Originally posted at Mountainsmith.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area of Minnesota is a beautiful place. If you have not had the opportunity to visit I highly recommend going at least once. But I warn you, once you do, you will want to keep going back – at least my good friend Randy Wilson and I have found that to be true.
Packing all the essentials for a weeklong trip into the boundary waters is a challenging task. For this most recent trip – my fifth into the north country of Minnesota – I packed and repacked at least six times. Everything you will need to use for the trip has to fit inside a canoe. Not only that, you also have to take into consideration the portages and the water that inevitably makes its way into the canoe. One pack however was an easy choice – the Spectrum camera bag by Mountainsmith. Designed in Colorado by professional photographer Andy Mann, the Spectrum was the perfect camera pack for a week on the water.
Taking an expensive camera and a couple of lenses on a trip like this can be nerve wracking. Throwing things in and out of a canoe and of course the possibility of getting everything soaking wet, is always in the back of your mind. The Spectrum pack has just the right amount of padding and space and even its own rain jacket so you don’t have to worry when the weather turns wet on you. The pack held its own, as it was dropped and/or placed heavily into the wet canoe at least 50 times.
Another nice aspect of the pack is its size. I mentioned it is perfect for a camera and couple of lenses but it also held a handful of batteries, maps, knifes, lunch, a compass, a cutting board, bear spray and a few other things that most people would normally not put into it. Even with everything packed away, it felt light and sturdy on our backs, even while carrying a canoe.
After six days of portaging, paddling and fishing we headed back to the lodge and put up the canoe and put on the hiking boots. We had an afternoon to do a little hiking and fishing the scenic Brule River. Again, the Spectrum was in tow – packed this time with only the camera equipment and a water bottle. The afternoon was spent catching rainbow trout and snapping more great photos.
Lucky for us that Randy is a professional photographer and was able to capture some amazing images from our weeklong adventure. You can view more of his work at www.rhwilsonphoto.com. You can also find more information about the Spectrum pack and all the other great products that Mountainsmith creates at www.mountainsmith.com.
Las Vegas and Atlantic City have made a mark as America’s undisputed gaming destinations. Sprawling and grandiose casino complexes in these two cities have, consequently, defined how poker, blackjack and other casino games should be played – splashing chips and winning green bills in style. But in other parts of America, new forms of gaming are taking shape, and card sharks are increasingly turning to an entirely different way of gaming – that is, playing it outdoors.
Playing casino games outdoors is a new concept being introduced in many parts of America, where one can trek, fish and camp while at the same time betting one’s stakes in a card game under towering sequoia trees or in a lake yachting cruise. This idea has become viral that even the biggest names in the casino business are beginning to bring their gaming tables outdoors. Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget Casino, for instance, has literally thought outside the box by opening an outdoor blackjack area in front of its famous bay area.
Outdoor gaming is especially appealing in Colorado, with its breathtaking landscape of mountains, forests, mesas, canyons and rivers providing a vivid backdrop for the Centennial State’s outdoor- and game-loving residents. Colorado’s wide array of natural parks such as the Rocky Mountains National Park, the Eleven Mile State Park, and the Spinney Mountain State Park offers not only mountains to climb or vast lakes to fish, but also picturesque spots to play blackjack, baccarat or any casino card game. It is played best every after a mountain trek, a biking trip or a fishing expedition, when one needs to rest and seeks to do something for amusement. Of course, one can’t bring heavy casino equipment such as roulette wheels or craps tables in a national park, the same way that Castle Jackpot’s water dragons can’t exist in Colorado waters.
It is hoped that playing outdoor casino card games will lure more people to visit the wilderness and gain a deeper appreciation of nature. It won’t be a surprise if outdoor- and casino-loving Coloradans will lead the initiative and convince more Americans to visit the countryside and commune with nature.
Why would you bring electronics with you when you go camping or hiking or fishing? Aren’t you trying to escape the day-to-day barrage of electronic distractions? Especially if one is going to an extremely remote place like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota? My reason? An overwhelming urge to share – via photography and video – the amazing things I see on these trips.
For the Minnesota trip, my good friend Randy Wilson and I spent six days in the boundary waters and another day on the shores of Grand Marais, MN. That’s a long time to use a battery for a camera or phone or video camera, so I brought along my Goal Zero Guide 10 Solar Kit. It was my first time using these solar panels and I was a bit skeptical as to how many times I would be able to charge my electronics. I have to say, it did not disappoint.
All the equipment was easily charged up during the week thanks to the many charging options the Guide 10 has – two phones/mp3 players, two GoPro cameras, one point and shoot camera and one DSLR camera, none lost any battery time. And along with the solar panel charging option, there is also the battery pack. I charged that before taking my trip and on the second day I used it to charge up my phone and a GoPro battery and it still had juice left to charge Randy’s phone as well. At the same time I was using the battery pack, I had the panels out in the sun charging my other GoPro battery!
It seemed like I used the Guide 10 every other day, as listening to music at night and then taking photos and video during the day quickly drained batteries. But with the solar panels there was never a photo op missed or a video shot lost.
The panels weigh in at .8 lbs and the battery pack with batteries weighs a mere .4 lbs. For this trip I didn’t have to hike the kit anywhere, it stayed at base camp. But when I take my next backpacking excursion, the Goal Zero Guide 10 will definitely be coming along with me – so I can continue to capture and share these indescribable experiences. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I don’t want to miss even one!
Once the ice started melting in the high-country, catching the cutthroats was easier than trying to find the time to get to them. We definitely hit the lakes at the right time and got into some PIGS! Head over to the Orvis blog and take a gander at these beauties.
Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches when things aren’t going the way you planned. In this case, we had to go with plan C because mother nature decided to throw some curve balls. Mike, Tom and myself made plans to hike into a lake we had never fished before in search of some lake trout. The lake sits roughly 1,000 feet straight down from a road, and the lake itself is at 12,500 feet above sea level.
We had an early start, arrived at the road in question, and it was closed. Now this road is a seasonal road and is not open in the winter months. But we had all checked to make sure the road was open for our adventure and everywhere we checked said it was open. There were no signs around to let us know why the road was closed but a gentlemen walked over and let us know that the road was closed due to a rock slide. So on to plan B.
Unfortunately, plan B was setup if for some unforeseen reason we could not make it to our first destination, we were going to fish a lake that is right next to the road. So of course that was out since we couldn’t even get up the road. Plan C, here we go.
Plan C was thrown together last minute when we decided to hike to a lake that is in the generally vicinity of where we currently were. We didn’t want to waste anymore time with driving somewhere else, so we threw on our packs and headed up the trail. Not knowing if the lake we were hiking to was free of ice or not, because the high alpine lakes had seen a lot of snow late in the season and most were still frozen, but we went anyway. We arrived at the lake to find it 95% iced. Oh well, at least we had a small area that was unfrozen to wet some lines.
The rest of the day was spent fishing and lounging, lounging because the fishing wasn’t that great. In fact, only one fish was caught and that was by Mike. But we still had a great time with some majestic mountains and with good friends, and in the end that’s really all that matters.
Is there such a thing as too much fishing? If it doesn’t interfere with my responsibilities then no, there is no such thing as too much fishing for me. I have a lake across the street, a creek 10 minutes up the road and a river 10 minutes down the road – every chance I get I go fishing. The fishing in the greater Denver area is not the usual fly fishing paradise, but when you can catch brown trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, carp, catfish, and just about any other fish you can think of, that sounds like a paradise of fishing to me. Now if I only could figure out how to fish a little more……