Boundary Waters Catalog Blog

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Camp Journal Entries

Went back through an old Journal. What follows are some of my old “camp notes.” Somewhat random thoughts that I documented in a simple journal while out canoe camping. They were fun to recall and I recommend keeping a simple journal or a more complicated one, complete with watercolor entries if you are so inclined.

I would call these things old friends. Simple observations that arrive in bursts and bubbles that float briefly above my head in camp like those from comic books. With exclamation marks.

They are not earth shattering. Some may not even scratch the surface of your experiences. That’s o.k. These are, in part reasons, why I go camping. They are together, with many other daily experiences under the tall pines and on top of solid granite, profound in their simplicity. I dare say if I had experienced them even on an irregular basis as a child they would have been enough to change my life.

Because I could imagine them and tasted them at different times, even if not together — all on one epic trip – they waited for me and greeted me as an adult with kids of my own. Returning to the woods each year, they continue to welcome me like living memories.

Coffee tastes better in a French Press at camp than at the priciest, most stylish coffee shop – even the ones with the leather couches that threaten to swallow you with comfort. Balancing on an old log and savoring each sip, my morning is complete before the sun has even risen above the tree line.

At home my dog is inseparable from me. At camp he explores and lies down by himself. He’ll ask to be let into the tent for a nap and some privacy. He does however want to be included in canoe rides, fishing expeditions and hammock naps.

The crappie I pulled up from the deep bottom with the moon rising sharply overhead. It felt like a walleye and I treated it as such, fighting it in, surprised at the end that its fragile paper mouth held the larger hook. Black and white, it was reflected as a copy of itself off the water that had turned flat as glass.

Dragonflies flew all around me as I fished in the dark.

The flickering flames of the fire through the tree branches calling me back to my family on shore and the fragrant smell of smoke drifting across the lake.

The imagined and the real movements of a hammock underneath you as you sleep suspended between two huge trees.

Minnows schooling in the morning water. Sand underneath lit with the day’s first light. In the afternoon tiny rollers left bright light patterns across the surface of the lake. More minnows in the growing warmth.

Lily pad stems grabbing you while you swim. Did you know that if you burn your finger while cooking or get a sunburn, the underneath of a lily pad when rubbed on your burn mimics the cooling and healing properties of aloe?

The cold rush of the first swim of the day is one of the most refreshing things on Earth.

Everything. Everything tastes better. Even mistakes.

The black from the cooking pots that gets on your fingers. And then everything else.

The feeling of togetherness and on-the-same-pageness that is present from the time we land at camp. This is accompanied by a pervading sense of calm and relaxation.

How much better a good book is when read in a tent or with your back against a tree in the sun.

The tantalizing smell of bacon over flames that pulls everyone to the campfire like a magnet.


Flaky white fish fried to perfection and breaded golden brown with eggs over easy and camp potatoes.

A walk in the dark under the light of the stars without your headlamps.

The ripples that forever change the complexion of the lake right before your bobber disappears under the surface. Those two or three seconds you wait before setting the hook.

Riding back towards Ely and home, silent in the car, before you are pulled back into the unreality of busy everyday life.

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First Boundary Waters Canoe Trip

One of my favorite things to do at work is to go back through correspondence with trip clients and customers and read their responses to their trips. Shortly after someone who was brand new to the Boundary Waters returned from their canoe trip in September of 2015 we received this note and these great pictures.

I wanted to take the time to share them with you today. The allure and mystery and adventure of the Boundary Waters never gets old. It appeals to all of us who love and respect the outdoors. It really has been and remains a life changing and magical experience.

Hi Drew and Adam!

I want to thank you and your entire team for helping make our trip to the Boundary Waters an awesome and relaxing adventure. I can’t speak highly enough about how accommodating and helpful you guys were. We planned our trip from Nashville, and you made sure we had everything in order, including rentals, shuttles, switching my permit pick-up spot, and a handful of other things I just wouldn’t have thought about. You guys even had sweet and salty snacks for us after we pulled out of Snowbank (seriously a great touch). I appreciate it very much!

This was my first trip into the BWCA, and honestly, I had no idea what to expect. To put it mildly, I was absolutely blown away by one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We ended up camping on Disappointment, Ima, and Boot Lakes over a 7 day period. For future reference, the coolest campsite in the world is on an island of Ima Lake. There’s a perfect hammock spot that overlooks a cliff that doubles as a jumping rock for swimming, and the site has the best of view of the sunset and stars at night! I’ve included a few pictures that don’t begin to do it justice!

Thanks again for everything! If we return to Ely, you will certainly be our outfitter.

Sincerely, Jessica Shutt

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Why Buy a Canoe from Us?

CALL Tom Roller or Tyler Suter at https://www.piragis.com for details today. 1-800-223-6565. You can shop our current selection of Canoes online here.

We take canoes seriously around here in Ely. They are the transportation through 2000 protected wilderness lakes in our backyard. The Boundary Waters is accessible only by canoe and the deeper you go, the more friends you take, the longer you want to fish the more your needs become specific. We ship and sell canoes all over the country for a reason.  That’s because we paddle these canoes.

Boundary Waters Poetry: Driftwood


Sometimes, through the mist,
I can see the lichen advancing.
Creeping across granite slabs
greening in the shadows,
transposing the hours and
years into

the changing
of the guard
where dawn leaves the
deepest, thickest darkness
behind and lifts the blanket
off the tree tops.

The lake waters
come for us
with slow unassuming
then in earnest.
Rising in gaseous form,
tendrils reaching into
camp like fingers
of the wilderness
itself, searching
for you and I.

We sit squinting at bobbers
blurred to nothingness,
far out on the edge
of the lily pads,
Our trepidatious touch
with the bottom
and yesterday balancing
on the edge
of what’s plausible
and lost sleep.

It’s too early for sunfish
but the big pike are sight
hunting through the
weeds that climb up
from the sandy bottom
in feathery forests.

Your bobber disappears
and I’m reminded
of what this place
will look like when the
sun burns off all
the mystery and
the two of us
are real

Behind me in the
forest, a twig snaps
and it occurs
to me
we may not
have much time left.

©Timothy James Stouffer 05262016
All Rights Reserved Ely, Minnesota #elystreetpoet

Angling in the Boundary Waters

by Reid Carron

Fly anglers who are tired of fighting the crowds on the famous streams in the Rockies and on the coasts can find a respite from the competition by coming to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. More than a thousand Wilderness lakes (and others in the Superior National Forest outside the Boundary Waters) present great opportunities to catch smallmouth bass and northerns (and the occasional walleye) on flies from the fishing opener in May until late September. On most lakes on most days, there won’t be another canoe in sight. Trout anglers accustomed to wading or driftboat fishing will need to adjust their casting strokes a bit to compensate for fishing from a canoe seat, but as a fly fishing fanatic who is not a stellar caster I can attest that the transition is not difficult. Casting poppers, streamers, and crayfish imitations for our big “warmwater” game fish is less technical than stream trout fishing but no less rewarding.

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A look back at Spring not so long ago.

Today, because the September weather is so nice and I’m feeling nostalgic, I wanted to revisit a blog from way back when. The day held snow, but really, it held a lot of promise. This was back before Covid, before most of us had forgotten how to spell the word pandemic. It was a day on the verge of a new Spring here in Ely, Minnesota and that always feels special, full of promises about to be kept. It feels the opposite of what beautiful, Autumn days feel like. These days, during weeks like this, are full of appreciation for the wonderful Summer we’ve experienced. These days feel like our gas tanks are full and we are ready to hit the road.

New Boundary Waters Poems

Photos by our canoe trip Guides, Tim Barton, James Ehlers and Nick Jones.

Into the Sun

Summer days roll on
under the canoes.
We push against the hours
trying to
hold back the colors
through the veil of green.

Paddles turning us
into the wind
but unable to stem the tide.
Lily pad flags lift.
Loons echo against the liquid
shifting surface.

You can feel it in the earliest
hours of morning.
This change, this

©Timothy James Stouffer #elystreetpoet
All Rights Reserved 08252023

Photo Tim Barton @timyb11

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Minnesota Fall Colors and the Boundary Waters

This year I saw my first Autumn colors outside of the Summer green on the last day of August. The yellow and reds surprised me. They were high up on the hillside. This was after some cool nights but during a very hot spell (for Ely) that would stretch into Tuesday, September 5th. That night around 4:30 p.m. a storm crawled in and settled over Ely for most of the night dumping substantial rain and lightning on the edge and in the Boundary Waters.

The days are shorter now — no 10 p.m. sunsets and its pretty gray in the mornings before 7 a.m. The rest of the week (I’m writing this Friday Morning) was cool and gray and misty. Not really raining, but 100 percent humidity type days. Monday was definitely shorts weather, and Tuesday, but the rest of the week jeans, flannels and sweatshirts came out. Sweaters began to appear and sell on the retail floor. The times they are a changin.

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Reviews by Customers

Here’s some actual screenshots of Google Reviews from our recent customers. We encourage all of our shoppers, clients and customers to review our retail, outfitting, boathouse and online shopping services. In fact, once you’ve signed into your account within our Online Boundary Waters Catalog, you can review all of our items that you’ve ordered and enjoyed. When you’re online and take a break from scrolling through please take the time to write a Google review of our company.