The Piragis Guest Blog

Boundary Waters & Quetico Trip Stories From our Guests

Crab Lake Open, Foss Lake Fire Final Update

Foss Lake Fire Update Final Update from Ely

Friday, May 27, 2016, 9:00 a.m.
MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander
This will be the final update produced by MNICS Team C.
For information about the fire situation, visit Inciweb ( or call/visit the US Forest Service Ely office, open from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm every day (218-365-7600, 1393 Highway 169).

Phone: 218-365-2216
Size: 936 acres
Containment: 95 percent

Resources: 4 crews, 2 CCMI camp crews, 1 light helicopter,
163 total personnel
Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

CURRENT SITUATION: The incident management team MNICS Team C, under the command of Brian Pisarek, would like to thank cooperators and community members for their support throughout the fire-suppression efforts. Today at 4:00 p.m. the team will transfer command of the Foss Lake Fire to a local Type 3 organization.

Firefighters finished removing fire-suppression gear from the fireline yesterday with assistance from the Bell helicopter. Yesterday’s infrared flight mapped a few pockets of heat scattered around the fire. Heat detected by the thermal imaging device does not necessarily represent open flame or active burning. Hotshot crews, armed with GPS coordinates, went to all hot spots that were close enough to the perimeter to warrant investigation and extinguished them thoroughly. Heat detected well interior will be monitored but not put out.
Today, the southern portion of the fire will not be staffed. This morning, two hotshot crews that have been camping in the wilderness will paddle out and return to the incident command post. The Logan Hotshots will be demobilized and the Wyoming Hotshots will remain assigned to the fire and work for the incoming Type 3 team. The fire will be patrolled by firefighters on the ground and by air.

WEATHER: Ely received 0.11 inches of rain overnight; however, the fire area received no precipitation. Temperatures today (mid-70 degrees) will again be moderated by clouds, and humidity today and through the weekend will remain above 40 percent due to a steady stream of atmospheric moisture from the south. The chance of rain is greatest overnight tonight.

FUTURE FIRE BEHAVIOR: Current weather conditions are conducive to minimal fire behavior. The fire is secure due to the 100-foot mopped-up buffer between the fire’s perimeter and interior. Without significant wetting rain over the fire area, pockets of existing heat could create small amounts of smoke that would be visible to people near the fire. The presence of smoke does not mean that the fire has escaped the containment line or that the fire is actively burning. The continued presence of firefighters does not indicate active fire behavior. They remain in the fire area for patrols, fire-line rehabilitation, and initial-attack response to new fire starts.

CLOSURES: There are no closures in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Crab Lake entry point #4 is open. BWCAW visitors travelling on the Crab-Clark portage should be attentive to fire-weakened trees. Do not be concerned if you see smoke. The fire is being patrolled and monitored.

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Foss Lake Wildfire update May 26, 10:00 am 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016, 10:00 a.m.

from MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander

Web address:

Phone: 218-365-2216
Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, Open 8 am–6 pm

Size: 936 acres
Containment: 95 percent
Resources: 6 crews, 2 CCMI camp crews, 1 light helicopter, 1 engine, 1 water tender, 212 total personnel


Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Current Situation: Firefighters removed ten miles of hose off the fireline. Conservation Corps Minnesota Iowa (CCMI) crew members rolled and prepared it for transport to the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center fire cache in Grand Rapids where it will be washed, dried, and stored for the next time it’s needed. CCMI crew members also hauled 20 aluminum canoes across the over-mile-long portage from Crab to Burntside.

The light helicopter assisted crews by transporting cargo such as pumps, hose, trash, gas cans off the fireline. As of Wednesday morning, the helicopters had transported nearly 20,000 pounds of cargo, dropped over 815,000 gallons of water and 62,500 gallons of retardant, and clocked 130 hours of flight time.

Today firefighters will continue to extinguish isolated smoldering stumps and duff (referred to as mopping up) as they patrol the fire perimeter. They will use chainsaws to cut the occasional snag—a standing, damaged tree that is likely to fall along the fireline or portage, posing a safety hazard to firefighters and the public. More gear, equipment, and trash will be backhauled.
Campsites and areas affected by fire-suppression activity will be rehabilitated (for example, repairing areas along a portage eroded from water drops or digging a new latrine, if needed, at campsites used by crews). Two crews (about 40 people) and many personnel are demobilizing today as the Type 2 MNICS Team C prepares to transfer command of the fire back to a local Type 3 organization on Friday afternoon.

Weather: Temperatures will be in the mid-70s and clouds will keep the relative humidity above 40 percent. Southeast winds will be variable (5–8 mph), possibly switching to the west and gusting to 12 mph in the afternoon. The chance of receiving a wetting rain is low: 20 percent before noon.

Future Fire Behavior: Current weather conditions are favorable to minimal fire behavior. The fire is secure due to the 100-foot mopped-up buffer between the fire’s perimeter and interior. During a flight on Tuesday, an infrared thermal imager detected three areas of heat in the fire’s interior. Another flight scheduled for this morning will reveal what heat remains within the perimeter. Depending on future weather, any small pocket of existing heat could create small amounts of smoke that would be visible to people near the fire. The presence of smoke does not mean that the fire has escaped the containment line or that the fire is actively burning. The continued presence of firefighters does not indicate active fire behavior. They remain in the fire area for patrols, fire-line rehabilitation, and initial-attack response to new fire starts.

Closures: BWCAW entry point #4 (Crab Lake entry point) will reopen on Friday morning.The current closure order remains in effect until then.

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Driftwood: A Boundary Waters Poem




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

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As of May 25, 2016 Foss Lake Fire 95% Contained BWCAW entry point #4 (Crab Lake entry point) will reopen on Friday morning.

25 May 2016, 8:15 p.m.

Full Link on incident Here

The fire is now 95 percent contained.

One of today's objectives was to backhaul excess equipment, hose, and trash off the fireline. Firefighters hauled 10 miles of hose off the line to a drop point at the end of Wolf Lake Road. From there, Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa crew members loaded the hose into trucks and brought it back to the incident command post in Ely. They untangled the hoses, spread them out in straight lines, and hooked them up to a rolling machine, which turned them into compact round bundles that were stacked on pallets. The pallets will be returned to the fire cache at the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids. There it will be washed and dried prior to being stored, ready to send to the next incident when ordered.

BWCAW entry point #4 (Crab Lake entry point) will reopen on Friday morning.

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Foss Lake Fire Update Wildfire near Ely

Foss Lake Wildfire Update May 24, 2016

Update on the Wildfire that began as a prescribed burn last Thursday.

Some Boundary Waters Closures including the Crab Lake Entry Point.

Current Containment is 55%.  If you have a permit for this area in the next two weeks through Piragis Northwoods Company Outfitters, please call us for more details and to adjust your trip plans.

See below for details:

Incident: Foss Lake Fire Wildfire
Released: 11 min. ago
Foss Lake Fire Update
Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:00 a.m.MNICS Team C, Brian Pisarek, Incident Commander

Fire Information

Web address:


Phone: 218-365-2216 (new number) Location: US Forest Service, 1393 Hwy 169, Ely, open 8 am–6 pm

Size: 1015 acres Containment: 55 percent Fire Start Date: May 19, 2016

Resources: 6 crews, 2 CCMI camp crews, 2 helicopters, 4 engines, 1 water tender, 217 total personnel
Starting today, fire updates will be released once a day in the morning.



Current Situation: Another day of strong winds tested the fireline yesterday, but the lines held and the fire did not grow. The progress firefighters have made allowed fire managers to consider over half of the fire contained. The hottest area of the fire is on the northwest side between Crab and Clark Lakes and south of Clark Lake. Helicopters were not needed yesterday for water drops. They provided support by hauling gear and supplies to and from the fire area. They will be available today for logistical support and water drops if needed. Ground crews will continue working to extend the containment line today by laying hose on already cut line and mopping up hot spots. Three crews continue to camp in the wilderness: two on Crab Lake and one on Clark Lake. The other crews hike to and from the fire every day. Firefighters have installed five to six miles of fire hose and around the perimeter.
The Lake Vermilion Fire Brigade, Morse/Fall Lake Fire Department, and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Rescue Squad were demobilized from the incident yesterday. MNICS Team C appreciates the local expertise, structure protection, and equipment they provided to the firefighting efforts.

Weather and Fire Behavior: A quarter-inch of rain fell on the fire area last night, which is not enough to extinguish fire but is enough to significantly suppress and retard fire spread and new starts. The moisture will increase the effectiveness of firefighters’ suppression and mop-up efforts on the fireline today. Winds will be light and variable today, reaching 5–9 mph this afternoon. The temperature will be in the high 70s, and the relative humidity will hover around 35 percent. Fire behavior will likely be minimal today.

Closures: Crab Lake entry point #4 is the only BWCAW entry point that is closed. The following BWCAW portages and lakes/rivers, including campsites, are closed:
· portage from Burntside Lake to Crab Lake (entry point #4)
· portage from Cummings Lake to Korb Lake; portage from Cummings Lake to Korb River
· lakes and associated portages: Crab, Boulder, Phantom, Battle, Sprite, Meat, Clark, Glimmer, Hassle, Saca, Little Crab, Korb, Maxine, Barefoot, Little Jig, Silaca, Coxey Pond, Lunetta, Schlamn, Soroll, Glenmore, Western, Blick, Chad, Dugout, and Pine.

· Pine Creek east of Trout Lake

· portage from Trout Lake to Pine Lake
Closure signs are posted at normal access points to delineate the closure area. The closure order and map are located at

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Secret, Blackstone, and Ennis Lake Hike

Some friends and I did a nice day hike in the Secret, Blackstone, and Ennis Lake area near Moose Lake.  It was a beautiful day in the woods with great friends.  There was only one set of footprints on much of the trail.  I thought I would share a few pictures from our hike.








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Kawishiwi Falls Hike 1-5-16

My dad and sister came up to visit this week. It is always nice when they come up. One of our hikes was to the Kawishiwi Falls.  It is a nice short hike (a little more than a mile round trip), and the falls are spectacular, especially in the winter when they are iced up. Enjoy some pictures below, and come see it for yourself if you have the chance.











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November 29th - Late November Boundary Waters Day Hike

Time to put the tripping canoe up in the barn for the winter as these photos from last Sunday in the Boundary Waters will show.  
Finding a hike-in remote lake in the BWCAW is not really that easy but there are a few.  The trail is classic northwoods, and the lake sublime anytime of year.  But, when you can literally run on a half inch of grippy snow on top of four inches of new ice you are in wilderness heaven. Only a pair of skate skis would make it better.  It was just that kind of day again, despite the lack of walleyes to bring home. 
* Note on gear.  Before the really deep cold of winter sets in try Chota Caney Fork Boots with the Caney Fork Breathable Sock.   Your feet stay dry and warm and as hikers, they feel great year round.  Check em out on our web site.  Maybe there’s someone you know who needs a pair this Christmas.
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November 15th - One Last Boundary Waters Day Trip

Steve and Nancy went for one last paddle on November 15, maybe the last day trip of the year in the BWCA by canoe. The light was low but the colors of late fall were rich with all shades of brown and maroon in the sedge and grasses. Beavers have been busy the last few weeks shoring up the dams and adding branches to the cache for the winter. We saw boreal chickadees, and a rare northern forest denizen at the landing on the Echo Trail. Lots of gray jays glided on their large wings across the frozen aquatic meadows. Gone are all the birds of summer. A few ducks are still on migration, scaups, common mergansers. The usual scavengers, bald eagles and ravens, were out searching for the deer hunters leftovers.  We saw a big brown raptor too, with just small white patches on the wings and the characteristic dihedral wing span of a late fall golden eagle.  Fishing was a little slow but the best part of Sunday in the BWCAW was paddling a real wilderness lake, not a soul around on sunny Sunday in mid-November. The next time we visit this lake it will likely be for ice fishing and it may be pretty soon.  Enjoy a few shots from their journey.

We'd love to hear your stories.  Share Here.


Ground fog forming over cold snow as the mid-November sun started to warm up the air.  Thin ice was pretty easy to break and by afternoon was gone, except in the shade.


Ready to go.  Just need the stern guy!


Summer or almost winter?  This beach sure looks welcoming.


Breaking Ice on the Moose River.


Snowy Landing


Kind of the neat the way the compacted soil of the portage trail melted the first snow.

We want to hear about your trip.  Share your story!

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Our New Guest Blog

Thanks for visiting the Piragis Guest Blog. In the months to come, we plan to post stories and phtos from guests who have taken trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico National Park. Be sure subscribe to this blog to receive email updates when we add new stories. 


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Contact Info

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    Ely, MN 55731

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