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Journey By Canoe: Watery Wonderlands Of The Boundary Wilderness

Library-Boundary-canoeThe Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in Minnesota, along with the adjoining Quentico Provincial Park in Canada, form a wilderness area of over two million acres, as large as Yellowstone. Vern Mertz of Estes Park will share stories and photographs from his twelve summertime canoe trips through this watery wonderland of rocky shores, sandy beaches, lakes, streams and islands. Sponsored by the Estes Valley Library, Mertz’s “Journey by Canoe” presentation will take place on Monday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m. and is held at National Park Village in the Rocky Mountain Opry Theater at 900 Moraine Avenue, next to The Other Side Restaurant. Admission is free and open to all.

Great glaciers carved the physical features of what is today known as the BWCAW by scraping and gouging rock. The glaciers left behind lakes and streams interspersed with islands, and surrounded by of rugged cliffs and crags, gentle hills, canyon walls, rocky shores, and sandy beaches. Approximately 1175 lakes varying in size from 10 acres to 10,000 acres and several hundred miles of streams comprise about 190,000 acres (20%) of the BWCAW surface area and provide for the opportunity for long distance travel by watercraft. This type of experience is rare within the continental United States and the BWCAW is the only large lake land wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System The BWCAW allows visitors to canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years ago.

A distinguished Navy veteran, Vern Mertz attended college on the GI Bill and earned a job as a chemist. He went on to establish his own Laboratory called Mertz Testing and Inspection. He lived and raised his family in Omaha, later becoming a full-time Estes Park resident in 1998. Mertz and his wife Jeanie were married on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 2001. Both Vern and Jeanie are volunteers at the Estes Park Senior Center, and Vern serves on the Estes Park Honor Flight committee. He first visited and canoed the Boundary Waters area at the age of 65; he happily made his twelfth trip just two years ago at age 85.

Mertz’s presentation was originally scheduled for later in August, but travel changes from another summer speaker required a shuffling of programs. The program titled “Climbing Big Walls” with Quinn Brett has been re-scheduled for Monday, August 26 at 7:00 pm.

The Library’s “Our Wonderful World” series is presented as a learning and personal storytelling opportunity that celebrates magnificent destinations near and far. The Library offers a special thank-you to the Webermeier family and the staff of National Park Village, as well as the performers of Rocky Mountain Opry, for their generosity in providing this Monday’s event space. The location is a stop on the Brown Route of the free Estes Park shuttle. For more information on the Our Wonderful World series and other upcoming programs, contact the Library at (970) 586-8116 or visit


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