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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: March 28

Gunflint Trail
Gunflint Trail

Wildersmith_20140328_finalcut.mp36.78 MB

The Wildersmith two are back in the woods. It’s always a joy to return to this northern Riviera following one of our southern road trips.

Now that spring is official, it’s mostly quiet around border country with exception of the whispering pines and the roar of an occasional snowmobile.

For the second homeward trip in a row, we encountered a snowstorm. Driving conditions had us white knuckling it from just north of Forest Lake all the way to Grand Marais.

Kudos go to our Cook County snow removal guys that maintain the Gunflint Trail. It was in far better winter driving condition than I-35 or US 61 along the big lake, neither of which had been given much clearing attention as we plowed along.

While our trip to Iowa City encountered spring in the air, with bare ground and daffodils beginning to peek skyward, our return found conditions in this neck of the woods still in winter character.

In fact, the Old Man of the North reasserted himself this past weekend with a refresher on what we in this area are all about. After the 6 or so inches of new snow at Wildersmith, he then reminded us that sub-zero temperatures are still at his command and has since dished up a few more nights of teens below the nothing mark.

We are now at 89 days and stiill counting of below-zero mornings for the winter along the Mile O Pine. Then again, it’s still March, so why not?

Therefore residents of the upper Gunflint continue scooping, plowing, shivering and watching their woodpiles dwindle. We look forward to the days of sky blue water splashing against the granite shores.

Hope does spring eternal as sensed in the annual onslaught of seed and plant catalogs, all of which have long since been perused on frosty January evenings.  Winding down the first quarter of 2014, more signs are in the air and tree tops.

The crows have returned to our neighborhood. They must be wondering if their return might be a bit premature in these frosty conditions. A murder of them has been hanging out around here each morning. Perhaps the biting cold is what their raucous morning chatter has been all about.

Meanwhile the next generation of wild neighborhood babies is growing in tummies of wolves, fox, martens and sundry other woodsy characters. Ravens and Canadian jays are sitting on eggs, and cubs are probably getting itchy for momma bear to take them outside the birthing den.

A neighbor indicated that she spotted a chipmunk on one of those early, warmer March days. It would appear that others of the slumbering critter crowd will be awakening soon throughout the territory. Look out, the skunks will be next.

We need not fear that winter will never end. Spring will be here when the “mom in charge of things” decides it’s time, complete with a rebirth of buds, bugs and bites! In the meantime, we’ll just relax and enjoy the pristine white beauty of the marvelous season as it slowly retreats into history.

A report has just come to me that the Gunflint/Loon Lake wolf pack was in concert along the shore in our neighborhood.  Do you suppose they were in practice for a spring chorale?   More likely, they were sharing a GPS on the latest fast food venue.

I’m told the family must have been split apart as they were in serious chit chat back and forth from what appeared to be two different locations. Guess it was a real howl!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor more of north woods outdoor adventures!