Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The mythical twenty footer

The subject of countless emails, Facebook posts, and conversations yesterday was the big northwest wind and the alleged twenty foot waves on Lake Superior. When I sent RonO the info from the NOAA mid lake buoy, he trumped my pathetic little bit of data with the glorious full color NOAA wave map above. Actual link is here. The front that brought us Fall on Sunday afternoon also brought steady northwest winds of 35 knots with gusts of over 45 knots, producing the twenty footers shown on the map along the south shore. But were there any twenty footers?

Wave height estimation seems to be like the fish you got right up to the boat and lost, or the buck that you just missed with your bow. Or maybe missed 4 times in 2 days like a nameless.....OK, it was the KingOfIronwoodIsland....Reefer Creek bow hunter. In our mind they always seem bigger than they are. The solid measure of wave height in a kayak is the rough placement of most peoples eyes about 3 feet above where their ass is on the kayak seat. So if all your fellow paddlers can be seen when you are in the trough of the wave, it just isn't a three foot wave no matter how much we would like it to be. About the time that I was studying the map and fantasizing about being windbound on the tip of the Keweenaw with an ample supply of food and adult beverage, I had the brainstorm to get in touch with a couple of on the scene witnesses, Pod and the GurneyGranny. Its unclear at this time who rushed down to Saxon Harbor but 5 images were in my email at about 6:30. As you can see, even the most notorious lying fisherman could not get 20' out of those waves. To be fair, Saxon Harbor appears to be in the 14' bar on the chart but those waves look like all of about 4 or 5 footers max to me. I also received a report from a Marquette native who said, "I saw pictures today from a friend east of Marquette. Pretty awesome there with stacked 7-10 foot waves and howling wind/rain". On the map 'east of Marquette seems to be solidly in the 16'range.

As readers of this blog are well aware, I've never scoffed at forecasts and data from NOAA and am certainly not now. I just want to see a twenty foot wave on Lake Superior. Or a picture of a twenty foot wave. I don't necessarily need to be out on a twenty foot wave, although I do admit that being on the Gull Rock Lighthouse, pictured below off the tip of the Keweenaw, during one of these blows would be outstanding. If you possess an image of a 20' Gitchee Gumee wave, please send it over. I'd really like to see it and I'm sure the readers of this blog would as well. This link has some excellent wave shots but, again, I don't see a twenty footer. A little help out there?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall arrives

Even though the autumnal equinox was last Tuesday, it just has not felt like fall yet. The leaves have certainly began to turn, with bright red maple leaves covering the forest floor on top of the sumac which gave up its leaves a couple weeks ago. The ash is pretty much down as well and the aspen and oak are beginning to think about turning color too. The hawks are streaming past Hawk Ridge in Duluth and the V's of geese are heading south as well. Its a big year for apples in northern Wisconsin and the calendar says we are officially into the fall season but the plain fact is that it just didn't smell like fall yet. Until mid afternoon Sunday, that is.

We were lured to the hunting camp with visions of grouse flushing in front of the shotgun but when we strolled in late Friday night and I saw a trailer full of dimension lumber sitting by the site of the long discussed cut up shack, it became apparent that the DeWalt drill, rather than the shotgun, would be the tool that separates us from the apes this weekend. It was the perfect weekend for both framing buildings and grouse hunting. A front had moved through during the night and cleared the clouds but it was not the classic fall system, with rapidly moving scattered clouds and a cold, dry northwest wind. Nor did it provide that first hard frost of the season that hay fever sufferers have been waiting for. This was a wimpy southwest wind that had no chance of giving us that cold air and triggering the decaying leaves, damp ground, brisk fall smell that was missing. It was pretty good weather for building in a T shirt however, and we 'made hay while the sun shone'. Fresh sweet corn, a sirloin tip roast garnished with horseradish produced the weekend before, and apple crisp also told us mentally that we were in the midst of fall but still no smell. I thought that my switching from Summit Kolsch, a superb new Summit offering now known unofficially as Konstruction Kolsch, to Summit Octoberfest might trigger the change but no luck.

Sunday morning broke with another weak front moving through. We had a couple showers but nothing to make a person lay down their hammer. We saddled up about 1pm and headed for Mora, where the VOR had left her car. About halfway there the wind blew up out of the northwest and the temperature dropped from 68F to 49F in the space of about 15 minutes. When I got home I checked the nearshore forecast and found that small craft advisory had changed to gale warnings and that 9-12' waves were forecast for areas within 5 miles of shore on western Lake Superior. More importantly, when I opened the patio door to let Rookie the Wonder Dog outthis morning, the fall smell had magically appeared. Fall is most definitely in the air!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wolves, deer in the Apostles, and no $20 permits

Last week wolves were put back on the endngered species list, at least until US Fish and Wildlife decides to try to delist them once more, a lengthy process that will begin again shortly. Also, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore announced that Sand and York Islands will be closed for the season at the end of the month so sharpshooters can take care of the massive deer overpopulation that's threatening the native plant species on both islands.Finally in related deer news, most of the deer management units in northern Wisconsin have been changed from 'herd control' units to 'regular' units, which means that even though hunters will receive an anterless tag with their license, they won't be able to use them.

The states and the various tribes have been managing the wolf population for the past two years but a judge ruled that the US Fish & Wildlife Agency had not properly allowed for public input before delisting them. Now the public hearings and comment periods will begin all over. It seems like the wolf population is healthy enough in our area and the only threat they pose locally seems to be to bear dogs. For those unfamiliar with that activity, these bear 'hunters' let their dogs run loose through the woods for most of August to train them. They come loping and barking through camp as we sit and enjoy the summer, maybe shit in the yard, and then keep going. The guys who run dogs seem to see no problem with this, even though they would run you or your dog off their land in a heartbeat. Most of the time we don't molest the dogs.....much.....but the wolves generally aren't so accommodating when the dogs move through a packs territory. Dumb bear dogs stand no chance against a timber wolf and then we taxpayers get to pay the knucklehead that steered his dogs into wolf country in the first place. I think the Feds are wise to let the states and the tribal resource managers work with the wolf population in their state. After all, whats good for Ely, MN ain't necessarily the same thing thats good for Ashland, WI.

All the whining that took place after the deer season last year about too few deer and too many wolves seems to have caused the Wisconsin DNR to come up with what they must consider to be a winning solution. We can still shoot does, we just need to pay for a doe permit now. Managers have decided how many permits each unit will have and one a day can be purchased by each license holder until they are gone. $12 a pop for residents and $20 each for us Wisconsin tax paying landowners who are not residents. My thought on this is that they should require people commenting at the meetings and whining in the paper to have spent at least 20 hours in the woods during the previous hunting season. You can't see many deer from a bar stool and you can't believe what the guy on the next stool says about their being no deer. Maybe some sort of ass size/blood alcohol ratio test can be developed to screen for real hunters.

Which leads us to too damn many deer on Sand and York Islands. I've written about this before and witnessed it first hand every time I've camped on those two islands. If you don't see several deer at the campsites, 20 yards away or closer, you just aren't paying attention. Even though the islands are open for hunting its a pain in the rear end to hunt them. First of all a boat is needed, although when I think about it, a quartered deer just might fit in a kayak. If a deer is harvested it needs to be dragged to the shoreline to get to the boat. No ATVs to keep us elderly hunters from having a heart attack while dragging a 180# buck. Then there are likely permits to be filed for, an aggravated boat owner when you throw the field dressed deer in the bottom of his boat.... No, I think this trained marksman idea is perfect, plus the food shelves get the venison. Good luck to the NPS on knocking down the deer population and maybe even eliminating it on York, which is a much smaller island.

It seems funny that we need to control and manipulate animal populations to the extent that we do. It would appear that the phrase, "balance of nature" is nothing like a balance at all but an attempt to control the swing of the pendulum and keep it at a manageable level. Good luck I guess.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A change of pace - fall harvest

For the first time since the ski box was traded for the kayak rack sometime in March, we headed north and right past Lake Superior with no boats on the roof. Weather and waves were perfect and in fact a number of the SKOAC Renegades were on Sand Island for the annual Fall Ball. Our mission this weekend had no time for paddling in the mix. It was time to convert the summers bountiful harvest into food and drink.

The main event of the weekend was brewing beer. Twenty years ago I was deeply immersed in the fledgling homebrewing movement, a hobby made possible by the repeal of stupid prohibition era laws at the normal Congressional timeline of 50 years too late. A variety of things, including kayaks and the availability of really good beer at the liquor store, cut back on my brewing but the Podman had planted some Centennial and Cascade hops, as well as 6 row barley on his and the GurneyGranny's estate and needed some instruction in making Real Ale. Yet another avocation opened up by his retirement one year ago this month. We whipped up two five gallon batches, one of a brown ale to replicate the excellent South Shore Nut Brown Ale brewed 20 miles down the road in Ashland, and some IPA, India Pale Ale. India Pale Ale was concocted because English brewers in the mid 19th century needed to come up with a product that would make it around the Horn to the troops in India with out spoiling; this was of national importance at the time because of rumblings of mutiny amongst Her Majesty's troops and a real fear that crappy beer could be the straw that broke the camels back. Back in rural Gurney, WI we had put our batch of brown ale to bed and had just started on the IPA when the KingOfIronwoodIsland showed up to lend moral support. Cynical observers (GurneyGranny and the VoiceOfReason) suggested that the chance of making more beer than we actually drank during the lengthy brewing process had now plummeted to almost zero with the King's arrival. Photographic evidence would suggest however, that we were not the only ones depleting the beer supply. The womyn were also out in the summer kitchen with we intrepid brewers, producing and bottling horseradish, which had been dug, cleaned, and was being blended with vinegar, sugar, and possibly a secret ingredient, we don't know for sure. Ambitious ladies that they are, they later ventured out into the woods to a large blackberry patch to compete with the bears for the sweet berries.

The summer on the south shore of Gitchee Gumee has been very cool this year. Possibly because of that, the gardens, berry patches, and apple trees have been positively laden with fruit and veggies. Locals can't recall a more productive year, although there is worry about the tomatoes actually ripening before the first frost. Sunday's mission was to pick and press a bunch of apples in the neighbors cider press. There were so many apples on the tree that the ladies recruited a tall guy (guess who?) to shake the branches and just stood underneath them with a blanket. The cider press was a sturdy looking contraption that would have been familiar to people in the 17th century. A large flywheel was cranked by hand as the apples were pitched into a cylinder that had a hardwood wheel with metal teeth. This ground the apples and they were then pressed using a wooden cylinder that was forced down using a big screw that reminded everyone of the sort of device used to ferret out heretics during the Spanish Inquisition. A solid three hours of cranking the grinder and screwing the press by 8 willing workers produced several gallons of excellent apple cider. Because several varieties of apples were produced, each gallon had its own distinct taste, all of which were eminently drinkable.

Even though we were kind of wistful as we rounded Chequamagon Bay with no boats on the roof, it was a very productive weekend. The best thing, other than the bounty of cider and veggies that came back with us, was that even though it was work, it did not feel a bit like work. I think we may have even had some fun.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Witch Tree - the Spirit Little Cedar

One of the coolest, most evocative, and most history laden spots on Minnesota's north shore of Lake Superior is this relatively small white cedar tree that sits almost on the tip of Hat Point near Grand Portage. It's first written mention is by French explorer Sieur de la Verendrye in 1731, who commented on the tree as a mature tree at that time, making it at least 300 years old now. The local Ojibwe in Grand Portage had known of the tree long before that and Manido Gizhigans, the Ojibwe name for the tree, has spiritual significance and the land it sits on is considered sacred. Because of that access is restricted and now hikers must be accompanied by a guide from the tribe when they visit the tree. If a person visits by sea kayak however, both the view and proximity are excellent.

I've taken a lot of images of the tree including the one above on our last trip. I'm almost embarrassed to post it though, when I look at Travis Novitsky's images of the tree. Travis lives in Grand Portage and one of his images, not mine, is framed and on the landing of our St Anthony estate. The VOR and I are big fans of his work and stopped to say hi and pick up yet another Travis image on our recent trip to the area. Don't try to visit Grand Portage State Park during the week this fall though, its closed while they build the new visitors center.

Part of the lure of the tree is the history that its witnessed. We had a similar situation out in Oregon when we hiked the same trail in Ecola State Park Lewis and Clark had taken on a mission to acquire some whale oil in the Cannon Beach area. The giant Sitka Spruce are roughly 400 years old and were there and mature when Lewis and Clark passed by. I find that sort of thing compelling and the Spirit Little Cedar falls into that same category. The voyageurs and the couer de bois, the independent French trappers, used the tree as the landmark that told them they were almost to the fort at Grand Portage and their journey was almost over. On the way back to Montreal, in the big freighter canoes heavily laden with furs, they would offer tobacco to the tree to help insure safe passage on the often treacherous waters of Gitchee Gumee.

It an interesting tree with a lot of legends associated with it and its unique shape, formed in part by the 'bonsai' action of several centuries facing the gales of November on the big lake, make it an interesting photographic subject. But if you're paddling on the lake, starting a major crossing, it can't hurt to offer a little tobacco to the Spirit Little Cedar. Legends and traditions like that always seem quaint and funny. Until a person is in the presence of the tree that is; then all of a sudden it doesn't seem so funny and there is that feeling that maybe it would be prudent to sprinkle a little offering before heading out on the big lake.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trip to the Saunas; stay away!

We finally made it to the 'Sauna Islands', also known as the Border Islands, between Pigeon Point on the US-Canadian border and Thunder Bay. Pie Island is by far the largest and has the most spectacular topography, similar to the Sleeping Giant formation on the Sibley Peninsula to the north. We opted for the more obscure islands just south of Pie for this version of the Annual Fall Trip. Often with long awaited events, the actual trip itself is is anticlimactic. We build it up in our heads and then when it actually occurs, reality can't match the picture we've constructed in our heads. Unfortunately, this trip fell firmly into that category.

The first disappointment was the flat, boring, monotonous topography.

The campsites were uninspiring and the competitive thrill of calling early to get a reservation was just not there.

The fishing was poor.

The weather was lousy, with freezing temperatures, clouds, high winds, and massive waves.

The water was often murky.

And the scenery and views left something to be desired.

We did manage to muddle through the four days however. Being a social person, I was a bit uneasy about not seeing another soul from the time we launched until the time we returned. We did see a couple boats go past and spoke to some fishermen on the way back to the launch on Saturday. It was apparent that they were having the same unsatisfying time that we were.

I may have to go back sometime, just to make sure this poor experience was not a fluke. Now I need to get ready for work, a welcome distraction from last weeks shaky tour. For some reason however, I'm having a hard time leaving the house because my nose doesn't seem to fit through the door anymore.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cooling my heels in Grand Marais (MN)

I lied, I guess there will be a post before I get back from the Sauna Islands. I'm in the kayak/coffee shop in Grand Marais, biding my time between the departure of the VOR and Co. and the arrival of TheCommish, RangerMark, and the GreenThumbChef for our annual Fall trip. The paddling this weekend was nothing to turn up ones nose at either, with quite possibly the best day paddle of my paddling career taking place on Saturday. Weather, waves, scenery, the company, and the general ambiance of the area made for a superb day on the water.

The route was close to the old voyageur route from the fur trade era. Four of us, the VOR, JackiePack, Racin'Rick, and I launched from the obscure boat landing on the Pigeon River, virtually next to the US Customs station. When we slunk off Hwy 61 on the dirt road to the landing, appearing to be ducking the customs checkpoint, I could almost feel Border Patrol eyes and sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment watching us. Nonetheless, we threw em in the river and paddled out toward Pigeon Point and Hole in the Wall. The destination was the marina in Grand Portage where the Isle Royale boats depart, a distance of about 16 miles including meandering among the Susie Islands, a small archipelago owned by the Nature Conservancy. We stopped at the hole in the wall, a hidden little harbor with a cabin that folks use, repair, and improve as they see fit. We ran into a group of folks from Thunder Bay, a couple and three relatively young kids, in rec boats, no spray skirts, etc. The day was so nice, the lake so flat, and the forecast so benign, that I didn't have the heart to go into the 'safety nazi' mode. They had about a mile crossing back to the bay they launched from and it seemed pretty apparent that "The Boss" was in a very serene and mellow mood this day. That was borne out when we rounded the normally nasty Pigeon Point and could barely summon up a swell to ride on. The Susies were spectacular. You will have to rely on the pictures from the previous post because I'm technologically incapable of retrieving the images I took Saturday. This small, unique group of islands is not visited very frequently and their owners, the Nature Conservancy, like it this way. The islands feature some rare sub arctic flora and fauna and its rumored that not only is camping not allowed, but neither is landing of any kind. This alleged rule was violated, but we 'left no trace' except for a couple rocks being pitched back into the lake and a small area of the islands having a temporary spike in salinity. The weather was perfect. I had on a long sleeve paddle shirt and kept mentally switching between 'think I'll slip on my paddle jacket' and 'think I'll put on the short sleeves. There was a slight southwest breeze with just a ripple on the water as we left the Susies and headed toward Hat Point and the famous Spirit Cedar, or Witches Tree, the French translation of the Ojibway word for 'spirit'. The tree is at least 300 years old and legend has it the voyageurs used it to mark the location of the fort at Grand Portage, just a short paddle around Hat Point from the tree.

We reached the marina the same time as the Wenonah, a lucky coincidence since there was a shuttle breakdown. As a man who almost screwed up the Vasaloppet relay race shuttle, I can empathize and have sworn that no fingers will be pointed. We wound up hitching a ride up to the cars with a wired, eccentric character named Roger, from Ann Arbor, MI. He had a small Old Town rec boat and told us it was the anniversary of his first trip to Isle Royale 19 years ago. This trip was his fortieth. I guess a man really has to like a place to vacation there 40 times, especially a place as difficult to get to as Isle Royale National Park. He did say he was not a kayaker, he just used the boat to get around....all the way around the island at least twice. Once again, we weren't sure he even owned a spray skirt for the thing but I was on a one day sabbatical from my safety nazi mode and just enjoyed the conversation as well as the ride.

My hour is almost up on the computer, the Ben Franklin is open for my last minute gear needs, and I need to stock up on adult beverages at the liquor store. Racin'Rick is paddling from Hattie Cove in Pukasawa to Rossport via the Slate Islands and we wish him safe paddling, favorable winds, and a dry camp. I wish the same for us intrepid fall trippers, but nothing will match the combination of excellent physical and mental paddling conditions on Saturdays adventure. I guess that's what its all about.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Off to the border country

This will be the last post on this blog for a bit over a week. I am off for the border country of Grand Portage, MN, the Susie Islands, and what we call the Sauna Islands (Thompson, Spar, Flatland, etc) south of Thunder Bay, ON. There will be a changing cast of characters on this adventure with vacations, family events, grouse season opener, and other commitments conspiring to drag people away from the important stuff which, of course, is kayak camping. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend, paddle well, and be safe. I hope that we hit the sunny Susie Islands below rather than the foggy Susie Islands above.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Apostle Islands Mgmt Plan open house

The open house to discuss and comment on the management plan for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was fairly well attended last night, even though the weather outside was spectacular, it was the regular paddle night for both SKOAC and ISK, and road construction made getting to REI an adventure. The crowd ranged in age from kids to the elderly, predominantly kayakers, but with a smattering of power boaters and sailors thrown in as well. There were a number of poster board displays and copies of the plan, a very nicely printed piece to my professional printers eye. It was a polite crowd, as would be expected from we Minnesota Nice types, with no major ranting that I heard. The one topic that seemed to fire a lot of people up, reported in the Daily Press as well, was the plan to move the Presque Isle campground on Stockton Islands away from the lake and into the woods.

The main reason that most people visit the area of course, is the lure of the lake. People want to see the lake, smell the lake, and experience the lake. There seems to be a trend to move camp sites away from the lake which is exactly opposite of what most visitors want. I've camped at most of the sites in the islands over the years. The most attractive kayak sites, the ones that get reserved first, are the Rocky Island spit, Oak Island spit, and the sites on the beach at York Island. The last sites to go are the ones in the woods. Its a longer carry for the kayak gear, normally significantly more mosquito infested, and the ambiance of the lake is much more removed. My award for Worst Campsite in the Apostles goes to the site on Michigan Island, hands down. Its up over a sand berm and down in a depression that, if it rained for a couple days, could easily turn into a swamp. Its heavily forested which keeps the effects of the wind at a minimum and provides excellent flying conditions for all sorts of winged vermin. There are of course, good reasons to move campsites away from the lake, especially at Presque Isle. Erosion of the beach area, difficulty of maintaining the string of outhouses, and the fact that a line of campsites rather than a concentrated group is like a supermarket aisle to the bears, are all good reasons to move the camp. But do they outweigh the benefits? Would more sand ladders help with the erosion? Concentrate the toilet facilities and make people walk a bit farther? Install more bear boxes? Charge more for camping in those sites to help offset the costs? After all, lower deck blue line seats are a lot more expensive than upper deck behind the goalie.

The first and last time I camped at the Presque Isle camp was as a college student on a glacial geology field trip with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1975. I not only learned about the creation of the islands but also learned that blackberry brandy is the devil's elixir and have not touched that vile fluid since then. I honestly can't recall any big change in the camp area from then until my last visit in June on a day paddle from the Oak spit, another campsite that has the Park Service Sword of Damocles hanging over it due to crazy wilderness rules. A blackberry brandy infused memory might not be completely accurate but I have seen and remembered major change in other areas of the park and I just don't remember any significant impact at the Presque Isle campsites.
We all have until October 23 to comment in writing and a thoughtful note from the SKOAC Renegades will be forthcoming. It will not be the vile note that you see the Zaporozhian Cossacks composing to send to the Turkish Sultan (one of the most obscene and insulting notes ever sent to a government official, according to legend) but hopefully a well reasoned statement of our opinion of the plan as well as a pat on the back for a job well done in many significant areas of the park. Letters and feedback have an impact in these cases and letting the park management know what we're thinking is crucial to the development of the plan. If you didn't make one of the many meetings....and the guys are in Madison tonite.......drop them a note.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The AINL Management Plan & Shadow Wood Landing

Those of us in the Twin Cities area will have the opportunity to listen and ask questions about the long term management plan for our favorite park tomorrow night at the REI in Bloomington from 6-8pm. You can read all about it in the link to the plan on the park website and Chad Dally, writing for the Ashland Daily Press, has a great overview of the alternative proposals. The more people that show up, the better the dialogue. Also, if you are planning on attending it would be really valuable to do some homework. The two links above have both an overview and very detailed information and good, well thought out questions always improve the dialogue and also give the folks from the park valuable feedback on what we, the kayaking public, think about the future of the park. But do make an effort to show up, even if only to listen to the give and take and show your support for the park. Written comments can be sent as well until the end of October. Non participation, in my mind, disqualifies a person from any complaining down the road. My friend Woody is ruthless about this participation/complaining paradigm. When people on either end of our dysfunctional political spectrum start to complain about this or that he always asks if they voted. A negative answer always results in the same response: "Then all you need to do is shut the f*#k up". Show up, listen, ask a question or two, and retain your god given American right to complain.

In a somewhat related planning item, the local kayak clubs among others, received an email from the Bayfield County Committee for Responsible Land Use two weeks ago. Apparently a developer from the Twin Cities thinks the area needs a 400 acre exclusive gated playground, Shadow Wood Landing, for the wealthy, complete with an airstrip capable of handling small jets. I don't think it will handle the B-17 above but jets do need a long runway. This would be located on a parcel in the Town of Russell, which is the township that the Little Sand Bay facilities are located in. There are a number of good reasons why this is a bad idea and they can be explored on the website that the Committee has created. I guess I thought a luxury community with an airstrip would be a pretty good description of part of Madeline Island but I guess they need a gate around the new thing to keep the riff raff out. At the open water swim a few weeks back, one of the locals explained that on Madeline, the millionaires attempted to replace the locals and now the billionaires are attempting the same thing with the millionaires. Its gotta be tough to maintain status in the upper strata of the economy and I'm certainly dripping with empathy for those poor SOB's. Given all the reasons not to proceed with this thing, my little pet peeve must seem fairly piddling. I hate noise.

I love the scenery and rugged terrain of the north shore of Lake Superior. What I hate however, is hearing Hwy 61 traffic noise all the time, especially Harley pipes. As a guy who owned two Harleys (granted they were not real Harley's, they were AMF Harleys) I appreciate that 'Milwaukee rumble' as much as the next guy. But if you replace your stock Harley muffler with a glass pack or bore holes in the stock muffler to make it louder, you, sir or ma'am, are an asshole. Likewise if your motorboat is louder than an ore freighter or a tour boat, I'm afraid I will need to lump you into that category of a lowly bodily part as well. I won't even get into jet ski's, I'm still advocating an open season with a bag limit of two on those things. Fortunately, they are banned in the AINL but banning noise is much more problematic. One of the elements of wilderness discussed in the Draft Management Plan is the natural soundscape. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that most visitors to the park would rather hear a loon than a Learjet 45 throttling back to land or cranking up to take off. And with predominant westerly winds in the summer you can bet that most approaches will be over the islands. Just look at the map.

This issue, the natural soundscape, will be one of many discussed tomorrow night at the public meeting. We are all hoping for a large, informed, and talkative crowd.

PS In this mornings Ashland Daily Press, Chad Dally has an update on the first two public meetings and the comments and feedback made so far.