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.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Superior National Forest Ely Area High Water Warning

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
CONTACT: Becca Manlove, Information Officer, West Zone, Superior National Forest, 218-365-7569 or 218-365-7600.

Prairie Portage:

The buoys that usually mark the entrance to the falls at Prairie Portage are missing. Crews are working to replace them but may not be able to get new buoys in place until water levels recede. If you are unfamiliar with the Moose Chain (Moose, Newfound, and Sucker Lakes) pay close attention to your map. Use extreme caution when approaching the portages.

High Water in other areas:

Across the Forest, water levels are high making river travel, approaches, and exits from portages more dangerous. In addition, the water is very cold and hypothermia is a real concern.

· ALWAYS wear your life jacket. Your body’s “gasp reflex” to extreme cold water may compromise your ability to swim.

· Hug the shoreline as you approach portages.

· Discuss your route with your permit issuer for current conditions and cautions.

· Share information about flooded portages with other visitors.

Watch the Superior National Forest website for additional alerts and information about current conditions. www.fs.usda.gov/superior

Thursday, May 15, 2014

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - May 15

Current Ice Conditions:

West Side: Except for Snowbank, most lakes in the west zone are open.
- Moose Chain to Prairie all open. All of Basswood, Knife and Ensign are open.
- Burntside is open.
- White Iron, Bear Island, and Shagawa are open.
- Snowbank has only a little bit of ice.
- Rivers are open.
- Lakes One through Four, Insula, and Alice are open.
- Up the Echo Trail: Jeanette L. and Big L. are open.
- Kekakabic and Knife Lakes are open.

East Side: Lakes on the east side of the forest on the southern half are mostly open.
- Outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Crescent, Fourmile, Toohey, and Lichen are open.
- Mid- Trail and West Bearskin not open--slim chance of it opening by the weekend.
- Gunflint Lake open up to Magnetic Lake but there is still ice on the shores.
- Round Lake Open
- Missing Link Lake open
- Saganaga and Greenwood are NOT open.
- Seagull open
- Ham Lake open- Cross River and Cross Lake- open
- Probably nothing open yet in the Vento area (Daniels, Duncan)
- Bog, Quadga, Kawishiwi, Isabella, Koma, Malberg, Polly, and Perent Lakes are OPEN.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - Second Report received on May 7

Current Ice Conditions: Conditions are changing quickly. Rains, warmth, and wind could give fisherman much more open water by the weekend.

From FS pilots today:

· Newton (between Fall L and Pipestone) is open.
· Pipestone is 60% open.
· Jackfish is still frozen.
· Mud is 50%, Rice is 80%, and Ella Hall is 20% open.
· Garden is 75% open.
· Kempton is open.
· Pickerel is 50%.
· Wood is starting to open.
· Fall—there is ice on the west end and by the 4 Mile Portage.
· Most of Basswood is tightly frozen but Back Bay is 50%. Hoist Bay is frozen.
· Lakes 1 thru 4—shorelines are open but still 75% ice. May see some changes in the next few days.
· Kawishiwi R. and west bound there is some open water and may open by the weekend. Gabbro and Bald Eagle (southern end) are 25%. Three Mile is 60%.
· Snowbank and going east most of the lakes are frozen tight to the shore.

Reports from others:

· The road into Mudro Lake is in very bad condition. Low clearance vehicles and two wheel drive vehicles will probably not make it.

Road Reports from Gunflint (Grand Marais) Engineer:

· The Grade: (170) is snow free, but really rough – even “rutty”.
· You can’t get into Wilson Lake Campground and probably won’t be able to for at least a few more days, probably not by this weekend.
· From Lake County 7, going on FR 166 (600 Road) to the 342 Road, (Two Island River Road) there is about 1-2” of snow at the intersection of 166/342, so no travel down on the 342 road for several days.
· From Lake County Road 7 to Richey Lake Road it is still snow covered, but passable by pickup or four wheel drive, car travel would not be advised. Temperance River Road (343) you could drive up the first four miles but lots of trees were down. There is still snow on the road, probably only advisable with a pick-up truck.

USFS BWCA Ice Out Report - May 7, 2014

We just received this ice out report from the Forest Service.

Superior National Forest Ice Update
May 6, 2014 PM report

Current Ice Conditions: Remember, ice is never completely safe and now is a particularly dangerous time. Also, ice packs shift with winds so the exact location of an ice pack may change quickly.

From FS pilots--a seeding mission was flown today and this is the pilot’s report:
  • There is very little open water right now. 
  • If we get a break in the weather, conditions may change very quickly—even as soon as this weekend.
  • Where there is current, ice is breaking up.
  • Much of Fall Lake is open and some portions of Pipestone Bay are open.
  • Smaller lakes and ponds are dark and are starting to break up. 
  • Portions of Birch Lake are beginning to open up. 
  • Most lakes east of Insula are pretty solidly ice-covered still. 
  • The Little Indian Sioux and Nina Moose (aka Moose/Portage Rivers) Rivers are open but the lakes are mostly still frozen. 
  • Reports from others: 
    • Much of the eastern end of Fall Lake is open.
    • The southern tip of Pipestone Bay was open to just north of Wegens Point two days ago.
    • The road into Mudro Lake is in very bad condition. Low clearance vehicles and two wheel drive vehicles will probably not make it.