BWCA Trip Report - Winter Camping, Shell Lake Boundary Waters Trip Reports
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01/31/2011 01:53PM   (Thread Older Than 3 Years)
New Trip Report posted by UncleMoose

Trip Name: Winter Camping, Shell Lake.

Entry Point: 14

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distinguished member(1008)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
01/31/2011 02:45PM  
Great report. Fantastic pictures. Thanks for sharing..
01/31/2011 03:21PM  
Fabulous! Even moreso since I've been to Shell Lake, albeit in summer. How cool to see it in winter. I don't think I'm quite cut out for winter camping, so I really appreciate your marvelous pictures. In winter, I sometimes amuse myself with daydreams of what a past campsite I've stayed at looks like with it's winter clothes on...and now, for one place that I've been, I know.
01/31/2011 04:22PM  
Great report! Looks like you had a great trip.
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01/31/2011 05:41PM  
awesome pictures, looks like a great time
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01/31/2011 06:59PM  
Nice report UncleMoose, thanks for sharing.
Just got a set of Dans Mukluks, did you use them on the trip?
01/31/2011 07:49PM  
Thanks, Cedarboy. Yes, in fact, all five members of the group used CCS mukluks when we weren't in our ski boots. Warm and toasty!
02/01/2011 05:21AM  
Nice report & great pictures!
distinguished member(2152)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/01/2011 05:54AM  
Great report and photos!
02/01/2011 07:51AM  
Awesome Report, Awesome Pictures! Thanks for sharing. Where did you get your tent? I searched online and could not find one like it.
distinguished member(1866)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/01/2011 09:34AM  
UncleMoose - Thank you for posting a great trip report! The large photos with the ability to click to the higher resolution versions and zoom in on details is great!

It is almost like being along on the trip viewing the photos and reading the captions. You did a great job capturing images in less than ideal conditions. The colors are really vivid against the snow.

Is the camera working OK now that it has thawed out? Was it a battery problem when it failed on the last day or something else? There was a thread dealing with cold weather use of DSLR cameras recently.

It is great to see variety of equipment in use especially the skis and the stove in the tent.

Thanks again.
02/01/2011 10:49AM  
RT, the tent is a "home brew" one made by Dan Cooke (Cooke Custom Sewing). I believe it's currently a one of a kind. Perhaps it could be considered a prototype. It worked great and is very light as compared to a canvas tent. Dan could give you more of the details.

Zulu, the camera is fine now. Both Dan and I had DSLRs that locked up due to the cold that night. Replacing with a warm/fresh battery didn't help in my case. I think the main problem was moving the camera from the warmth and humidity of the tent to outside overnight - the difference was so extreme. I'm not sure what exactly happened to my camera, but the shutter my have stuck. After trying it that morning and seeing it act funny, I just shut it down and didn't mess with it until I got home. Ordinarily, I think the camera should still work at those extreme temps, but I did not care for it as well as I should have. Moving it so quickly in and out of the warm tent was probably unwise.
02/01/2011 11:04AM  
Awesome pics! Was curious if you slept with a bottle of warm water in your bag? And what if you needed a potty break at night? Yikes!

Thanks for posting!

02/01/2011 11:09AM  
We did sleep with water bottles at night, primarily so we'd have liquid water to start with in the morning. Sometimes that water would be a little warm if it had come off the stove recently enough. We did not keep the stove going overnight, though, so I think we were mostly trying to keep the water from freezing rather than the other way around.

I made a point of not drinking too much before bed and was fortunate to not have to venture out until morning. Not all in our party were so fortunate, especially on that extra cold last night. One in the party froze skin on a finger from the tent zipper just getting out.

Then again, it was because of someone answering the call the previous night that we were awake to hear the wolves, so it can have side benefits.
02/02/2011 10:22AM  
Excellent report and wonderful pictures! Thanks!!!
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02/02/2011 01:38PM  
Great Report Tom! It was a pleasure meeting and tripping with you (and good to have another rookie in the bunch) I know I still owe you some photos....I'll try and get to it soon.

Thanks again for sharing and hopefully we can find time to trip together again one of these days.

Are you going in for round two in a couple weeks?
distinguished member(1306)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/02/2011 04:53PM  
Cool report. Glad you shared it with us.

That tent/tepee looked pretty awesome. I don't have much experience with winter shelters, but that looked like a nice set-up. If it is a prototype, I would be glad to test it out and give it a review. ;-)

You didn't mention any fishing on your report, so I assume that your group did not do any. Any word from the Midwest Mountaineering group though?

I'm also curious how you set up your report photo essay style. I would like to do my next report in a somewhat similar fashion. Care to elaborate?
02/02/2011 10:32PM  
Hey, Mark! It was great doing this trip together and getting to know you also. It'd be fun to do a soft water trip too sometime. Yep, round two is scheduled to begin next Thursday - Clearwater Lake over on the Gunflint. It looks like we'll have some dogs to help us move gear this time (at least one way).

Thanks for the nice comments, Bear. Our primary fishermen for this trip couldn't make it at the last minute due to family matters, so we shelved the fishing this time. We really only had one day when we weren't traveling, so we wouldn't have gotten much in anyway. I believe the Midwest Mountaineering group were catching walleye and northern on Shell when they fished. They had different folks there at different times throughout a couple of week period, and I don't know how many were fishing.

The key to the report was to write some basic HTML that embedded the larger thumbnail along with a link to the full sized image. It's kind of tedious, but if you know how to use the <img> and <a> tags in HTML, you'll be on the right track. I have my images stored on a personal web server as well as here on My report actually links to the photos on my personal website, but you could also use a link to the ones stored here at or on another service like PhotoBucket. Hope that helps.
distinguished member (248)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/03/2011 07:12AM  
What a great trip!! I cant wait to do some winter camping up there. To bad about the slush, that slows a person down.. Thanks for sharing and very nice photos!!
02/12/2011 11:06PM  
Wow, great trip report, especially the pictures! If you have a chance, I'd love to read any tips you have using your SLR camera in the winter (I just bought one recently and will be brining it up to the BWCA this week). I have not shot in snow, so I need to research the proper settings.

I had a similar polk system and found it to be more of a hindrance than anything. I think it works best when bush wacking and hills. Crossing lakes the majority of the time means tracking is not very important.

The hardware I used on the aluminum poles has broken several times (in part due to sub zero temps) and it seems to be more of a pain than it is worth. Sometimes the most simple systems are the best (in my case a rope:)

distinguished member(1306)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
02/13/2011 04:44AM  
Thanks Unclemoose. I am familiar with html code, so I should be able to figure it out for my next trip report. I'll probably just upload them to and then link to them in my trip report. The layout is just so much nicer that way and eye catching.
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02/13/2011 04:52AM  

SLR info: Bring spare batteries and keep them warm next to your body. Try to keep your camera warm by insulating your camera case and tossing hand warmers in there (this should improve the functionality of your camera if it is really cold), avoid condensation the best you possibly can, set your camera to ev +2 for most snowy scenes (this is to make snow appear white instead of grey, if you meter off of the snow your camera will automatically assume you are pointing it at something that is 18 percent grey and it will make your photographs dark if you don't dial in the exposure compensation to +2 or so).

Hope that helps some.
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