Chat Rooms (0 Chatting)  |  Search  |   Login/Join
* For the benefit of the community, commercial posting is not allowed.
Boundary Waters Quetico Forum
   Listening Point - General Discussion
      Recent observations     
 Forum Sponsor

Author

Text

TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/25/2020 08:05AM  
Just returned from 10 days mostly on SAK.
1) Disappointed in water quality due to people using soap for whatever purpose
2) Saddened by evidence of scraping live birch trees
3) Coming out, we stayed at the Birch campsite close to the Frog portage. Someone decided to trim all of the pine trees along the shore--cutting lower branches. I am hoping that this was done by Rangers and not by wannabe arborists gaming for a better view.
4) Re water...we noticed that the water in SAK tasted a little different than the water in Birch. Birch water seemed better. Strange, because Knife feeds Birch.

When necessary, I have no issue with drinking unfiltered water in the middle of a lake. I did on this trip because I ran out of filtered water by the time I completed the portages from Birch to Knife. As soon as we hit open water I filled my nalgene. Doing this becomes more of an issue as the water becomes polluted.

I am not perfect...and I am not a Karen, but I do my best to preserve what we have in the BWCA.
 
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next
Chieflonewatie
senior member (59)senior membersenior member
 
09/25/2020 10:24AM  
You could actually see and taste soap in Knife lake?
 
TechnoScout
distinguished member (379)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 07:18AM  
Chieflonewatie: "You could actually see and taste soap in Knife lake?"
I can’t identify what I tasted. What I saw was soap.
 
10/05/2020 07:40AM  
You may have hit turnover.
 
TipsyPaddler
distinguished member (277)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 07:48AM  
AmarilloJim: "You may have hit turnover."
What is “turnover” in this context?
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
10/05/2020 07:56AM  
I'm not a biologist (but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last week).

The "soap" that you saw (and possibly tasted) is unlikely to be soap suds. The extremely small number of people who break the rules and bathe in the lake with soap would make such a small difference, it's unlikely that you'd even notice anything within a few yards of the person bathing. And after a couple minutes, I doubt that it would be noticeable in the very spot of the bathing. The suds probably came from naturally occurring process (term unknown to me). It could be from contaminants, but without testing, it would be hard to guess what caused it. I know that I've seen it many places on bodies of water, both in the BW/Q and out.

The water tasting differently from lake to lake is common, even with lakes being fed by neighboring lakes.

 
tumblehome
distinguished member(1951)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 08:30AM  
And all those cut branches along the shore are beavers.

I love beavers, but they cause more ‘damage’ To trees than us humans.

Been camping since the early 80’s and I don’t know what SAK means.

Tom
 
10/05/2020 08:41AM  
SAK=South Arm Knife lake
 
10/05/2020 08:41AM  
You can get suds on pristine lakes. Plants generate compounds known as saponins, which can give that. I have seen suds on Nueltin Lake in Manitoba/ Nunavut.
 
mschi772
distinguished member(575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 08:44AM  
I *am* a biologist and spent almost 10 years managing lakes/ponds and wetlands. Yes, soaps/surfactants can spread across and have impacts on an entire lake even with relatively little amounts. It is extremely important to never use soap in or near a lake--even biodegradable soap as it is only biodegradable in soil. Could a single paddler on Knife perceive it? Probably not, but that doesn't make it any less harmful.

Often people see bubbles in areas and mistake them for soap suds, but there are natural surfactants and other compounds that are released when organic matter decays which can generate foam when churned-up due to rapids, shoreline interaction, or waves. There are also other organisms and proteins in lakes that can also create these kinds of bubbles and foam; they are perfectly safe for the lake ecosystem unlike our soaps.

Regarding cut branches along shore, I'm inclined to believe that the OP knows the difference between saw/axe cuts and beaver cuts. They don't look anything alike. Though it may be difficult to tell on small, low branches, so unless the OP took time to look closely, there's a very good chance these branches were harvested by a local beaver for one of its constructions.
 
10/05/2020 08:45AM  
This is NOT to say that human pollution can't also give suds. I remember that awful scene in Bill Mason's film on Lake Superior...
 
10/05/2020 10:39AM  
To the OP, yeah, in some way, most of us have disappointments and this year more than most. I have noticed the wanton destruction of nature in the Colorado Rockies so extensive I am looking for new hiking options.

I think the BWCA is still one of the cleanest places I know that has regular public use. It started small and random in Colorado, too. Hope it does not spread by making it easier to penetrate the wilderness.

No expert, but turnover is when cooling water descends pushing the lower levels upwards. For awhile the water has had less UV to neutralize any contaminants and may contain various impurities. I would filter during turnover water I would drink otherwise. I have experienced a wide range of taste from lake to lake so your Birch/SAK experience is more likely common and not due to recent pollution. Still, filtering water collected closer to shore is always wise.
 
treehorn
distinguished member(579)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 11:36AM  
Man, I was on Knife earlier this summer and could not believe how clean/clear/great tasting the water there was.

We came up the same way you did, through Frog/Birch, etc., and as soon as we got on Knife it seemed like completely different water...in a good way. It almost had a slight blue/turquoise tint that made it look like a tropical lagoon or something.

We filled a clear water container and couldn't even tell there was water in it...perfectly clear with nothing floating in it. We still treated with aqua tabs, but I felt that was completely unnecessary…better safe than sorry though I guess.

I immediately knew why people love this lake...I sure hope what you saw wasn't any real evidence of the water there being polluted to the point that it's noticeable.
 
10/05/2020 12:57PM  
minnmike: "SAK=South Arm Knife lake"
Thank you. Was wondering what that meant.
 
MichiganMan
distinguished member (142)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/05/2020 07:43PM  
I was on the South Arm in late September as well, and I thought the exact opposite. The campsites I visited were clean with no litter, as were the portages. I normally go to the Quetico so I was kind of expecting the worst, but I was pleasantly surprised. I came in from the Gunflint side.
 
10/05/2020 07:57PM  
I witnessed what seemed like soap bubbles on Brule late last month. I was fairly sure that was normal and not caused by soap but it's nice to get the definitive answer here. :)
 
10/05/2020 10:44PM  
rtallent: "You can get suds on pristine lakes. Plants generate compounds known as saponins, which can give that. I have seen suds on Nueltin Lake in Manitoba/ Nunavut."

When natural bacteria or vegetation die and breakdown in the water you often get a natural suds effect which can often be substantial.

That is not abnormal at all.
 
10/05/2020 11:41PM  
Back in the day on knife there was a lady who bottled the water and it tasted like root beer! So I tried filling my bottles and it tasted like water... hmmm.
 
tumblehome
distinguished member(1951)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/06/2020 08:34AM  
mschi772: "I *am* a biologist and spent almost 10 years managing lakes/ponds and wetlands.

Regarding cut branches along shore, I'm inclined to believe that the OP knows the difference between saw/axe cuts and beaver cuts. They don't look anything alike. Though it may be difficult to tell on small, low branches, so unless the OP took time to look closely, there's a very good chance these branches were harvested by a local beaver for one of its constructions."


I’ve been heading back to a favorite campsite of mine that was burned out by the Pagami Creek fire. Everything in the camp was torched. Over the years I have observed many numerous jack pine sprout up in the camp and growing a few feet per year.

Last year I was terribly disappointed to see someone had been there and lopped off a whole bunch of the small trees with a pruner. How could they do that?

I returned again this year and sure enough, more small trees cut clean with a pruner. But wait,... some of the larger trees, now about 3” in diameter were also cut, and then I noticed that it was not a pruner, but the sharp teeth of beaver.

So even me, Mr. wilderness experienced camper was duped into thinking people were cutting my trees when it was in fact my friend, the beaver.
Tom
 
10/06/2020 08:39AM  
nctry: "Back in the day on knife there was a lady who bottled the water and it tasted like root beer! So I tried filling my bottles and it tasted like water... hmmm. "

Actually I think certain lakes I like the taste much better than most city water.
 
10/06/2020 08:41AM  
tumblehome: "mschi772: "I *am* a biologist and spent almost 10 years managing lakes/ponds and wetlands.


Regarding cut branches along shore, I'm inclined to believe that the OP knows the difference between saw/axe cuts and beaver cuts. They don't look anything alike. Though it may be difficult to tell on small, low branches, so unless the OP took time to look closely, there's a very good chance these branches were harvested by a local beaver for one of its constructions."



I’ve been heading back to a favorite campsite of mine that was burned out by the Pagami Creek fire. Everything in the camp was torched. Over the years I have observed many numerous jack pine sprout up in the camp and growing a few feet per year.


Last year I was terribly disappointed to see someone had been there and lopped off a whole bunch of the small trees with a pruner. How could they do that?


I returned again this year and sure enough, more small trees cut clean with a pruner. But wait,... some of the larger trees, now about 3” in diameter were also cut, and then I noticed that it was not a pruner, but the sharp teeth of beaver.


So even me, Mr. wilderness experienced camper was duped into thinking people were cutting my trees when it was in fact my friend, the beaver.
Tom"



I was going to say a rabbit or deer or moose.
 
10/06/2020 09:41AM  
Probably why knife water doesn’t taste as good as in birch is all the car batteries and stuff in it. That’s how much of the items out there were disposed of to make the BWcA a pristine wilderness.
 
      Print Top Bottom Previous Next
Listening Point - General Discussion Sponsor:
Sawbill Canoe Outfitters