Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guided Group Canoe Trips in the BWCAW

How our Guided Group Trips Work

Each paddling season we offer several Guided Group Canoe Trips. They each have a different theme, but they all run pretty much the same way.

Arrival Day

Arrival day is always on a Saturday. We do this to allow you time to get into Ely and get settled before we head out on the canoe trip. Most folks arrive mid to late afternoon. Come right to our store and check in at the Outfitting Barn; and we will greet you with a hearty welcome and go over a few details. You will then head down to the Canoe On Inn, a block west of our store, where lodging is provided for you that first night as well as the night after you conclude your trip. After you check in, you can browse through our store and pick up any last minute items you might need or even find something that makes you wonder how you ever got along without it. You can also take a quick spin around town and check out some of the other shops and galleries.

After a great dinner at the Chocolate Moose (not included in your package) you will have the opportunity to meet your Guide and your fellow paddlers. During this time your guide will go over some details about the trip and allow you to ask any questions you may have. You will be given a pack to take back to your room so you can repack your personal gear. Turn in for a good nights rest and anticipate the the adventure that awaits.

The Canoe Trip Described

Head down to the Chocolate Moose again for a terrific breakfast and then gather at the Outfitting Barn around 8AM. Here we will fit you for a paddle and life vest, double check our packs and gear, and load up for the shuttle to your entry point. Now the excitement begins.

Most of our trips are 6 days in length, Sunday to Friday. Two of our trips are 5 days in length because we spend a day at the International Wolf Center for our Howl with the Wolves trip; and a day at the Bear Center for our Black Bear Trip.

We have a somewhat laid back approach on our group trips. We are not out to run a race or marathon; we want the trip to be relaxing. We know you are on vacation and our goal is to help you enjoy the wilderness and come away refreshed and renewed, not exhausted and stressed out. So we will not travel everyday, but will factor in some lay-over days so you can do whatever suits your fancy. You can paddle and explore surrounding lakes, fish for that trophy smallmouth or northern pike, swim, hike some portages, or just find a nice rock and read a book or take a nap.

Our guides are willing to help you with paddling skills if you need them. Teach you camp skills, share their vast knowledge of flora, fauna, and history or just paddle quietly with you if you like.

On the days that we do travel, we try to be on the water at a decent hour ( 8 to 9 am) so we can get our miles in. You will get the chance to hone your navigation skills as we paddle and portage to our next campsite. We will stop for lunch and breaks along the way. We try to make camp by mid-afternoon, so with a 6 hour paddle day we will cover about 10 miles or so, depending on the number of portages.

When we get to our campsite for the night the first order of business is setting up the tarp and tents just in case it rains. Camp chores are shared equally…gathering firewood, helping the guide with the cooking, doing dishes and so on. This approach allows plenty of time for personal activity.

Evening campfires are one of the highlights of the trip. A chance to sit around a fire and share stories, and get to know one another is something that will stay with your for years to come. After a full day of activity and all of that fresh Minnesota air your sleeping bag will beckon and you will be asleep before you know it.

The cool thing is that we get to do this for 6 days! All too soon it will be Friday and this is going home day. Most folks cannot believe how quickly the week has gone. We normally will get back to Ely by mid to late afternoon. Everyone seems anxious to head for the motel to take a shower…I can’t imagine why. That evening, most groups will plan to meet for dinner and a chance to relive highlights of the trip and brag about how easy the portages really were. Email addresses are exchanged with promises to keep in touch and share photos. After an evening in Ely you can head for home on Saturday, hopefully, with some good memories and a desire to come back again.

Who Comes on Guided Group Trips?

We literally get people from all over the country to come on these trips. We get married couples and singles, from all age groups. There always seems to be a broad spectrum of ages and relationships which makes for an interesting mix and dynamic.

What Kind of Paddling Experience is Needed?

You do not need to have canoeing experience to come on one of these trips. If you love the outdoors and want a special wilderness experience and want to meet friendly, interesting people, one of our group trips might be right for you. There is no white water on these trips…just flat water. If you are fit enough to walk a portage and carry a pack you can do it. Our guides are pros at teaching people how to handle a canoe in no time at all.

What is Provided and What do I Need to Bring?

All you need to bring is your personal stuff…clothing, toiletries, rain gear, camera, and fishing gear. We will provide a detailed list of clothing and personal items for you to bring. We do the rest…all of your food, camping gear, sleeping bags, pads, packs, everything right down to the toilet paper.

How do I Sign Up and What is Required?

We ask for a $300 deposit to hold a spot for you on one of our trips. The balance is not due until you arrive in Ely for the trip. We will send you a brief medical history form and a waiver of liability for you to sign and you are good to go. Call us at 800-223-6565 or email us, or to reserve your spot right now.

Special Discount

You may have some needs for clothing or personal gear. We will offer you a 10% discount on anything you buy in our store. We have everything you could possibly need for your trip. Check our our website at or call 800-223-6565 to place an order.

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