Ice-Out: Open Water Returns To Border Lakes

The season of canoes and paddles has arrived in the Boundary Waters. Open water has now been reported at several locations across the wilderness.

On the southeast edge, Sawbill Outfitters announced today that the ice was out on all the entry point lakes in their area except Brule. “There’s still some snow in the campground but paddling season is upon us.” They had been measuring the ice the past couple weeks and just four days ago found nine inches of ice.

The Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol blog features new aerial photos a few times a week of the gigantic lake on the U.S.-Canada border. Air taxi pilot Tim Armstrong of Kenora, Ontario operates the site as a public service. He too was seeing mostly liquid this week.

Some ice, some open water on April 25. Norman, Coney Island, Lake of the Woods.
Some ice, some open water on April 25. Norman, Coney Island, Lake of the Woods. (Photo by Tim Armstrong, Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol)

An anonymous ice-out source on Gunflint Lake reported it broke up April 25 in a big east wind. A pair of loons arrived the next afternoon.

Dave and Amy Freeman have made it through the long season of dogsleds and snowshoes. They seemed to handle the cold, dark months with their usual ease, but were also clearly excited to return to their canoe.

“The largest, deepest lakes in the Ely area remain frozen and it appears that lakes farther to the east are still frozen, but for us the paddling season has officially begun!” The married couple declared on April 25th from Spoon Lake, between Knife and Kekekabic.

Two days before, they had heard the first loon of the season, which Dave eloquently explained was a hopeful sign.

“As the smaller lakes open up, the loons are returning along with many of the other birds,” he wrote. “Ducks and geese can land on the ice, but loons feet are placed farther back on their bodies, which is great for swimming and diving for food, but means they can’t stand or walk on land or ice. They require relatively large patches of open water to land and take off, which makes the return of the loon a clear sign that the canoeing season is just around the corner.”

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