Saturday, April 30, 2011

ICE OUT Ely Minnesota has OPEN WATER!

Yesterday (Friday) was a beautiful day and it was warm.  Haven't been able to say that for a while.  In the afternoon the wind began to pick up.  As the wind increased its velocity overnight Shagawa Lake succumbed to Spring - finally.  The official word on time that the ice went out will come in the Ely papers next week, but that is really of little concern, because we're free!

It is a much darker and grey day than yesterday, but that's o.k. too.


View of Shagawa Lake (NO ICE) from Grand Ely Lodge 2011

View of Shagawa Lake (NO ICE) from Grand Ely Lodge 2011

View of Shagawa Lake (NO ICE) from Grand Ely Lodge 2011

One of the cool things about Ely is that there are several web cams up.  Yesterday morning I looked at this one posted at Moose Lake.  The lake was full of rotted ice.  This morning... well look for yourself.

Ely, gateway to the Boundary Waters is ice free.  Later, we'll give you an update on Burntside Lake which usually holds onto its ice longer than other lakes around Ely.

**************************BURNTSIDE LAKE UPDATE********************
Burntside ice has moved away from shore and ice is blowing up on islands but the big bay is still mostly ice covered.  That would  indicate that the big lakes of the BWCAW and Quetico are still in the same shape.  Maybe it’ll go out this weekend with the wind and the shift to the NW soon.  Stay tuned for up to the minute reports.   ---  Steve Piragis

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Piragis Paddle Boarder Makes Maiden Voyage Despite Solid Precipitation

Oh, you know we had to do it.

These Stand Up Paddle Boards and Paddles just came via truck here to Ely.  One look and it was time to head to the river and open water.  If the loons can do it, so can we.  So, Steve Johnson donned a bright red lifevest (so we could see him through the snowstorm) and hit the water.

Now this isn't exactly a warm weather environment, but these stand up paddle boards are fantastic for fun and exercise.  They are great to use for photographers, yoga enthusiasts, sightseers and people who just love to paddle and exercise but get bored of doing it the same old way.

Fun is a key ingredient to just about everything you're going to enjoy, correct?  At Piragis, we like to have fun and we know our friends do to.  So this year we're going to sell boards and paddles.  If you want to place an advance order, call 1-800-223-6565 and ask for Steve Piragis.  The ink isn't even dry on the paperwork yet, but who cares, we'll get you a paddle and board and you can start having your own fun (hopefully somewhere warmer).

You know that in a couple of days, it'll be back in the high sixties here.  We're too anxious to get out and paddle to let a little ice pack and 4 or 5 inches of snow to stop us.

Until tomorrow, we'll see ya round the bend!

Tuesday dawned all white and fluffy. April 27, 2011

Well, we woke up to it again.  The white stuff.

Our first canoe rental client of the year showed up today from Arizona.  He is usually in town this time of year on other business.  Last year he got to take a great little solo trip in fabulous weather.  This year their was skim ice everywhere on the waters that were open last night.  The water is bitter cold.  It is just fine for camping out, which is what he decided to do.

The canoe stayed here.  Along with its friends on the racks, waiting nicer weather, open water and all of you folks.  Not quite ready for its maiden voyage of 2011.  Although some of the rivers and smaller lakes have had a few paddles wet on their waters already, the bulk of the lakes are still ice-bound as I write.

Mother's day is two weeks away and the following week is fishing opener on May 14th this year.  It is a great time to plan a trip to Ely on early water.  Permit availability is good at this time of year, the fish are hungry and everything looks new and fresh out there in the wilderness.  Wildlife activity is more noticeable before all the trees leaf out to their full potential.  Songbirds are prevalent.  It is a great time to do a trip because then you have all the excuses you need to come up again later on in the summer or even the fall.

For now, this is what it looks like just outside.  As we always say, it makes life interesting here in the Northwoods.  Trips are being planned, permits reserved, boats prepped.  Call us today and get your trips in order, remember if you have a large scout group or church group, we can do all the logistics for you.  Call 1-800-223-6565 today and ask us about our full outfitting options that include all the camping gear, canoes, paddles, lifevests and excellent food you'll need to make your trip a success.

Monday, April 25, 2011

When will the Ice Go OUT? Days? Weeks? Hours?

Who knows.  Some of the smaller, shallower lakes around the area are ice free.  Some of the larger ones with rivers flowing through them are open.  Shagawa Lake, here in town, Ely is our measuring stick for official ice out.  Since it is 63 degrees out right now, I went outside to get some pictures of Shagawa Lake and Miner's Lake.  It is always fun to try to pick the day or the hour of the day that the ice goes.
Shagawa Lake, Ely.  Public landing off Pioneer Drive

All it takes as these kind of days come our way to make the ice disappear is some rain or wind or a good combination of both.  You can see that much of the ice is black and "rotted".  Underneath it is riddled with honeycombed type pockets.  While it may be thick in many places, it has long ceased to be safe or predictable when it appears like this.

It looks to me like it'll be around for another week at least, but all that could change in just a matter of hours if we get a few more warm and rainy days.  As we've shared, the waterfowl have come to back to town and more Loons have been showing up daily.  Spring is in the air, even if winter is still holding on to our beloved waters.

Get ready for fishing opener, May 14!  If you're coming up to Ely and need a canoe or plan to use our outfitting services, give Bert or Drew a call!  1-800-223-6565.

Shagawa Lake view from Grand Ely Lodge

Shagawa Lake Ely

Shagawa Lake, Ely, large hole near center of lake.  Remains of ice road?

Shagawa Lake, Ely -- view from Semer's Park

Shagawa Lake Semer's Park view -- rotted ice further out.

Middle of Shagawa Lake, still pretty thick.

Beautiful clouds reflected in the water.  Public Landing view of Shagawa.
Miner's Lake view from the Trezona Trail, Ely, Minnesota

Cool Aquamarine color of Miner's Lake in Ely.  Getting Closer!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Loons are back in Ely

Saturday's snowstorm doesn't seem to have deterred the early spring and summer residents of Ely.  Steve Piragis took a hike over to the Kawishiwi Falls and captured some early arrivals.  The chill is less today than it was yesterday and I don't think we made any more ice last night.

We eagerly await the arrival of the common loons each year.  All seems to be right with the world when you can hear their cries overhead.  Open water finds waterfowl of all kinds, colors and shapes landing in Ely.  Whether they stay the summer or just layover for a spell, it is good to see them all.

First of 7 loons on Fall Lake below the falls waiting for more open water.
Kawishiwi Falls after spring snow on Monday

Old yellow birch on trail.  Old beaver chew.

Winton Hydro Power Station on the Kawishiwi at full capacity this month.

Falls roaring from below.

Common Merganser looking for landing spot.

Three male Common Mergansers on fish hunting mission.

Frozen vernal pool

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adventure Awaits.

I was going through an old file the other day and I ran across this little tidbit. I have no idea who wrote it and I don't remember where I got it (this seems to be happening a lot lately); but I liked it and can understand why I kept it.

It is not the magnitude of the adventure
we embark upon that matters,
but our own capacity for wonder
when we engage ourselves with the world.

What matters is not the details
of the individual adventures,
but that we continue to nuture
our adventuring spirit in a society
that rewards complacency
and endorses routine.

What is important is that
we remember above all that
the world holds adventure
in every moment for us;
We only need the courage
to make it our own.

Here at Piragis Northwoods we offer lots of opportunities for ADVENTURE. We want to help you expand your life and experiences. If you spend time on our website, or get our newsletter, or read our blog you most likely have your own adventures to talk about. We would love to hear about them, as we are all enriched by listening one another's stories. Perhaps you dream of creating an adventure...let us help you. So...take courage and give us a call...your adventure awaits.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Ever wonder just what Canoe Trip Outfitting is all about? Wish you had a brochure to share the Boundary Waters with a Friend?

How about if you could email it to someone? Or flip through it on an IPAD. What if Piragis Northwoods Company Canoe Trip Outfitting was at your fingertips or mouse clicks?

From Boundary Waters History to the price of a rental cookset per day, we've taken all the vital information and built it into a new electronic version of our Outfitting Brochure. It is accessible online and the link can be emailed to anyone and it will work the same as it recognizes the device they are viewing from.

It really gives new light and color to the fantastic original artwork created years ago for this fabulous brochure. As you know, we like to save as much paper as we can and are always looking for ways to get information out to the potential canoe trip client as quickly as we can... so how about instantly?!

We hope you enjoy it and find it useful. Share with friends who are interested in the Boundary Waters! Piragis Northwoods Company is lauded by many canoe trip clients whose praise we included in the brochure itself, so, for those so inclined, we come with references, and then some!

Thanks for supporting your favorite paddle shop. Ely, Minnesota is gearing up for another great season of canoe camping and fishing as we speak!


Our new FLIP PAGE electronic outfitting brochure is up online. Drag the page corners with your mouse (or finger on an ipad) and they turn. Send this link to your friends if any of them are interested in Boundary Waters trip and have never been. Thanks and enjoy!

What's the Deal with Bent Shaft Paddles?

The idea behind the design of the BENT SHAFT PADDLE is that the blade of the paddle stays perpendicular to the water longer than a straight shaft does. This is true through the entire paddle stroke.

Paddling with a blade that is less than perpendicular to the surface of the water causes you to slip. This immediately strips power from your stroke. It is true that an experienced and well-trained paddler can maintain a perpendicular stroke with a straight shaft paddle, however most paddlers do not have the experience to do this. The solution: Let the paddle do most of the work for you! Pick up a straight shaft paddle and do a sample stroke with it. At best, you'll see the blade remains perpendicular for about a quarter of the stroke (that means you're wasting 75% of your stroke, or worse, actually slowing yourself down).

Try the same sample stroke with the BENT SHAFT. It remains perpendicular for the whole stroke. Try this while sitting on a garden bench or coffee table. You'll see right away the benefits of doing less work with each stroke: you use less energy, which means you can go farther and recover faster! Straight shaft paddles have many advantages in whitewater situations and for freestyle paddling, but for flatwater canoe tripping, the BENT SHAFT is the workhorse that will make your trip more enjoyable!

Cliff Jacobson says this in his Book Expedition Canoeing "If you want to go fast and maximize your energy flow, get a bent-shaft paddle. There's hardly an accomplished canoeist today who doesn't own at least one.

Straight paddles waste energy because they lift water at the end of the stroke and slow the canoe. Bent paddles push water almost straight back and convert nearly all the thrust to energy. Bent blades are easier on your body, too: Users often report that they no longer get "paddler's elbow" (tennis elbow) and "sleeping hand" (tingling fingers) after long hours afloat once they switch to bent blades.

The lighter the paddle, the better. Even an ounce or two makes a big difference over the long haul. Good wooden paddles weigh eighteen to twenty-four ounces-- half a pound lighter than most hardware-store sticks. If you think that's light, check out the ultralight graphite blades that weigh eight to fourteen ounces."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Guided Smallmouth Bass Fishing Trips fill up with Clients and Fish in June. RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY!

Each year we average two full groups into the Boundary Waters for our Guided Smallmouth Bass Fishing trips. Guides Steve Johnson and Aaron Chick both take along assistant guides and hit the Bronzebacks hard. Great fun is always had by all along with good food and excellent campsites.  What else can we say? (oh the occasional walleyes bite hard too!) To find out more about this week long adventure with the fish and the fish and more fantastic fishing, call us today.
Get to the Boundary Waters when the Bite is On!  You'll never experience anything like it!

We know the holes, we know where the beds are, we know the baits and flies that out perform the others.  We know the best campsites.  We pack the best gear and THE BEST FOOD.  You show up in Ely with your fishing gear, personal gear and we do the rest!  Our guided Group trips are a great way to get into the wilderness with a fully outfitted trip and a Guide. It is also a fun way to meet new people who enjoy the same things you do.

Call Drew or Bert today, 1-800-223-6565 to sign up for our 2011 Guided Smallmouth Adventure or other Guided Trips!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Patience, Patience, Patience

We have all heard and used the old adage that patience is a virtue. Well, this time of year it is hard to be virtuous. I don't want to be patient. I want to paddle my canoe and I want it to be warmer than 27 degrees. I don't want to look in the woods and see white; I want to see green. I want to look across a lake and see the sun reflecting off blue water, not an unending expanse of white. Normally, I am not in a hurry for the seasons to change; they come at a pleasant pace here in Minnesota, except for the transition between winter and full blown spring; but I am really anxious for winter to be over here in Ely. Last night Diane shared a part of a poem by Robert Frost (bad choice of names f0r the mood I am in) that she found yesterday. It made me realize that I am not the first to lament the slow pace of Spring's arrival. The sun was warm but the wind was chill. You know how it is with an April day When the sun is out and the wind is still, You're one month on in the middle of May. But if you so much as dare to speak, A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, A wind comes off a frozen peak, And you're two months back in the middle of March. Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time" Well, we are two months back in the middle of March. Yesterday I awoke to 2 inches of that white stuff on the ground, and the sky spit snow most of the day with a cold wind out of the northwest. As I look out my window today the sky is clear and it might get up to the high 30's and low 40's, so the remaining snow pack will continue to get smaller. Ok...I will be patient. I will savor this day for what it brings. I will not try to rush my life that seems to be moving at a breakneck pace toward that inevitable end. I will strive to be kind to those that I meet today. I will be virtuous, by being patient; at least until tomorrow when it is supposed to bring a mix of snow and rain. See you on the water...eventually. ...Bert Heep