Backpackers first in two years to hike BWCA Pow Wow Trail

At the trailhead, l-r, Susan Pollock, Paul Ebert, Paul Stelter, Martin Kubik

The Boundary Waters Advisory Committee announced three men and one woman, successfully completed a four day backpacking trip over the Pow Wow Trail burned five years ago in the Pagami Creek Fire.
Four backpackers stepped over more than 4,658 tree-falls in four days while they retraced the favorite backpacking trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness only a week after the snow melted. They followed the trail much of the time and at times bushwhacked through areas damaged by fire.
“Pow Wow Trail is an incredible hiking trail that combines historic origins that span a century – from the logging days to the BWCA Wilderness act that gave birth to this legacy trail. Few people know that BWCAW has more than 200 miles of hiking trails, and the Pow Wow Trail is prized by hikers for its solitude and campsites that are away from canoe routes. We are thankful for the many man hours of work on this trail by the Kekekabic Trail Chapter of the North Country Trail and the Fournier Outdoor Services. Their hard work is keeping this trail open to hikers.”
Though the US Forest Service has allowed volunteers to maintain only six miles of the 32 mile loop trail five years after the fire, hikers hope to open rest of the trail.
Presently, there are more than 4,000 treefalls blocking the trail making backpacking a challenge, but Kubik is optimistic. He has a right to. Twenty six years ago, Kubik organized volunteers to clear and reopen the 42 mile long Kekekabic Trail that was abandoned by USFS for more than 10 years.
“It is important that Forest Service provide leadership and cooperate with volunteers to secure grants for full restoration,” said Kubik.
“To date only one campsite had been restored five years after the fire. There is much more work to be done to conserve this trail popular with hikers before the Pagami Creek Fire. Pow Wow Trail had twice as may overnight permits as a similar Sioux Hustler Trail in the BWCA, but after the fire this number of overnight permits dropped by 90%,” Kubik added.
According to Martin Kubik, most of the treefalls are small and can be easily cut with a camping saw and carried away. It is the sheer number of the treefalls that makes it taxing to hikers who have to cross them at a rate of one a minute.
“We look to the Forest Service to live up to the motto ‘Protecting the Land and Serving People’ and to take a leadership role in cleaning up the campsites of widow makers and reinstalling new latrines.
“Hikers need a safe place near a water source to camp overnight on this challenging trail. These trails will help further define our region as a world-class destination for outdoor recreation and nature-based tourism.”
BWA Committee will use the information from the trip to write a Pow Wow Trail guide for backpackers.
Other businesses which donated in kind and/or made this trip possible are 3M, Thrivent Financial, Best Buy, Patagonia, Buck’s Hardware, Midwest Mountaineering, McKenzie Maps, Steripen, Katadyne, and US Forest Service.
Founded in 2002, The Boundary Water Advisory Committee (BWA Committee) promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the backpacking and hiking trails of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of the Superior National Forest.
BWA Committee helps hikers to explore and develop a deep appreciation of the natural world.
More information is available online at http://www.meetup.com/Friends-of-BWCA-Trails/ or by contacting Martin Kubik at wtrails2@yahoo.com