainings and getting to know other corps members. We all received training in CPR, you should know that TLA, WFA (Wilderness First Aid), and some of us achieved training in LNT (Leave No Trace). There scenarios involved in these, and occasionally some fake blood. Learning to make splints out of sleeping pads, sticks, and other readily available resources was very interesting. We were also introduced to SCA’s safety policies and how the organization runs, including Take 5’s, FOS, JHA, and ERPs. As our service project for that week, the Native Plant teams collaborated and pulled out some of the invasive blackberry and restored the area with ferns and fresh mulch.
Back in Ely, after having a few days off, we began our On-Site Training. We had met up with Jack Greenlee, the Plant Ecologist for the Forest Service, at the Superior NF Ranger Station. He gave us the background of the area and what to expect this season. We also went over the types of plants we’ll be removing, like Orange Hawkweed, and learned about the Pagami Creek Fire.
Then it was finally time for our “trial hitch,” which we had been eager to go on for quite some time. Once all the canoes were loaded, we headed off to Low Lake and launched. After paddling and portaging, we had reached our campsite in Bass Lake and set up camp. Then it was time to switch gears for work, so we all threw on our heavy Carhartts and boots and did some plant inventory/removal around our campsite. We also went over a few native plants, like the Wild Rose and Star Flower.
After that, we changed wardrobes yet again, and went back out on the water for some canoe lessons, or in other words how to make a canoe go straight! Jumping in the water was the great award of achieving some canoe skill; the next challenge was getting back in the boat. When we got back to camp, dinner was started and there was chance to relax. For dessert—prepare for your mind to be blown—brownies in a skillet, highly recommended!
In the morning, we had packed everything up and went to a neighboring lake to pull invasive species, and practice portaging on rough terrain. After canoeing back to Low Lake, we loaded everything up and headed home.
The next morning we woke up and had our USFS Water Safety Training. Here, we focused on types of strokes, portaging techniques, and of course the classic “what do you do if your canoe capsizes?” This was probably more fun then it should have been, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Our final task was to get our canoes back to the dock without help, after swamping it. We all had a great time coming up with a solution for that one!
All in all, our team is going to have a great season, and if you’re curious, you have been exposed to 12 TLA’s, welcome to the world of Turtles Linger Afterward.
|It's coming up...May 2012|
|Katie Lamke (Corps Member)|
|Will Thompson (Corps Member )|
|Zach Evilsizer (Corps Member)|
|Julie Tierney (Corps Member)|
|Kristen Mrozowski (Corps Member)|
|Jordan McMahon (Corps Member)|
|Toby Briggs (Project Leader)|
|Hitch #5...and Beyond|
|You know you’re on hitch in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when…|
|Top 10.5 Reasons to Work in the Boundary Waters|
|Hitch #2--Seagull Basecamp|
|Hitch #1--An adventure in the rain|
|TLA-Turtles Linger Afterwards|