Saturday, January 28, 2017

Are Snowshoes -- A Wiser Choice For Old Folks?

They say you're never too old to learn, but a cowboy hero of mine named Will Rogers also said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."

Cross Country Skis For Old Folks?

In 2014, I bought a new pair of NNN style cross country skis, and planned a late season trip to Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park to try them out. 

Badger Pass has ski conditions posted online, and the latest report (March 2014) stated the snow surface is "spring conditions."  I soon learned first hand that "spring conditions" is really euphemism for solid ice.

To make a long story short, the lessons learned at the Badger Pass cryosphere were:

1.) an artificial hip makes it difficult to do a snow plough on ice
2.) ski poles do not replace good snow plough technique
3.) you can't pole vault with cross country ski poles.

Don't get me wrong, if you're young, athletic, and a reasonably skilled Nordic skier Badger Pass has plenty to offer, and the scenery is spectacular.

That little adventure resulted in a broken ski pole, and trip to an orthopedic surgeon for an MRI which revealed at torn ligament in my shoulder.  I opted not to have surgery.  The pain is finally gone and I have fair strength, so I guess the ligament has somewhat repaired itself.

What I learned is... if you are nearly 75 years-old, haven't skied much recently, and have an artificial hip maybe using cross country skis isn't the best idea.

For Old Folks Snowshoes Might Be A Wiser Choice

I'm either a slow learner, don't give up easily, or maybe it's the fond memories of winter forest adventures from the past.  Whatever it is, I am once again drawn to the enchanted winter wonderland that wilderness trails offer.

This year (2017) I did some research, watched a bunch of online videos, and have purchased snowshoes, trekking poles, winter boots, and other winter gear from my favorite online retailer -- LL Bean.

LL Bean's breathable, waterproof Snow Sneakers  rated +35° to -5°

Because I am "an old guy" I often end up traveling alone, and as always when traveling in a wilderness area I carry a few essentials that will make my trip more enjoyable, and just might save my life.

As you may know I'm an avid canoeist, so I have lots of survival gear in my canoeing equipment bag.  The important thing is to remember to return borrowed essentials to my canoe bag at the end of winter.


SNOWSHOES: ☐ snowshoes ☐ trekking poles ☐ gaiters

WEAR: ☐ nylon shorts ☐ long sleeve poly undershirt ☐ Swix ski pants ☐ ski jacket ☐ heavy wicking wool socks ☐ snow sneakers ☐ wool cap ☐ ski gloves ☐ Swiss army watch ☐ sunglasses ☐ wallet, car keys & cash ☐ waterproof camera

BACKPACK: ☐ topo map ☐ √ whistle & compass ☐ √ first aid kit ☐ √ Swiss army knife, wire, multi tool, wire & duct tape (snowshoe or canoe repairs) ☐ √ SOL emergency bivy, paracord & survival book  ☐ √ headlamp & extra batteries ☐ √ Lighter, SOL fire starter & sierra cup ☐ toilet paper ☐ waterproof shell jacket ☐ extra cap, socks & gloves ☐ bottle of water ☐ thermos of hot coffee ☐ √ sunblock & lip balm ☐ energy bars ☐ hand warmers

VEHICLE: ☐ tire chains ☐ emergency shovel ☐ blankets ☐ flares & tools ☐ food ☐ hand & foot warmers ☐ battery-powered lantern ☐ extra clothes, boots, gloves & cap

√ return to canoe extras bag

Happy Trails

Monday, January 23, 2017

Great Grandfather Canoes to Lac la Pluie (Rainy Lake)

Jean Baptiste Meunier (Mignier) said Lagassé (Lagacé) (1776–1835), my 4th great-grandfather, was born 24 Apr 1776 in Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada.  He died before 1835 in St-Laurent, Québec, Canada.  He married Marie Angelique Baret (Barette) dit Courville (1779 - 1815) 21 Oct 1799 in Laprairie, Quebec, Canada.

Jean Baptiste's Voyageur Contracts

(1800, Feb 14 - James & Andrew McGill hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier voyageur de Chambly to go to Mississippi, and spend the winter, notary Louis Chaboillez). From the Archives of Quebec, M620/1200.

(1803, Oct 6 - McTavish, Frobisher & Co. (North West Company) hired Jean-Baptiste Meunier voyageur de St-André-d’Argenteuil to go to Lac De La Pluie (Rainy Lake), notary Louis Chaboillez). From the Archives of Quebec.  Notes: Go through Michilimakinac if required, make two trips from Kamanatiguià Fort to Portage de la Montagne, and give six days of drudgery - and help carry the three canoes in the land.


Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Minier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1776 - 1835) -- son of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé (1808 - 1883) -- daughter of Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Minier) Lagasse (Lagace)

Lucy Passino (1836 - 1917) -- daughter of Marie Emélie (Mary) Meunier Lagassé -- my 2nd great-grandmother


• His father is: Jean-Baptiste Mignier (Meunier) Lagasse (Lagace) (1749 - 1828) -- my 5th great-grandfather,  was also a voyageur.

• By 1800 Rainy Lake and Rainy River were witnessing heavy travel. Here was the main route of the fur trade, the voyageurs' highway that linked the Great Lakes with outposts in the remote interior. Both the Hudson's Bay Co. and its rival, North West Co., had trading posts in Fort Frances.  Source:

• Fort Lac la Pluie was a fur trade depot established by the North West Company sometime between 1775 and 1787. It was located on a high bank on the west side of modern Fort Frances, Ontario across from International Falls, Minnesota on the Rainy River downstream (west) of some rapids (Chaudière portage) where the river flows out of Rainy Lake. Upstream at the outlet of the lake was the old French post of Fort Saint Pierre (1731-1758).

The place was a depot rather than a trading post and served two purposes. By this time the trade had reached the rich Lake Athabasca country which was too far to reach from Montreal in one season. Each May, when the ice broke up, boats with trade goods would head west from Montreal and winterers with canoe-loads of fur would head east. They would meet at Grand Portage on Lake Superior, exchange goods and head back before the freezup. To further save time goods and furs would be shuttled between Grand Portage and Lac la Pluie. Second, it was a source of food. The voyageurs had no time to hunt and it was difficult to haul food from Montreal. Rainy Lake produced wild rice and fish. The fort also built kegs and canoes.  Source:

1825 census Chateauguay, Quebec, Canada

• On the 1825 census (a few years before his death) Jean-Baptiste Meunier was living in Chateauguay, Huntingdon, Lower Canada.  His daughter Marie Emélie Meunier dit Lagassé and her husband Gabriel Pinsonneau, Lucy's parents, are also living in the same neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

President Trump please say “no” to Twin Metals’ sulfide mine

Save the Boundary Waters

Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) has been pursuing the development and operation of a modern underground copper, nickel and platinum group metals (PGM) mine in northeast Minnesota.  The project would be the first underground mine allowed in Minnesota in more than 50 years.

Twin Metals, a foreign mining company, has pushed plans to develop their sulfide-ore mine where the South Kawishiwi River flows into the BWCAW.

During the summer of 2016, more than 74,000 people and 200 sportsmen’s organizations, businesses, and conservation groups sent letters expressing opposition to renewing the expired Twin Metals leases. 

They said, “If allowed, sulfide-ore copper mining development in the watershed of the BWCAW would inevitably pollute surrounding lakes’ groundwater and downstream waters in the BWCAW. The development of a mine would taint the quality and reputation of the BWCAW as a hunting and fishing paradise.”

On Dec. 16, 2016, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture said “no” to Twin Metals’ potential sulfide mine by not renewing expired mineral leases, and taking back mineral leases on the edge of the BWCA wilderness.

Now Twin Metals Minnesota (TMM) is trying to create a movement to ask President-elect Donald Trump and his administration to reverse a recent decision by federal officials that could close more than 200,000 acres of Northeastern Minnesota to mining.

President-elect Trump please say “no” to Twin Metals’ sulfide mine

Dear President Donald Trump,

I am a 74 year-old Republican and canoeing enthusiast who voted for you in the recent election.  America needs to be "Great Again."

It's been over 30 years since I spent a week in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), but memories of that trip are among my most cherished.

I wish that every American could spend a week canoeing in a true wilderness.  I honestly believe Henry David Thoreau's words, "In wildness is the preservation of the world" are important to remember.

Please do not allow any mining operation that would taint the magnificent wilderness of the BWCA.

Thank you.

Jerry England

The lakes and rivers of Voyageurs National Park are also at risk from proposed sulfide mining projects in its watershed.  SEE:

You can help

• sign the petition and consider making a donation

Only when the last tree has died
and the last river been poisoned 
and the last fish been caught 
will we realize we cannot eat money

-- Cree Indian Proverb