Wildersmith on the Gunflint Nov. 18, 2009

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The north woods are in the midst of November week three, and the atmospheric conditions remain as they came in, rather lamb-like. More above normal temperatures crushed what would have been a dandy snowfall last weekend when instead, rainfall in the amount of 9/10 of an inch fell at Wildersmith.
 
As the mercury finally slid below the freezing mark, much of the territory did end up with a spritzing of snow last Sunday morning that iced the Trail in places for our trip to town for church services. But the return trip found brilliant sunshine and only shaded areas with white remnants.
 
So Old Man Winter remains in hiding, last seen cavorting about along the jet stream, a few hundred miles to the north. His estimated time of arrival is still unknown.
 
The few deer hunters with whom I’ve had contact are spending hours in woodsy contemplation, still waiting to see a prize worth sighting up. It’s evident that a partnership between a large population of hungry wolves and a semi-severe winter in 2008 and ‘09 has culled the whitetails considerably in the upper Gunflint reaches.
 
And speaking of Canis Lupis, recently a couple of small canine cousins have been stalked at locations not far off the Trail. Timely interference by their owners saved them from ending up as quick hors d’oeuvres for their distant kin.
 
Folks in the territory often are confronted by a moose that is taking its half of the road from the center, and in general establishing an intimidating king/queen of the road attitude. The Smiths had a similar experience twice in one night last week, as we traversed the dark Mile O’ Pine.
 
Since the critters were here long before us, I always feel committed to giving the wild gang a chance to get out of the way before wheeling on by. This time however, it was not a moose that held up our single vehicle caravan. Strange as it may seem, we were delayed when a snowshoe hare popped right out into the beams of our lights.
 
Suddenly this winter ball of fluff was king. Whether it was confused or just couldn’t make up its mind where to get off, the bunny went loping right down the middle of the road for some distance, before finally relinquishing passage to this ensuing monster.
 
During the warm months we seldom see a pine marten, but with the onset of filling avian seed trays, news that those munchies are available must travel quickly. In the last week, several of the weasel family have returned for another season of seed-snacking and poultry-poaching from the Smith family deck.
 
 I must say that it is fun to have the chicken chewers back in the neighborhood as the gourmets of barnyard fowl are always up to some interesting dinnertime antics.
 
News has arrived from the Chik Wauk museum design people (Split Rock Studios) that display construction drawings are to be completed by the first week of December. Production is to commence soon thereafter. This is exciting news for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society.
 
Equally exciting, for yours truly, is that I got a chance to preview the museum’s little theater video production. I am pleased to report that the creation is tastefully presented. Museum visitors that cherish this part of the universe will be proud and pleased when they get to see it on opening day next summer.
 
Organizers of the Gunflint Green-up have put the wheels in motion for the third annual forest experience. Dates have been set for May 7 and 8, 2010. Keep up with planning by checking the website… www.gunflint-trail.com/ggu/index.html ...for registration and lodging opportunities.
 
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor, with thanks, the great Gunflint Scenic Byway!
 

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