A big atmospheric turnabout has happened along the upper Trail. Our Indian summer wilted last weekend as raging winds brought an abrupt end to the unusual warmth of October’s first two weeks.Three straight days of the roaring forest had a few of us crying ‘enough is enough,’ with tree branches being rearranged and electricity flickering in the gusty assault.
Temperatures quickly returned to more seasonal readings, but the winds augmented a feel that was even colder. It was one of those see-your-breath days last Sunday afternoon as I finished up a few more tail-end outdoor chores.
The northwestern surge through the border country even kicked up a couple showers of snow pellets and flurries in the latter part of the day along the south shore of Gunflint Lake.
My whining about the discouraging dry conditions must have finally found a place where someone would listen. The territory got a timely dousing of rain just before the winds took over. Wildersmith’s rain gauge measured just about 1-1/10 inches while residents in other parts have said they got even more.
Hopefully that happening breaks the spell, spiriting a trend toward wetter times. It was a blessing to be sure, but about all the heavenly offering did was quiet the cornflake crunch of leaves that have practically disappeared from their summer attachments.
It is amazing how the scenery has changed along the Trail now that Mother Nature’s camouflage has dropped off. The colorful autumn scheme has changed to the muted hues of grays and tans, exposing things back in the forest that haven’t been seen since leaf-out five months ago.
I haven’t observed too many deer out this way as yet, but those that I have seen are in the process of shedding their summer wear for the coming season. Now that this is happening, they are even more difficult to pick out with their attire blending into the brush of the drab forest, so drive carefully.
There are bunnies all over the place. It appears that they have had a great summer working on their multiplication. A gal traveling down the Mile O Pine a few nights ago counted up to 17 of the hopping critters in a short one-mile stretch. I even saw one that has started the brown to white transition.
With such an apparent burgeoning hare population, it would seem that there might be more lynx stalking about this winter. For sure though, the hunting should be better for fox and other wild folk that enjoy a lagomorph dinner once in a while.
I don’t know how grouse hunters did on a whole. They surely didn’t make a big dent in the numbers as I see it. DNR reported a couple years ago that their numbers would be heading in a down cycle, but it seems there are more grouse than I’ve seen in several years. Maybe that decline will happen, but at this point in time, those Minnesota Chicken Birds are strutting around everywhere you look.
Heading into the weekend of Moose Madness throughout the county, a few reports continue trickling in about Alces alces sightings. The most recent came from a grouse hunting crew that spotted a huge bull just south of the mid-Trail area.
Although our worries continue about their demise, it is encouraging every time you hear about one that is still upright. Gooo Moose!
Keep on hanging on, and savor these autumn times!
Airdate: October 21, 2011
Photo courtesy of D. Bjorn via Flickr.