Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretive naturalist, with this week’s edition of the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest.
For the week of August 22th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
If you’re planning on driving around the Forest, don’t plan on driving fast. Many roads are getting pretty washboarded and driving fast will not only rattle your teeth, it will cause you to lose traction and control. Construction continues to grind on on Highway 61. Be patient and don’t lose your cool. It can be frustrating following a haul truck uphill at 10 miles per hour, but don’t let it lead you to pass in unsafe areas. There is still a detour through Finland via Highway 1 and County 6, and another section with single lane traffic a little farther north, so you can expect long delays on the road between Silver Bay and Tofte. If you planning on picking up a Boundary Waters permit right before closing time, you may need to rethink your plans.
Logging traffic on the Gunflint District will be about the same as the last few weeks. Expect log trucks on Bally Creek, Devil Track, Ball Club, Shoe Lake, Greenwood, Pine Mountain, The Grade, the Caribou Trail, and the Gunflint Trail, plus starting this week on the Mississippi Creek and Cascade River roads and Cook County 7 and 45. On the Tofte end, there are no active timber harvests right now. You still might see a few trucks on the 4 Mile Grade, and Mark Lake Road.
We still have fairly low fire danger locally, thanks to the recent damp weather. Some of our fire people are out west helping with fires there, but some will be continuing with clearing understory growth at Baker Lake Campground this week.
There has been a lot of bear activity recently as our local bruins do their best to put on the pounds before winter’s hibernation. Make sure to be bear aware. This means not leaving food packs unattended on portages, storing food either in a hard sided vehicle, bear resistant food container, or hung appropriately from a tree: 10 feet off the ground, 4 feet out from the trunk, and 4 feet down from the branch. Campsites in the Boundary Waters fill up this time of year, so look for camp early and have lots of back up plans if you find your favorite site already claimed.
Remember the ‘Nine person rule’ in the wilderness means not only that your group needs to be below nine people, but that more than nine people can’t be together in any one spot in the Boundary Waters. That means if your group of nine is eating lunch at the foot of a portage, no one else can use that portage. Try to find places other than portages for lunches, and keep an eye out for other groups. If you see that others are waiting for your group to clear, be kind and move along so they can use the portage or landing.
For up to minute information on topics such as fire restrictions, be sure to check our website or at a Ranger Station.
Hope you enjoy another week in the Forest and on the water. Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.