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Saturday Walk, Shagawa Ice Status

The sun coming in the window woke me with its warmth. The cats were curled up, one on top of the quilt, one underneath, effectively trapping me. I wanted to sleep in. To stay with them. They are a comfort in these uncertain times. Friends that live with us. Friends I can see and play with everyday.

I wanted to get outside, though, before the day began to come on in earnest. Jen wanted to go for a walk and our steps soon found us headed towards Semer’s Park and the closest shoreline of Ely’s Shagawa Lake.

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Solo, but never alone

With social distancing in place across much of the world and the signs of spring dawning with crisp mornings and sunswept afternoons, I have ventured out with my trusty bike to (safely) set new PRs and regain some of my lost endurace from the winter absent of biking.

My winters are often spent in Northfield MN one of the windiest places I have ever experienced, but after Covid-19 required the movement of classes online I returned home to Ely, as countless other students did across the country.

The 2 weeks of self quarantine were a challenge but necessary for the  community of Ely, and after the 14 odd days I left the house I grew up in with vigour to feel a caloric burn. A quick tuneup after some flat tires and an old chain set me straight and the miles soon glided by. I was a runner and skier growing up and biking has not been a natural sport for myself so the learning curve and development of my skills has been a welcome challenge in my collegiate years, and reflections now show a love of speed I previously had unknown knowledge off.

The wind whipping my face as I glide down asphalt reaching speeds in the low 30s MPH has a sort of rush I have felt but never at such sustained levels as road biking. As a person in today’s world of unknown risks and symptoms, the comfort and relaxation attained by a solo bike and an open road deep in the Superior National Forest has been a time for stress to be released and small joys to be seen.

Solo, but never alone. Not outdoors near Ely anyway.
These new friends practice distancing too.

The privilege to have these open spaces has never been clearer to me and I hope all who are reading are able to find a space to find peace and some form of solitude. 

Simon Stouffer

St Olaf College

Ely Native

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Fishing Found Lake Trout

Last Ice fishing trout trip of the season – Found Lake Trip Report March 27-30th — By Eric Glasson

With just one weekend left in the winter trout season, I wanted to plan something special. I had recently been turned on to a stocked trout pond entirely within the BWCAW that I hadn’t had the chance yet to visit. Found Lake, off Newfound via the Moose Lake Entry point #25 is stocked with brook trout and I have heard rumors there are some giants swimming under the ice. Found Lake is about 3.5 miles from the Moose Lake EP, I am sure most of you have paddled by numerous times on your way to Prairie Portage, Ensign or Knife without even knowing it was there. According to the MN DNR lake finder website this small 60-acre lake has been stocked with brook trout during odd years since 2011, which means the lake just received a fresh stock of brook trout in 2019. With my personal best brook trout only being 15.5”, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for an upgrade. 

When we arrived at the Moose Lake entry point, we were greeted by two dogsled teams packing up after runs up to Knife Lake. Those familiar with BWCA winter travel know that late March can be the best time to cover miles with minimal effort, whether you are being pulled by dogs, or providing the horsepower yourself. The warm weather we had been experiencing for the last two weeks had left only about 2-3” of slush on top of solid ice (later we would find that ice was still 18” thick and safe all the way to the shoreline). While most folks are jetting off to warmer climes in mid-March, all I can think about is chasing trout through the ice in the BWCAW. 

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Spring Hike Ely, Minnesota

When we left the house on Sunday it was to go on a hike together, to get into the woods for a brief time. Although we’ve been out for walks, runs and bikes, and to go to one of the two grocery stores in Ely or the hardware store, this may have been the first time in weeks that four of us have been in the car together. We just don’t, like many of you, leave home. Usually we’d do that to visit someone, to go to a movie, out to eat, to a school event…

As a result, it felt strange. It felt like we were being watched.

I did notice that there was a lot to see. Not in the people department. A few cars, a few dog walkers, a few runners. People walking on the sidewalk and others (must not be related) walking out in the street parallel to them, six or more feet apart. Kids on bikes.

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Takucmich Lake Canoe Trip Revisited by Drew Brockett

Takucmich Lake Canoe Trip

We’re republishing this here as the first of a series of old canoe trip reports and blog post from years ago. Just like reruns of classic sports events on the streaming services now, these are a few looks back at memorable experiences we’ve had on Boundary Waters Canoe Trips.

Drew’s 2010 Fall Trip
Throughout the years, I have written about my annual trip with my uncle from Santa Fe, Kerth, the inventor of Atomic Hashbrowns, and now is the time to take you on another journey. It’s a perfect time for this story since many people are thinking about their summer trip to the BWCA and also need to think about something other than snow and ice. So, trade in your shovel for a bent shaft paddle and away we go……

Coronavirus and the Boundary Waters: What Forest Service Says so far.

This is the information that was released by the Forest Service last week about the Superior National Forest and use during this time. We quote it here and list a link so you can read the complete article. As we get more information and updates we will update you as to any changes. Here’s the direct link to their page: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD719752

“DULUTH, MN – April 1, 2020 – The Superior National Forest has shut down restroom facilities at recreation sites across the national forest until further notice, however, trails and roads may be open for use depending on conditions. Rustic campgrounds and group sites will remain shut down until further notice. These shutdowns are to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public during the COVID-19 outbreak in accordance with guidance from federal and state authorities.”

Fee Campgrounds operated by concessionaires are currently closed for the season. However, as we work through this public health emergency the reopening of our campgrounds may be subject to change. Recreation information pertaining to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness will be released soon.

Again, you can read the rest here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/superior/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD719752

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Grabbin Slabs Trip Report by Eric Glasson

Trip Report: 4/5/2020 

This is the time of year that I briefly switch to chasing panfish on the ice, until there is no longer any safe ice to fish. Walleye/Northern pike/bass season closed way back at the end of February and my beloved lake and stream trout are off-limits as of the end of March, too. Of course, I could hang it up and wait for stream trout to open on April 18th, or just relax and wait for the official start of the season May 9th, but what better way to enjoy this early spring weather, get in some exercise and stock the freezer with delicious panfish to enjoy this summer? 

Poem: Under the Boughs

Under the boughs.

looking out over the woods and water
Under the boughs.

There's not another person on the trail,
no tracks on the pristine lake,
on the drive out of Ely
a black wolf crossed the road,
three days ago a pair of swans scooped low
out of the cornflower sky like clouds dropping,
the black on their feathers winking
just like the tail and ear tips of the diminutive ermine
we spooked off the trail twenty minutes ago. 

Behind us our tracks are beginning to shadow as the sun falls lower.
It feels good to inhale winter and wilderness,
to swallow up solitude in the last hours before Spring.

This place is so much more than a designation on a map,
it has a heartbeat as singular as our own fingerprint,
it has power to rejuvenate, to inspire,
to deliver passion and promise.

These are the tracks we pick up on the way out of the woods.

©Timothy James Stouffer All Rights ReservedEly, Minnesota 03/19/2020