Wildersmith November 30

The Gunflint Trail finally saw some snow this week... (Photo by Mr.OutdoorGuy/Flickr)
The Gunflint Trail finally saw some snow this week... (Photo by Mr.OutdoorGuy/Flickr)

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Finally, the great northern express pulled through our Gunflint station, better late than never! Mother Nature must have tired of hearing me whine, as the old gal made our happy Thanksgiving celebration even more blessed with a late night dose of something to brag about.
 
“The weather outside was frightful, but the next morning, was so delightful” when Trail residents awoke to a winter wonderland. The surprising winter storm dumped several inches of wet heavy fluff that coated every extremity in the forest with marshmallow mounds. The accumulation around Wildersmith was some 6 to 8 inches, and was probably more in the upper elevations through the Mid-trail snow zone.
 
The first real winter effort of the season was complicated with strong winds that caused considerable blowing and drifting in open areas, downed many limbs and dealt some areas brief power outages. Travel was hazardous and the Trail has now been tabbed for winter driving caution.
 
All in all, the opening weekend of our holiday season in border country was much like it should be for late November. And if the initial storm wasn’t enough, about another third of a foot was delivered in the darkness of last Saturday night.
 
So the moose and I are smiling with the beginning of holiday cheer, in hope that there will be much more moisture to come. Area lakes need a lot of replenishing come meltdown time next spring, and this was a good first start.
 
The making of ice has resumed on most lakes, but for the larger bodies in the upper Trail region the wind has kept them thrashing in spite of a couple single-digit nights. While the thermometers at Wildersmith are not official recording stations, we did have our first night of nothing on the mercury column. Yes, it was zero with a hope of many more to come. We need some bitter cold to freeze out the growing tick population that is so annoying and detrimental to our moose herd, let alone we humans.
 
The Mile O’ Pine, probably like most other backcountry roads, is nearly enclosed in an archway of bent over, snow-laden trees.  Many of the immature saplings are almost touching the road surface, creating a lacy tunnel of crystal.
 
This has made for difficult vehicular passage. Thus, yours truly has spent a good number of hours walking the road to relieve hundreds of stressed trunks and branches from their burden. I’m sure that if these woodsy citizens could talk, they’d be twanging joyously as they spring back skyward.
 
A couple days before the big weather changeover, I was outside doing a few chores when I heard the sound of voices. It was late afternoon, near sunset, and since the Smiths are the only residents on the Mile O Pine for the best part of the next seven months, to hear conversation was unusual.
 
Thinking it was maybe a late, southbound flock of Canadian honkers, I stopped still and gazed to the heavens, but there was none. The chatter continued, and suddenly I tuned in to some yelping coming from down the lakeshore to the west. The yelping soon turned to howls.
 
Apparently the Gunflint/Loon lake wolf pack was out and about, and they decided to practice a bit of north woods harmonizing. This went on for only a few moments, but it was such a cool time to be in touch with nature through a choral rendition that I would simply title “North Woods Nocturne No. 1.” How exhilarating!
 
It’s most intriguing how in tune critters are with atmospheric happenings. With the species in a state of decline in this part of the country and their being prone to wander, scarcely any evening grosbeaks are seen stopping by at Wildersmith anymore.
 
A few of the beautiful birds in dark brown to almost black and gold (I call them Iowa Hawkeye birds) made a sudden stopover for a little sustenance. They were here at the sunflower seed cafeteria for only a few short hours, and then gone. I think they were just passing through on their way to who knows where.
 
It could be theorized they might have been trying to keep ahead of old man winter as he was bearing down on the area, unbeknownst to the Wildersmith two. If that was the case, I should have been paying more attention to the situation, and I’d have surmised that a storm was brewing. Whatever the reason for this brief visit, the colorful bird was a joyful change of scenery from the norm.
 
Meanwhile, our frosty new landscaping has buried food sources for the winged flock, so we have an excess of hungry avians. Talk about air traffic congestion. Further, we have a better picture of our nocturnal visitors, with evidence of many four-legged beings who’ve been tracking though the snowy yard. Everything is so enchanting now that it ’tis the season.
 
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the beauty of wilderness winter!

Airdate: November 30, 2012


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