The Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness is hands down my favorite place to paddle in the Midwest. I’m not out there in a traditional canoe or a kayak. I’m paddling an inflatable Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP). I know what you might be thinking, “How is that possible?!” or you are giving me that confused “WHAT?” look. Well I am here to tell ya, it is very possible and truly a blast! It might even be easier than you think too.
First, let me explain a bit of who I am. Name is Pete Rozeboom and I’m an adventure photographer born and raised in Minnesota. Over the years, I’ve traveled around the world on different adventures. Documenting everything one photo at a time. 90-day backpacking expedition in the Rocky Mountains, mountaineering in Alaska, exploring Europe and parts of Asia, and multiple road trips chasing powder and adventures around the United States of America. In 2016, I visited every Minnesota State Park in 32 weeks. During that project I got my first inflatable SUP, since I wanted to explore all of the beautiful lakes along with hiking and biking each park. So happy I did! Paddling changed everything for me. Opened my eyes and mind for a “new” way of traveling. I love person-power modes of transportation and SUPing is 100% person-power. Not to mention, the outstanding training potential one can do with a SUP when not on a trip, with it being a full-body workout. I could go on and on on the benefits of SUPing, but this article is more about SUPing in the BWCA. So let’s dive into it!
In order to SUP, ones needs a board. There are tons of companies out there these days offering hard and inflatable boards. I landed on Hala Gear out of Steamboat, Colorado back in 2015. Wanted something I didn’t have to worry about bouncing off rocks, sticks, and other objects in the water. Plus, something I can travel with. Hard boards are great, but they can chip, snap, and are much harder to travel with. All of Hala’s boards are inflatable and build with a whitewater background with a 3 year warranty. Yeah, people run class 5 rapids on an inflatable SUPs, I've personally have ran class 3 rapids. So they are built to take a beating and you can see that when you ride one. Also, being an inflatable has weight savings advantages, which is phenomenal for portaging. Most SUP companies I’ve seen come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Picking the right board for the right task is key. Rocking a short and super wide board is great stabilization wise, but is not going to track and glide like a longer and more narrow board will. All depends on what you are trying to do on the water.
Alright you have your board, but what about the other gear? Bringing the right gear can make or break a trip. Having too much stuff makes portaging harder, slows you down paddling, and is just a pain to deal with. Keep it light, fast, and dry is key! Over the years, I have been figuring out the right gear combination for my paddle trips, which I got to say I am pretty happy with my current setup. I have broken down my personal gear selection on my SUPing with Rozyboom website, based on the length of paddle.
My gear fits into a 65L Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack. Think of it as a dry bag backpack, which has a hip bent and sternum strap to help with the load. These bags are amazing!! Typically around 40-60 pounds loaded up. They also make different sizes too, I just found the 65L to be perfect for me. Sometimes an additional 35L Hydraulic Dry Bag or Big River Bag is needed too. That second bag, tends to be for dry food and/or sleep system for quick setup. Plus, acts as a day bag once we get camp setup. All the cold food gets put into my RTIC Soft Pack 30 cooler. I just lay these bags on top of the board and hit the water. If conditions are rough, I will strap it down with NRS straps or a carabiner to a D-Loop on the board. Most of the time, just laying them down is perfectly fine. Remember to spread the weight across the board from side to side and front to back, erroring with more weight on the backend of the board.
Travelling with a SUP is much easier than people think. The sweet part of inflatable SUPs is how they roll up into a rolling duffle bag and extra space in the bag. It is airport friendly and fully packed tends to be below 50 pound threshold. I typically only put SUP gear in the bag like fins, PFD, leash, pump, paddle shoes, travel paddle, and stuff like that. If not flying, you can strap them to the roof rack, bare roof, or a hitch mount platform (what I do) with NRS straps. The bags helps keep the boards protected during the journey and free up space inside your vehicle. Get to your destination and start pumping them up by hand or high pressure pump.
Portaging with a SUP. “How do you portage?” has to be the most asked question I get. Don’t overthink it! You can carry it by the handle like you would walking to the launch or across a beach, what we do on super short portages. My preference, is to make a sling out of an NRS strap. Run it along a side on top of the board through the D-Ring spots. Bring it back to the clip to make a full loop, which should look like a sling. Toss it up on your shoulder and start hiking, adjust length as needed. Like I said, “Don’t overthink it!”
SUP-Fishing is one of my favorite activities to do in the BWCA. Always learning a new lake! Given, we have been focusing on just a few lakes to really learn them well. Locating the fish is the biggest and trickiest task, which you can use a depth finder on a SUP. Slightly modified a sensor mounting bracket and you are ready to see what is happening under the water. Find that school of Walleye deep down. Otherwise, cast, jig, bobber, troll, or do whatever to find em. You can fish standing, kneeling, kicking back on a crazy creek chair, or anyway that feels comfortable for you. I love to stand, since I can typically cast and still see my bait in the water. Crazy to see a Northern Pike or Bass hammer your bait right next to your SUP, near the surface. It looks like they are going to jump right onto the board! Tackle wise, soft plastics are great, but I try to use real bait as much as possible. Nightcrawlers and leeches tend to only last a few days, unless you can keep them cool, shade is your friend. I use a 6 foot breakaway pole, which is why I also bring a net. Helps to grab the fish while keeping the pole high and fully taught. Scoop them up with the net, pull the hook, grab the stringer, and add to the dinner menu. Stringer we typically tie to a side D-Ring and attach it off the very back when paddling back to camp, helps with drag off the back. Get back to camp, clean them up (remembering Leave No Trace Principles for disposing fish properly), and start cooking. Nothing beats earning your meal for the day!
With so many people asking what SUPing is all about I decided to start my own business, SUPing with Rozyboom. Local Minnesota business with one main focus, to get you out on the water enjoying nature. Whether you are a first timer, not super comfortable, trying to advance, or looking for a super fun way to explore around. I offer something for everyone! Just need to bring your personal gear, water, and snacks/food. Board, Paddle, PFD, Leash, Dry Bags, and more is all provided. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to get out on a SUP. I offer a variety of paddle options from Easy Going, Level Up, Single River Day, Private, and Destination Paddles. All paddles are tailored in their own ways. Plus, for Easy Going and Level Up paddles I am super flexible on the start time and day of the week too. I’m always willing to move around and do everything I can to get you on a board, including changing the lake/river we are going to paddle, to make it convenient for everyone. During all paddles, I am taking photos and videos of you to share and enjoy. After all paddles, I have promo codes to get you a deal on your very own Hala board! With your own board, you can join my Easy Going and Level Up paddles for free and/or get a discount on Destination and Single River Day paddles too.
If you would like to learn more about gear, SUPs, board demos, SUPing with Rozyboom paddles, and/or trip planning please contact me! I love helping people figure out gear and getting them on the water.
Lastly, no matter how you are experience the Boundary Waters please Leave No Trace. It is our duty to preserve, keep clean, and protect this amazing areas. Stop using single use anything. Think before buying or discarding something. As humans, we only have this one planet we all share, along with a plethora of other life. Areas like the BWCA, National Parks, and the variety of protected areas are key to the survival of multiple species, including our own. Speak up and stand up to those who are disrespectful to our environment. Without it, all species will suffer, including humans. Remember, every little bit helps!
Rep. McCollum introduces legislation compelling US Forest Service to complete and release study on toxic mining near the Boundary Waters
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had previously cancelled the study and is refusing to hand over underlying data
Today, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced legislation (Interior Appropriations Committee Report p.7) compelling the U.S. Forest to complete a study on toxic mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. The study had been underway for twenty months before being cancelled by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in 2018, who in defiance of Congress is refusing to hand over the preliminary reports. Perdue had previously promised Rep. McCollum he would finish the study, then broke his word last September.
The legislation would halt mineral leasing in the watershed of the Boundary Waters until the completion and delivery of the study to Congress.
“This legislation is necessary because the Trump administration is hellbent on steamrolling through this risky mining project near a pristine Wilderness without acknowledging the inherent problems,” said Tom Landwehr, Executive Director of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters.
The legislation comes a week after the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) renewed two leases for Chilean mining giant Antofagasta’s Twin Metals project. The leases were terminated in 2016 by the Obama Administration because of the irreconcilable risk they posed to the Wilderness, and unlawfully reinstated by the Trump Administration. The leases have never undergone full environmental review to determine whether the watershed of the Boundary Waters is the right location for this kind of mining.
1. Share our post or tweet and thank Rep. McCollum on your social media!
2. Call your Minnesota Elected Officials and tell them to protect the Boundary Waters.
Senator Tina Smith: (202) 224-5641
Senator Amy Klobuchar: (202) 224-3244
Governor Tim Walz: (651) 201-3400
3. Donate today and help us continue this fight!
Author - Lanny Witter
After planning and anticipation, the time comes
There’s the sign that says you are now in the BWCAW
The daily cares quickly start washing away
Find that campsite you hope is empty
Scope it out, hang the food bag and erect tents
The first night it’s Brats and potatoes
Conversation and relaxation around a crackling camp fire
Retire early to be ready for the next day
Dawn arrives, time to rise, so quiet and peaceful
The tent zipper is so loud
Step out into the cool morning air
It is so quiet I can hear a pin drop
The hiss of the camp stove is the only sound
Enjoy a hot cup of coffee on a shore line rock
The granite rock has glacier scars
Not a sound - no breeze
The lake has a mist hovering over it
As the sun rises the mist melts away
The lake is smooth as glass and reflects clouds and trees
The quiet is interrupted by the plop of a jumping fish
The cry of a loon echoes across the lake
What a welcome wilderness sound that is
A breeze turns the lake into ripples
Then the sound of water lapping against the rocks
Time for pancakes that always taste better under the pine trees
Soon it is time to put the canoe in the water
All is quiet except for the sound of the paddle dipping into the water
There’s the sound of the canoe gliding across the lake
The scenic views are awesome and captivating
What is around the next bend you wonder
Portage past water rushing through a bed of rocks
When will we get to the end of the portage - the packs are heavy?
Suddenly you see a welcome patch of blue through the trees
What will the lake look like you wonder?
You arrive and unburden yourself of packs and canoe
Time for a shore lunch of trail mix and jerky
Each lake, portage and campsite are a new experience
Solitude, beautiful scenery, nature, sky blue waters, serenity
Observe picture perfect sunrise and sunsets from a lakeside rock
This is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Pick any Saturday night in July and you’ll find a campfire in full swing at the end of the Gunflint Trail, a stone’s throw from entry point 55 into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
Saturday night is my favorite night of the week for that very reason. Our 40 campers will have just come back from their canoe trips in the BWCAW, ready to share stories of their travels and sing songs like the Voyageurs before them.
At Camp Birchwood for Boys, we’ve been doing some rendition of trip-end campfires since my grandparents founded the wilderness camp in 1968. Nowadays, we call this tradition the Eagle’s Nest Campfire Circle.
We end every campfire with “kudos” - any camper with a statement of thanks, gratitude, or respect is welcome to stand up and share. You’d be surprised how long “kudos” can go amongst a group of young boys (ages 7-17)…some nights, over an hour! Our girls camp often runs even longer.
“I want to thank John for always carrying more weight on the portages than he needed to…even over Stairway Portage!”
“I’d like to give kudos to Henry and Nate for catching our dinner that last night and showing me how to cook it. That’s something I wouldn’t have learned at home. I’ll never forget the fight that Trout gave you guys!”
“Kudos to Taylor for singing songs with me in the canoe even though it was raining.”
“I’m giving my kudos to Carter because he was always the first person to start setting up camp. He never asked what to do, he just started doing something he knew would be helpful.”
“I really want to say kudos to my cabin mates for making this my best summer yet. I love you guys!”
By the time kudos is over, the sun has set, and our campers give one final battle cry over the quiet BWCAW before hiking back to their cabins, listening to the final loons calling out over the Seagull River.
When winter comes and it’s just my dad and me living on the property, I often think of those special campfire nights when Eagle’s Nest is alive with stories of nature, adventure, and camaraderie. I’m warmed by the memories of young campers expressing gratitude for his or her wilderness experience.
Often, our campers write to us as adults giving kudos to Camp and the Boundary Waters for shaping them into the people they are today, with respect, love, and need for the wilderness.
Then I think of the threat of mining in the BWCAW watershed, such a polarizing thought.
Over the past 50 years we have sent thousands of young men (and women) into the Boundary Waters. Thousands have reflected on their trips at Eagle’s Nest and thousands attribute their growth and development to the wilderness of Northern Minnesota.
This wild frontier, where our young campers can escape the pressures of modern society, finding equilibrium, clarity, and connection, is at risk.
It’s not just the development of our campers at risk either. There are many youth camps around the Boundary Waters with similar missions to ours - ultimately providing children with meaningful wilderness experiences that have a positive impact on their lives, in turn, making the world a better place.
However, according to the Twin Metals website, sulfide-ore copper mining will “contribute significant revenues to Minnesota’s K-12 public schools through the Minnesota Permanent School Fund.” Supporters would argue that the mining operation will do more for the development of our youth than the Boundary Waters could, rather than put it at risk.
Although, their contributions would only benefit Minnesota, I think we can all agree increased revenue to the school districts of the state would be positive. However, we have to ask ourselves, “At what cost?”
What example does that set for future generations if our once pristine wilderness vanishes?
They’ll be able to read about the simplicities of calling loons on quiet lakes deep in the Boundary Waters from authors like Sigurd Olson. They’ll hear boyhood stories from their grandfathers of running rapids or catching 25-year-old Lake Trout. They’ll hear of the joys attributed to camping in BWCAW, but they won’t know it for themselves.
Our future generations of youth will ask, “What happened to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area?”
What will we say?
My future grandchildren would likely ask their parents why Camp Birchwood is no longer sending out trips.
The answer: Copper-nickel mining won. Man placed profit over preservation. Short term financial gain eclipsed our connection to the land and, therefore, our human spirit.
However, that dim picture I’ve just painted does not have to be our reality! With your support, the BWCAW can serve generations of youth to come. Children, 100 years from now, can sit atop Eagle’s Nest around a campfire and share their own wilderness tales and give their own kudos.
So, in the spirit of tradition, kudos to everyone supporting the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters. The effects of your help will last hundreds of years and serve countless children.
Ashley from An Outdoor Experience
Kate Conway in Scottsdale, Arizona with her Greater Scottsdale Save the Boundary Waters team of volunteers
John Sand in Austin, MN with his Austin Save the Boundary Waters team of volunteers.
Both Kate and John are working with their volunteers on the following goals: 1. Getting a Letter to the Editor in local papers; 2. Setting up an event to educate the public about copper-nickel mining in the watershed of the Boundary waters; 3. Meeting with local elected officials asking them to protect the Boundary Waters.
So, are you somebody with an outgoing personality and strong leadership skills? Do you love the Boundary Waters? Are you passionate about educating and activating the people in your area to help save the BWCA? Then volunteer to be a Save the Boundary Waters Ambassador!
Ambassadors are a crucial part of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters and they work closely with Campaign staff to develop and strengthen a team of volunteers. These teams then use efficient and strategic tactics aligned with overarching Campaign goals that will educate and activate people within their areas. This helps us build the people power that we need to protect the Boundary Waters!
All Ambassadors will also be trained in the following skills:
How to take a stand for the Boundary Waters
How to interact and advocate for a healthy Boundary Waters with elected officials and land management agencies
Grassroots organizing techniques
Leadership, communication, and lobbying skills
Why do you like volunteering for the Campaign?
What is your favorite lake?
Favorite memory in the Boundary Waters?
What would you never go to the Boundary Waters without?
Why do you want to protect the Boundary Waters?
You are working to build up a campus organization for the Boundary Waters at DePaul University. Why is it so important to you to get students involved in the Campaign?
Some of our volunteer opportunities include the tabling at events, lobbying at the Capitol, the Minnesota State Fair, brewery fundraisers, paddling events, phone banking, data entry, creating art, hosting an event in your community, giving presentations and so much more!
Why do you want to protect the Boundary Waters?
We have so few national treasures left. We have a responsibility to our children and our grandchildren to pass those few to them untarnished. Among the national treasures, the Boundary Waters is the only canoeing wilderness – absolutely unique for us. Would we tear down Independence Hall to build an office complex? Nor should we damage the Boundary Waters for a handful of 30-year jobs. We need to stay true to our responsibility to our children and grandchildren.
When did you first volunteer?
Cannot remember for sure. Four to five years ago. I remember Becky Rom made a presentation at the Minneapolis Club. As folks were leaving, I asked how I might volunteer.
Why do you like volunteering for the Campaign?
Multiple organizations are working along multiple lines to protect the Boundary Waters. Among those organizations the Campaign is most focused. The Campaign has a clear goal: permanent protection in legislation banning sulfide ore mining in the watershed of the Boundary Waters. The Campaign has a strategy to achieve that goal and is executing on the strategy.
What is your favorite event you’ve ever volunteered at?
The State Fair. You meet folks from all over the state from all sorts of backgrounds. Many leave the booth as supporters.
Tom Bose delivering petitions at Minnesota State Fair 2017.
What is your favorite lake?
Farm Lake. Grew up in Indianapolis. In May, 1952 my Dad came from visiting a neighbor. He said, “I just heard about a boys camp in this fabulous place in Minnesota. I went there in the 1930s with five guys. For two weeks we paddle a route called Hunters Island. You have to go.” In June I boarded a train for Duluth. Arrived at Camp Voyageur on Farm Lake a day later.
I was a camper and then a counselor at Camp Voyageur. Made friends there. In the middles 1970s a half dozen of us bought lots along the west shore of Farm Lake. We built cabins together. Our children and now even our grandchildren are learning the experience. We look across Farm Lake to the entrance to the North Kawishiwi, entry point 31 – an entry to a special place.
Favorite memory in the Boundary Waters?
So many special memories from that first campsite on Horse Lake in 1962 to moon light snowshoeing on the North Kawishiwi this past winter. No way to pick one favorite.
What would you never go to the Boundary Waters without?
Friends. The Boundary Waters experience is best shared.
Have you seen any interesting wildlife on your BWCA trips?
All sorts of birds. The red of the scarlet tanager munching seed pods at our misty July campsite on Gabbro. The pine siskins busy in the Norways at our September campsite on Lac La Croix. The snow geese on the Dahlgren River this past October. The Canadian jays that visited our Little Saganaga campsite for a piece of pancake. The loons calling role around Ima Lake. Chickadees everywhere.
Proposed mine site. Photo: Brad Carlson
The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters has been busy meeting with agency and elected officials to track the progress of the federal leases being renewed for mining giant Antofagasta on the edge of the Wilderness. Here's what we know:
1. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has concluded the public input process of the cursory Environmental Assessment (EA) on the lease renewal. It is now reviewing comments. We don't know its timeline for completion. The Forest Service has taken a very limited role in these proceedings, even though it has the authority to lead all environmental review processes for leasing.
2. The BLM has said it will renew two federal leases examined in the EA. These leases were terminated in 2016, unlawfully reinstated in 2018 and are held by Twin Metals, the Minnesota shell entity for Antofagasta. More than 94,000 comments were submitted in opposition to lease renewal and reams of scientific reports, yet it is apparent that the BLM will fast-track this without regard to the scores of thousands of comments it has received in opposition, or the facts and science submitted to the BLM. The EA failed to consider any of the studies and reports that document the risk of harm to the Boundary Waters, the mammals, birds, and fish of the Wilderness, the impacts to clean water and clean air, and the loss of wilderness character of the Boundary Waters.
3. Once the federal leases are renewed, Antofagasta may seek to submit a "Mine Plan of Operations". This is a high-level description of the mine project - the location of facilities, the proposal for handling waste, the plan for "reclaiming" disturbed lands (which really are never restored), and similar elements. There is some question about whether a mine plan can actually be submitted because of legal challenges to the adequacy of federal environmental review and challenges to any issued federal mineral leases.
Antofagasta had previously said it would submit its mine plan in 2019, so we are monitoring developments and activity on the ground. Clearly, the mining company and the Trump administration are doing everything they can to force this project to fruition as soon as they can. We are doing our best to compel them to follow the law, and to find as the previous administration did, that it is simply unacceptable to site a sulfide-ore copper mine adjacent the Boundary Waters Wilderness.
The federal government is currently working on renewing leases that had been terminated in 2016. In order to avoid a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement, the administration in 2017 flaunted law and process by first "reinstating" the leases that had previously expired. By "reinstating" the leases, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) declared that the leases had not expired, so Twin Metals, owned by Chilean mining giant Antofagasta, could apply to "renew" the leases and get a multi-year extension. Why go through these contortions and become the subject of litigation? (Yes, we are suing!) Why not just issue new leases? The reason is simple: a new lease would require a full environmental review and would require concurrence of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Antofagasta and the mining friends in the Administration knew that the project could never be found to be harmless, hence, a reinstatement.
On our D.C. trips, we are meeting with partners to demand more transparency in this process, and to ensure that the best science is used in decision-making. We have strong allies on our side, and our concerns are being heard. For example, Congressional oversight committees provide funds and guide policy at the federal agencies. In at least 7 of these oversight committees in the last 2 months, where leadership from BLM and USFS have appeared, Congressional representatives have raised serious questions about the lease renewal process. We are especially thankful to Representatives Betty McCollum, Raul Grijalva, and Alan Lowenthal for their diligence and doggedness in getting the agencies to follow the law.
Below is an oversight hearing (House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands) we attended where USFS Chief Vickie Christensen (left, back to camera) and BLM Deputy Director Brian Steed were questioned.
Our work with Congress and national partners is critical to preventing the renewal of these leases, or ensuring they follow a rigorous environmental review process if they can't be stopped. It is inconceivable the federal government could find that this proposed mine would be compatible next to America’s most-visited Wilderness. A broad coalition of partners - local, state, and national - is essential to make sure the voice of Minnesota and America is heard.