The 2012 Superior Team #2 Worksite Report is attached.
by Dave Lahr, Project Leader
I'd like to thank my corpsmembers Darrin, Fraser and Matt for the enormous amount of time and effort they put toward making our season a success. Looking back, here are some highlights of our season in the Boundary Waters:
- Treating approximately 6 acres of non-native invasive plant
- Building improvised sailboats from canoes, rainjackets, paddles and tarps
- Teaching visitors and Ely locals about SCA
- Watching bald eagles catch fish in the morning mist on Fourtown Lake
- Seeing wildlife up close at the International Wolf Center and the North American Bear Center in Ely
by Matt Eisenbart
We seem to be trying to dry a couple rain jackets in the most deliberate way possible in the picture below, but we’re actually sailing. The jackets are small but still catch enough wind to move a couple canoes about as fast as we can when paddling. At this point, our sailing is just a fun way to get home after a day of work if the wind is blowing the right way. Our team wanted to move much faster.
It was a clear day; the wind began to pick up in the mid-morning. Our team had pulled weeds through the morning and was traveling at a good pace around one of the larger lakes in the Boundary Waters. We realized it would be a great day to sail again but wanted to improve on our rain jacket and bungee cord sail boat. Instead of rain jackets, we used our kitchen tarp; instead of bungee cords to hold the boats together, we used downed saplings found along route. Soon, we had a north woods catamaran with a giant spinnaker sail. All that was left was waiting for a good breeze to put the sail up.
The Kitchen tarp unfurled and filled with wind. It tugged on the masts and the bowmen. We were off and gaining speed quickly. The wind kept up and pushed the catamaran faster than we had ever been able to with our paddles. The limbs holding the canoes together stayed in place, and we were heading somewhere quick. It turns out that somewhere was slightly different from where we planned to go, so we started to turn.
All of us found out that the catamaran was a bit harder to manage. Both sternmen had difficulty forcing the boat to turn. As soon as we turned out of the direction of the wind, the sail deflated and slipped under the boat. We dragged the sail out from below us, and tried again. After some progress towards our destination, the wind suddenly switched sending it under the boats again. Eventually we realized the wind was no longer cooperating, so we had to start paddling.
Even though we didn’t quite reach the campsite we were aiming for, the afternoon with a catamaran was one the most memorable times spent this season. The moments when we had the wind with us and at full speed we seemed to fly through the water; as much as a canoe can fly through a Northern Minnesota lake. We had come up with the idea of a catamaran with a kitchen tarp sail earlier in the season, and I didn’t understand how well it would work until we shot across a lake with a gust. We had to disassemble the whole thing and leave the masts at the next portage, but there are always more downed saplings in the Boundary Waters.
by Daniel Fraser Watson
We started out this hitch at Isabella Lake near the Pow-Wow trail in the Gunflint District of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). This is the eastern side of the wilderness. We spent part of the first hitch in this area when we removed knapweed from parts of the Pow-Wow trail. When we pulled the knapweed back in June most of the plants were small. When we came back this hitch there was, unfortunately, a lot of knapweed growing and it was flowering. I think that since we treated this site so early in the summer the knapweed had a lot of time to rebound and there were probably plants that were still germinating in the soil when we first treated the site. In the future it would be more effective to treat the Pow-Wow trail for knapweed later in the summer and spend the first hitch in an area with plant species that flower earlier like hawkweed and oxeye daisy.
We launched from the portage at Isabella Lake and from there we paddled west to the Little Isabella River. Since the entire area was in the Pagami Creek burn area we had to inventory every site even if it was not marked for weeds from previous years. This was the first time that we got to paddle for any length of time on a river and I enjoyed the change in scenery. The river was wide and slow moving at some points and at others had rapids that we had to portage around. It was also very winding and often bordered by flowering lily pads and tall floating mats of grasses. We camped at the first open campsite that we found which had a large rock overlooking the river. On the second day we left most of our things at the campsite and paddled/portaged our way to Quadga Lake inventorying sites along the way. We pulled the canoes up at a campsite on the north shore of Quadga and from there hiked to the Pow-Wow trail which we hiked east on for two miles. Since the Pow-Wow trail is very marshy the most prevalent invasive along the trail was Canada Thistle. When we reached the extent of the previously marked sites we stopped for a snack. During the snack break the biggest dragonfly I have ever seen was graciously eating the deerflies buzzing around our heads. We dubbed this golden dragonfly Chauncey the Brave who delivered us from the hated deerflies whilst we ate our ClifBars.
After snack we made our way back to our campsite and that evening after dinner we saw our first moose of the summer swimming across the river. We ran to try and get a closer look, but unfortunately it lumbered into the woods before we could get a good picture.
On day three we moved camp to the Perent River on the east side of Isabella Lake at a campsite next to some rapids which were frequented by a pair of beavers or otters, which was not clear since they did not leave the water. After lunch at the campsite we continued upstream checking campsites and portages along the way until we got to a narrow section of the river with a large rock towering above the landscape. We took a break from work to climb to the top and take pictures.
Day four was a travel day so after striking camp and getting sites on Isabella Lake we drove to Kawishiwi Lake which is one of the more popular launching points into the BWCAW. The second half of our hitch would consist of inventorying and treating sites on the Kawishiwi, Square, Kawaschong, Polly, and Hazel Lake. We base camped at a nice site on Kawaschong Lake in the burn area on the night of day four.
Day five was by far the most demanding day of work we have had this summer. We decided that because of all the portages required to get from our campsite to our farthest point on Hazel Lake we would leave most of our things behind. Because of this we traveled 15 miles that day, 3.5 of which were portages and had to wake up an hour early and did not make it back to camp until 7. It thunderstormed on and off throughout the day and at one point we went into lightning position. At the end of the day we ate a dnner that probably consisted of about 1200 calories. I was glad that we managed to accomplish this though as it allowed us to do the rest of the work on day six and come back to Ely a day early.
by Darrin Gobble
It all started with a 3-hour drive to the Pow Wow trail, where Superior team two finally started their newfound love for the outdoors. The Pow Wow trail was the site of the Pagami fire last year that burned down 92000 acres. Our priority was identifying spotted knapweed and removing it from the immediate area around the trail.
We met some locals that used to work in the area before it became a wilderness. When he was 16, he was working on an old horse barn there and escorted us to the site. The next day was spent the entirety of the day hiking to the furthermost priority spot on our map to remove more spotted knapweed, Canadian and Bull thistle. Even though all the trees here are burned down and falling, this place still has its own beauty. We finished the day with some cheese grits casserole. YUM!
Our last day on the Pow Wow trail we finished eliminating the knapweed from the beginning of the trailhead. After which, we canoed to a couple of non-priority sites on Lake Isabella and found small clusters of oxeye daisy which were quickly done away with. Since we finished early we found time to go swimming and fishing. The water was cold but it felt good to wash up a bit. We then headed back to Ely for the night but not before cooking our leftover peanut butter noodles.
Saturday the 16th we woke up around 5:30am to start cooking breakfast so we could get an early start on our next part of the hitch. We packed and drove 20 min to Fall Lake. We had an 80-rod portage to our first site, which was overrun with yellow and orange hawkweed and oxeye daisy. We did as much as we could to eliminate them. We hit one more 90-rod portage and arrived on Pipestone Bay. We eventually reached a site that notoriously became known to us as the “Back Forty”. We arrived to this site with a seemingly endless array of oxeye daisy. We spent a good 3 hours there before we heard the storm coming. So we decided to leave the rest until another day so we could acquire a site before the storm showed up. So we canoed about 20 minutes before the rain came. We then continued to canoe across the lake, using a chain of islands to help block out the wind as much as it could. We finally found a camping site that was open and just took all of the Duluth packs and hung out under our kitchen tarp to stay out of the rain. Here we spent the next hour and half under the tarp sharing trail mix and playing card games. The rain eventually gave and we set up camp and cooked dinner. Day one on the water: a success.
The next day we decided to go for our main priority site, which was composed of cypress spurge and tatarian honeysuckle. We identified both the native and tatarian honeysuckles, so as to not remove the wrong one. We were also careful to not mistake a small pine sapling from a cypress spurge. They look very similar. We knocked out that site pretty early and set us up to be ahead of schedule the rest of the hitch. We then went to every site on our map to check for invasive plants. Finished the day off with a bit of sailing our canoes back to camp. A very favorable south wind took us straight back. We lashed our canoes together and used a couple rain jackets on the paddles for a sail. It was a great end to a full workday.
Our second to last day we packed up our camp and headed south, back towards our final exit. The next handful of sites had little to no invasive plants besides the last portage we had of the hitch. There was yellow hawkweed as far as the eye could see. So we just pushed it back about 30 feet from the portage trail and continued on our way back home. After a very relaxing lunch on top of a rock in the middle of the lake, we finished up the last 4 sites of the day and found a mosquito-infested campsite to end the evening. We made lentil rice cakes, which may have had about 100 mosquito larvae and 2 minnows in, however we ate it anyways. They sat very well in our stomachs. Dave made some popcorn with some curry seasoning. Coupled with a fire to keep the mosquitoes down, this night was awesome.
Our last day consisted of finishing up the last three sites from where we were the night before and our final destination. The last three sites went by really fast and we ended up back in Ely by noon. So we decided to plan for a few hours before calling it a day. All in all, this first hitch was a success and we look forward to our next four hitches.
I am from Arlington, Virginia and go to school at the University of Virginia where I will be a 4th year this fall. My majors are Biology and Environmental Science with a Specialization in Conservation. My hobbies include biking, backpacking, and sailing. I chose to work for the SCA this summer on the native plant corps in Superior National Forest because I was interested in getting more involved in conservation work and the SCA seemed like a good place to start. After looking through all the different opportunities this one jumped out at me since it involved invasive species, which I have learned about in the past and find very interesting. Also I have never been to this area of the country and I wanted to see and learn about an ecosystem that is new to me.