Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 9

young rhubarb (Miika Silfverberg/Flikr)
young rhubarb (Miika Silfverberg/Flikr)

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            After one week of month five, the Gunflint Trail territory is slowly growing in spring character. Winter remnants remain in many shaded places, but the majority of our border country landscape is revealing barren brown earth.
            In spite of our improving conditions, the Wildersmith neighborhood received what must have been a final swipe of winter last Saturday evening and then again on Monday morning. Each repetition was short lived, but was enough to whiten the ground as if to remind us that it could likely be a farewell encore!
            Meanwhile lake ice is gradually showing signs of deterioration. The surface in several instances is weeping with melt water on top of ice which may still be more than 2 feet thick. In some places on the Gunflint Gal, the white cover is sporting spots of gray, indicating a start to the rotting process.
            Streams that feed some 1,500 lakes in the county are surging through the watersheds. Those rushing waters will soon be swelling lake levels to the highest point in a number of years. Needless to say, it is uncertain as to whether there will be much open water for the North Country (Minnesota Lakes) opening of walleye season tomorrow (Saturday).  It’s anybody’s guess as to when the big ice cubes will be in liquid form.
            Back country roads, including the Mile O Pine, are deliberately progressing toward improved passage. In the case of our pathway through the woods, drying has taken place where snowbanks have receded back into the roadside ditches. However, we still have several dicey places where ice dams command careful vehicle maneuvering.
Around the Wildersmith yard, some brave rhubarb and a few unidentified green shoots have peeked through the cool soil during the past few days. And a friend from over on Loon Lake tells of scooping away an icy bank near her house to discover daffodils and tulips standing up in the snow.
In the animal world, just as I predicted a couple weeks ago, the bears have come out of winter slumber. Although the folks reporting such have not actually seen any inky brunos, several sources confirm evidence of the usual bear calling cards.
            Many of us year-round residents are already into spring cleanup. It is unbelievable how much comes down out of the forest canopy during the winter. The Smiths have already started two piles of brush for our next winter burning piles. So readers and listeners who are unfamiliar with our three-season year, can see that while we are deep in the middle of mud season, we’re already lapping over into the next northern segment, which is “getting ready for winter.”
            Speaking of other clean-up efforts…with leadership from the folks at Gunflint Lodge, two volunteer crews and a few U.S. Forest Service folks, the seventh annual Gunflint Green-up continued this last weekend. Work was conducted up near the end of the Trail at Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center. Sprucing up was done to clear hiking trails along with planting of more coniferous seedlings.
            I’m told there is more cleanup to be done on trails around the museum site, especially up on the Blueberry Hill pathway. Any area resident who would be interested in volunteering help with this process should give Kathy Lande a call at 388-2261. Both Kathy and the Gunflint Trail Historical Society would surely appreciate your assistance.
            It was a cool day in more ways than one last Saturday. Not only was the atmosphere cool, but the coolest were nearly 100 runners who took to the 5K and half-marathon course in the Ham Run.
            The day was great for distance runners! And spirits were not dampened by the misty cold elements. Roadside snowbanks lined the Trail in several places and racers were serenaded by babbling waters where creek coordinates encountered the course.
            Another element of coolness was the absence of bugs to terrorize runners, spectators and officials, as has been the case in some years. Guess we can thank Old Man Winter for hanging around in support of all who took part in this wilderness trek. Thanks also go to all the organizing volunteers for making this an awesome event.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the coming of our full “budding flower” moon, a sure sign for all things that grow!


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