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    Custom Cabins February 2018 eNews

     

     

    A total of 27.4 inches of snow, an average high temperature of 13F and an average low of -18F-this might sound like a typical February weather summary for Siberia or the North Pole, but for those of us in Ely, MN, this was our past month. While the month's first half had us reeling from the consistently low temperatures, the second half of February came along with noticeably longer days and considerably higher snowfalls. All that snow is put to good use, though...here are a few of the diversions locals use to fight off strong bouts of cabin fever.

     

    A "keeper" breaches in the sunlight in Whiteside Park

    The Ely Winter Festival was back in full force in early February. Activities such as a cross-country skiing and mountain biking duathlon, a race where the first leg of the race is on skis and the second is on wheels, and attractions such as the Ely Art Walk provided diversions for all sorts of visitors, especially with the colder temperatures.  The first annual ski and bike duathlon was a great success, and numerous local businesses provided their prominent storefronts to display the work of artists with ties to the Ely area-a total of 400 different pieces were displayed this year.

     

    The artistic focal point of this year's Ely Winter Festival was again the snow sculptures in Whiteside Park. An ample supply of clean and consistently granulated snow made for excellent snow blocks for artists, and the cold temperatures and minimal snowfall left the pieces in great shape long after the festival's end.

     

    Sundogs at sunrise over Lake Superior

    The cold temperatures of February also brought us the opportunity to see some fantastic meteorological phenomena. Parhelion, commonly referred to as sundogs, are bright spots that form on the left or right of our sun and are caused by the refraction of sunlight through ice crystals in the atmosphere.

    Thankfully, the stretch of cold came to an end, but only to be replaced by a stretch of precipitation, followed by another stretch of precipitation...right up to the end of the month. Shoveling may at first seem a great way to get outdoors for some fresh air and exercise, but after the second or third double-digit snowfall, a person starts to wonder whether those new tires and four wheel drive will be enough to get up the driveway until spring without shoveling again.

     

    Dock Dog Donna peers over the massive snow banks near our main landing.

    "One-Lane Traffic" on the path to Inspiration Point

    All this snow does come with a few benefits. Besides hiding all those things in the front yard that weren't put away before winter or making you wish you had bought new snow tires before the season started, the snow turns all our lakes and fields into some of the softest runways available.

     

    Pacer 2DN rests in knee-deep snow atop skis slightly larger than the snowshoes pictured.

    As fall begins its inevitable slide towards spring, floatplanes in northern Minnesota either go into hibernation, head south to where the lakes and rivers never freeze, trade their floats for wheels, or in some cases, swap their wheels for a pair of skis.

    Ski flying allows wintertime access to lakes and regions normally only accessible by floatplane. The wheels are completely removed from the axel, the brakes are disconnected, and skis roughly the size of ironing boards are installed to provide flotation and directional control in even the deepest snow. Landing in deep snow is almost like falling on a waterbed or sitting on a big bag of marshmallows. Little mistakes or misalignments on landing that would normally be quite noticeable on pavement are absorbed by the snow, making almost every touchdown silky smooth.

     

    Although she isn't that tall, Donna provides some reference for snow depth on Moose Lake.

    Our progressively longer days have us looking forward to spring lake trout fishing, cross country skiing on the frozen lakes, and eventually the big spring thaw that will welcome another season of fishing. If you've not yet booked your Ely summertime getaway, it's not too late to get the ball rolling on a northwoods vacation. Get out and enjoy these beautiful spring days, and we look forward to seeing you when the snow is gone.