Hook and Bullet Club - One more time

Never pass up a chance to go to the shack and take a sauna. Saturday we took full advantage of a free afternoon.
Mary and I met up with John and Rochelle in town and headed out on snowmobiles. The trails weren’t great but they were ridable.
We bumped along until we turned off on to a spur trail that was flat as a pancake. Finally we were able to go over 30 mph.
Over the river and through the woods, past our hunting area until we arrived at Camp Cholesterol.
The girls hauled in the supplies, John started shovelling and I started the wood stoves in the shack and the sauna.
I had to use a propane heater to thaw the drain on the water tank that hangs off the stove.
I’m never sure if it’s better to leave it open or close it and run the risk of the water bursting the pipe.
Once our chores were done we broke out a deck of cards and played smear. We took breaks to check the sauna and cooked up some brats on the grill.


Miscellaneous Drawer - Dear Mr. Tice

Dear Mr. Tice,
You nailed it. Your front page commentary on “The long twilight struggle of the Iron Range” in the Red Star affirmed all the differences between north and south Minnesota.
You hit it on the head when you wrote: “Many Minnesotans cherish the north country primarily for its wilderness and recreational value and are not wholly sympathetic to those who seek to make a living extracting its economic resources.”
Why give the mine workers extended benefits by adding a special legislative session when they could move en masse to “lands of greater opportunity”? Even the available jobs in the Ely area, mostly paying about $10 an hour, are going unanswered. Bet those same type of jobs are available in the big cities.
As a citified cynic, you understand all this. You’re surrounded by those big, moneyed corporations dictating the way of life for rich and poor.


From the miscellaneous drawer - A night with a shrew

A night with a shrew
Two hours into a deep, winter’s night sleep... What’s that sound? Did I forget to turn down the heat?
Light is turned on. No, must be mistaken. I doze.
Ten minutes pass. The noise resumes. What is it?
What or who is harassing me? Wait. This sound is close. Too close.
Egads, something is inside my clothes hamper near my bed!
Gingerly I remove a pair of slacks from the plastic hamper. Nothing.
A shirt next. What!?
Beady eyes spy out from the bottom of the hamper and I’m rapidly (cane and all) moving the hamper out of my room.
My traps have been silent and empty for months. Why now?
I know. I’ll set the hamper outside in the below-zero weather.
Get the back door open!
Grab the hamper!
Blast! The little critter jumps out of one of the hamper’s ventilation holes and scurries across the floor inside.


Hook and Bullet Club - Volunteers needed

It seems no matter how you recreate up here, trails play a role in your time outdoors. If you include portages and boat launches, trails are the key to recreation.
We have more miles of snowmobile trails up here than any other trail. The mighty Taconite and Tomahawk trails meet in Ely, connecting us to Grand Rapids and the North Shore.
The Tomahawk might have qualified for disaster status this winter after a rain/ice/snow storm buried the trail beneath bent over trees and brush. Workers have had to use everything from chainsaws to bulldozers to reopen the Tomahawk.
The Ely Igloo Club has been responsible for providing the grooming on the Tomahawk for 15 years now. Throughout that time there have been many discussions about the best way to manage this 80+ miles of trail.
Up until this year, there was one groomer stationed in Ely and one at the Knotted Pine (or at the Ranger station nearby).


Just the bear facts

Just the bear facts
After all these years, on Mondays, there aren’t any real surprise Monday questions at work. I always get: Did you see the game? And that could mean, at this time of year, any of the pro football, basketball or hockey teams, which I don’t follow.
Or: How much snow did you get this weekend? This winter at least so far, I have responded by saying: Not much, how about you? Most responses come back, yeah, same at our house. It’s all real basic, just bare facts, almost boring.
And no one asks me things that matter to me like, Did you see a black bear in its bear den this weekend? Cuz if they did ask me that, I could say: Why yes I did, along with Mrs. Trout Whisperer.
See, with all the new snow this past week, instead of sitting in the living room watching a game, we went out into the forest to see all the newness of it.


Hook & Bullet Club reflections

This is the time of year to look back to see what went on in your life. For people who hunt and fish, it’s something they do frequently.
DNR wildlife guy Tom Rusch calls it “hunting memories.” As in the main reason you’re going there to hunt is because you shot a big buck from that stand years ago.
Tom may be right but the fact remains that the habitat in that area did attract at least one buck to stop by to visit. Does that mean there’s another one coming a year or two or 20 later? Maybe, maybe not.
We’ve been hunting the woods out by Camp Cholesterol for 16 years now. There’s spots that have produced deer on multiple occasions. So, we’re more inclined to hunt there.
I know guys who have “meat stands” where they feel they are guaranteed to shoot a deer. There are others who believe the more they sit in the same stand, the better the chance to see a big buck.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Vicious circle

The vicious circle?
Year 1880. Jobs! There are jobs in northern Minnesota!
They walked the long trail north from the big lake. Before long they could board a train north and ride to a place they had never known - all for the chance of a good paying job.
And more workers came. Houses were built. A townsite began to develop with boarding houses, hotels and stores opening to meet the needs of the newcomers.
The workers settled into a new life - starting families, developing roots within the community. Early workers relied on ethnic sensibilities and old country languages. As more businesses emerged, they employed villagers - wives, sons and daughters.
The big picture focused on the jobs that first drew the workers. The rhythm of the community reflected that focus - the jobs and job sites were the pivot point of town life.


From the miscellaneous drawer - The results are in

Determination paid off for me last week as I finally figured out how to reduce the pdf size of the Ely Echo which is sent to email subscribers. Previously it would require breaking the pages in to 4-6 separate files.
At $30 for a year, it’s a bargain, complete throughout in full color!
Here are some of the email subscriber comments:
Love the new format..and getting the news in a timely matter...great service! - BB
Like it! Good change!! Easy to read. - SD
One email. Nice! - MM
We miss the Ely area but love living in Arkansas with kids and grandkids. Much success to you all and a Merry Christmas. Still love all of Nick’s writings. - KA
We like this new format much better. - MC
I like the all in one!! :-) - CV
Your efforts to make the Echo into a one file document are greatly appreciated by me and probably hundreds of others. - TC
We do like it—a lot. - SK


Trout Whisperer - No tree passing

No tree passing
Light snow is a quiet mystery all to itself it seems. I can just watch those flakes flutter fall for a long time. Rain on the other hand will make me move. Not so falling snow, it has the power to stop me right in my tracks.
My gaze follows the tree line, then my eyes find an old familiar path of sorts. It’s a fence line I like. I have trapped many a fox here over the years. This year, that won’t be the case. The new owner has wallpapered the place with large red and black lettered no trespassing signs. Ain’t nobody gonna miss seeing them.
I can’t imagine how many years ago it was a functional fence, hewn of cedar, to last forever I suppose. In its day I was told it contained horses.
In the falling snow, a lone massive moose soundlessly emerged from the timber and strolled outside the rotting skeletal remains. Then he strode over a split rail as if it was navigating nothing more than a toppled tree in the forest.


From the miscellaneous drawer - We get letters

We get letters and notes...
A friend in the Seattle area wrote to say thank you for sending the Echo and noted: “It is read and enjoyed every week and just seems to get better and better.” She congratulated all the Ely high school athletes who went on to State!
Bonnie Curnow wrote from Pennsylvania: “Just a note to let you know how much I look forward to receiving the Ely Echo - Ely will always be ‘My Home.’”
A 91-year old gentleman in North Carolina “keeps perking along” and “enjoys looking at the Echo’s pictures” although he no longer reads much. His wife says, “He isn’t sure where he lives, but he knows it isn’t Ely. Miss everyone there.”
A fellow from Indiana writes, “Thanks for all you do. Ely is my favorite place on earth.”
A note from a subscriber in downstate Minnesota said that she used to get the Echo on Saturday (the day after it was placed in the Ely Post Office), but now is getting it “later and later.”


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