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      Winter camp and fish on wine lake     

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Tim.bear
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10/04/2015 12:58AM
I'm planning on taking a winter camp and fish trip up to the BWCA. Going with a buddy or two. We have some winter camping experience. Never more than one night though. We're going to be targeting lakers for the most part. Wine lake looks pretty promising. Just wondering if this is more of a trek in than we can handle? Has anybody on here done this? Just looking for some advice.
 
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Pinetree
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10/04/2015 09:20AM
My nephew was there years ago.
Much of winter travel has to do with what type of winter we have that year,how much snow and time of year you are going.

If you are the first one in there and have to break trail in 3 feet of snow the answer is yes,unless you are in great shape.
Deep snow conditions breaking trail,maybe average 1 mile per hour.

Winter travel has so many variables,also your equipment used fro travel and pulling your load.

Never winter camped before,try something closer to a road access the first time.

Wine is a nice wild area and does get some winter use.
Gadfly
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10/05/2015 12:02PM
I have made this trip before and it took a day and a half to get there. We had to break trail from the middle of Kelso on. The portage from Lejunda to Zenith can be very difficult if you have to break trail through 2 feet of snow. The fishing was decent and the way back only took us a day but I don't think I would go back again unless I knew a trail had been broken.
Tim.bear
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10/05/2015 12:10PM
Wow! Did you start at sawbill access? I wasn't expecting it to take that long to get in and out. We were planning on only a two to three night camp. Might have to plan on going to a different lake. Maybe Ram lake? I would like to get on a lake with with a chance of some decent sized lake trout. Quality over quantity. Any suggestions?
Pinetree
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10/05/2015 12:32PM
quote Tim.bear: "Wow! Did you start at sawbill access? I wasn't expecting it to take that long to get in and out. We were planning on only a two to three night camp. Might have to plan on going to a different lake. Maybe Ram lake? I would like to get on a lake with with a chance of some decent sized lake trout. Quality over quantity. Any suggestions?"

Ram lake,depending on logging activity the road going there will not be plowed.
SevenofNine
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10/05/2015 02:01PM
You could try Tuscarora for lake trout. Round lake to Missing Link lake then the long portage from Missing link to Tuscarora but a few people do it. I hiked the portage after someone blazed a trail so it was easy to do in winter at that time.
WhiteWolf
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10/05/2015 07:19PM
Thomas. Usually there is a dog sled track in from Snowbank.
Gadfly
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10/06/2015 11:28AM
quote Tim.bear: "Wow! Did you start at sawbill access? I wasn't expecting it to take that long to get in and out. We were planning on only a two to three night camp. Might have to plan on going to a different lake. Maybe Ram lake? I would like to get on a lake with with a chance of some decent sized lake trout. Quality over quantity. Any suggestions?"
Yes we started at Sawbill. We started out around 9:30 and we were to the 460 rod portage to Zenith by noon but breaking trail through 2 feet of snow up and down hills was not easy and we decided to call it a day after getting halfway through in two hours. The way back was much easier since we had our own broken path to take back. If we had a broken trail to travel in on there is no doubt we would have made it in one day as it only took us about 6 hours to get out. From the Sawbill access to Wine lake it's somewhere between 7.5 & 8 miles of actual walking distance. I know people have day tripped out there to fish but they were towing small sleds with minimal gear. The main problem is that you just don't know what the conditions will be like. We ran into some good slush on Frederick which slowed us down a bit as well. I have heard people take sled dogs back there but there was no evidence of that when we went in late January.
Gadfly
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10/06/2015 12:05PM
A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there.
Pinetree
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10/06/2015 12:25PM
quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "

Thomas a good part of one day with packed trails. Done many times.
Many options available.
Tim.bear
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10/06/2015 09:06PM
quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "

Yeah it all kinda depends on what kinda winter we have. I was thinking Clearwater might be good. It would be nice to have the option to go to Gogebic lake from there for some brooke trout too! West pike looks like it has a nice lake trout population also. I've been doing some research on the dnr fisheries survey for lakes in the BWCA. I would really like to get to Hanson or Ester lake area but it so deep in the boundary waters it would take a week to get in and out lol! I'm planning on staying in my popup fish house on the lake while I'm out there. Thanks for all the info everybody! Very helpful!
Pinetree
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10/06/2015 09:28PM
quote Tim.bear: "quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "


Yeah it all kinda depends on what kinda winter we have. I was thinking Clearwater might be good. It would be nice to have the option to go to Gogebic lake from there for some brooke trout too! West pike looks like it has a nice lake trout population also. I've been doing some research on the dnr fisheries survey for lakes in the BWCA. I would really like to get to Hanson or Ester lake area but it so deep in the boundary waters it would take a week to get in and out lol! I'm planning on staying in my popup fish house on the lake while I'm out there. Thanks for all the info everybody! Very helpful!"


Been ten years but good conditions we made Hanson in one day.
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10/06/2015 10:05PM
Snowshoeing? Where did you start? Saganaga?
Gadfly
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10/07/2015 11:25AM


Been ten years but good conditions we made Hanson in one day."

I would be curious to hear the route taken for this. Unless there are winter trails I am unaware of this had to be close to 20 miles including some tough portages.
Pinetree
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10/07/2015 11:59AM
quote Gadfly: "


Been ten years but good conditions we made Hanson in one day."



I would be curious to hear the route taken for this. Unless there are winter trails I am unaware of this had to be close to 20 miles including some tough portages. "

We did it a couple of times. Both times we went from Sag-Ottertrack-Ester-Hanson.

These were trips in late March when you had a hard pack trail on the lakes or snow was hard. Usually toward Ottertrack there would be sled dog trail to follow.

We did break trail from Ottertrack to Ester.
If lake conditions were not good it would be a long haul,usually up to American point or U.S. point there is quite a bit of travel. Were talking 12 hours of daylight than and we would at least make it to Ester with a hour to spare and I know one year we made it to Hansen before dark by a few hours.
Gadfly
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10/08/2015 07:52AM
That's impressive, I have only been on one trip where we had packed path for most of the way and even then we got six inches of snow while we were so we had a hard time staying on the packed section because it was so hard to see.
I'd be curious to know if you have ever made it up to lac la croix. There are a couple of places I would love fish in the winter up that way but I wouldn't know the route to take and would be worried about running into bad conditions.
Pinetree
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10/08/2015 08:28AM
Been as far north as Canadian Agnes camping but not lac la Croix. I think much of the Canadian side of lac la croix would be snowmoble packed.

AmarilloJim
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10/08/2015 03:30PM
How about Dunn? Too many people?
10/09/2015 11:18AM
Went up to Dunn last year. We had a really tough time (it was dark) finding the portage from East Otter so we camped there. In the morning a pack of snowmobiles showed up on our doorstep (we were still technically outside the BWCA at that point). They pulled sleds by hand over to Dunn. Pretty gnarly trail-glad we weren't pulling 11' toboggans! I was surprised by how many people followed us up to Dunn (this was the coldest weekend of the year).

As someone who has been doing this for (only) a few years, is relatively young (36) and bikes and runs a bit I would caution you about commiting to such a long haul. Lots of lake trout to be caught in much closer proximity to roads. Its fun to have a lake to yourself but there's plenty of solitude to be found even on entry point lakes in the winter. Breaking trail can be brutal and the days are short which doesn't leave a lot of time for fishing if you really want to push deep into the bush. If you pick the right EP and conditions are good you can always push further. My 2 cents.
hubben
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10/16/2015 09:47PM
quote Tim.bear: "quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "


Yeah it all kinda depends on what kinda winter we have. I was thinking Clearwater might be good. It would be nice to have the option to go to Gogebic lake from there for some brooke trout too! West pike looks like it has a nice lake trout population also. I've been doing some research on the dnr fisheries survey for lakes in the BWCA. I would really like to get to Hanson or Ester lake area but it so deep in the boundary waters it would take a week to get in and out lol! I'm planning on staying in my popup fish house on the lake while I'm out there. Thanks for all the info everybody! Very helpful!"


Greetings, Tim:
Just a heads-up for you: I would caution against the "staying in a popup fish house" idea. I assume your fish-house floor doubles as a sort of polyethylene sled which you use to haul it around. It is critical, for ease of travel in deep winter snow in the BWCA, that whatever you are pulling behind you (sled, pulk, toboggan, fish-house) fit well in the track you have created with your snowshoes or skis. Trails blazed in the snow with snowshoes/skis don't accommodate sleds more than 16-18 inches wide. I'm quite sure your fish house base is wider than that, and you'll find it immensely difficult to pull behind you for any considerable distance. Physics (and experience) tells me that whatever you pull behind you up there pulls best if it is narrow and long; the less square it is, the better. I made three HDPE sleds 16" wide and 8 feet long for our winter camping crew last year; one member of our crew brought and initially used one of the popular ice-fishing gear sleds (made by Otter, I believe) as it would accommodate more gear. Despite being as fit as a Navy Seal, he abandoned his sled and opted for the HDPE one I made for him after the first mile of our trek and noticed a vast improvement in ease of pull.
Pinetree
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10/16/2015 10:06PM
quote hubben: "quote Tim.bear: "quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "



Yeah it all kinda depends on what kinda winter we have. I was thinking Clearwater might be good. It would be nice to have the option to go to Gogebic lake from there for some brooke trout too! West pike looks like it has a nice lake trout population also. I've been doing some research on the dnr fisheries survey for lakes in the BWCA. I would really like to get to Hanson or Ester lake area but it so deep in the boundary waters it would take a week to get in and out lol! I'm planning on staying in my popup fish house on the lake while I'm out there. Thanks for all the info everybody! Very helpful!"



Greetings, Tim:
Just a heads-up for you: I would caution against the "staying in a popup fish house" idea. I assume your fish-house floor doubles as a sort of polyethylene sled which you use to haul it around. It is critical, for ease of travel in deep winter snow in the BWCA, that whatever you are pulling behind you (sled, pulk, toboggan, fish-house) fit well in the track you have created with your snowshoes or skis. Trails blazed in the snow with snowshoes/skis don't accommodate sleds more than 16-18 inches wide. I'm quite sure your fish house base is wider than that, and you'll find it immensely difficult to pull behind you for any considerable distance. Physics (and experience) tells me that whatever you pull behind you up there pulls best if it is narrow and long; the less square it is, the better. I made three HDPE sleds 16" wide and 8 feet long for our winter camping crew last year; one member of our crew brought and initially used one of the popular ice-fishing gear sleds (made by Otter, I believe) as it would accommodate more gear. Despite being as fit as a Navy Seal, he abandoned his sled and opted for the HDPE one I made for him after the first mile of our trek and noticed a vast improvement in ease of pull. "


Actually many of the new pop ups fold up very well and would fit in the sled. Bulk and weight may be a problem.
Actually always wondered about using one myself on shorter fishing trips.
TuscaroraBorealis
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10/18/2015 08:51AM
quote Tim.bear: "quote Gadfly: "A couple other options I like are Snowbank or Clearwater. Both are partially in the BW and carry good quality fish. Trout Lake north of Vermilion would be another possibility as well.Thomas is an option but that is probably close to 10 miles in from the snowbank access so even with the packed trail it would take a bit to get there. "


Yeah it all kinda depends on what kinda winter we have. I was thinking Clearwater might be good. It would be nice to have the option to go to Gogebic lake from there for some brooke trout too! West pike looks like it has a nice lake trout population also."


Trip report to that area
Pinetree
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10/18/2015 09:15AM
Nice report and a lovely area. Might of camped where you did on Clearwater a couple of times.
I like Clearwater area because beautiful scenery and it is fairly easy going in the right conditions.
Tim.bear
Guest Paddler
 
10/20/2015 10:06AM
Hubbin

I don't have the sled style popup. I have a cube style that you push out the sides and top. Good advice though. I was going to buy an otter ice fishing sled to put everything in but I will have to find something else. I am a little worried about the floor though. I have a little buddy heater I will be using. I'm guessing I will end up with some standing water on the floor. I have a cot I will bring to stay off the ice. I will probably have to leave everything in the sled that I want to keep dry.

As for location I think I'm going to scratch Wine lake. Might be to much of a trek in and out depending on the snow. I'm thinking Ram lake if the roads plowed or taking Clearwater over to West pike and camping there. Maybe with a day trip to gogebic for brook trout. Leaning more towards West pike after reading that report.
Mnpat
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10/20/2015 05:20PM
quote Tim.bear: "Hubbin


I don't have the sled style popup. I have a cube style that you push out the sides and top. Good advice though. I was going to buy an otter ice fishing sled to put everything in but I will have to find something else. I am a little worried about the floor though. I have a little buddy heater I will be using. I'm guessing I will end up with some standing water on the floor. I have a cot I will bring to stay off the ice. I will probably have to leave everything in the sled that I want to keep dry.


As for location I think I'm going to scratch Wine lake. Might be to much of a trek in and out depending on the snow. I'm thinking Ram lake if the roads plowed or taking Clearwater over to West pike and camping there. Maybe with a day trip to gogebic for brook trout. Leaning more towards West pike after reading that report. "

forget the cot. you need a pad to sleep right on the ground. I fill my fishing holes with snow and cover floor with a tarp. Sleeping pad on the tarp. the ground stays 32 degrees but with a cot the cold air gets all around your body and cots are big and heavy.
Pinetree
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10/20/2015 06:50PM
quote Mnpat: "quote Tim.bear: "Hubbin



I don't have the sled style popup. I have a cube style that you push out the sides and top. Good advice though. I was going to buy an otter ice fishing sled to put everything in but I will have to find something else. I am a little worried about the floor though. I have a little buddy heater I will be using. I'm guessing I will end up with some standing water on the floor. I have a cot I will bring to stay off the ice. I will probably have to leave everything in the sled that I want to keep dry.



As for location I think I'm going to scratch Wine lake. Might be to much of a trek in and out depending on the snow. I'm thinking Ram lake if the roads plowed or taking Clearwater over to West pike and camping there. Maybe with a day trip to gogebic for brook trout. Leaning more towards West pike after reading that report. "

forget the cot. you need a pad to sleep right on the ground. I fill my fishing holes with snow and cover floor with a tarp. Sleeping pad on the tarp. the ground stays 32 degrees but with a cot the cold air gets all around your body and cots are big and heavy.
"


The ground temp can be anything from -40 degrees F. to yes 32 degrees.
Yes like you said a good pad-air mattress works great.
10/20/2015 08:44PM
The road is typically not plowed to ram. Probably would need a snowmobile to get back to the ep parking lot
hubben
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10/21/2015 12:44AM


I ran into some fellas on Tuscarora last winter who'd been winter-trekking for 26 years, and despite other expensive improvements in their gear over the decades, they pretty much stuck with the "expedition-type" plastic sleds sold at places like Menards for hauling wood and stuff. They are just made of thick polyethylene, I believe, and typically cost around $40. Again, the important thing is to keep width within the 16-18" range.
Pinetree
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10/21/2015 08:48AM
quote hubben: "


I ran into some fellas on Tuscarora last winter who'd been winter-trekking for 26 years, and despite other expensive improvements in their gear over the decades, they pretty much stuck with the "expedition-type" plastic sleds sold at places like Menards for hauling wood and stuff. They are just made of thick polyethylene, I believe, and typically cost around $40. Again, the important thing is to keep width within the 16-18" range. "


Same here,used that type sled 30 years(same sled). As mentioned in other blogs at this forum site,the new sled from Menards are a cheaper more brittle plastic. I know of 3 or so broke almost instantly. The old sleds you can run a tank over.

Look up the sled forum here.Lot of good info.

one of many
Pinetree
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10/21/2015 08:54AM
Tim.bear
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10/23/2015 08:58AM
Thanks to everyone for all the advice! Looks like I need to go shopping for an expedition sled.
2old4U
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12/04/2015 12:31PM
I fish the north end of Alton every winter and it takes me close to four hours in deep snow to get that far. Wine would be a hike for sure! Not saying it wouldn't be worth it, and I'm sure you'd have plenty of solitude when ya got there!
Tim bear
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12/06/2015 10:52AM
Yeah it all depends on what kind of winter we have. At this point I'm just hoping we have decent ice! If we do end up getting a lot of snow I think we're going to take Clearwater over to west pike lake or go up through topper and camp and fish on south or north. We're just looking to get into some nice lakers!
Gadfly
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12/06/2015 08:35PM
I would love to camp on south but I'll stick to day trips with that portage from topper. I couldn't imagine towing anything back up that hill.
landoftheskytintedwater
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12/18/2015 02:42PM
I'd also suggest Tuscarora for lakers. I did the Tusc portage last January on the way out to Crooked and back, and then also this summer. It's definitely an easier winter portage than summer, IMO. Gets enough traffic that you usually won't be totally breaking trail to Tuscarora. Could day trip back to Missing Link or out to Crooked to try for lakers as well.

One caveat. I was on snowshoes. The first 100 rods of the Tuscarora portage when heading back toward Round would be a beast on skis, but otherwise, it's more rolling hills.
MackinawTrout
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01/10/2016 08:18PM
Pack light, long and low. Have back up plans and be ready to parse your distance traveled. Do not camp by where you fish (slush!!). Remember many folks can't do 5 miles/day pulling a sled in snow. Go for the short trip so you can fish more. The days are short. Good Luck!
Gadfly
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01/13/2016 12:31PM
quote Pinetree: "quote Gadfly: "



Been ten years but good conditions we made Hanson in one day."




I would be curious to hear the route taken for this. Unless there are winter trails I am unaware of this had to be close to 20 miles including some tough portages. "



We did it a couple of times. Both times we went from Sag-Ottertrack-Ester-Hanson.


These were trips in late March when you had a hard pack trail on the lakes or snow was hard. Usually toward Ottertrack there would be sled dog trail to follow.


We did break trail from Ottertrack to Ester.
If lake conditions were not good it would be a long haul,usually up to American point or U.S. point there is quite a bit of travel. Were talking 12 hours of daylight than and we would at least make it to Ester with a hour to spare and I know one year we made it to Hansen before dark by a few hours.
"

Does this route keep you on the US side? it looks like one of the portages is right on the edge. We are seriously considering this route for 2017.
SaganagaJoe
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01/13/2016 03:36PM
I'd love to know how you got over the Ester portage. It's hard enough in the summer!
WhiteWolf
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03/05/2016 03:20AM
Did you go? Where? Interested.
Pinetree
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03/05/2016 09:46AM
quote SaganagaJoe: "I'd love to know how you got over the Ester portage. It's hard enough in the summer!"

Usually it wasn't too bad. But remember the first time the snow was super deep at the portage. We had made great time up to the portage at Ottertrack lake, Plan was to go to Hansen lake that day. Well the portage took its toll(wore us down) and time and we set upon Ester-we were pooped out. There was some years you talked 3 plus feet in the woods. Even if lakes were hard packed.

I know one time moose used the trail and made a nice hard path.
Yes a little uphill makes a difference when portaging pulling a sled.

I think one of my greatest winter trips was from Sag-to Ottertrack-Ester-Hansen-Knife and back thru Sea Gull lake. Just loved those winter trips,no bugs,walking on the ice-checking and watching those red flags on tipups.

Winter tripped from Moose lake-to Hansen area once also. That one wore us down pretty good. Remember traveling after dark on the way out and setting camp up in the dark in a bay across from Dorothy Moultors(sp) island.
IcePaddler
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03/19/2016 11:41AM
We ended up going to a lake much closer and I'm glad because I stayed in my pop up which was heavy and not a easy pull! Did better than I expected for my first time laker fishing! Found some trout. Biggest was a 28 inch. Trying to post a picture but it won't let me.
 
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