First Winter Camp- Birch Island- Snowbank
Drove up to Ely and did some last minute errands in town. I always love coming back to the town where I was blessed to live for four years.
I bought a pair of the Yukon Mukluks from Steger's and I have to throw in a quick review of them: They are awesome! Very comfortable to walk in, and extremely warm. I normally wear a size 12 shoe and I bought a size 13 double wide mukluk. I wore a liner sock, a thin merino wool sock and mid-weight merino wool sock. My feet stayed dry and toasty in temperatures exceeding -25F.
I had a really good Walleye taco from the Boathouse Brewpub, washed it down with the house double IPA, and made my way to Smitty's on Snowbank to meet my friends, and spend the night, before putting in.
We decided to choose Snowbank for our first winter outing because of its trout population, proximity to civilization should something go wrong and ease of access. My two friends have mountaineering experience but no BWCA winter experience. I had no cold weather experience. I had just bought a canvas tent, 2 toboggans and a stove, used, and I was eager to use it!
The owners of Smitty's seem very nice, but the motel was very rowdy on trout opener eve. My friends and I could not sleep and decided to abandon our room at about 2 AM and head to the access. We had not paid yet so we left a note to assure the owners we would be back!
By the time we finally set out with the toboggans it was near 3AM Saturday morning. We skied to the east side of Birch Island and found a great camping spot near the Wilderness line. We quickly set up our tents and got some sleep.