A BWCA Glossary


Taiga
Russian term for the forest communities found south of the tundra. The taiga is a coniferous community dominated by shallowly rooted trees such as Tamarack (Larix laricina), Black Spruce (Picea mariana), or White Spruce (Picea glauca), although birch and aspen are found in dryer locales. While the zone immediately to the north of our area, the taiga does contain many of the same features and species.
Takucmich
A lake in the northwestern BWCAW. Name derivation unknown.
Talus
A slope built up by the accumulation of rock waste at the foot of a cliff or ridge. From the Old French, talu, "slope"
Tamarack
The deciduous coniferous tree of the north (Larix laricina), from the Native American word Hackmatack. Mashkigwâtig in the Ojibwe.
Taxonomy
The scientific system of classification of living organisms. Developed in its modern form by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linné (1707-1778).
Telial Stage
A stage of the rust fungi (telium), where a fruiting structure appears, usually as fine, hairlike projections from lower surfaces of infected leaves.
Terrestrialization
The development of a floating vegetative mat on the shores of a lake or pond and the eventual fill-in by accumulation of peat. Also known as Lake-fill.
Terricolous
Lichens which occur on soil.
Tesaker
A lake in the northwestern BWCAW. Name derivation unknown.

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Thallus
A plant body that lacks differentiation into distinct forms of stems, leaves, roots, and does not grow from an apical point. The main body of a lichen, for example. From the Greek, qallos (thallos), "a young shoot."
Thermocline
In a lake, the transition zone of rapid temperature change between the warm, oxygen rich waters of the epilimnion and the cold, dense waters of the hypolimnion. Generally 15'-30' below the surface in the North Country.
Thickneck
A derogatory, if appropriate, term for a certain sort of wilderness visitor, generally young adult males, inexperienced and loud, with a propensity for overloading canoes with excessive baggage (coolers, wall tents, lawn chairs), and an affection for malt beverages. Rarely seen after the first couple of long portages.
Thompson-Nickerson Morraine
The terminus of the last great advance of the Superior ice sheet (about 12,000 years ago).
Thorax
The body region of an insect behind the head, which bears wings and true (jointed) legs, if present.
Threatened
A species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its Minnesota range.
Thrush
Any of several species of woodland songbirds of the family Turdidæ. Represented in the North Country by three brown thrushes of the genus Catharus, the Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus), Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), and Veery (Catharus fuscescens), as well as the common American Robin (Turdus migratorius), seemingly out of place in the wilderness. From the Middle English þrusche, and the Old English þrýsce and þryssce. Opitchi in the Ojibwe.
Thunderstorm
A hazard of summer tripping in Canoe Country. Paddling in the rain can actually be rather pleasant (if you're prepared for it) but thunderstorms are travel squelchers. Very effective, too, for identifying the low spot at a campsite in the middle of the night, especially if you've pitched your tent there.
Thwart
In a canoe, the crossbar which provides structural support amidships (and a place to lash the fishing poles).
Tick
The bloodsucking first cousin to the spiders. Represented in the North Country by two well known, if not well loved, species, the Dog or Wood Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the much smaller Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis), the carrier of the Lyme Disease bacterium.
Till
Glacial deposits dropped directly from the retreating ice.
Toad
Of the Bufonidæ, the dry land cousins of the frogs, the BWCA has but a single species, the common American Toad (Bufo americanus). From the Old English tádige.
Toadflax
Any of several inconspicuous, parasitic herbs of the genus Comandra. Represented in the North Country by the Bastard Toadflax (Comandra richardsiana) and the Northern Bastard Toadflax (Comandra livida). BWCA Parasites.
Tofte
A small community on the North Shore of Lake Superior, where the Sawbill Trail takes off from US Highway 61, north to Sawbill Lake and the BWCAW.
Topo
A topographic map. Shows the elevation contours of the ground.
Topo!
Interactive topographical maps on CD-ROM from Wildflower Productions.
Township
In land survey terms, an area 6 miles square and oriented to established, true north/south lines (meridians). Townships are subdivided into 36 sections, each of which is theoretically one mile square and contains 640 acres. In the actual surveys the dimensions and areas of these sections are subject to variance from the theoretical standards of the system. The township sections are numbered progressively from the northeast corner from 1 to 36. (Township sections diagram)
Tree
A woody plant that usually grows to at least 20' in height at maturity, typically having a single trunk with no branches within 3' of the ground. Mitig in the Ojibwe.
Treed Fen
Another name for coniferous swamps developed on peat, such as White Cedar Swamps.
Trillium
Any of several species of herbaceous perennial of the genus Trillium. Striking spring wildflowers with three-part leaves (hence the generic name). Represented in the North Country by Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum) and Large Flower Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).
Trim
In a canoe, the difference between the draft forward and the draft aft. If draft is greater aft, the trim is "down by the stern". If deeper at the bow it is "down by the head". An important factor in how a boat handles. To be down by the stern with a stiff crosswind can make remaining on course an exhausting struggle.
Tripe
Any of the many leafy, crustose lichens of the genus Umbilicaria. Crustose lichens are closely attached to substrate and are hard to remove without damaging the substrate or the lichen itself. Occur on overhanging cliffs, near water, or on rocks or forest soil. Represented in the North Country by many speices, including (Umbilicaria mammulata) and (Umbilicaria muehlenbergii). Also known as Rock Tripe.
Trout
Fishes of the family Salmonidæ. Represented in the BWCA by four native species, the Lake Whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), Cisco (Coregonus artedi), Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), and the prized Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush). In addition, the DNR has stocked some smaller lakes in the area with the European Brown Trout (Salmo trutta), with varying degrees of success. Found in a limited number of lakes is the natural hybrid of the Lake and Brook Trout, the Splake (Salvelinus fontinalis x S. namaycush). From the Old English truht.
Truck Portage
A longer portage where vehicles are available to transport boats and equipment. The most notorious of these, in the BWCAW, being those into Trout Lake from Vermilion and from Fall Lake to Basswood. Used almost exclusively by the motoring crowd and highly incompatible with wilderness values.
Tuber
The short, thickened fleshy food-storing portion of an underground stem with many surface buds, generally shaped like a rounded protuberance. From the Latin, tuber, "a swelling or knob on plants."
Tufted
A close-growing cluster of stems, as in certain bunch grasses, sedges, and mat-forming herbs.
Tumblehome
In canoe design, a cross section where the sides turn inward towards the top, yielding a narrower beam at the gunwales. Makes for easier paddling, but reduced stability.
Tumpline
A kind of sling formed by a strap slung over the forehead and bearing some of the load carried upon one's back. A bit of Mediaeval technology often seen on Duluth packs.
"Nick walked back up the ties to where his pack lay in the cinders beside the railway track. He was happy. He adjusted the pack harness around the bundle, pulling straps tight, slung the pack on his back got his arms through the shoulder straps and took some of the pull off his shoulders by leaning his forehead against the wide band of the tump-line" -- Ernest Hemingway, "Big Two-Hearted River"
Turnover
In northern lakes, a spring and fall phenomenon where the the temperatures of the upper (epilimnion) and lower (hypolimnion) layers of lake water converge to a point where intermixing can occur. The spring turnover is more gradual and wind driven; the fall turnover more sudden, occuring when the upper waters cool below the temperature of the water below and drop to the bottom, forcing the now warmer deep waters to the surface.
Turtle
Any of the aquatic reptiles of the Order Testudines. Represented in the BWCA by three species, only one of which is at all common; the Western Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii), the Wood Turtle (Clemmys insculpa), a threatened species in Minnesota, and the Common Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina), a species of special concern to the Minnesota DNR.
Tussock
A compact, densely tufted growth form of some grasses, sedges, and moss. A common topographic feature of northern bogs.
Twinflower
Common name for the delicate, creeping shrublet of the northern forest floor, so named for its pairs of small, pink bell-like flowers hanging from shepherd's crook stems. Named Linnea borealis in the botanical Latin, in honor of Carolus Linnæus, founder of modern taxonomy, whose favorite wildflower it was said to be.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004