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  • February 2011
    from www.CustomCabins.com
    14663 Vosburgh Rd. Ely, Minnesota 55731
    email: info@customcabins.com


    Ely: How far would you travel to see it in the winter?

    For most travelers, the arrowhead of northern Minnesota isn't the first place you would consider as an ideal vacation destination in the first few weeks of the New Year. Plagued by cold, high winds, and heavy snow, this freshest part of January finds many northlanders seeking the refuge of warmer climes with more potent sunshine and bodies of water in their liquid form.

    Somehow, though, through the powers of persuasion and the questionable reasoning of one Los Angeles resident, the trip to Ely was made for a high adventure three night camping trip to the U.S./Canada border on the Boundary Waters' own Knife Lake.


    Duluth International Airport (KDLH), in early January. Note: During winter operations salt is not used on runways, but instead sand that is stored in heated storage facilities. Does the view look familiar? NOAA reported the actual temp as -11 at this time.

    Prior trips found us skiing to our destination with the gear towed behind us using a pulk sled while we skied. This year, with the extended stay and the distance to Knife Lake we opted to have our gear transported into the Boundary Waters by dogsled while we skied the 13 odd miles to our destination just shy of Robins Island—roughly a 20 minute walk from the Canadian Border.

    Temperatures for the trip weren't unusual for this part of January, but quite unusual for a resident of Los Angeles. The vast majority of the trip was spent well below zero, but the exact extent it is somewhat unknown; the thermometer that we carried with us only reached -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

    In spite of the snow and cold temperatures we were still able to do plenty of fishing. Unlike the deep trolling and jigging methods of the summertime, we drilled holes and set our lines anywhere between 30 and 35 feet of water to work along the edge of one of Knife Lake's deepest holes. According to the NOAA weather reports the coldest morning temperatures were between -29 and -27 degrees Fahrenheit—this also happened to be the time when we caught the majority of our fish that we were to bring home.


    The "Bottomed Out Bulb" of our Coleman thermometer and one of the lake trout caught off Robins Island. Note the white tube bait and Canada in the background.

    Along with a guest from Los Angeles, another new addition to this year's trip joined us in the form of our lodging. A new 12 by 16 foot wall tent, complete with wood stove, made the trek to the border lake and kept six people comfortably warm on even the coldest nights. With the use of sealable boil bags and the wood stove we packed in a variety of gourmet meals ranging from grouse tortellini soup to authentic gumbo. That, along with the freshly baked bread, we enjoyed one of the most comfortable camping trips that the Ely area can provide in early January—one that even left a smile on the face of our west coast companion at the end of the trip.

    Custom Cabin Rentals
    14663 Vosburgh Rd.
    Ely, Minnesota 55731
    218-365-6947 or 1-800-235-6947