Hi -- I’m Anna Botner, Wilderness Specialist on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of August 1st, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
Travel around the Forest should be good this week as roads are clear and in good shape. Of course, this time of year, there could always be a sudden storm that might cause trees to fall, so keep your eyes open after weather events. Road construction on Highway 61 has lengthened travel time, so plan on delays up to half an hour.
There are several timber operations on the Gunflint District. You are likely to encounter logging trucks around Bally Creek, Devil Track, Ball Club, Shoe Lake, Greenwood, Pine Mountain, The Grade, the Caribou Trail, and the Gunflint Trail. On the Tofte District, there will be logging truck traffic near Harriet Lake, the Four Mile Grade, and the Sawbill Trail. Give trucks plenty of room, and be particularly careful on corners in these areas.
Fire crews have finished the fuel reduction work in the East Bearskin Campground, and are starting on similar clearing of understory brush in the Baker Lake Campground. Crews are also still supporting fire-fighting efforts in the Pacific Northwest.
If you are going into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, you still may encounter downed trees across portages. Wilderness rangers have cleared most of the well-used areas, but you might find dead falls in the more remote sections of the wilderness. As always, try to avoid creating new trails as you work your way around fallen trees. Stick to the actual portage trail as much as possible.
While the Boundary Waters is best known for canoeing, there are several trails in the wilderness as well. Hikers heading off to enjoy these trails need to be sure to follow the first rule of Leave No Trace – plan ahead and prepare. Wilderness trails may be less maintained than other trails. Expect to find more roots and rocks in the way. Wear good hiking shoes, not just sneakers or sandals. Pack plenty of water and extra food. Don’t rely on cell phones, or assume help will be easy to get. Your fitness level is an important consideration. Prepare to be self-reliant and ready for anything, whether you’re planning a multiday backpacking adventure, or just a day trip on the trail. Judge your time well, too – if it is time to turn back for the day, or stop and make camp, and your goal is to get just a little bit further…be sensible and turn around, or stop.
For up to minute information on topics such as fire restrictions, be sure to check our website or at a Ranger Station.
Hope you enjoy another week in the Forest and on the water. Until next week, this has been Anna Botner with the National Forest Update.