Boundary Waters Podcast
Brian Knutson

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 outdoor playground. It is also a venue to learn more about the gear that helps adventuring in this unique setting be all the more enjoyable.

On this 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 [email protected]

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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.