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FISH LAKE – It's been one tough winter for folks who like to ice fish on northern MInnesota lakes.
Despite all the subzero temperatures the Polar Vortex threw at it, Lake Superior never quite froze over entirely this winter and already appears to be losing some ice cover. Satellite photos from the most recent clear day — Tuesday — show vast areas of what appears to be open water just off Minnesota and Ontario's North Shore and many other areas of the lake. And some areas that have ice cover appear to show fissures and cracks as the lake ice diminishes due to warm temperatures, rain and windy conditions.
The Wisconsin scientist who first discovered mini tsunamis on the Great Lakes now says those "meteotsunamis" are a major cause of rip currents, the underwater backwash of waves known to pull swimmers away from shore.
Lonnie Dupre of Grand Marais and his climbing partner Pascale Marceau of Canada reported Monday that they have successfully reached the top of Mt. Wood in Canada's Yukon Territory. The team is the first ever to reach the summit in winter and Marceau is the first woman to ever make an ascent of the subarctic peak that tops out at 15,192 feet. "The beauty of such firsts lies in their unknowns. There is no standard route. There are no prescribed landing zones and the condition of the glaciers is always changing," Marceau said.
If you've screamed uncle after shoveling in recent weeks, just imagine what the Northland's whitetail deer are going through.
Superior National Forest officials on Friday set a new date for BWCAW visitors to apply for permits for the 209 summer season. Applications will open at www.recreatrion.gov on Feb. 27 on a first come, first served basis. The permits originally were available on Jan. 30, but the system was quickly shut down when it became clear some applicants were not being allowed to access the application page on the website.
The good news is solid ice formed between Isle Royale and the North Shore of Lake Superior, opening up a route for new wolves to walk out to the big island. The bad news is, so far, the only wolf to make the trip has gone the other way — back to the mainland.
Six wolves from Ontario's Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior were expected to be moved to Isle Royale this week thanks to a grant intended to "shutdown proof" the National Park Service effort from future federal budget woes.
The new national reservation system for Boundary Waters permits opened Wednesday, Jan. 30, and then promptly crashed, with the U.S. Forest Service saying they will set a new date for permits to become available.
GRAND PORTAGE — On a day when most schools closed and public health officials warned Minnesotans not to venture outside, eight hardy souls lead teams of sled dogs across the forests of Cook County, braving subzero temperatures and a 40 below windchill. Blake Freking was the fastest among them. Freking, of Finland, won in the final 36-mile leg despite leaving the Mineral Center checkpoint more than 90 minutes behind Ryan Redington of Skagway, Alaska who appeared to have the race won.