Wildersmith Jan. 13

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This "atypical weather nonsense" is playing havoc with thickening ice on the big lakes in Gunflint Territory

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Winter on a yo-yo, yes! Another northwoods meltdown slipped in on the territory just when we thought “Mr. Cold and Blustery” had things under control. He just can’t get a grip and starts that slip-slidin’ around with way too much ease. Folks out the Trail are none too happy.

This atypical weather nonsense is playing havoc with thickening ice on the big lakes out this way. Saganaga and Gunflint lakes remain quite iffy safety-wise as the lake trout opener hits.

Over the past week there’s been considerable splitting of the ice on Gunflint. In fact, looking down on the old gal from high up on the ridge, she took on the appearance of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

It might be blamed on the pressure exerted from those violent winds of several days ago. Whatever the cause, water seepage in all these seams has left plenty of slush and even some standing water in a number of places.

Meanwhile, the smaller bodies, frozen for weeks, have more than enough safe ice, but they may not offer the favorite trout fishing holes of their big mamma cousins. For sure, I would hope that common sense prevails with regard to driving one’s vehicle onto the ice like many do to set up “Trout City” at the west end of the Gunflint Gal.

A mid-Trail report came to me about some unusual avians hanging out. It seems that the redpolls have moved in en masse to at least one feeder. Among them was an albino redpoll. I know it seems somewhat contradictory to call it a white redpoll, but a digital computer image confirmed it was what it was.

Then another unusually marked lady pine grosbeak showed up at the same feeder. This little gal was brightly colored about the head and breast as opposed to the typical muted gold head and gray-brown body. If she hadn’t been hanging out with her brethren, she might easily been mistaken for a parrot with her coat of many colored feathers.

The Gunflint/Loon lake wolf pack has been making a number of nightly sojourns around this neck of the woods. Late one evening last week, they stopped by on the ridge above Wildersmith and entertained us with a lengthy choral interlude. Their voices needed no amplifying to be easily heard even with the house buttoned up tight against the cold. What a neat treat!

Speaking more to northwoods adventure, the great warrior howling was fitting on a spectacular starry night when the waxing “wolf/great spirit” moon had things lit up in iridescent blue snow. Talk about romance of the wilderness, these moments couldn’t have been any better.

Although yours truly has not seen the aurora borealis lately, I am always anxious to learn about this heavenly phenomenon. If one is interested in learning more, there is a great writing about northern lights in the latest edition of Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. The author puts scientific/technical information into easily understood language.

When it turns cold enough again that it requires cuddling up with some good reading, that same periodical has a couple informative articles on fox and fishers, which are members of Mother Nature’s clan around here.

And lastly, a nighttime trip down the Trail last week found a moose trifecta. They were observed getting their licks off the salty road just above the Laurentian Divide overlook. Must have been good, too, because they were out again on the way back up, only this time all that was observed was their back halves as they scurried into the forest.

Keep on hangin’ on and savor some good thoughts for snow!

Airdate: January 13, 2012

Photo courtesy of Jukka Vuokko via Flickr.


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