Old Man Winter wandered back to the upper Trail after taking a spring break in the middle part of the month. However, he brought only cold with nothing white to go along with it.
The weather predictors cried wolf once again and that led to a lot of excitement in these parts as a “big” blizzard was on the way. After several days of advance warnings the upper Gunflint wilderness got that, ‘sorry, but no cigar’ for the umpteenth time this winter.
March, usually one of our snowiest months, has pretty much been a bust. With only a few days left, Wildersmith has counted about eight inches along with a couple puny rain showers, and most of that occurred in the first 10 days or so.
Saying that it is getting drier by the day is no overstatement. Although there is plenty of snow and ice yet to be melted, it looks like the area is headed into another one of those dry periods. All hope is for something to start falling from the skies soon.
Speaking of ice, thoughts have turned to the question of when it will go out on the big lakes up this way. With several consecutive mornings below zero along the Mile O’ Pine since our last meeting, we have actually been in ice-making mode, and that’s no April fooling.
In fact, on one of those recent zippy cold mornings, when the wind was adding to the chill, the Gunflint Lake Gal must have been shivering too, as she was moaning and groaning some incoherent terms like it was January.
An ice fishing fellow from over on Loon Lake confirms that on one of his last excursions the water at the end of his drilling auger was about three feet from the ice on which he was standing. That makes for a big ice cube. So unless we get swamped with spring all of a sudden, I’m guessing that we still have a few weeks of hard water left.
There’s nothing to match the serenity of a windless sub-zero morning in the Gunflint wilderness. Such was the case as I arose to a brilliant sunrise this last Sunday morning. With Sol beaming through the frosty forest, crystals twinkling from every branch, I watched a few deer peacefully browsing about the yard.
As if the forest beauty wasn’t captivating enough, interest and fascination overcame me as I contemplated frost actually being able to form on the deer’s backs. How unique is their fur covering, just how much cold can they withstand, do they shiver and do they ever get frostbite?
In the midst of the beaming sun, cloudy silhouettes of steamy breath puffed from their nostrils, suspended in the space momentarily before dispersing into the atmosphere. One could even see that a night of exhaling into the bitter darkness had provided an enhancement to their chin whiskers.
What a sight to see! Such moments of flora and fauna, framed in cold and sunshine, are poetically special. How fortunate it is to experience such wonderful snippets of wilderness life.
Plans are gearing up for the Ham Run Half Marathon. It seems hard to believe that one month from now, Sunday, May 1, the gun will go off starting the fourth annual run. It’s a time when folks gather to remember ignition of the tragic Ham Lake wildfire and celebrate survival and rebirth of the ravaged forest. Details for entering either the 5K or half marathon events can be found on the website, www.hamrunhalfmarathon.com.
This event is growing in popularity each year. It’s the real kick-off to the beginning of warm weather activities in the north woods. “No” will be the catch word on that day, no snow/cold or wind and no black flies, so “yes” folks can run and walk for the fun of it.
Keep on hanging on, and savor the rhythm of lie in the wild!
Airdate: April 1, 2011
Photo courtesy of Jack Heddon via Flickr.