Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Poem: Low Water Mark

Steve Piragis went out paddling into the early evening yesterday. His picture reflected some of the most subtle afternoon light we've seen so far this year.  It is hard to believe that November is already upon us.  This poem came to mind.  Enjoy.

Low Water Mark

Rising from dark water;
spires climb,
the green trees of years
gone by.  Now like 
bannerless flag posts
rooted in the wetland soil.
Sentinels of the lake
silent, watching.

Reaching through gray.
blue and pink toward
the retreating sun.
Arms entreating dead
grasses to join in the dance.

Canoe bow splits
reflection’s perfection.
Abandoned wood duck
house rocking slowly
to the rhythm of the 
dead wind.

Redwing blackbird
calls from the cattails.
Beaver tail slaps to 
the North.  Pileated beak
strikes home and keeps
the beat, hidden in the 
dark, jagged line of pines.

The colors deepen.  No
one is home, or,
are they?  Paddle pushes
us into the night.

© Timothy James Stouffer, 11/04/2015
All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Save the Boundary Waters: Give to the Max Day November 12th

Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters Announces $77,000 Match for Give to the Max Day 
The Campaign hopes to raise $165,000 toward its efforts to protect the Boundary Waters 
from proposed sulfide-ore copper mining.

Ely, MN (November 2, 2015) -- Advocates for preserving the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northeastern Minnesota will be able to double their Give to the Max Day donations to the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters on November 12. The Campaign, which is a project of Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness, has received $77,000 toward its match.

“We are grateful to the community of supporters who continue to raise their voices in support of permanently protecting this amazing canoe country. This year’s Give to Max Day will help us continue a legacy of efforts to protect America’s most visited wilderness area and preserve it for future generations,” said Becky Rom, national campaign chair.

The Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters is a national Campaign dedicated to gaining permanent protection for the Boundary Waters from sulfide-ore copper mining proposed by Twin Metals and other companies. The Campaign has been working to bring this issue to the attention of federal decision makers; grow a large grassroots movement; and educate people about the risks posed by this type of mining.

Last year, with the support of more than 600 donors, the Campaign raised more than $102,000 in combination with a $50,000 matching pledge. This accomplishment earned the Campaign recognition in the top ten of Give MN’s medium category for nonprofits. The Campaign has a $77,000 match this year and hopes to raise a total of $165,000.

Since last year’s Give to the Max Day, the Campaign has continued to grow, taking regular trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress and delivering more than 60,000 petition signatures in support of permanent protection for this wilderness. In April, three supporters rode 850 miles on the Bike Tour to Save the Boundary Waters to raise awareness about the issue in communities and campuses from Winona to Ely. On September 23, 2015, Dave and Amy Freeman, 2014 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year, launched A Year in the Wilderness, their latest expedition in support of protecting the Boundary Waters.

Please visit the Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness Give to the Max page for the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters for more information.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Comes to the Northland

Yesterday, Steve Piragis and I took a walk along a portage near Ely.  After a day and night of rain, our leaves that had really just begun to deepen in color were falling all around us.  Autumn here in the Northwoods is fickle and comes on fast.  It has no patience for those of us who love it so much and no desire to every hang around as much as we'd like it to.

So, when you have some time, or not, (it is always best to make time) It pays to get outside and relish the oranges, yellows, browns, magentas, reds against the backdrop of green conifers and blue sky.  The yellow in this kevlar Wenonah Spirit II made a cool focal point.

I'm really just along for the ride, but the Piragis Pants and Chota Breathable Waterproof Socks aren't.  They are the real deal and when paired with Chota Caney Fork Portage Boots or Quetico Trekkers, they make perfect sense for your feet during cool water times such right now.  With 5 nights complete with frost already, the waters are fresh with anticipation of being hard in a month and a half if not sooner.  The fish instinctively know this and they are hungry.  The bite is on!

If the beautiful colors aren't enough to entice you into a trip to Ely and the Boundary Waters this Autumn, that should.  Nothing like a fresh fish dinner over the campfire.

Oh, and just because Minnesota is full of surprises, on Sunday, it is supposed to be 76 degrees here in Ely.  Sunshine will never feel so great.

p.s. The next two weekends represent the end of our Outlet Store Season for 2015.  That means less than eight days left for you to save 75% on excellent clothing items in our Outlet Store.  Sale ends when MEA Weekend is over.

The walk in the woods yesterday inspired this poem.

North Country Fall

Leaves are falling,
circling round in their descent
like distant friends might
one day plot a pilgrimage
towards freedom.
Bigtooth Aspens, White Swamp Oaks,
Showy Mountain Ash
Popples and Paper Birches,
Silver Maple; Black Ash,
Pin Cherry, Quaking Aspens
and underneath, Ironwood, Honeysuckle and Anise Hyssop.
Eastern Cottonwoods, Box Elders.
Sugar Maples and a
Shagbark Hickory, the ugly duckling
amongst a temeritous stand
of Bur Oak.

While the tamarack turn
their backs on their green
coniferous neighbors.
Leafy fingers,
Golden with rust, reach
for the clouds as if 
to pull down the 
snow around their
knobby knees,
before falling selfishly.
Alone, leafless, among all the other
conifers of the North.

Strong smells of woodsmoke
are in the air
and under the raven’s
wing.  Apples burgeon
with Summer’s amorous liquor, heavy
on brown branches that
once blossomed
at the mercy of the same 
visiting winds signaling
the separation of Spring.

Lying on the forest floor
I think of you and how far
and fast I’ve fallen.
In the face of your

@Timothy James Stouffer, 10/09/2015
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Clients Perspective: First Boundary Waters Trip

Hi Drew and Adam!

I want to thank you and your entire team for helping make our trip to the Boundary Waters an awesome and relaxing adventure. I can't speak highly enough about how accommodating and helpful you guys were. We planned our trip from Nashville, and you made sure we had everything in order, including rentals, shuttles, switching my permit pick-up spot, and a handful of other things I just wouldn't have thought about. You guys even had sweet and salty snacks for us after we pulled out of Snowbank (seriously a great touch). I appreciate it very much!

This was my first trip into the BWCA, and honestly, I had no idea what to expect. To put it mildly, I was absolutely blown away by one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. We ended up camping on Disappointment, Ima, and Boot Lakes over a 7 day period. For future reference, the coolest campsite in the world is on an island of Ima Lake. There's a perfect hammock spot that overlooks a cliff that doubles as a jumping rock for swimming, and the site has the best of view of the sunset and stars at night! I've included a few pictures that don't begin to do it justice!

Thanks again for everything! If we return to Ely, you will certainly be our outfitter.

Sincerely,  Jessica Shutt

Monday, September 14, 2015

Camp Notes 2015

Took along a Rite in the Rain pocket journal and scratched down some notes from our last camping trip this Summer.

I would call these things old friends. Simple observations that arrive in bursts and bubbles that float briefly above my head in camp like those from comic books.  With exclamation marks.

They are not earth shattering. Some may not even scratch the surface of your experiences.  That’s o.k. They are, in part reasons, why I go camping.  They are together, with many other daily experiences under the tall pines and on top of solid granite, profound in their simplicity. I dare say if I had experienced them even on an irregular basis as a child they would have been enough to change my life.

Because I could imagine them and tasted them at different times, even if not together — all on one epic trip - they waited for me and greeted me as an adult with kids of my own. Returning to the woods each year, they continue to welcome me like living memories.

Coffee tastes better in a French Press at camp than at the priciest, most stylish coffee shop - even the ones with the leather couches that threaten to swallow you with comfort. Balancing on an old log and savoring each sip, my morning is complete before the sun has even crested the treeline.

At home my dog is inseparable from me.  At camp he explores and lies down by himself. He’ll ask to be let into the tent for a nap. He does however want to be included in canoe rides, fishing expeditions and hammock naps.

The crappie I pulled up from the deep bottom with the moon rising sharply overhead.  It felt like a walleye and I treated it as such, fighting it in, surprised at the end that its fragile paper mouth held the larger hook.  Black and white, it was reflected as a copy of itself off the water that had turned flat as glass.

Dragonflies flew all around me as I fished in the dark.

The flickering flames of the fire through the tree branches calling me back to my family on shore and the fragrant smell of smoke drifting across the lake.

The imagined and real movement of a hammock underneath you as you sleep suspended between two huge trees.

Minnows schooling in the morning water. Sand underneath lit with the day’s first light. In the afternoon tiny rollers left bright light patterns across the surface of the lake.  More minnows in the growing warmth.

Lily pad stems grabbing you while you swim.  Did you know that if you burn your finger while cooking or get a sunburn, the underneath of a lily pad when rubbed on your burn mimics the cooling and healing properties of aloe?

The cold rush of the first swim of the day is one of the most refreshing things on Earth.

Everything. Everything tastes better.  Even mistakes.

The black from the cooking pots that gets on your fingers.

The feeling of togetherness and on-the-same-pageness that is present from the time we land at camp. This is accompanied by a pervading sense of calm and relaxation.

How much better a good book is when read in a tent or with your back against a tree in the sun.

The tantalizing smell of bacon over a flames that pulls everyone to the campfire like a magnet.


Flaky white fish fried to perfection and breaded golden brown with eggs over easy and camp potatoes.

A walk in the dark under the light of the stars without your headlamps.

The ripples that forever change the complexion of the lake right before your bobber disappears under the surface. Those two to three seconds you wait before setting the hook.

Riding back towards Ely and home, silent in the car, before you are pulled back into the unreality of busy everyday life.