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    Custom Cabins February 2017 eNews

     

    One hour and thirty-seven minutes-at first glance, this amount of time may not appear very consequential. A car ride of this length is certainly manageable. Many of us spend at least this much time exploring the depths of the internet, but when talking about the amount of daylight we gained in the entire month of February, an hour and thirty-seven minutes is a glorious triumph over darkness. The small skiffs of snow that we would begrudgingly shovel or sweep aside during the months of December and January now wither away untouched in the extended and more powerful hours of daylight. By the end of February, residents of Ely, MN and visitors to the BWCA are able to squeeze much more activity out of the days.

    Dogsledders and dogs alike enjoy the added hours of evening light..

     

    With the additional daylight hours, the forest starts to come to life. Even at this stage of winter, some migrating birds begin to return to the area while others stop by on their long trip to the far north. Ravens and crows have begun mating rituals-behavior often exhibited through stunning aerobatic displays or play upon the surface of frozen lakes.

    Repeated imprints left by one of Ely's year round residents, Corvus corax, as he or she hopped through the windblown snow.

     

    Another one of Minnesota's well known inhabitants visitors frequently see at the International Wolf Center begins to grow more active with the lengthening days. This individual was seen near the Kawishiwi Triangle and was quite interested in observing our car for some time.

    A timberwolf, Canus lupus, stands watching after a fresh snowfall.

     

    The lengthening days didn't come without some consequence, though. Much like the warm up we experienced in January, the thaw and subsequent rain that followed in February took a major toll on our snowpack. With nearly an inch of rain falling throughout several days of temperatures in the mid 50's, the snow accumulation on the lakes melted, leaving us with several inches of standing water. Thankfully this wet and sloppy condition only was temporary, as the water eventually drained through cracks in the buoyant ice.

    A winter's worth of snow stands puddled on White Iron Lake. Looking closely, you can see the remaining imprint of dogsled and snowmobile runners just beneath the water's surface. This condition lasted less than 24 hours.

     

    Just as Elyites were donning flip flops and zinc oxide lotion, winter returned with a subtle nudge to remind us we're not out of the woods yet. Temperatures dropped to the single digits or lower, some new snow fell, and the lakes hardened to a point where traveling about in a vehicle of any size brought about no question of safety. Fishing holes that offered access only by snowmobile because of deep snow could now be reached by car or large truck.

    Minnesota is known as the walleye, bass, northern pike, etc. capital, but one fish that doesn't receive much fan fare is the eel pout. Somewhat akin to an eel but also sharing a slight resemblance to a fish, the eel pout is not often directly sought by anglers, except during one particular weekend every February on Leech Lake. The International Eel Pout Festival is festival, spectacle, and competition all rolled into one. Thousands of anglers descend upon Leech Lake every year seeking a fish that often bites after dark-quite convenient for socialization...

    Crowds often as much as 10 times the population of nearby Walker, MN (pop. 1,069) join together to celebrate the eel pout.

     

    With the warm weather and longer days, we took the opportunity to enjoy the friendly skies over Minnesota. Enjoying the vastness of our lakes and forests from the air is stunning, but much more so with a good companion and attentive co-pilot.

     

    Recent trips to the twin ports of Duluth and Superior for some recurrent training have allowed us to witness the effects of the freezing and thawing upon our country's largest fresh water port and the surrounding river systems. The warm weather brought on tremendous amounts of melt water, causing rivers such as the St. Louis and Black Rivers to rise by several feet. Subsequent cold weather froze the river surfaces, and as the water levels declined, the rivers were left with hollow shells that have slowly broken apart in large flakes.

    The Duluth Harbor sports a fresh coat of ice following the February thaw-fresh snow blown by strong a east wind leaves patterns akin to M.C. Escher's tessellations on the ice. The St. Louis River flows into the harbor at the top of the photo.

     

    With the lengthening days we have started to turn our thoughts towards the upcoming resort season. If you've not contacted us about your Summer 2017 getaway, it's never too late to arrange that week or weekend in the great north woods. From all of us here at Custom Cabin Rentals, we hope you enjoy the rest of the winter, and we look forward to seeing you in the warmer and more sunlit months ahead.