A BWCA Glossary


Dakotah
The native peoples of the Northern Plains formerly resident, in the days before the horse, in the eastern woodlands. Some BWCA placenames are of Dakotah origin, such as Zitkala Lake, "red bird" in Dakotah.
Damselflies
Any of the conspicuous and elongated insect aerialists of the suborder Zygoptera (Order Odonata). Distinguished from their larger cousins, the dragonflies, by their smaller, more delicate form, as well as their habit of holding their wings above the body when at rest, while the dragonflies rest with their wings outstretched. Appreciated for both their beauty and their voracious appetite for mosquitos.
Daniels Spur Trail
A 3 mile hiking trail extending west from Cook County road 66, at the west end of Clearwater Lake, to Daniels Lake, then north along the south shore of Daniels to the Border Trail at the Long Portage on the Arrow River. The trail is quite level over its full length, the first mile of which follows an old road. (BWCAW Entry Point 82)
Daphnia
A tiny, and abundant, aquatic crustacean. Also known as water fleas, though unrelated to the true fleas, with are insects.
d.b.h.
Diameter at Breast Height. The diameter measure of a tree 4½' above ground level.
Decumbent
A plant whose natural habit is resting on the ground, but with the tip rising up (in contrast to prostrate, in which a structure lies completely flat on the ground.)

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Deer
The antlered herbivores of the family Cervidæ. Represented in the North Country by the Moose (Alces alces), the White Tail Deer (Odocoileus virginianus), and, farther north, the Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus).
Deer Fly
A medium sized biting fly of the North Country, represented by several species of the genus Chrysops.
Deer Tick
The smaller of our native ticks, but that which perhaps poses the greatest risk to humans. Ixodes scapularis is teardrop shaped and relatively small, with a blackish dorsal shield over a reddish-brown body which fades to grey on engorged specimens. It is the primary transmitter of the Borrelia burgdoferi spirochete, the spiral-shaped bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, as well as being a disease vector for Babesiosis and Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE). Also known as the Blacklegged Tick.
DEET
The more easily pronounced shorthand for the insect repellant chemical N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, generally considered the most powerful and effective source of relief from the native dipterans. Toxic, it should be used with caution, especially on children. Eats plastic, too.
Dehiscent
Splitting open along regular lines, as in a fruit which breaks open at maturity to release its contents of seed. The Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) is a good North Country example.
Dehydration
Literally "loss of water". Ironically, a serious risk for hikers and canoe trippers in this land saturated with water. Dehydration, especially in summer, is an ever present risk. Drink plenty of water. Pay especial attention to any children in your party.
Dendrology
The study and identification of trees. From the Greek, dendros (dendros), "tree."
Dessication
Drying. A serious risk for evergreen plants exposed to drying winter winds.
Devilís Cascade
A 1/3 mile long series of rapids, dropping 72', on the Little Indian Sioux River, just below Lower Pauness Lake. Bypassed by a 160 rod portage on the east bank. Photos
Devil's Elbow
A crook in the Granite River between Gneiss and Maraboeuf Lakes.
Diabase
A common intrusive rock with a crystal structure intermediate between gabbro and basalt. Between Gunflint Lake and Superior (BWCAW Region 5) Keweenawan sills and dikes of diabase intruded up through the older slate, much of which later was eroded away, or scraped away by glaciers, leaving the harder diabase ridges which define the long narrow east/west lakes and valleys so characteristic of this area.
Diameter at Breast Height
The diameter measure of a tree 4½' above the ground level. Most commonly encountered as the abbreviation d.b.h.
Diatoms
Small mobile plants (algæ) with silicified (silica, sand, quartz) skeletons. They are among the most abundant phytoplankton in cold waters.
Dicotyledon
A subclass of the flowering plants (Angiosperms). Named for having two seed leaves (cotyledons) they tend to have broad leaves, netlike veins in the leaves, flower parts usually in fours or fives, a ring of primary vascular bundles in the stem, and a taproot system. Also known as Dicot. Most North Country flowering plants are dicots. See Monocotyledon.
Dike
Rising magma cooling underground which cuts vertically across exisiting rock. Dikes and sills of Keweenawan time arose among the older Rove Formation which runs from Gunflint Lake east to Superior (our BWCA Region V). More resistant to erosion and glaciation than the surrounding rock, they delineate the long and narrow lakes which are the hallmark of this region.
Dioecious
Plants having male and female parts on separate individuals.
Disappointment Mountain
An 1816' summit rising above the northeast end of Disappointment Lake in the central BWCAW.
Disk
The round, button-like center of composite (Aster/Daisy family) flowers, typically composed of many tiny tubular flowers (the disk), usually surrounded by more colorful ray flowers (the "petals"). The flowers of the ubiquitous Large Leaf Aster (Aster macrophyllus) and its cousins are a common late summer and fall example in the North Country.
Displacement Speed
The maximum speed at which a canoe can travel, without speaking to the effort required to reach that speed, which is determined by the formula; S (speed) equals 1.55 times the square root of the waterline length.
Diurnal
An animal typically active during the daylight hours.
Division
A method of plant propagation in which mature plants are carefully dug up and separated into a number of smaller plants.
DNR
Abbreviation for Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota state agency having responsibility for protecting the plants and animals of the BWCA.
Dog
Of the wild dogs of the family Canidæ, three species are native to the BWCA, the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Coyote (Canis latrans), and one of the great icons of the northern wilderness, the Timber Wolf (Canis lupus).
Dogbane
A large shrubby herb (Apocynum androsæmifolium) of dry, open places. Look for it near portages and campsites. The Greco-Latin name translates crudely as "the dogbane with leaves resembling the plant which is named for its juices the color of human blood". The sap of the dogbane is milky white. Go figure.
Dog Tick
(Dermacentor variabilis) The largest and most widespread tick in our area, marked by a distinct contrast between the whitish patterned dorsal shield and the dark-brown body. Apparently, it plays no significant role in the transmission of Lyme Disease and Babesiosis but has been implicated in the transmission of several other diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Also known as the Wood Tick.
Dogwood
Any of several woody shrubs and small trees of the genus Cornus. Represented in the North Country by several tall shrubs, such as Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) and Alternate Leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) as well as the ubiquitous shrublet, the Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis).
Dorsal Fin
In the fishes, the often prominent, ray supported fin along the midline of the back, occasionally divided into two fins. An important indicator in distinguishing among some families and species of our native fishes.
Double Carry
In the vernacular of Canoe Country, to cover a portage in two trips, one for the packs and another for the canoe.
Dragonflies
Any of the conspicuous and elongated insect aerialists of the suborder Anisoptera (Order Odonata). Distinguished from their smaller cousins, the damselflies, by their larger, more robust form, as well as their habit of holding their wings outstretched when at rest, while the damselflies rest with their wings held above the body. Appreciated for both their beauty and their voracious appetite for mosquitos. Obodashkwanishi in the Ojibwe.
Drainage Basin
The area from which a stream and its tributaries receive their water. A hydrologic unit of area consisting of a surface stream or body of impounded surface water and all its tributaries. Runoff in a drainage basin is distinct from that of adjacent areas.
Drainage Divide
The line that separates one drainage basin from another.
Drift
Glacial deposits laid down directly by glaciers or laid down in lakes, ocean, or streams as result of glacial activity.
Drupe
A fleshy fruit with a hard nut or stone. The fruit of the Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) provides a common North County example.
Duckweed
The smallest Canoe Country perennial, Duckweed is a single leaf plant of the genera Lemna and Spirodela which floats, often in large mats, on the surface of still waters.
Duct Tape
The "Handyman's Friend" and an essential part of the emergency kit of any canoe party. Used for temporary repair of punctures in canoe hulls. Required by some outfitters.
Duff
The partially decomposed organic material of the forest floor beneath the litter of freshly fallen twigs, needles, and leaves. Under coniferous trees, made up almost entirely of dead needles. Often dry and occasionally quite deep, duff can smolder for days after a fire passes through.
Duffer
In the vernacular of Canoe Country, the third person in a canoe. One who sits on one's "duff" while one's partners do the paddling. Great work if you can get it.
Duluth, City of
Minnesota's port city and and home to 85,000 people, located at the southwestern end of Lake Superior. Duluth is also the gateway to the North Shore and the last urban center this side of Thunder Bay. All our BWCA trips include stops in Duluth, to stretch our legs and feed our faces. Named for the early French explorer Daniel Greysolon, who bore the aristocratic title of Sieur duLhut, and first visited the area in 1679.
Duluth Complex
A massive Keweenawan intrusion composed primarily of gabbro, with significant amounts of anthorosite and other granitic rocks. It runs north some 60 miles from Duluth nearly to Canada and is estimated to be up to 10 miles thick. This forms the bedrock underlying much of the eastern BWCA
Duluth, Lake
A large glacial lake occupying the western end of the Superior Basin, constrained by the ice remaining in the eastern end and the Valders moraine in northwestern Wisconsin. The lake drained south, by way of the Bois Brule and St. Croix, to the Mississippi. This lake went through several incarnations, at various elevations, as conditions changed.
Duluth Pack
The classic pack of Canoe Country. Basically a large, green canvas box with leather straps. High on capacity, low on comfort.
Dystrophic
Rich in humic acids produced by bog vegetation; used in reference to dark stained, extremely oligotrophic bog waters.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004