A BWCA Glossary


Wabang
A lake. "Tomorrow" in the Ojibwe language of the region.
Wagosh
A lake. "Fox" in the Ojibwe language of the region.
Wanihigan
A lake. Probably from Wanibîgan, "mistake" or "blunder" in the Ojibwe.
Wapata
A lake. Name derivation unknown.
Warbler
Any of the some 115 species of colorful, insectivorous songbirds native to North America and belonging to the New World family Parulidæ. Represented in the North Country by 24 species in 9 genera, all migratory.
Washte
A lake. Name derivation unknown.
Watap Portage
A 100 rod Border Route portage between Watap and Mountain Lakes.
Waterline
The intersection of the water surface with.the hull of a canoe, or the shore.
Watershed
That surface area which drains to a specified point on a water course, usually a confluence of streams or rivers.
Water Table
The surface between the zone of saturation and the zone of æration. Close to the surface in much of Canoe Country.

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Water Tabs
Small tablets or pills containing iodine and used for the purpose of sterilizing water for drinking. A light weight and portable backup to a water filter, they tend to bestow upon the water a distinctive aftertaste. (The tabs kill, but do not remove, water borne micro-organisms. The critters in the water are dead, but you're still drinking them. This bothers some folks, especially in shallow, planktonic soupbowl lakes.)
Watonwan
A lake. Name derivation unknown.
Wawaswi
A lake. Name derivation unknown.
Waxwing
Any of the 3 species (worldwide) of the family Bombycillidæ. Two of the three are found in the North Country, the Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) and the Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus).
Weasel
Any of the many small carnivorous members of the family Mustelidæ. Represented in the North Country by 9 species in 6 genera. Includes weasels, otter, skunk, and wolverine. Weasel is jingoss in the Ojibwe.
Webster-Ashburton Treaty
The 1842 treaty between Great Britain and the United States which settled the dispute over the location of the international boundary in northern Minnesota. The border was established along the main fur trade route to the west, such that "all the water communications and all the usual portages shall be free and open to the use of the citizens and subjects of both countries."
Wetland
1) Land with a wet, spongy soil, where the water table is at or above the land surface for at least part of the year. 2) Transitional area between dry land and aquatic areas having a high water table or shallow water. 3) Land with one of the following three attributes: (a) periodically supports hydrophytes, (b) substrate is predominately undrained hydric soil, (c) substrate is nonsoil and saturated or covered with water during part of the growing season each year.
Wheelbarrow Falls
A waterfall on the Basswood River between the Upper and Lower Basswood Falls. Bypassed by the 32 rod Wheelbarrow Portage.
White Gasoline
A petroleum product used for fuel in portable camp and backpacking stoves. A preferred alternative to firewood in areas which see much use at all. Generally considered safer from the standpoint of fire prevention than the traditional wood fuel, especially important now that so much fuel covers a broad swath of the BWCA, to depths of 20' or more.
Whorl
A circle of flowers, parts of a flower, or leaves arising from a single point. From the Old English, hweorfan, "to turn."
Whorled
Where three or more leaves of a plant are arranged at the same level on a stem.
Wilderness Act
An Act - To establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes. The 1964 federal legislation which established protected Wilderness Areas and which included the BWCA, though with troubling exceptions to the general wilderness policy. Text.
Wildfire
An unplanned or unwanted natural or human-caused fire, or a prescribed fire that threatens to escape its bounds.
Willow
Any of a large number of shrubs and trees of the genus Salix. Represented in the North Country by several species, including Bebb Willow (Salix Bebbiana). Osissigôbimij in the Ojibwe of the region.
Willow Herb
Any of several species of herbaceous perennials of the genus Epilobium, represented by several species in the North Country, most striking of which is undoubtably Epilobium angustfolium, Fireweed.
Windthrow
The tipping or uprooting of trees by high winds. An obstacle commonly encountered on portages and a major impediment to cross country bushwhacking. Since the Fourth of July windstorms of 1999, a major element in determining the future of a large part of the BWCA ecosystem.
Winterkill
The death of individual plants and animals from the rigors of winter.
Wisconsinan
The last great ice advance into the North Country, beginning some 70,000 years ago and continuing until less than 10,000 years ago, just yesterday in geological time. These great ice sheets carved the Superior/Quetico that we know today.
Wisini
A lake. "Eating" in the Ojibwe language of the region.
Witches' Broom
A malformation of the foliage of woody plants, especially conifers, resulting from the action of a virus or fungus. Typically takes the form of an abnormal tufted growth of small branches.
Wolverine
The largest of our native weasels (Gulo gulo) and a true wilderness species. Worth reporting to the Forest Service or DNR if sighted. Has a reputation for gluttony, ill temper, and vandalism, not altogether undeserved. Swingwaage or gwingwaage in the Ojibwe. Also known as Glutton.
Woodcock
A long billed, neckless "shorebird" (Scolopax minor) of the moist forest. Fond of earthworms and noted for its nocturnal display flights in spring. Otherwise secretive and rarely seen. Padjâshkaaaji or padashkaanji in the Ojibwe.
Woodland Period
The late archaeological cultures developed by Native North American peoples throughout the eastern and mid-western parts of the continent. Named after the Eastern Woodlands where it first developed, it is characterized by pottery manufacture, the construction of elaborate burial mounds, the use of the bow and arrow, and the cultivation of corn and other crops.
Woodpecker
Any of the chisel-billed, wood boring birds of the family Picidæ. Well represented in the North Country by five year round resident species, the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), Black Back Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), and Three Toed Woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus), as well as two fair weather visitors, the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), and the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). Variously méme, pakwéamo, papâsse, bigwakokweoweshi in the Ojibwe.
Woodsia
Any of 37 species of small, evergreen, cool climate ferns of the genus Woodsia; named for the English botanist Joseph Woods (1776-1864). Represented in the North Country by six species.
Wood 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 American Dog Tick. Most commonly encountered in June in the BWCA; a frequent visitor to campsites and especially, it seems, to the fire grate area. Have tweezers or a Leatherman-type multi-plier at hand.
Wolf
One of the wild emblems of the North Country. Relatively common but rarely seen. More often heard howling in the night. From the Old English wulf, a word with ancient origins in the Indo-European. Canis lupus in the Latin; maingan in the Ojibwe.
Wort
The Middle English word for plant. From the Old English, wyrt, "root, herb, plant." A common component in BWCA plant names. Wort list.
Woundwort
Perennial herb (Stachys palustris) of wetlands and water's edge. Has a long history of herbal use. Perhaps, or perhaps not, the Ojibwe mijiwâwashk, "wound herb/wound root."
Wren
Any of the small, brown, insectivorous birds of the family Troglodytidæ. Represented in the North Country by the Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), House Wren (Troglodytes ædon), and the Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis). From the Old English wrenna, Nonokasse in the Ojibwe. Another kind is odanamissakadoweshi.
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Last Updated on 11 April, 2004