Welcome to the BWCAW blog of Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service!

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.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

We Launch Dog Teams

We've received several varying reports from the conductor regarding the arrival time for our drop off point. Originally we heard mid-morning. It kept getting pushed back due to the rough track conditions.

At 1PM, the train screeched to a halt, the freight door slid open, and we started on assembly line unboarding. The train staff took quite an interest in us. All three of them gathered in the box car to admire our jovial scene. The conducted snapped photos, looked at me with a smile and said, "I may never see this again."

We waved goodbye to the train and watched it bounce away down the tracks. The group quickly harnessed dogs, hitched them to the sleds, and finally launched our dog teams across the frozen tundra.

We are fortunate our trail conditions are relatively firm with wind-packed snow. The sky is blue, the Arctic sun is shining, the temp is about 32F and the winds are calm. This region is known for high winds, and a ground blizzard swept through last week. We feel fortunate for our current ideal conditions.

One building exists between where we launched and Hudson Bay. Is is called Watchee Lodge. We dogsledded six miles to the lodge and took a lunch break. During February and March, photographers and tourists flock to Watchee Lodge. They are here to see mother polar bears emerge from their earthen dens with polar bear cubs in tow.

I spoke with a polar bear tracker there who searches out polar bears so visitors can be guided directly to them. Most of the polar bears just recently left this area to hunt seal on Hudson Bay. The polar bear tracker says they saw a bear last week, but they haven't been looking because they are closing up the lodge for the season. I ask the polar bear tracker if we will see any polar bears. With a steely expression he grunts, "I hope not."

We dogsledded a few hours after Watchee Lodge and camped on Fletcher Lake. The moon is bright, but we still see white-colored northern lights fade in and out across the lake.

Total dogsledding today: 14.5 miles.

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