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   Listening Point - General Discussion
      Pow Wow Hiking Trail reopening celebration Wednesday in Duluth     

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Bushpilot
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09/24/2019 07:18PM
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, in addition to being a favorite canoeists’ destination, also has more than 200 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, most maintained by volunteers.
Now, after eight years of hard work, the 30-mile long BWCAW Pow Wow Hiking Trail — which burned almost entirely in the massive 2011 Pagami Creek forest fire — is nearly ready to see hikers again, and trail supporters are ready to celebrate. The event is set for Wednesday from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Duluth Folks School, 1917 W Superior St. It’s free and open to the public.
“The trail is passable now, but you’d have to be a very experienced backpacker to do it. There’s still a lot of tree falls,’’ said Martin Kubik. “It should be ready for more people by next year, for people with more average backpacking abilities. But it’s still going to be very challenging.”
Kubik is president and founder of the nonprofit Boundary Waters Advisory Committee, which advocates for and works on trials in the wilderness. The Pow Wow Trail reconstruction work was a joint effort of the U.S. Forest Service and the committee, with hundreds of volunteers, both novice and experienced wilderness trippers, working on the trial in recent years. You can hear their story at Wednesday’s event and get a free map of the trail for your 2020 hike.
For more information contact Martin Kubik at wtrails2@yahoo.com or 612-564-8279 or go to boundarywaterstrails.org. Another event is set for Oct. 10 at the REI store in Bloomington, Minn.

Copied and pasted from the Duluth news tribune.

I know some people from this site worked hard to help open the trail. Thank you I really like the Pow Wow trail.
 
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MidwestFirecraft
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09/25/2019 06:57AM
That's great news, thanks for sharing! That trail is on my bucket list. When I checked with the Forest Service 4 years ago they were considering not clearing it and letting it go. Wonderful to know so many people stepped up and got it done.
 
x2jmorris
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09/25/2019 07:27AM
Awesome. I am surprised it is open so soon actually.
 
geotramper
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09/25/2019 10:13AM
Anyone who is able to attend either of these events willing to report back to the forum what they hear? I can't go, and it would be nice to hear more details on what kind of condition the trail and related campsites are in. I imagine others here would find that info useful as well.
 
Portage99
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09/30/2019 02:30AM
That’s great news!!
 
HappyHuskies
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09/30/2019 06:18AM
Wonderful news. Definitely a trail I'd like to hike and was not sure it would ever be cleared.

Thank you to all of the hard working volunteers that made this happen!
 
jillpine
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09/30/2019 06:43AM

Link for the meeting planned on 10.10 at Bloomington REI:
Powwow trail info meeting in Bloomington
 
x2jmorris
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09/30/2019 01:06PM
I take it no one went to the Duluth one? Or is that one coming up still?
 
TominMpls
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09/30/2019 01:21PM
I'm co-leading a clearing trip in a couple weeks so I can give a report from that but the trail is certainly passable this year. When we were up clearing in May there were some significant difficult stretches but two separate groups, going opposite directions, came through hiking the loop while we were clearing.
 
carmike
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09/30/2019 09:01PM
That is amazing.

The amount of work put into getting this trail in working order is incredible. I visited it the spring some years back, before any real cutting was done. Martin had been through tying up little blue ribbons to follow the trail. Without those, I would've had no idea where to go. How he did is beyond me.

Thanks, all.

 
jillpine
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10/11/2019 07:17AM
Just giving a little trip report about Martin Kubik's Powwowtalk last night, as requested by a couple of you. It was very interesting.

Martin and other volunteers have done truly remarkable work to restore and preserve trails in the BWCA. I had no idea of the duration and extent of his/their work and effort. He repeatedly demonstrated through the PPT show how the effort was collaborative: Boundary Waters Advisory Committee, USFS and hikers like us, scout groups, Outward Bound etc to use the trail (so it stays used and doesn't re-grow) once it is safe and maintained.

I learned a great deal. He showed the history of the trail, the use prior to Pagami Creek Fire, he re-told the story of the 2011 fire, which he said was either the 3rd or 6th largest fire in the history of the area, depending on the source (maybe you have some stats about that, LindenTree?).

He then started to show pictures immediately after the fire, and every year subsequent. That was fascinating. The forest waits for no one, and Jack Pine turns "King Pine" during the regrowth. He showed how the pines will gain a foot of growth, occluding vision from the trail year-by-year. A hiker cannot discern rock cairns, tree slashes or even fire grates through the dense regrowth. While beautiful to see the regrowth process, the trail itself gets swallowed very quickly and lost forever.

With remarkable collaboration, fund-raising and volunteer effort, they set about clearing the trail again, the goal being all of it (30 miles plus). What would normally be 1.5 - 2 miles per hour was reduced to 0.25 miles in an hour or more due to blow-down, loss of trail, rugged trail conditions: wet, remote-navigation needs, beaver activity, etc). He spoke about the fatigue of the pace. One thing he pointed out was, with this incredibly difficult pace and condition, it would take a person 8+ days instead of what would normally take 2 days. He said, "Think about the added gear, food and weight", especially given the fact that you'd be hauling that over blowdown after blowdown. It all seems simple, but until you really hear it and see the pictures, the comprehension of the magnitude isn't really the same. Kind of like windy paddling conditions - it doesn't look so bad from shore.....

He sang the praises of the Japanese saws that many others on the board love - Katana and Silky, as well as Fiskars loppers. The volunteer groups tent-camp in crowded conditions, of course. They go in from Forest Center (Isabella Lake) and Lake One and Three and also a Quadga access (I think I have that last one wrong). He showed how they hike (spring / winter) or paddle or both. They receive a reduction in lodging from some area outfitters, as well as a reduction in food prices from Trailtopia. Frost River is also a commercial supporter, Midwest Mountaineering, and if there are others that I have omitted, pardon me and please chime in. Obviously, the conditions are rugged (wet, cold, muddy, remote - I can already see some of you drooling). They welcome volunteers of any experience level and have never had an injury beyond scrapes and bruises. Pretty remarkable given the stakes of the work (sharp blades, falling trees, rugged trail).

He showed picture after picture of the regrowth and the blowdown. He talked about burned and charred spruce falling with enough lag to allow the hiker to be alerted, but birch - not the same! They rot at the core, snap off and simply drop without warning, dangerous! There are no tent pads, making it difficult to go with a group size of more than 4 - 6 people. No hammocking right now - not enough tree trunk strength.

Finally, he spoke about what we all want to know - when can we go? He recommends the following: call someone from the BWAC group to discuss the trail conditions. Plan a trip when weather is < 70 degrees, NOT windy, and when there will be water available. Water early in the season is easier to find than later in the season. Conditions will be wet, often up to the knee. Don't go alone, and keep group size 4- 6 max due to tent pad limitations. Early spring is best, as snow weighs down the grasses and fireweed from the previous season.

As a nod to the astonishing array of regrowth flora and fauna, he did show some mushroom pictures. :)

For everything he said, he had interesting graphics, maps or photos to supplement his wealth of experience and knowledge. It was like I had walked into a BWCA goldmine of knowledge.

The experience left one feeling hopeful. I was honored and grateful for the opportunity to be in that room of volunteers who have devoted decades to preserving wilderness trails with the intention of making people feel good.

Finally, thank you Bush Pilot, for posting this information in the first place. Without your post, I would not have known about this opportunity! Thank you!
~beth



 
jillpine
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10/11/2019 08:17AM
geotramper: "Anyone who is able to attend either of these events willing to report back to the forum what they hear? I can't go, and it would be nice to hear more details on what kind of condition the trail and related campsites are in. I imagine others here would find that info useful as well. "

Martin recommended contacting them directly when planning a trip there beyond a day hike. Oh, he also said to go when the days are long, for obvious reasons. This map can't be used to navigate. Martin said you'll need GAIA GPS - no paper map will suffice.
Here is an informational map you might like to see, created by one of the volunteers. I wish I had had the chutzpah to meet these people after the talk but I am hopelessly shy and awkward in person so I just left when it was done.




 
TominMpls
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10/11/2019 09:12AM
jillpine: " I wish I had had the chutzpah to meet these people after the talk but I am hopelessly shy and awkward in person so I just left when it was done. "
I'm likely to be leading or co-leading one of the trips again in the spring. Feel free to be shy and awkward and sign up, as long as you're ready for the challenges of the trip!
 
jillpine
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10/11/2019 09:51AM
TominMpls: "jillpine: " I wish I had had the chutzpah to meet these people after the talk but I am hopelessly shy and awkward in person so I just left when it was done. "
I'm likely to be leading or co-leading one of the trips again in the spring. Feel free to be shy and awkward and sign up, as long as you're ready for the challenges of the trip!"


tom, do we sign up via Meet-Up?
 
TominMpls
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10/11/2019 10:22AM
Yes.
 
BearBurrito
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10/11/2019 10:51AM
Thank you so much for the report!!
 
geotramper
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10/11/2019 12:20PM
Thank you jillpine!
 
bapabear
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10/18/2019 10:07PM
jillpine that was fascinating - thanks for sharing. One of my favorite trips was on the Isabella River and we camped on Quadga Lake. We hiked the trail one afternoon since it ran right behind our camp. I think we went to Superstition Lake and back. It was beautiful. Quadga is one of my favorite lakes and I have some nice photos and memories of it. I was there before the fire of course and would love to see what the lake and area look like now in 2019 if anyone has photos from a recent visit.
 
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