See our websites at ElyOutfittingCompany.com and BoundaryWatersGuideService.com.
We are a Boundary Waters canoe trip outfitter, Quetico outfitter, and guide service in Ely, Minnesota. This Boundary Waters blog shares photos, stories, humor, skills, and naturalist insights from guiding in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).
Most entries are from our founder and head guide, Jason Zabokrtsky. He is the Boundary Waters Blogger.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Temps have been comfortable for this trip, with highs in the teens above zero. Some of the worst frostbite I've seen photographed is from the hands of professional photographers. They are sometimes forced to use too light of gloves and the metallic camera equipment conducts the cold, causing cold fingers.
The photographers are getting some great pics. Hopefully they may share a couple more for the blog over the next few days.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I'm hoping I learn some pointers to help me take better photos for this blog. This is a pic of a block of ice from cutting ice at Steger's homestead last weekend.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Our favorite dog sled racer, Eva Kolodji, made history today. At 17 years, she is the youngest woman ever to attempt the grueling John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. She launched her team of 8 Alaskan sled dogs at about 1:30 PM in front of a packed grandstand of cheering wellwishers.
Eva started running dogs five years ago, at age 12. This is the culimination of five years of training and hard work. Her determination has already earned her the respect of many, the support of her very experienced dog sled racing mentors (the Chapman sisters), and the help of folks at places like Wintergreen Northern Wear in Ely (who generously sponsored her performance Anorak and winter clothing).
Now Eva has 111 miles of racing in subzero temps through today, 20 below and colder temps tonight, and more than 24 hours on the back of her dogsled before reaching the finish line tomorrow afternoon.
Race updates are at http://www.beargrease.com/. We are whole-heartedly rooting on her and her dogs!
The pics are of Eva launching her team at the Beargrease starting line in Duluth, MN.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
I spent today helping arctic explorer Will Steger fill his ice house with lake ice. His homestead is off the grid, on the edge of the BWCA.
A whole crew of folks assembled to help cut, buck and stack these clear, over-sized ice cubes. We used a team of horses pulling a sleigh to haul the ice up from the lake to the ice house.
This is a brief video slideshow from today, with narration about this custom that hails from a bygone era.
Friday, January 23, 2009
These Paper Birch seeds fell from the catkins on the tree shown in the Jan. 17 post. The seeds gathered on the snow beneath the tree. Then, a slight breeze swept some of them into animal tracks, making it look like someone painted animal tracks in the snow. They're possibly snowshow hare tracks.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The Ely Winter Festival begins on February 6. The Festival highlight is the International Snow Carver's Symposium. The snow carving begins on the first day of the Festival. More than a dozen of these massive snow cubes and 20 smaller cubes will be carved. See some great photos of past snow carvings here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge doesn't have TV.
None of the Boundary Waters Guide Service guides have TV.
So where do you go when you feel compelled to be part of a historic event being broadcast on TV? The local watering hole. The nice folks at the Boathouse Brewpub in Ely opened early and put the Inauguration on their big screen TV. A crowd gathered to watch, listen, applaud, and sing along with the national anthem.
Some may think people in the North Woods are less concerned with the important issues facing the nation and world. After all, we are geographically far removed from major population centers. However, most of my Elyite friends are thoughtful, interested, worldly types. Many of them follow pressing current issues and are engaging when discussing politics.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
We are on a small bay off of White Iron Lake near Ely, MN, in this photo.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Paper Birch trees are starting to release their winter seeds. The catkin in focus has some of the winged seeds just barely hanging on. These shorter (about 1 1/2 inches) female catkins were pollinated last spring. The seeds have developed over the last seven months. Now they take flight on the wind.
We are seeing these winged seeds covering the ground like shadows under birch trees now. However, with such persistent snow this year (another 4+ inches yesterday, and a heavy snow is falling while I type), the seeds are being obscured by fresh snow layers.
I am guiding a day dog sledding trip this afternoon.
Friday, January 16, 2009
No. It's an electric block heater.
Woke up to 38 below again this morning. The heater is important in these frigid temps. It keeps the oil warmed so my truck starts in the morning.
The electric block heater is also much safer than using a camp stove or building a small fire under the oil pan to warm it. Yes, people sometimes put open flames under their oil pans to warm them. No, that is not a good idea. Think: bigger fire than expected. Yes, it happens.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Tim, from Kentucky, is on a dogsled trip this week. He helped with feeding and caring for the dogs this morning, during the coldest part of the day.
It took less than 15 minutes for his eyebrows and eyelashes to freeze up in temps south (not South Beach warm 'south,' but lower down on the mercury thermometer 'south') of 40 below F.
The official thermometer at the Ely airport quit working at -39 F, during the night. The temps bottomed out several hours later. Local low temp reports ranged from -43 to -49 degrees Fahrenheit.
Forecasters predict 40 below again tonight.
Yes, we're still dog sledding.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Started a lodge-based dog sledding trip with four participants today. We launched our teams in temps colder than 25 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. The folks are most surprised that they remained quite comfortable, even in the frigid temps. Chalk that reaction up to quality clothing (they all rented or purchased clothing from the Wintergreen clothing store in Ely) and good preparation (pat myself on the back).
We also have a pulk sled camping trip that left for four nights on trail today. While I'm sitting in a warm cabin, they are probably basking in the glow of a large fire drying their socks on sticks like marshmallows. Dave Gossage is one of the guides on the pulk trip. He may blog an entry about it when he returns.
Above, dog sledding at 25 below. The dogs are not throwing up dust. That's steam rising from their bodies.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
It's not too uncommon for forecasters to be 20 degrees off in their low temp predictions for Ely.
Case in point: The National Weather Service and the rest of the forecasting crews predicted a low of -6 to -8 degrees Fahrenheit last night. We woke up to a somewhat chilly 29 degrees below.
And a bit of trivia. The Celsius and Fahrenheit scales converge at 30 below. Thus, 30 below zero is the same temperature, whether measured on the Celsius or Fahrenheit scales.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
My ears perked with concern.
Then she said, "Yeah, Baloo was lifting his fourth leg to pee on every single tree that passed by. He may as well had only three legs pulling."
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Lill and her twin sister, Georgia, did a great job working with the dogs. Georgia even caught a loose sled, and both of them tried driving solo dog sleds all by themselves.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
If beavers are wintering over inside a lodge, then the warmth from their bodies melts a small chimney in the snow at the very top.
Sure enough, beavers are present in this lodge. The photo shows Cassidy (age 11, Kansas) looking at the chimney vent.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Lufa is a dog that really wants to be with people. She loves human attention. And the guides respond to it. She is the only dog in the kennel of about 80 dogs that is allowed to run free while we are in a winter camp.
Lufa makes a unique cooing sound when she howls. In this clip, you hear me howling back and forth with her this morning.