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, May 18, 2013

BWCA Ice Out Update

FS Pilot report from flight late Thursday afternoon:

Crooked open.

Horse open.

Knife, Ensign, Thomas, Frazier, One, Two, Three, Four, Hudson, Insula all open

Basswood is pretty much open.

Snowbank – west end open, only about 1/3 of the lake is open, probably couldn’t get to

Disappointment.

Kawishiwi Lake open.

Isabella Lake open.

Gunflint area quite a few lake with ice.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Latest BWCA Ice Out Info

We just received this info from the Forest Service:

FS Pilot report—this information is from a flight late Sunday afternoon.

Jackfish- 40% open
Open: Pipestone, Stuart, Agnes, Nina Moose, Ramshead, Upper and Lower Pauness
Frozen: Oyster
Bald Eagle- 60% open
Gabbro- 75% open
Open: Gull, Turtle, Lakes 1 and 2
Clearwater- frozen, but open around edges

This information is from today’s flight:

Moose Lake: southwestern third is open; northeastern two thirds frozen but dark ice.
S. Kawishiwi R. and Gabbro Lake are mostly open.
Turtle is open.
There is ice in the middle of Bald Eagle.
Clearwater and Pietro are frozen (thin ice) but Gull is open.
Quadga and Bog are open.
Isabella and Perent still have a lot of ice in the middle.
Polly and Phoebe are open.
Alton and Sawbill are still frozen.
Generally the smaller lakes in the south east are open or mostly open. Larger lakes are still frozen.
Alice is frozen.
Insula south of The Rock is open, the northern portion is frozen.
Lake 3 is mostly open.
Knife Lake including the South Arm is mostly ice.
Saganaga is still frozen.

Reports from observers:

Snowbank is iced but the bays are opening

Today’s Safety Message:
Grasses are dry and cured. We’ve had a few small fires. Keep fires small and stay nearby.
Winds will be from the south at 5 to 15 mph but with gusts up to 30 mph. Wear PFDs.

BWCA Ice Out Update

We just received this report from the Forest Service:

FS Pilot report—this information is from a flight late Sunday afternoon. There is a flight up now so more
information will be sent later:

Pipestone- open
Jackfish- 40% open
Stuart- open
Agnes- open
Oyster- frozen
Nina Moose- open
Ramshead- open
Upper & Lower Pauness- open
Bald Eagle- 60% open
Gabbro- 75% open
Gull- open
Pietro- open
Clearwater- frozen, but open around edges
Turtle- 25% open
Lakes 1,2,3 open
Moose Lake: southwestern third is open; northeastern portion frozen but dark ice.

Today’s Safety Message:

Grasses are dry and cured. We’ve had a few small fires. Keep fires small and stay nearby.
Winds will be from the south at 5 to 15 mph but with gusts up to 30 mph. Wear PFDs.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Additional BWCA Ice Out Info

This additional information was forwarded to us by the Forest Service today:

FS Pilot report—Information added from flight late Thursday afternoon:
  • Fall Lake is mostly open.
  • Newton is open.
  • There was a very wide band of dark ice from west shore to east shore in the middle of Pipestone Bay of Basswood blocking passage north of Caribou Point.
  • Ella Hall, Mud, Muskeg, Hula, and Wood are all open.
  • Back Bay is mostly open.
  • Wind Bay of Basswood is open but Wind Lake is 75% frozen.
  • Moose Lake is mostly frozen but the ice is dark
  • Sucker and Newfound are covered with mostly dark ice. These lakes have some open water around the edges.
  • Little Gabbro is open. Gabbro is 80% frozen.
  • The Kawishiwi River is open from Birch Lake to White Iron. From River Point the river is open up to
  • Three Mile Lake but Three Mile Lake is frozen.
  • North Kawishiwi River is mostly open. Lake One is open from the public access to Kawishiwi Lodge.
  • There is a big chunk of ice in the northern half of the lake blocking passage. Insula, Alice, Fraser, and Thomas are frozen.
  • Ensign is frozen but dark. Knife and Kek are frozen.
  • Garden is 75% open. South Farm is 30% open and dark ice.
  • Big Lake is frozen but may open in a day or two.
  • The Nina Moose River (aka Moose/Portage River North) is open and Nina Moose Lake is about 80% open. 
  • Ramshead is only 40 % open. 
  • Stuart, Agnes, and Oyster are frozen.
  • The Little Indian Sioux River is open but the Pauness Lakes are only 50% open.
  • Dumbell, Sawbill, Isabella, Sawbill, and Kawishiwi Lakes and most lakes of any size on the east half of the forest are still frozen.

Boundary Waters Ice Out Update for May 10

 I snapped this photo at our shop in Ely a few minutes ago.  Yep, it's snowing.

Following is the most recent info we received from the Forest Service at 5:30 PM on May 10:

Today’s Safety Message: 
  • Predictions for winds today include gusts up to 38 miles per hour. 
  • Please wear a PFD if you venture out on the water.
  • Be careful with fire. Spring fuels dry out quickly.
  • Ice packs may shift dramatically.
  • Rivers may be dangerous.
  • High volumes of water are causing some dangerous landings at portages.
  • Currents are swift and unpredictable.
FS Pilot report (limited fire patrol flight this afternoon):
  • Fall Lake is mostly open. Newton is open. Pipestone is open up the middle almost to Caribou Point. The rest may open in a couple of days. Jackfish still has white ice.
  • The Nina Moose (Moose/Portage River North) is open and Nina Moose Lake is about 80% open. Agnes is only 40 % open.
  • Dumbell, Sawbill, and most lakes of any size on the east side are still frozen.
  • Moose Lake is mostly frozen.
Reports from people on the ground:
  • Farm Lake is frozen.
  • Sawbill still at 13 inches of ice.
  • Lake One appears to be open from the landing past Kawishiwi Lodge—how much farther is not known.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Boundary Waters Ice Out Update for May 9

We received the following info from the USFS today.

Reports from observers at landings:

•    In general, smaller, shallow lakes and rivers on the western half of the Superior National Forest are opening up.
•    Rivers on the east side of the forest are opening. Lakes are almost all still frozen.
•    There are no reports of any lakes associated with river entry points being open. The Little Indian Sioux and Moose/Portage (aka Nina Moose) River water levels are high.
•    Fall Lake is open from the Fall Lake Campground landing to the falls. Newton is open. Pipestone is iced in well south of Caribou Point.
•    Tofte, Moose, and Snowbank Lakes are still frozen.
•    Ojibway Lake has 8 feet of open water out from the public landing.
•    The Kawishiwi River leaving east from the Lake One landing is open.
•    Burntside is frozen.
•     Little Long and Fenske Lakes are almost completely full of ice.
•    Johnson (south of Ely off Hwy 21) is open.
•    Robinson Lake (west of Ely on 169) is open.
•    Birch Lake is still solid with white ice.
•    There is open water at the South Kawishiwi River Campground landing.
•    Sawbill Lake’s ice—from 23 inches down to 14 inches today.

Today’s Safety Message:

•    Please remember large masses of ice may shift. Even if there is a narrow channel open along the edge of a lake the opening may be pinched off suddenly.
•    Winds up to 30 mph are predicted for this weekend.
•    The water is dangerously cold. Wear your life preserver if you go out.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Boundary Waters Ice Out Updates

The US Forest Service is providing the following current ice information.

Superior National Forest Ice Update - May 8, 2013

From FS pilots: They flew a west patrol yesterday from Jackfish west and south to Birch and Vermilion Lakes.
  • Everything was still frozen. Many lakes were still frozen right to the shoreline.
  • Fall Lake had the most open water around the edges but was still 80% ice covered.
  • Birch, Vermilion, Burntside, western Basswood including Pipestone and Jackfish Bays, S. Farm, and White Iron were frozen.
  • There was a little open water near the bridge on the northern end of White Iron and a little open water on the southeast end.
Reports from others:
  • Rivers are running hard but the lakes are not open.
  • Some people are venturing out over the ice (very dangerous!) only to find themselves confronting more ice.
  • A few smaller lakes are very black and may open with rain or wind.
  • Sawbill Lake had 23 inches of ice on it yesterday.