ELY, Minn. -- For the second time in four days, a beleaguered camper in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has used a satellite SOS device to call for help after facing unseasonably cold, snowy conditions and a lake that was forming ice.
The as-yet-unidentified paddler used a Garmin device to summon help on Tuesday, Oct. 20 after being overcome by conditions on Lake One in the BWCAW, northeast of Ely, according to Drew Brocket, a manager at Piragis Northwoods Outfitters in Ely.
The Lake County Rescue Squad retrieved the man Tuesday afternoon, unharmed but cold, Brocket said.
The man had rented his gear and was encouraged by staff at the outfitter to take the SOS device on the solo trip.
On Saturday an Indiana man used the same type of device to summon help after being overwhelmed by winter-like conditions — snow, ice and temperatures in the 20s — while he camped on Nina-Moose Lake. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and St. Louis County Rescue Squad crews responded, arriving in the dark to find the man severely hypothermic. They warmed the man and took him out of the wilderness to safety, saying it was unlikely he could have survived the night if help hadn’t arrived.
Officials from the Superior National Forest on Tuesday urged would-be paddlers and campers to heed current winter weather warnings as lakes in the area are freezing up several weeks ahead of normal and with heavy snow falling.
“Several smaller lakes have ½ to 1 inch of ice forming and visitors have been caught ill-prepared while paddling in rapidly forming ice,’’ the agency said in a statement. “To prevent unnecessary search and rescue, the Superior National Forest reminds visitors to plan ahead and be prepared for a wide variety of conditions like ice, snow, and hail. Conditions can change rapidly and without warning. In some cases, adjusting outdoor recreation plans is the best course of action.”