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Superior National Forest Update: July 14

Hi. I’m Joe Mundell, timber sale administrator on the Gunflint with the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest. Here’s what’s happening in the woods for the week of July 14.

Rain! Rain is what seems to be happening in the woods recently. Duluth is at 4 inches above normal for yearly rainfall, and an inch above last year. Lake Superior is 20 inches above the level shown on navigation charts, and is about nine inches above an average July level. The lake gained four inches during the past month, but now is expected to be stable. All that data means that there’s been a lot of water coming down this summer.

It is supposed to dry off in the next week or so, so it will be time to get out and enjoy our nice full lakes. Make sure to bring your PFD’s when loading your boat, and even better, wear them. Even if you are a strong swimmer, wearing a PFD can make it a lot easier to try to right a swamped canoe, and to gather floating packs of gear. If you’re planning a Boundary Waters trip and have never tipped a canoe over, we recommend that you try it in safe conditions before you go. It may be a lot harder than you think to right the boat and get back into it. When canoeing, it is good to bring some sort of bailing equipment and tie it to the boat. While it is possible to flip a canoe upright in a way which leaves little water in the boat, it takes practice. It is also a lot easier on a calm lake, and face it, if you tip your canoe, it isn’t going to be on a calm lake. It is tempting to tie your packs into the canoe so they would stay with the boat if you tip it, but don’t. Packs tied to the canoe can make it very difficult to right the boat. If you pack using plastic bag liners, packs will usually float and the contents remain dry for some time.  Concentrate on getting your boat upright first, and getting yourself in the boat, then start worrying about your stuff. You could get hypothermic or drown, but the pack with your fishing gear and extra sweatshirt is going to be just fine swimming in the water for a while. But…the best way to right a boat is to not tip it in the first place. Pay attention to the weather, and don’t travel on days with high winds and rough water which are beyond your ability. When planning your trip, include the possibility of being weathered in for a day. It is better to spend an extra day in camp than to end up going for an unintentional swim.

On your way to the lake, there is some logging traffic to consider. On the Tofte District, there will be trucks on Trapper’s Lake Road, Lake County 705, Cook County 33, the Sawbill Trail, and The Grade. On the Gunflint end, hauling is taking place on Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Shoe Lake Road, the Gunflint Trail, Forest Road 1385, and the Trestle Pine Road.

As the weather clears, head out to a lake and have fun, but keep boating safety in mind. Until next week, this has been Joe Mundell with the National Forest Update. 
 

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