A BWCA Glossary


Babesiosis
A protozoan infection carried by the Deer Tick. Signs and symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually go away without treatment, but some cases may be severe. Babesiosis is treated with antimicrobial drugs. Other tick-borne diseases that occur in Minnesota include Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE) and Lyme disease.
Bakekana
A lake. "On the wayside" in the Ojibwe language of the region.
Baldpate
A duck, generally known as American Wigeon (Anas americana). Noted for a light colored patch on the crown of its head, hence, "bald pate."
Balm of Gilead
A small resinous tree of the ancient Near East. Also, another name for the resinous Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera) of the North Country.
Balsam
Aromatic resin. In the North Country, an oleoresinous fluid occuring in blisters in the bark of the Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), actually a true turpentine. Also a fragrant, resinous matter from the buds of the Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera). From the Old English balsam/balzama. Papâshkigiw or nominigan in the Ojibwe.
Banadad
A long, narrow lake just south of the Gunflint Trail. "Lost" in the Ojibwe.

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Bane
That which causes death or destroys life, especially poison. An ancient Teutonic word which has become a part of the common name of many plants, based rightly or wrongly upon their perceived toxic qualities. The Baneberries (Actaea spp.) with their poison berries are but one North Country example. Banes List.
Baneberry
A flowering shrub-like herb of the genus Actaea. The common name derives from the poisonous fruit. Represented in the Northwoods by the Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra).
Baraga, Frederic
Father Frederic Baraga (1797-1868), a multilingual missionary priest from Slovenia sent in 1835 to serve among the Ojibwe. Author of A Dictionary of Otchipwe Language Explained in English (1853), an 1878 revision of which is still in print and in use.
Bark Beetle
Small, cylindrical beetle of the family Scolytidæ, the adult of which bores into and beneath the bark of various trees, most often conifers, for the purpose of egg laying, leaving a distinctive pattern of meandering galleries. Can spread disease, including Dutch Elm Disease.
Barbel
A fleshy projection of the skin of a fish, often threadlike, and generally near the mouth, chin, or nostrils. A noteworthy characteristic of Bullhead Catfishes, Burbot, and Sturgeon.
Basal
Relating to the lower part or base of a plant stem. The Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis) is a common North Country example of a basal leaf.
Basalt
A dark colored extrusive igneous rock, typically fine-grained and dark in color; composed chiefly of calcium plagioclase and pyroxene. Extrusive equivalent of Gabbro
Baskatong
A lake in the upper Kawishiwi drainage. Name derivation not known.
Basswood Falls
A pair of waterfalls on the Basswood River. The Upper Falls drops 10' out of Basswood Lake to the river. A 320 rod portage connects Basswood to the river below the falls and two subsequent rapids. The Lower Falls, some 5 miles downriver, also drops 10' and is bypassed by a 33 rod portage on the Canadian side.
Bat
In the North Country, any of the nocturnal flying mammals of the family Vespertilionidæ (the Plainnose Bats). Represented here by six species, the Big Brown (Eptesicus fuscus), Silver Hair (Lasionycteris noctivagans), Red (Lasiurus borealis), Hoary (Lasiurus cinereus), Eastern Long Ear (Myotis keenii), and the Little Brown (Myotis lucifugus). Papakwândji in the Ojibwe.
Batholith
A large, discordant, intrusive body of igneous rock. The granitic Saganaga Batholith is bedrock from Saganaga south to Seagull and southeast to nearly Gunflint Lake.
Bead Lily
A small forest lily of the genus Clintonia, with striking, bead-like fruit. Represented in the North Country by the ubiquitous Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia borealis).
Beam
In canoe design, the width of the boat, typically given in two measurements; at the gunwales and at the 4 waterline. The 4 waterline beam has greatest influence on performance. Wide beam canoes are more stable but tend to be slower. Narrow canoes may be less stable but are quicker and more efficient.
Bear
Lumbering omnivores of the family Ursidæ, the sole North Country representative is the Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Makwâ in the Ojibwe.
Bear Bag
The prudent BWCA traveler's best defense against an unpleasant encounter with the region's other crafty omnivore, not to mention the premature loss of victuals. Hang 'em high! (Photo: Hangin' high on Boulder Lake, BWCAW)
Bear Rope
A long, strong length of cordage capable of hoisting the heaviest food bag into the highest pines. An essential piece of group equipment for BWCA canoe trippers.
Beatty Portage
A 50 rod Border Route portage between Loon Lake and Lac La Croix.
Beaver
The largest of the native rodents (Castor canadensis) and a major engineering force in the wetlands of the North Country. From the Old English beofor. An ancient animal name common to the old Aryan languages. Amik in the Ojibwe.
Beaver Pond
Water impounded behind dams constructed by beaver. Creates valuable habitat and generally improves navigation. Often reflected on maps, and often not.
Becoosin
A lake. Name derivation not known.
Bedrock
Any solid rock exposed at the Earth's surface or overlain by unconsolidated material, such as soil. Often at or near the surface in the BWCA.
Bellwort
Any of several species of woodland flowers of the genus Uvularia, noted for their nodding, bell shaped flowers. Represented in the North Country by Uvularia grandiflora, the Large Flower Bellwort, and Uvularia sessilifolia, the Sessile Leaf Bellwort.
Bench Mark
A land survey reference point, used to establish a starting point for map grid.
Benezie Loop
A 2 2/3 mile hiking trail extension of the Snowbank Trail, dropping south to Becoosin and Benezie Lakes before returning to the Snowbank by way of a short section of the Old Pines Trail.
Bewon
A lake. Name derivation not known.
Beymer, Robert
Author of the landmark BWCA canoe guides, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, vols. I & II, published by Wilderness Press.
Bezhik
A lake. "Lake One" in the Ojibwe chain of Number Lakes.
Bibon
A lake. "Winter" or "year" in the Ojibwe language of the region.
Biennial
A plant which completes its life cycle over two growing seasons. Relatively uncommon in the North Woods, where one example is the Pale Corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens).
Big Knife Portage
A 182 rod Border Route portage between Knife and Seed Lakes on the Canadian side. An alternative is the 75 rod portage from Knife into Portage Lake, and a subsequent 15 rod carry from the west end of Portage into Seed.
Big Moose Trail
A 3 mile hiking trail extending south from Forest Road 464 (BWCAW Entry Point 76) to Big Moose Lake, the last ¼ mile within the BWCAW.
Bilberry
Another common name for some low ericaceous shrubs of the genus Vaccinium.
Bingshick
A lake near the east end of the Kekekabic Trail. Name derivation not known.
Binomial
The taxonomic naming convention for living things using two names, Genus and species, usually of Latin or Greek derivation.
Birch
Any of several species of deciduous tree or tall shrubs of the genus Betula. Best represented in the North County by that signature species, the Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera), as well as the shrub-like Bog Birch (Betula pumila). From the Old English bierce/byrce/birce; a ancient Indo-German tree name. Wigwass in the Ojibwe.
Bishop's Cap
Any of several inconspicuous wildflowers of the genus Mitella. Also known as Mitrewort for the bishop's cap, the mitre. Represented in the BWCA by the Naked Mitrewort (Mitella nuda).
Black Fly
The notorious little biting fly of the North Country. Represented by several species of the genus Simulium. Unlike the mosquito, the Black Fly requires clear, running water to breed.
Bladder Fern
Any of 18 species of delicate fern of rocky woodlands belonging to the genus Cystopteris. Represented in the North Country by two species, Bulblet Fern (Cystopteris bulbifera) and Fragile Fern (Cystopteris fragilis).
Bladderwort
Any of several submerged, insectivorous plants of the genus Utricularia, represented in the North Country by the Horned Bladderwort (Utricularia cornuta), Humped Bladderwort (Utricularia gibba), Flat Leaf Bladderwort (Utricularia intermedia), Common Bladderwort (Utricularia macrorhiza), Lesser Bladderwort (Utricularia minor), and Lavender Bladderwort (Utricularia resupinata). Named for the tiny air bladders which give it buoyancy. Gracefully airy in the water it becomes a shapeless gooey mass out of water.
Blade
The leafy expanded portion of the fern frond. May be undivided to finely cut, with each degree of division having a specific term. Pinnate blades are divided into
leaflets (Pinnæ), with each leaflet narrowly attached to the central stem (called the Rachis in this leafy part of the frond). Blades more divided are designated as Bipinnate or even Tripinnate with some divided four or five times. The ultimate division are called Pinnules. Another type of division is one where the green leafy tissue isn't completely seperated from the rachis but rather it spreads along the rachis, instead this degree of division is called Pinnatifid.
Blaze
To permanently mark trees, generally with an axe, to indicate the course of a boundary, road, or trail. No longer an acceptable practice in our area. Wassâkwaigan in the Ojibwe.
Blowdown
Trees tipped over or uprooted by high winds. An obstacle commonly encountered on portages and a major impediment to cross country bushwhacking. Now, in the aftermath of the Independence Day windstorms of 1999, a major fire risk over large portions of the BWCA. Also known as windfall.
Blueberry
Any of several species of ericaceous shrubs of the genus Vaccinium. Best represented in the North County by that tasty Northwoods icon, the Late Low Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolia), and the darker and less well known Velvet Leaf Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides).
Blueberry Portage
A 30 rod Border Route portage on the Canadian side of the Pine River.
Bog
Wet, mineral poor, acid peatlands raised above the water table by the accumulation of peat. Generally covered with hummocks of Sphagnum mosses, low ericaceous shrubs, and Black Spruce (Picea mariana). Wâbashkiki in the Ojibwe.
Bole
The stem or trunk of a tree that has grown to a substantial height and diameter.
Boreal
Northern, from the Latin, "of the North". Also used in the names of various elements of the northern ecosystem, including the Boreal Chickadee (Parus hudsonicus), Boreal Forest, and Boreal Owl (Aegolius funereus), among others.
Bottom
1) On a canoe, a major factor in stability. Generally classified as Flat, Shallow Arch, and Round, in decreasing order of stability. 2) In a canoe, a point subject to desensitization over long paddles.
Bracken
The tough, eagle-winged fern of near global distribution (Pteridium aquilinum). Common in the North County.
Bract
A plant part. Modified leaves, either green or colored, associated with a flower and often mistaken for petals. A prime North Country example is the white "petals" of the Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis).
Braided Stream
A stream with a complex tangle of converging and diverging channels separated by sand bars or islands.
Break Up
That period in the spring when melting snow and thawing earth create soft soil conditions and high water in streams. Logging, construction, and other activities requiring heavy vehicles must usually be curtailed during this time. Weight restrictions on forest roads are common.
British Soldiers
A diminutive Northwoods lichen (Cladonia cristatella) which bears scarlet knobs atop its multibranched stem, the entire plant being but ½" tall. It's common name derives from the color of its "uniform".
Browse
The woody twigs and branches favored by deer and moose as food, especially in winter. A browse line can often be seen on lakeshore cedars (Thuja occidentalis) where the deer have browsed as high as they could reach on each successive tree.
Bryology
The scientific study of nonvascular, green plants with gametophyte generation dominant and sporophyte generation ephemeral. These include the mosses, liverworts, and hornworts.
Buccal Funnel
The sucking disc which functions as the mouth of adult lampreys. From the Latin, bucca, cheek or mouth.
Buck Saw
To the pre-mechanized logger the tool of choice for felling timber. Built with one handle or two (single buck and double buck) for one or two man operation. Cuts only on the pull stroke.
Bullhead
Any of the freshwater catfishes of North America east of the Rockies belonging to the family Ictaluridæ. Comprising 5 genera and 39 species in North America, the Bullheads are characterized by four barbels, an adipose fin, and a single spine in the dorsal and pectoral fins. Represented in the North Country by the diminutive Tadpole Madtom (Noturus gyrinus).
Bunchberry
A creeping shrublet more closely resembling a low wildflower. The smallest of our native dogwoods, Cornus canadensis is, in both flower and fruit, one of the more distictive and characteristic of Northwoods plants.
Burbot
A cod fish (Lota lota) of deep, cold northern waters and the only exclusively freshwater species of the codfish family, Gadidae. Spawns under the ice in winter. Also known as Eelpout or Ling. Awâssi or awâssissi in the Ojibwe.
Bushwhack
In the vernacular of the backwoods, to travel off trail, to make one's own way. In the BWCA also includes canoe travel on lakes, and especially streams, not part of established canoe routes. Generally slow and mucky going not for the faint of heart. See also PMA.
Butt
1) The base of a tree or large end of a log 2) The part of the body most likely to be insensate after a long day on the water.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004