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    March 2014
    from www.CustomCabins.com
    14663 Vosburgh Rd. Ely, Minnesota 55731
    email: info@customcabins.com


    The 2012 March brought Ely, Minnesota a wave of warm weather that caused one of the earliest ice-outs in memory and dropped our snow levels to a "bare" minimum. The winter of 2013 lasted so long we experienced one of our latest ice-out dates—May 15th. The Minnesota fishing opener was "hard" in many respects.

    The winter of 2014 has followed suit of '13 and pleased anyone in Ely who loves winter more than they really care to admit. With our continued cold temperatures and steady snowfall, excellent conditions for outdoor activities have continued through late March and should continue well into April.

    Most winters the dockboys of Custom Cabin Rentals make a trip into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for a new years vacation with sled dogs. Since the ice and slush conditions made traveling any long distances difficult in January, we had to settle for a late season trip without the sled dogs—we had to travel on foot.

    The Fernberg trail, the road leaving Ely to our resort, is peppered with numerous lakes open for late season trout fishing after the walleye, northern pike, and bass seasons have closed. Several of these lakes have their own boat launches, while others are only an hour hike from the road.

    The snow and ice that come with our winters allow access to areas that are difficult or impossible to travel in summer months. The term "winter roads" is used to describe old logging roads or trails that are only passable during the winter months when swamps and bogs are frozen solid. The photo below shows a swamp that most people never see during the summer months on account of the soggy landscape. Our state bird, the mosquito, probably wouldn't let a visitor stand around long, either.

    Without the luxury of having sled dogs haul our comfortable wall tent and wood stove, we had to rely on a much more primitive means of shelter to handle the minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit predicted for our Saturday in the woods. A quinzee, a close relative to an igloo, requires nothing more than a large amount of snow and time.

    To begin, we piled a large mound of snow, roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, and packed the pile as tightly as we could with snowshoes and our shovels. The second step required that we go fishing. Well, the fishing wasn't entirely necessary, but the pile needs time to settle and harden before digging out, and the afternoon was beautiful.

    After about four hours, the pile of snow had settled enough to begin carving out a nook large enough for the three of us, four counting the dog, to spend a cozy Saturday night.

    Using scoop shovels and pot lids from the cook kit, the space was ready in about an hour, but before we settled in we prepared the inside for some added warmth. By laying down tarps and solid foam sleeping pads, the icy floor of the lake posed no threat to good night's sleep. Having a small furry friend doesn't hurt, either.

    With some specialty winter sleeping bags and some heavy long underwear, a night spent at -20 was actually a pleasant experience. By closing off the entryway with a tarp, the temperature inside the quinzee stayed between 10 and 15 degrees—a far more tolerable temperature than the night outside.

    The days here in Ely have finally grown noticeably longer, and we begin to turn our thoughts to a time of year when hunting for walleyes won't require strapping on snowshoes or harnessing a dog team. Though the warm summer afternoons seem a long way off, it's never too early for planning your vacation to Ely. Give us a call to help you organize a summer getaway, and we'll be happy to tell you about all the great things you missed this winter.

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