Ellen Hawkins

Boundary Waters Podcast

This podcast is all about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It is a place to hear stories from the people who visit this amazing designated Wilderness within the Superior National Forest. It is also a venue to learn more about the tools that help adventuring in this unique setting.

On this community radio podcast, we invite you to join the adventures as well.

If you have a story you’d like to share on the Boundary Waters Podcast, contact us at staci@wtip.org

WTIP’s Boundary Waters Podcast is supported in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund

View Archive
April 23, 2024
Boundary Waters Podcast Ep. 106 with Cory Dack Lindsey Gau and Staci Drouillard

Street medic, Minneapolis, 2020. Photo by Ben Hovland.

Cory Dack has nearly 20 years of experience in wild places, including 17 years as a canoe guide in the BWCAW. Host Lindsey Gau talks with Cory about de-colonizing outdoor spaces, empowering youth to love the wilderness, social justice and the commonalities between “wilderness medicine” and “street medicine.” Cory also shares some of the lessons learned about community building, and friendship on her seven-month through-paddle on the Mississippi River, from the headwaters to the ocean.







Photos: Reaching the St. Louis Arch; paddling partner Emily Ford; Cory and Sarah at the Head of Passes; paddling the Mississippi in Tennessee (photo by Lee Vue).

Also in this episode, a new segment of “Keep it Wild,” about being bear-aware in the Boundary Waters.


March 21, 2024
Boundary Waters Podcast Ep. 105 – Traveler Stories from Canoecopia Staci L Drouillard

The Boundary Waters Podcast attended Canoecopia in early March where we were able to connect with over 30 Wilderness travelers who shared stories and travel tips with us. In this episode we hear from four: Jolene Metcalf, Seth Taft, Gillian Fitzgerald and Monica Cofell. Thanks for traveling along with us!
There is also a new segment of Keep it Wild about planning your early spring adventure in the BWCAW. Plus, a bonus from the archives!

February 22, 2024
Boundary Waters Podcast Ep. 104 – 16 Days in Quetico Staci Drouillard

Over the summer of 2023 Aurora Gallagher spent 16 days canoeing and camping in Quetico Provincial Park as part of a YMCA Camp Menogyn trip. Aurora shares what the experience was like, from one week in, then two weeks, and finally how it felt to return home. It’s all here–complete with foraging, fishing, traversing over multiple beaver dams, making blueberry crisp and all of the lessons learned along the way.

Quetico Blueberry crisp, baked over a fire.

There’s also a new segment of Keep it Wild, our monthly check-in with the US Forest Service. This month’s topics are augers in the Wilderness and summer jobs in the BWCAW.

January 31, 2024
Boundary Waters Podcast Ep. 103 – Wolves and Wilderness Staci Drouillard

This episode is built on the connection between wolves and wilderness. Featuring Ellen Hawkins, a North Shore resident who had an extraordinary wolf encounter in 1985, that has shaped the way she thinks about wolves, wilderness and humans too. After Ellen’s story about “the wolf in the window,” Giselle Narvaez Rivera from the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN offers some perspective on wolf-human interaction, based on the work being done at the Center to educate others about the lives, behaviors and history of wild wolves.

Ellen Hawkins’ house, where a timber wolf knocked on the window, one cold winter night.

We also have a fresh segment of “Keep it Wild,” our monthly check-in with the U.S. Forest Service. The topic of discussion is “Leave No Trace” principles in the winter season, when everything is covered in snow and ice.

January 30, 2024
WTIP talks to Maggie Whiting of the USFS ahead of the Jan. 31 “Go Live” BWCAW Permit Season Staci Drouillard

Catch this timely interview with Maggie Whiting, a USFS information specialist from the Kawishiwi District, who tells us everything we need to know ahead of the January 31st “Go Live” start of the BWCAW permit season. She covers all the details, to make sure that your permit reservation experience goes as smoothly as possible. The topics covered include:

  • Creating a user profile at recreation.gov
  • Using the newest version of Chrome and logging in ahead of the 9 a.m. start on January 31st
  • Having three different dates, and three different entry point options picked out, just in case
  • Getting your group together, including a trip leader, plus up to three, alternate trip leaders as a backup
  • What to do if you make a mistake, or if you need to cancel your reservation
  • Where to get help with the reservation process, including the helpline for recreation.gov, which is: 1-877-444-6777
  • Refreshing yourself and your fellow paddlers with the BWCAW rules and regulations, and how to plan a route that fits your needs, which is all covered in the USFS Trip Planning Guide

Here’s a transcript of the full interview: Maggie Whiting USFS Information Specialist

December 20, 2023
Boundary Waters Podcast Ep. 102 Staci Drouillard

Formative Canoe Trip, courtesy of Lindsey Gau

Lindsey at 15 with her family and friends, west side of the BWCAW

In this very special, one-hour episode, you’ll meet Lindsey Gau and Bill Hansen, part of our new, rotating crew of podcast hosts. They each share memories from formative canoe trips–both were 15 years old, and included travels with life-long friends. Below: Bill Hansen, wilderness traveler and the Hansen family at the beginning of their first family canoe trip in June of 1957, taken on the Sawbill Lodge dock on Sawbill Lake. Frank and Mary Alice, Karl, Ranna and the little guy is Bill. Far right: Bill asleep on the dock at Sawbill Outfitters.

And WTIP introduces a new podcast feature called “Keep it Wild,” a conversation with a USFS Wilderness Lead about all things wild.
We also say “see you out there” to Joe Friedrichs and M. Baxley, the founders of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast, who in this episode give their parting words, and share interview segments with Emily Ford, Bear Paulsen and Michelle Kwan about connecting to the outdoors. And finally, there’s a look back to Christmas 2015 with Dave and Amy Freeman, Ely Wilderness Adventurers who spent Christmas in the BWCAW, complete with cookies and ice luminaries.

November 30, 2023
Episode 101 – Waterfowl Hunting in the BWCAW

It’s the second duck hunting trip featured on the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast.

Podcast friends Dean and Baylee share information about how to successfully hunt waterfowl in the BWCA in this episode. They also paddle alongside Joe and Matthew during an October hunt in 2023. Ducks were found, stories were shared, and the notion of a “mentor in the BWCA waterfowl hunting world” emerged on a crisp autumn day in the wilderness.

October 17, 2023
Episode 100 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It’s been a journey.

100 episodes.

In this milestone episode, it goes back to the beginning, with Gaby, the German paddler who was featured on Episode One of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast.

Over the past 100 episodes, hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley have learned so much about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Quetico Provincial Park. This learning has come, largely, through the stories shared by those who’ve appeared on the podcast. That learning continues in a deep way with Gaby’s return to the podcast.

Also featured in this episode is Rick Slatten, the captain of the St. Louis County Rescue Squad. Slatten also appeared on Episode 91 of the podcast, talking with Joe about a capsizing event from May 2023 where the podcast duo faced their most intense experience in the BWCA.

Other voices familiar to podcast listeners appear in this episode, including Bear Paulsen, Kevin “The Kman” Kramer, Jana Berka, Aubrey Helmuth Miller, Erik Dickes, Dave Freeman, Shug the Hammock Camper, Josh and Kaylan Dix, Adam Mella, Jason Zabokrtsky, and Ian Tamblyn.

October 2, 2023
Episode 99: Solo on the Louse River Loop

Life can be hard. It’s almost always busy. There are responsibilities, tasks, and to-do lists abundant. Anyone who listens to this podcast regularly understands the BWCA offers a relief from these burdens with the anticipation of a profound connection with the real world that wilderness offers.

Heath Larson takes on an incredible 6-day solo journey through the wilderness for his second Boundary Waters trip ever. His goal, to explain why this place has captivated his attention in such a profound way.

Follow along on his journey, insights and reflections in episode 99 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast.

September 15, 2023
Episode 98 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast Mallard Island

Ernest Oberholtzer is a name that will forever be connected to the Boundary Waters. And yet, far too many paddlers of the canoe-country know neither his story nor his legacy of wilderness protection.

Oberholtzer, more commonly known as ‘Ober,’ first arrived to the Boundary Waters region in 1909 during a college trip to the North Woods. Three years later, an Anishinaabe canoe guide, Billy Magee, traveled with Ober on a canoe journey across Canada. The trip cemented a place in Ober’s mind about the power and importance of water and healthy forests.

Rainy Lake is located on the far northwestern side of the Boundary Waters region, about 100 miles from Ely. Oberholtzer lived on Mallard Island in Rainy Lake for most of his adult life. These days, Mallard Island is the base of operations for the Oberholtzer Foundation. Each summer, artists, Boundary Waters enthusiasts, and people who appreciate the legacy of Ober, come to gather, create, and connect. Podcast Host Joe Friedrichs was among those who came to Mallard Island in the summer of 2023, as we learn in this episode.

Featured in the episode are Rebecca Otto, the executive director of the Oberholtzer Foundation, and Tanya Piatz, a Minnesota artist and birder.

Follow the link below to learn more about the Oberholtzer Foundation.


September 1, 2023
Episode 97 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast – Cache Bay Revisited

There are new rangers at the Cache Bay Ranger Station in Quetico Provincial Park.

For the first time since the passing of Janice Matichuk, the new rangers could become something of a fixture on what is known as Her Island. Matichuk, the longest serving ranger in the history of Quetico, passed away in August 2020.

The new rangers are Peter Kranenburg and Stacey Hofer. Both in their late 30s, the young couple celebrated their first year at Cache Bay this summer. They also got married in July, making for a summer Peter and Stacey say they will never forget. Their plan, Peter and Stacey say, is to return to Cache Bay for years to come.

The Boundary Waters podcast duo, Matthew Baxley and Joe Friedrichs, visited the Cache Bay Ranger Station in August 2023. They share a full report in this episode.

August 15, 2023
Episode 96 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The Paddler Profile Series continues on the podcast with the inspiring story of one incredible human’s walk across the wilderness. From a boy in Iowa to an adventurer in Ely, this is as much about life’s journey as it is about a journey through the woods. And swimming the lakes, in October.

In this installment of the Paddler Profile Series of the Boundary Waters Podcast, we learn more about Jason Zabokrtsky from Ely Outfitting Company.

August 1, 2023
Episode 95 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

There are unexplainable things that can happen to people in the Boundary Waters.

Strange energy. Powerful feelings that someone, or something is nearby. One campsite, located on an island on Tuscarora Lake, is occasionally referenced when this discussion surfaces.

It was here, in May 2020, that a young man from Indiana died after their canoe capsized. Others have reported strange energy at the island, in fact leaving the campsite to travel on before the campers spent a night on the island.

In this episode, Matthew and Joe travel to this island on Tuscarora Lake. At the island they met Thang Huynh. Thang, his family, and others, were camped on the island in late July. They shared their experience with the podcast duo.

Also featured in this episode is Nataly Yokhanis, Billy Cameron’s girlfriend up until his passing in 2020. We also hear from Shy-Anne Hovorka, an Indigenous musician, songwriter, and educator who lives in Canada near Lake Superior.

July 15, 2023
Episode 94 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The Barefoot Paddler returns to the podcast, this time to share stories of walking every portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Mark Zimmer, more commonly referred to as the Barefoot Paddler, took several years to walk every maintained portage in the BWCA. He tracked his steps and created a map of the portages. He intends to offer this digital map to the paddling community in the near future.

Also featured in this episode is co-host Joe Friedrichs sharing an experience from the wilderness on the tail-end of a bout with COVID. The wilderness doesn’t cure everything, but it can add some perspective on the journey, as Joe and Matthew Baxley discuss throughout the episode.

July 1, 2023
Episode 93 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

For many paddlers, the BWCA is the ultimate destination for all trips. For others, its the training ground for trips further north.

Maddy and Cory, two sisters, grew up on the edge of the Boundary Waters Wilderness. Both eventually found themselves paddling further north in Canada, though took very different paths to get there. Outdoor writer, Sam Cook, returns to share stories of his own travels into far northern territories. Get inspired and pick up some tips while following along on these tails of adventure.

June 15, 2023
Episode 92 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It’s all about hammocks in Episode 92.

Back to share stories and information and hammocks and hammock camping in the Boundary Waters is none other than Shug. Well known for his YouTube channel and extensive hammock-camping adventures in the BWCA and along the Superior Hiking Trail, Shug shares information about Superior Gear hammocks, along with tips of the trade for hammocks in the BWCA.

Also featured is Kevin “The K-man” Kramer, an experienced Boundary Waters paddler who ditched his tent years ago in exchange for a hammock.

June 1, 2023
Episode 91 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Episode 90 proved to be a pivotal moment in the history of the podcast. A capsized canoe on the Temperance River in the BWCA just days after ice out led to a memorable story that was shared by the four members of the trip: Matthew Baxley, Kevin “The K-Man” Kramer, Omaha Erik Dickes, and Joe Friedrichs.

In this episode, we learn more about the experience, including some lessons learned. St. Louis County Rescue Squad Captain Rick Slatten also shares perspective on the situation, specifically about Friedrichs getting pinned behind a white pine in the river after the capsizing event.

This episode also features supplemental commentary from the K-man about his family’s reaction to the experience, and there’s some bonus audio from around a BWCA campfire just days after the canoe capsized on the Temperance River.

May 19, 2023
Episode 90 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast duo of Matthew Baxley and Joe Friedrichs met up with Kevin “The K-man” Kramer and “Omaha” Erik Dickes for the 2023 fishing opener.

The group set out in search of fish and open water. Not long after portaging around a stretch of rapids on the Temperance River, the adventure went sideways.

This was not the fishing opener the group expected it to be.

May 1, 2023
Episode 89 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The sights of the Boundary Waters are what many people think of when asked what they appreciate about the canoe-country wilderness.

Seeing a moose. A sunset from camp. A stringer of walleye in summer. These are all images connected to the Boundary Waters.

However, for Paul Dickinson, there’s much more than just seeing the wilderness. Dickinson connects to the land, water, and sky in the BWCA via sound.

Embracing a relatively new field of biology known as ‘soundscape ecology,’ Dickinson shares his experiences recording sound in the Boundary Waters.

April 15, 2023
Episode 88 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Mushing is the fastest way to travel across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness during the winter. Sled dogs love to run, and the open flats of a BWCA lake can provide stunning areas for experienced and novice mushers to explore.

In this episode, we hear from Kate Tender and Allison Opheim. They spent the winter working as sled dog tour guides at Points Unknown, a Cook County business near the Arrowhead Trail.

The duo recently went ice fishing for the first time with podcast host Joe Friedrichs. We hear about their BWCA adventure in a recording inside the wilderness.

Also featured in this episode is Cook County musher Erin Altemus. The winner of the 2023 Gunflint Mail Run eight-dog race up the Gunflint Trail, Altemus happens to be an experienced paddler with a deep passion for the canoe-country wilderness. Erin shares some of her favorite summer and winter memories from the Boundary Waters, including some dog-sledding adventures.

April 1, 2023
Episode 87 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The Paddler Profile series continues in this episode. The featured paddler is Wendy Paulsen, a dedicated paddler of the BWCA and other waters across North America.

Wendy is the sister of Northstar Canoes General Manager Bear Paulsen. She has a generous spirit for introducing others to the BWCA, including Michelle Kwan, an avid fan of the BWCA who was featured on episode 52 of the podcast.

In addition to paddling, Wendy enjoys swimming recreationally across BWCA lakes. And not just a dive-in, jump-out type swim. Literally swimming laps around lakes in the wilderness is something Wendy has embraced, as podcaster Matthew Baxley learns and shares in this episode.

March 15, 2023
Episode 86 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Canoecopia 2023 took place in Madison, Wisc., from March 10-12.

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast team was back for this year’s paddling expo. In addition to posting up at their booth and talking with thousands of curious paddlers, hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley presented during Canoecopia this year. The podcast duo shared a presentation on how to document and share stories from a trip to the canoe-country wilderness.

It was a busy scene at Canoecopia this year. In this episode, you’ll hear from those who were involved and people who attended from all over the country.

March 1, 2023
Episode 85 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

For the first time in several years, there will be a park ranger at the Cache Bay Ranger Station in Quetico Provincial Park for the full season in 2023.

Due to the pandemic and additional restrictions regarding Remote Area Border Crossing Permits, there has not been a full-time ranger at the island in Cache Bay since 2019. There was a ranger there for part of the paddling season in 2022.

That means the last ranger to serve full-time at Cache Bay was Janice Matichuk, the longest serving ranger in the history of Quetico. Matichuk died from brain cancer in August 2020. Her voice has been featured many times on the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast. The story of her time in Quetico was shared by Boundary Waters Podcast host Joe Friedrichs in the book “Her Island.”

In this episode, the podcast team shares some of the ‘Lost Files of Matichuk.’ In the early stages of shaping “Her Island,” Friedrichs and Matichuk recorded some 14 hours of audio. The clips shared today are the first in what will be a series of stories Matichuk shared about her time in Quetico. Topics range from the ethics of fishing to stories of being charged by a moose.

Also featured in this episode is a preview to Canoecopia 2023! The world’s largest paddling expo is from March 10-12 in Madison, Wisc. The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast team will be back in Madison for this year’s expo! Sharing information about the upcoming event is Chloe Machula, one of the event organizers for Canoecopia.

February 15, 2023
Episode 84 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Climate change isn’t something most BWCA enthusiasts think of in early January.

On the day permits for the upcoming paddling season go live – as they did Jan. 25 this year – the bulk of those people planning a canoe trip made their reservations for the upcoming season with winter still in full force. A warming planet seems an afterthought on such occasions.

In this episode of the podcast, hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley explore the notion of where climate change fits into the planning (if at all) and adventures of an average canoe trip to the Boundary Waters. To add context, they bring in two of Minnesota’s two top climate experts: Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist with the Minnesota State Climatology Office who works for the DNR; and Peter Reich, a renowned expert in forest ecology and a professor at both the University of Minnesota and University of Michigan, who has done extensive research on how climate change is and will impact the Boundary Waters.

This episode has nothing to do with proving or debunking climate change. This is about the intersection of canoe tripping in the Boundary Waters and the future of the wilderness.

February 1, 2023
Episode 83 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Sam Cook made a career writing about the woods and waters of northeastern Minnesota, including his many adventures to the Boundary Waters.

A longtime columnist for the Duluth News Tribune, Cook shares some of his adventures and reflects on his career as an outdoors writer in this installment of the Paddler Profile Series on the podcast.

January 25, 2023
Short Track: BWCA Permit Opener 2023

January 25 was the first day to secure a 2023 overnight paddle trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Permits went up for grabs at 9 a.m.

Podcast hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley met at WTIP headquarters in Grand Marais to book their permits for the 2023 paddling season, including their coveted fishing opener trip in May. The fishing opener in Minnesota this year is Saturday, May 13.

A bit of chaos ensued as the duo booked their permits. Find out where the podcast team is headed once the 2023 paddling season begins.

January 16, 2023
Episode 82 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Food tastes better during a trip to the Boundary Waters. It’s a common sentiment, one many visitors to the canoe-country wilderness can relate to.

During a recent winter trip to the BWCA, the podcast team explored the notion that food is about much more than fuel for the body. It’s about bringing people together. Superior National Forest Tribal Liaison Juan Martinez returns to the podcast in this episode, bringing a cooking “disco” to prepare burritos for a group of eight. In addition to Juan, the Great Josh Dix talks lake trout fishing at the start of the season, and Adam Mella from the Tumblehome podcast makes a cameo.

Also featured in the episode is discussion about the 2023 Gunflint Mail Run, which brought throngs of people to the edge of the BWCA this year.

January 1, 2023
Episode 81 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Welcome to Season Six of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast!

To start the season, we get to travel once again with the father/daughter duo Scott and Emilie Burditt.

Scott and Emilie are Wisconsin residents who make an annual trip to Quetico Provincial Park. In 2022, they took their Canadian paddling adventures to new terrain and paddled Wabakimi Provincial Park.

Along the way, the share their stories about a love for the outdoors and paddling in canoe country, and how this bond keeps them connected throughout the year. They also talk about the realities of backcountry travel, including injury.

It’s the start of a new season on the podcast! It begins!

December 15, 2022
Episode 80 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The trip started with 24 hours of cold rain and seemingly endless beaver dams overflowing from a rising creek. Dense fog masked the shoreline in the distance on the occasional lake that broke up the swirling creek. Despite the weather and being mostly strangers, every member of this tripping team was smiling and giddy.

Last September, a group of outdoorsy folks from across the country gathered in Ely, Minn., for a truly unique Boundary Waters trip. They all had two things in common. First, each person loved the outdoors. And second, each identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. One of these people was the podcast’s own Matthew Baxley.

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast marks the 80th episode by sharing a trip centered around belonging, acceptance, and adventure. Most of us know from personal experience how the Wilderness continues to offer life changing experiences. This episode documents the deeply personal way a trip can offer so much beauty in just four short days of paddling.

December 1, 2022
Episode 79 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Juan Martinez is the first tribal liaison for the U.S. Forest Service on Superior National Forest. He arrived to northeastern Minnesota in 2021.

In late November 2022, during the first week of good ice in and around the Boundary Waters, podcast hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley went ice fishing with Martinez near the Gunflint Trail. They talked with Juan while on the ice about his work as the tribal liaison on Superior National Forest.

Also joining the trio was Dean Paron, the Finland area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Paron introduced the group to spear fishing through the ice, adding another twist to the start of ice adventures as winter settles in across the Boundary Waters.

November 15, 2022
Episode 78 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Bear Paulsen has a style of canoe tripping named after him. Simply put, they’re called “Bear Trips.”

A Bear Trip means there will be weeks, possibly months, spent paddling on one specific trip.

Paulsen is the general manager of Northstar Canoes. He is also on the short list of the most experienced and well-respected paddlers in Minnesota and across the Boundary Waters region.

In this installment of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast Paddler Profile series, we learn more about Bear Paulsen.

Photo of Bear Paulsen by Nate Ptacek.

November 1, 2022
Episode 77 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Dispersed camping on Superior National Forest is something the U.S. Forest Service has encouraged as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness continues to draw more people during the peak of summer. In this episode, podcast co-host Joe Friedrichs travels with The Great Josh Dix to a remote lake on the edge of the wilderness.

Pursuing brook trout in and around the wilderness formed a theme for October for Friedrichs and fellow co-host Matthew Baxley. The two of them worked together to find brookies, while Baxley also traveled with longtime Cook County resident Buck Benson to find fish and adventure near the BWCA.

October 15, 2022
Episode 76 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Bryan Hansel is an outdoor photographer and BWCA enthusiast who lives near Grand Marais. In May 2021, Hansel followed the route of American geologist Newton Horace Winchell and the work he did while surveying the land of Cook County in 1879.

Hansel spent nearly two weeks on the solo adventure that took him from Grand Marais to Lutsen via the Iron Trail to Trail Center, then the Border Route to the end of the Gunflint Trail, and from there to the Ojibwe canoe route to Lutsen on the Poplar River.

Along the way, Hansel traveled about 160 miles, including about 25 miles of portaging.

In this first installment of the podcast’s ‘Paddler Profile’ series, host Matthew Baxley talks with Hansel about his epic journey.

October 1, 2022
Episode 75 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It’s episode 75 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast!

In this episode, we hear from a familiar voice on the podcast, BWCA enthusiast Erik “Omaha Erik” Dickes.

Erik goes on his first solo trip to the wilderness in this episode, with hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley joining him for some fall fishing during a memorable afternoon in the BWCA.

Thanks to everyone who helped the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast reach its 75th episode! What a journey! And in many ways, it feels like it is just getting started.

September 15, 2022
Episode 74 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

When we think of the Boundary Waters, solitude, quiet and getting away from the hustle of day-to-day life often jump to the forefront of the mind for many visitors to this canoe country wilderness.

A quiet retreat is indeed a common sentiment shared by the many thousands of people who visit the BWCA each year. And while solitude is sought, many of these same people travel through the canoe-country wilderness with familiar faces by their side. As we’ve learned while making this podcast, many enjoy sharing their adventures in the BWCA with their closest friends and family members.

Take, for example, a group of Minnesotans who traveled up the Gunflint Trail in August. Traveling under the name ‘the Bound Hounds,’ the curious paddlers have traveled to the BWCA every year for more than two decades. Sometimes there’s just a few from the group who make it, other times it’s eight or nine people.

Also featured in today’s episode is Kyle ‘Bill’ Busacker, a longtime Oregonian who recently moved to Massachusetts with his family, was one member of a recent canoe trip with podcast host Joe Friedrichs. The other companion on the September trip was Joe’s cousin, Jeff Frawley, known simply as Cousin Jeff. The three of them ventured to a secluded pocket of the wilderness in search of walleye, a prime campsite, the chance to see the Northern lights and to bushwack to what is essentially hidden lake. During the course of their trip, they found all of these things, though in reality what they, much like the Bound Hounds, came for was an opportunity to connect with other people.

September 1, 2022
Episode 73 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast team take to the road (and air) for this episode, traveling more than 1,000 miles south to the hills of Kentucky.

On the trail of Jordan Grider, a young man from New Mexico who died in the Boundary Waters in 2018, hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley travel throughout Appalachia on their journey to learn more about where Grider spent time camping and living near Daniel Boone National Forest. Along the way they meet Mennonites who let Grider camp on their land before he arrived to the BWCA, many of whom share stories about Grider and his time in Kentucky.

Grider gained national attention in 2018 when he was eaten by wolves near the Sioux Hustler Trail on the western side of the BWCA. Authorities believe Grider died first from an accidental injury and was later eaten by wolves.

August 15, 2022
Episode 72 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The Barefoot Paddler abides.

Mark Zimmer, more commonly referred to as the ‘Barefoot Paddler,’ makes his return to the podcast in this episode. Mark is in the midst of his tenth season exploring the BWCA. Not your average paddler, Mark typically spends May through October in the Boundary Waters. He catches fish. He forages. He sleeps in a hammock. And he does it all barefoot.

The podcast team recently met up with the Barefoot Paddler on Brule Lake in the BWCA to learn about his 2022 season in the wilderness, which includes a bout with Lyme disease.

August 1, 2022
Episode 71 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Emily Haavik is a Twin Cities based journalist and musician who has a deep love for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Emily and her husband, Phil, chose the BWCA as the setting for their honeymoon in September 2020, for example. The couple also got engaged in the canoe-country wilderness in 2019 on Rose Lake.

Emily grew up in Duluth and has been coming to the Boundary Waters for most of her life. Phil grew up in Des Moines, making his first trip to the BWCA in 2001 with a group of scouts. Those early trips were the foundation for a spirited passion for wilderness for both Emily and Phil, particularly the portages, rivers, lakes and forest of the BWCA.

Emily and Phil share more on their story in this episode of the podcast. Also featured in this episode is a familiar voice on the podcast, Aubrey Helmuth-Miller. Aubrey and her family open the episode prior to their recent trip to the Gunflint Trail and the BWCA.

Music featured in this episode includes the song “Good Times” by Emily Haavik. Other music from the Blue Dot Sessions and Ian Tamblyn.

July 18, 2022
Episode 70 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It’s the ‘all news episode’ of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast!

There has been so much news in and around the Boundary Waters in recent weeks, hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley use storytelling and interviews to sum up some of the biggest topics coming from the BWCA and Quetico.

Among them are the return of Remote Area Border Crossing Permits, the completion of the Stairway Portage redesign and the retirement of the forest supervisor who oversees management of the BWCA.

The photo supporting this episode is of Connie Cummins, the forest supervisor for Superior National Forest. The massive Superior National Forest, headquartered in Duluth, covers nearly 4 million acres, about 1.9 million of which is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

After leading the expansive Superior National Forest for the U.S. Forest Service for the past six years, Cummins is set to retire at the end of the month. Her last day is July 30.

In this episode we hear from Cummins about her tenure on Superior National Forest. Also featured are Willie Bittner talking about the Stairway Portage redesign and Kevin ‘The K-man’ Kramer shares an update from the Cache Bay Ranger Station in Quetico Provincial Park.

July 4, 2022
Episode 69 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast




In the BWCA, the natural rhythms of wind and water churn through seasons without concern for human visitors. During the July 4 holiday weekend, five paddlers on a remote lake in the Boundary Waters found themselves sharing new experiences while reflecting on the past.

In today’s episode we hear from the poet, Emily Van Kley. Emily and her father, David Van Kley, have been traveling across the BWCA for many years. More recently, they introduced Emily’s partner, Allison Eby, to the wilderness.

Walleye were caught on this particular trip. Stories were shared. As the wind howled, the trees shared their poetry.

June 16, 2022
Episode 68 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Human remains were discovered near a makeshift campsite in April 2019 near the Sioux Hustler Trail that runs through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Law enforcement later identified the remains as those of 29-year-old Jordan Grider, a New Mexico resident who was attempting to spend an entire winter camping in the BWCA. Authorities believe he was eaten by wolves, likely after he died from an unknown injury.

In this episode of the podcast, host Joe Friedrichs and DNR Conservation Officer Sean Williams visit the site where Grider made his final camp.

Also in this episode, host Matthew Baxley shares an update on the rebuild of the iconic Stairway Portage between Duncan and Rose lakes in the BWCA. Trail builder Willie Bittner talks with Matthew for the update.

And with the warmer temperatures, Matthew and Joe also have an upbeat fishing report to share from the Boundary Waters.

June 3, 2022
Episode 67 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Cell phone use during a trip to the Boundary Waters.

To bring or not to bring? To use or not to use?

These are the questions some in the paddling community have struggled with for years, with age often being a factor in where one stands on the issue.

Many young paddlers, for example, are embracing elements of technology on their trips to the Boundary Waters. Modern cell phones take excellent photographs, allowing paddlers to leave behind dated and heavy camera equipment. A cell phone camera allows paddlers a chance to capture memories of their trips to the BWCA, the reasoning goes. There is also the safety aspect of having a cell phone while traveling through the wilderness, particularly as cell coverage becomes more widespread across the Boundary Waters region.

In this episode, we hear from Stu Osthoff, Emilie Burditt, Ben Strege, Will Doherty, Hazel Oberholtzer and Emily Elkins on this topic.

To hear the full interview with Burditt and Doherty, click here. 

For the interview with Elkins, click here.

For the full interview with Strege, click here. 

May 16, 2022
Episode 66 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It went from fishing opener to lake opener as ice lingered on the east side of the Boundary Waters in the middle of May.

Many area lakes, from the end of the Arrowhead Trail to the Middle Gunflint Trail, still held their ice on the day before the 2022 fishing opener in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s fishing opener for walleye, bass, trout and pike was Saturday, May 14.

As the ice lingered, many groups canceled their Gunflint expeditions on this year’s fishing opener. The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast did not.

This episode, featuring Matthew Baxley, Joe Friedrichs and Kevin ‘The K-man’ Kramer, tells the story of how it all went down.

May 1, 2022
Episode 65 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Lake Saganaga at the end of the Gunflint Trail is an easy place to get lost.

Sag, as the lake is often called, is both the deepest and largest lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It’s 280 ft. deep in certain pockets, and is spread across nearly 19,000 acres.

And while Sag might be challenging to navigate for even the most experienced paddlers, sometimes getting turned around can lead to magical experiences.

Nicole Erickson and Michael Kelly know all about this, as we learn in today’s episode.

Also in this episode, podcast hosts Joe Friedrichs and Matthew Baxley trek to the BWCA to drill a hole in the ice on the same weekend overnight travel permits are required to start the 2022 ‘paddling season.’

April 15, 2022
Episode 64 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Emily Ford is a Duluth resident who skied across the border lakes of the Boundary Waters during the memorably cold, snowy and windy winter of 2021-22.

Ford captured national attention when she skied across Wisconsin the previous winter.

What motivates someone to embark on solo expeditions during the winter?

Learn this and much more about Emily Ford in this episode of the podcast.

April 1, 2022
Episode 63 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

It’s the end of the ice fishing season for lake trout in the Boundary Waters.

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast team had a good year of ice fishing. In this episode, Gunflint Trail resident Mike Seim talks with Joe about a variety of topics related to lake trout in the BWCA.

Also of interest, a recent study out of the University of Manitoba in Canada shows some lake predators are changing their behavior due to climate change, which may have a wide-ranging effect on lake trout and the entire ecosystem of certain lakes in Ontario and northern Minnesota.

Matthew Guzzo is the lead author of the study. He shares some additional perspective on lake trout throughout the episode.

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Werner Bahner-Würth.

March 17, 2022
Episode 62 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

Canoecopia, the world’s largest paddling expo, returned in 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Madison, Wisc., based event in 2020. It was a virtual gathering in 2021.

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast was back at Canoecopia this year. Old acquaintances surfaced from the crowd. New friends were made as well. It was a time of connection.

This episode was recorded in its entirety at Canoecopia 2022.

Special thanks to Aubrey from Redbudsuds, and Nashville musicians Caitlin Evanson and Jerry Vandiver, for sharing their music on this episode.

March 1, 2022
Episode 61 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast


It can be the downfall of any winter trip to the Boundary Waters. The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast team, along with Erik Dickes and Josh Dix, found this out firsthand during a recent trip to the edge of the wilderness on snowmobile, and then on skis and snowshoes after crossing the wilderness line.

After encountering bad ice and slush, foul moods settled in on some members of the party, while others remained patient. Then the lake trout moved in. And things changed.

February 18, 2022
Episode 60 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

The quiet of winter remains across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as cold temperatures and significant snowfall blanket the region. By looking at the woods and frozen lakes such beauty can be appreciated simply and plainly, but it’s more challenging to know what is happening beneath the ice.

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist. She lives near the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior and keeps close tabs on daily changes happening with the local woods and waters. She spoke with podcast host Matthew Baxley about what’s happening under the icy surface of the lakes in the Boundary Waters.

February 2, 2022
Episode 59 WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast

With permits now available for the 2022 paddling season in the Boundary Waters, it’s time to start thinking about gear and trip planning. One place to do just that is Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin.

Darren Bush, owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison, and organizer of canoeing expo Canoecopia, joins the podcast in this episode to talk about the return of an in-person event for 2022.

The WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast attended the last in-person canoe expo in 2019. The pandemic has either shut down or let to virtual events the past two years. Learn about what to expect for Canoecopia 2022 in this episode of the podcast.

December 28, 2021
WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast Episode 55

The collection of outfitters who provide assorted gear, canoes and guidance for the many visitors to the Boundary Waters each paddling season is a world full of hard work, long hours and repetition. It’s also a world of connection. And many of those connections are made by those who work for the outfitters on the edge of the wilderness.

In the final episode for Season 4 of the WTIP Boundary Waters Podcast, we hear from the summer staff at some of the outfitters along the Gunflint Trail. It’s the ‘Trail Kids’ episode of the podcast. And for hosts Matthew and Joe, it’s a time to reflect on their own experiences working on the Gunflint and how it brought them into a sense of connection with this place… The Boundary Waters.