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Adventure in the Land of a Thousand Lakes: Ely, Minnesota

submitted on 8 July 2023 by

A Majestic Introduction

Ah, Ely, Minnesota. The very name conjures up visions of crystalline lakes, primeval forests, and enough mosquitos to satisfy the bloodlust of a thousand Draculas. Nestled in the heart of the Arrowhead Region, this fine metropolis boasts a population of approximately 3,400 industrious souls and serves as the gateway to the magnificent Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Now, I could wax poetic about the breathtaking beauty of this place, extolling the virtues of its verdant greenery and the solemn silence of its ancient boreal forests. I could regale you with tales of the vast array of wildlife that calls this region home, from the majestic wolf to the cheeky chipmunk. I could even delve into the rich cultural history of the area, touching upon the Anishinaabe, the fur traders, and the hearty folks who settled this region and established the mining and logging industries that would shape its future. But let's be honest, you're not here for a history lesson, dear adventurer. You're here for the unvarnished truth about the lakes and forests of Ely, Minnesota. So, strap on your hiking boots, grab your canoe paddle, and for the love of all that is holy, slather yourself in DEET, as we venture forth into the great outdoors.

Canoeing the Boundary Waters

It is said that a man's true character is revealed when he is alone in a canoe. Or perhaps it was a woman. Or maybe it was Thoreau. In any case, this sage piece of advice is never truer than when one embarks upon a canoe trip through the Boundary Waters. With over a million acres of pristine wilderness and 1,200 miles of canoe routes, this veritable paddler's paradise offers an unparalleled opportunity to test your mettle against the elements and, indeed, your own sanity. Before you embark upon your aquatic odyssey, be sure to obtain the necessary permits, as the powers that be take a rather dim view of those who flaunt the rules in this neck of the woods. Once your paperwork is in order, you'll be ready to load up your canoe with enough food, gear, and whiskey to see you through your journey. As you glide gracefully across the water, marvel at the mosaic of life that surrounds you: the loon's mournful call echoing across the lake, the beaver's industrious efforts to fell a tree, or the moose's stubborn refusal to vacate the portage trail, much to your chagrin.

Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail

For those who prefer the pleasures of bipedal locomotion, the Superior Hiking Trail offers a veritable smorgasbord of scenic delights. Stretching for over 300 miles along the North Shore of Lake Superior, this glorious footpath traverses some of the most rugged and breathtaking terrain to be found in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. As you navigate the undulating landscape, you'll encounter a veritable cornucopia of geological wonders, from the rugged Sawtooth Mountains to the serpentine curves of the Baptism River. Your efforts will be rewarded with panoramic vistas that will sear themselves into your memory, leaving you breathless and, quite possibly, questioning your decision to attempt such an ambitious trek in the first place.

Encounters with the Local Fauna

No account of the lakes and forests of Ely, Minnesota, would be complete without mentioning the diverse array of wildlife that one may encounter whilst exploring these hallowed grounds. In addition to the aforementioned moose, beavers, and loons, one may also cross paths with black bears, deer, bald eagles, and a veritable host of smaller critters. Now, I must caution you, dear adventurer, that while these creatures may appear to be the very embodiment of natural beauty, they are, in fact, wild animals and should be treated with the utmost respect. One would do well to remember the sage advice of the late, great Douglas Adams: "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

In Conclusion

There you have it, intrepid explorer: a brief glimpse into the wonders that await you in the lakes and forests of Ely, Minnesota. Whether you choose to paddle the Boundary Waters, hike the Superior Hiking Trail, or simply drink in the beauty of the region from the comfort of a lakeside cabin, you're bound to walk away with memories to last a lifetime and a newfound appreciation for the words of John Muir:
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks."
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