Like the flurry of migrating avian creatures, October has flown by. Meek and mellow most of the time, our 10th segment of 2010 finally showed a hint of winter last week.
An autumn squall left a sheer layer of snow along the Trail on Wednesday evening the 20th. Yes it did precipitate, lasting for an overnight and amounting to only six one-hundredths, but it was white and wet. By mid-morning next day we had slipped right back into the same old dry rut.
A couple trips to the end of the Trail last weekend left me almost dumbfounded. When I passed over the Cross River where it intersects the byway, the river is so astonishingly low that it probably should not be defined as such. It is more or less a rock pathway now with a few puddles. It’s both sad and maddening that the climate patterns have altered so drastically in the past decade. Sure makes one wonder what will come next.
The only positive about the nasty drought conditions is that it has allowed another project to commence at the end of the trail historic site. Several citizens remaining in the cold season Gunflint community came together once again on behalf of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. Meeting this time was for the assembly and installation of the Rubaboo Trail boardwalk at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. The energetic crew, under the leadership of Kath and Mike Lande, spent the better part of last Saturday getting all parts assembled and a good one-half of the scenic walkway put in place.
Sincere thanks are extended to those ambitious folks, but the job is not yet done. Another gathering is planned for this Saturday (tomorrow) to complete the project. If anyone in the territory is interested in helping, plan to be there at 9 a.m. All hands are welcome!
With fall being both a time of endings and beginnings, wilderness happenings are dwindling on some counts and reaching a fever pitch on others. The tamaracks are about dusted off, sap in sugary tree veins is oozing down to root, earth-level foliage has collapsed with the loss of its life-supporting juices, and loons have gathered to shove off for places south and east.
Meanwhile, the biological energies of sustaining a next generation are beginning to flow as whitetails head into the rut. Although the mating ritual is beginning to wane for the area moose and bear, there is still plenty of exuberance in the woodsy thicket as winter preparations continue.
Human spirits are on the rise too, as the firearms deer hunting season is nearing. I’m hearing of rifles being sighted in, stalking sites getting camouflaged and hot orange gear being packed into duffels. Yes, November is moving in and next weekend will find both man and beast on the run. Everyone should plan to be on the lookout!
At Wildersmith, I have yet to finish fencing a patch of young trees from potential browsing deer, next year’s firewood is yet to be split and stacked, and the need to mount my snowplow blade remains on the list. Nevertheless, it’s time to get on with winter. Gray clouds of the coming month have been building over the past few days and it has put me in the mood; even checked out the snow blower and it started on the second pull, so let the snow time offensive begin.
A close of the column for this week is not complete without an urgent request to remind one and all WTIP listeners and readers that the fall membership drive is but days away. A continuance of the splendid program offerings from this gem of the north needs your ongoing financial support. “Wildersmith wants you” to give to the best of your ability. As the fund drive begins Nov. 4, listen for a Wildersmith incentive match to be announced and make a contribution!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the natural offerings.
Airdate: October 29, 2010