Wildersmith April 15

Crack in the Ice by Bryan Hansel
Crack in the Ice by Bryan Hansel

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It’s looking like spring, feeling like spring and smelling like spring. I think “Mother Nature” has declared it spring in our northern forest.

Guess I will, too, since my self-determined criterion has been met. As you will recall from my autumnal writings, I declare it winter when the first daytime temperature remains below the freezing mark. The same declaration is made in the “vernal” season when the temp stays above freezing for the nighttime low. It’s been doing that for a few days now, so spring is official on the Gunflint!

The upper end even had its first thunder in the late afternoon last Sunday, along with the initial “severe thunderstorm warning” from the National Weather Service. Fortunately, this time it was another of those “wolf cries” that wilderness folk appreciate (nothing severe). It did dish up spotty rain with a gully washer at Trails end and a few drops from Loon Lake on to the south. Wildersmith recorded one quarter-inch.

With winter being squashed, I’ll give a brief re-cap of what happened. At Wildersmith, from October 30 through April 4, 97.75 inches of snow was recorded. The thermometer mercury had a coldest marking of minus forty on January 23rd. In addition there were sixty-seven other mornings when it was below zero. So, all in all, winter 2010-2011 was pretty darned back to normal after last year’s feeble rendition.

Considerable headway has been made on the thawing of back-country roads since we last met on WTIP. After our snow of the previous weekend was removed, the sun went to work. At this keying, I can’t speak for all wilderness pathways, but the Mile O’ Pine is nearly void of its winter character. It’s just mud and water with an occasional dry spot. I suppose most area roads off the hard surface are about the same.

The snow pack has taken a hit, but there is still melting to do before it’ll be a memory. Along the by-way, the recession of snow into the ditches is bringing back the memory of thoughtless human disrespect. The slobs of the universe have not changed their ways. The “right of spring” is revealing that some people don’t care too much about this great natural place. The litter is shameful!

The ice on Gunflint Lake is showing some puddles of liquid on these warm days, but still appears tight along the south shore. The best bet among those of us still in the neighborhood is that our ice cube will probably make it to the first of May.

On my trip to Grand Marais on Thursday I found several places with open water near smaller lakes’ north side shorelines. A number of the swamps have also softened to the point where their snow cover has taken on the usual tea-colored look from the waters below. Water’s a rushin’ lakeward in rivers and streams, and the little falls that tumbles into Larch Creek southwest of the Seagull Guard Station was cascading like I haven’t seen it in along time.

With the exception of noises from seasonal changes in our natural world, it’s a quiet time in the Gunflint wilderness. Being “mud’ season,” many businesses have closed for the month and several of the year-round residents bailed for even warmer and definitely less sloppy places. But for yours truly, getting to observe each day-to-day seasonal evolution is an alluring and cherished joy that makes me hate to miss even one.

That’s all for now. Keep on hangin’ on and savor the aroma of mud in the North Woods.

Airdate: April 15, 2011


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