A BWCA Glossary


Gabbro
1) A dark, massive rock with crystals large enough to be seen with the naked eye. This igneous rock formed from magma flowing up and cooling slowly below the surface. It is the intrusive equivalent of the extrusive basalt, which would form if the same magma cooled on the surface. 2) A large lake on the lower Kawishiwi River.
Gab-e-on-e-quet
A lake. Name derivation unknown.
Gabimichigami
A large lake commonly known as Gabi. Name derivation unknown.
Gaging Station
A site on a lake, stream, or other body of water where direct systematic observations of hydrologic data are obtained.
Gall
A localised proliferation of plant tissue caused by the irritation of bacteria, fungi, mites, or insects. These are the odd bumps and swellings seen on stems and leaves. Winsop in the Ojibwe.
Gametophyte
In the reproductive cycle of ferns, a self-sustaining, independent plant, developing out of the growing spore. Green, heart shaped, ½" or less in diameter, and lying flat upon the ground it little resembles a fern, when noticed at all. The Gametophtye grows Antheridia(male organs) and Archegonia (female organs) on its underside which produce the spermatazoids and eggs that combine and grow into what we think of as a fern. Also known as Prothallium.
Gel-coat
In canoe construction, a durable, abrasion-resistant, top coat on fibreglass and high test materials like Kevlar. Generally carries the color of the hull.

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Genus
A group of organisms (species) with common characteristics and an implied common ancestry. Expressed in Latin, with the occasional Greek roots, as the first term of the binomial nomenclature of Genus species.
Germination
The sprouting of a seed. An improbable outcome dependent upon variables of temperature, moisture, light, soil, seedbed, and season.
Giants Range
Low range of hills south of Ely, formed as batholithic extrusion during the Algoman Orogeny.
Giardia
A a microscopic parasite that can infect warm-blooded animals and humans. Giardia is protected by an outer shell called a cyst that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. If viable cysts are ingested, Giardia can cause the illness known as Giardiasis, an intestinal illness that can cause nausea, anorexia, fever, and severe diarrhea. The symptoms last for several days only and the body can naturally rid itself of the parasite in one to two months. However, for individuals with weakened immune systems the body often cannot rid itself of the parasite without medical treatment.
Gills
The structure on the underside of the cap (pileus) of a mushroom where the spores develop.
Girdle
To encircle a tree with ax cuts or a saw kerf to sever the bark and cambium layer, thus killing the tree. An ancient method of land clearing. Most often encountered in the North Country as the work of rodents and the occasional mindless camper.
Gitchigumi
Another variant of the Ojibwe name for Superior. Featured in verse by Longfellow in the "Song of Hiawatha" (By the shores of Gitche Gumee, By the shining Big-Sea-Water,...) and Gordon Lightfoot in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" (The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down, of the big lake they call Gitchigumi...).
Glabrous
In describing a plant, smooth and without hairs.
Glacier
Fields of snow become sheets of ice so massive that their very weight causes them to move. The tools which sculpted the face of the northern land.
Glaucous
In describing plant parts, especially leaves and stems, refers to a waxy, whitish coating.
Global Warming
The hypothesized rise in average planetary temperatures resulting from increased levels of "greenhouse gases" like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Because so many of the characteristic species of the Boundary Waters are at the southern, and warm, limit of their range, a sustained rise of but a few degrees would wreak havoc with the ecosystem as we know it today, forcing signature species like Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) and Black Spruce (Picea mariana) well to the north.
Gneiss
A type of granite in which the minerals have been aligned in a series of bands.
Gneiss Lake Portage
A 25 rod Border Route portage on the Granite River where it enters Gneiss Lake.
Goldeneye
Diving ducks of the genus Bucephala. Represented in the North Country by the Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula). The common name derives from the striking yellow eyes, often visible at some distance.
Goldthread
A low herbaceous perennial of the boreal forest floor (Coptis trifolia). Named for its golden, thread-like roots which creep through the humus layer.
Gooseberry
Low, edible fruit bearing shrubs, of the genus Ribes. Closely related to the currants and, like the currants, a secondary host for White Pine Blister Rust. Represented in the North Country by the Northern Gooseberry (Ribes oxyacanthoides) among others. Jâbominagawanj in the Ojibwe.
Gorp
1) Backcountry vernacular for mix of various nuts, grains, and dried fruits. Also known as Trail Mix. 2) Name adopted for the Great Outdoor Recreation Pages, www.gorp.com, a good general resource on all sorts of outdoor pursuits.
GPS
Geographic Positioning System. High tech brings the possibility of dead reckoning navigation to the wilderness, with the help of satelites and economical, handheld receivers. GPS provides specially coded satellite signals that can be processed in a GPS receiver, enabling the receiver to compute position, velocity, and time. Four GPS satellite signals are used to compute positions in three dimensions and the time offset in the receiver clock.
Goshawk
The largest of our native accipiters (Bird Hawks) and a year round resident of the northern forest. (Accipiter gentilis)
Grand Marais
Small community on the North Shore of Lake Superior at the foot of the Gunflint Trail.
Grand Portage
1) The historic 8½ mile long bypass of the falls and rapids of the lower Pigeon River, now a National Monument. 2) The Indian Reservation and northeasternmost Minnesota community located at the Lake Superior end of the Grand Portage. Kitchi-onigam in the Ojibwe.
Granite River Portage
A 25 rod Border Route portage on the Granite River at the west end of Granite Bay.
Great Cherry Portage
A 140 rod Border Route portage on the Pigeon River, between Moose and Vaseux Lakes.
Greenstone
A basaltic lava with a grey-green to yellow-green coloring derived from the presence of the mineral Chlorite. A metamorphic rock, it indicates volcanic origin followed by periods of intense heat and pressure. This rock was probably buried deep and later exposed by erosion. Occurs in belts running more or less NE/SW and includes the Ely Greenstone formation, which crops up in the town of Ely. Pillow structure in Ely Greenstone suggests lava which hardened underwater. Supports Island Arc Theory of Origin.
Grenzhorizont
In peat deposits, the boundary layer marking a change, about 2500 years ago, toward cool moist climates favoring an increase in peat accumulation.
Greysolon, Daniel
An early French explorer to the North Country, who bore the aristocratic title of Sieur duLhut, and gave his name to the Minnesota city that would rise at the head of Lake Superior. Born in 1639 in Saint-Germain-Laval, France, he died in 1710 in Montréal. On June 27, 1679, his party landed at Little Portage (now Duluth habor) and 177 years later, in 1856, the city was named, with modified spelling, after him.
Greywhacke
A sedimentary rock made up of particles of various sizes, laid down in thin layers showing a consistent gradation in the arrangement of the particles. Indicative of an offshore environment where eroded particles washed from the land settle out on the bottom by weight, the heaviest settling first; the lighter drifting out farther before settling. Supports Island Arc Theory of Origin.
Grosbeak
Literally "big beak". Large finches represented in the North Country by the Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) and the Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enucleator).
Grounded Mat
The bog stage in lake-fill succession, where the peat accumulation rises above the level of the ground water. The grounded mat is joined to the floating mat of pioneering sedges and other vegetation at a hinge line.
Grouse
Any of several chicken-like wild fowl of the pheasant family Phasianidæ. Represented in the North Country by two year round residents, the Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) and the boreal Spruce Grouse (Canachites canadensis), a northern specialty prized by birders, here at the southern extreme of its normal range. Most easily seen in winter along Lake County Road 2.
Grub
An insect larva, typically of Coleoptera, the Beetles. These larva tend to be sluggish in behaviour, thick-bodied with well-developed head and thoracic legs but no abdominal prolegs.
Gull
Any of the many long winged swimming birds of the genus Larus. Represented in the North Country by that loud aggressive scavenger and painter of exposed rock shoals, the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus). Gaiashk in the Ojibwe.
Gunflint Trail
Cook County Highway 12, up from Grand Marais on the North Shore to trail's end at Seagull Lake.
Gunwale
On a canoe, the top edge of the sides. Also known as gunnel. (Same word, same pronunciation, different spelling.)
Gymnosperm
A seed plant which bears naked seeds, without an ovary. These plants of ancient lineage include the conifers so characteristic of the North Country as well as the gingko and ephedra of warmer climes. From the Greek, gumnos (gymnos), "naked."
Gypo (gyppo)
An independent logger with a small-scale logging operation; a small, independent sawmill or other wood related operation.
Gyttja
The nutrient rich organic materials deposited as grey- or green-brown to black lake bottom sediments. Composed of marl, planktonic remains, strongly decomposed plant remains, shells of diatoms, and fecal material. Usually forms in standing water.
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Last Updated on 17 August, 2004