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    Custom Cabins February 2016 eNews



    The Ely area boasts some of the finest stands of old growth forests in northern Minnesota. Numerous sections of forest have remained generally untouched by logging, fire, and weather, allowing trees to grow tall and create the colossal skylines that make our sunrises and sunsets so unique. As a section of forest matures, a series of differing species will cycle through life and death until a final mature species will out-compete others and become old growth timber. White pine and red pine, Pinus strobus and Pinus resinosa, are two of the main species that dominate a swath of mature forest. 



    A mature stand of White Pine in the Kawishiwi Pines Scientific and Natural Area. The tall, well-developed canopy of branches blocks much of the sunlight from reaching the ground and thereby slowing the growth of competing species. Note the out-competed and aging popple tree at the photo's center.



    The Ely area has plenty to brag about, but rich deep soil is one feature we lack. Much in part due to the movement of the glaciers during the last "cold spell," the majority of northern Minnesota's rich soil now resides in the southern part of our state. Because of this, the trees that grow here are well adapted to the rocky, sandy, gravelly soil of the high ground or the wet, swampy, loamy soil of the low ground. While white pine and red pine most often dominate the higher terrain, trees such as tamarack, Larix laricina, black spruce, Picea mariana, or any number of the varieties of cedar found here grow especially well in our swamps. 


    A barren tamarack swamp: tamarack is one of a few deciduous conifers-meaning that it is a tree with needles and cones, but one that drops its leaves (needles) every fall like a deciduous tree.



    The winters in Ely are long. With snowfall often beginning before Thanksgiving and discernable spring not appearing until mid to late April, locals face the daunting prospect of entertaining themselves until the trees again begin to bud and the walleyes swim without a translucent roof over their home. Many of us find comfort in the outdoors, and some of us are lucky to continue making a living in the wilderness we call our backyard.


    Gator and Donna: ready for work at -5 degrees Fahrenheit.



    Although more accustomed to the warmer months working around the resort and docks, one of our employees from last summer was able to find a part time gig moonlighting as a sled dog. The conditions were tough at times, but the active lifestyle has helped maintain her beach body. 


    A "freight run" to keep all the new friends and coworkers well hydrated.



    Although our winter came on rather slowly, we've enjoyed ample snow accumulation and a few healthy doses of cold temperatures-just enough to make us really appreciate the sunny warm days. The cold temperatures that dominate the upper and lower atmosphere make for some spectacular sky views.


    Early morning sun over the BWCAW.


    The photo above, taken on a very cold February morning, shows the start of what many refer to as sun dogs, or parhelia. Visible here is the 22 degree halo, a refraction of light through icy cirrus clouds in our upper atmosphere, while the start of a sun dog can be seen at about the 8 or 9 o'clock position relative to the sun.




    While we certainly don't have to devote time to mowing our lawns or watering our gardens during the winter months, we do still have yard chores in the form of shoveling. Many people in the Ely area take their shoveling quite seriously, and the labor can begin to take on a sense of artistry. Snow sculptures are ephemeral art-an artist toils to create a masterpiece that will eventually disappear. Shoveling is ephemeral work-a shoveler sweats to finish a job that Mother Nature will eventually take care of completely in the spring. Still, the mail must go through, so we shovel on...


    The path to Inspiration Point overlooking Moose Lake...and the propane tank.



    With every passing month our thoughts turn more towards the coming resort season. If you're anything like us, you're starting to have those pesky, recurrent dreams of bright-eyed walleyes, whopper smallmouth bass, astoundingly strong northern pike, and forgetting to bring two new light bulbs to the nice folks in Cabin #2...if you're having dreams about the light bulbs, call us-we might have a job for you. 


    We still have some openings for 2016, so please contact us to start planning your summer getaway. 

    Sunrise through the white pines.