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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 14

Time is flying as we hit the halfway mark in July. Although twilight remains ‘til nearly the ten o’clock hour each evening, daylight minutes that are slipping away are barely noticeable.  

Vacation adventurers are packed into the territory taking advantage of outdoor living at its best. Parking facilities at area outfitters and resorts are filled to overflowing as are pull-offs for hiking trails and watercraft access points. 

Upper Trail weather has been fairly accommodating, too. It would seem a couple mildly sticky days and sporadic rains probably have not dampened spirits. Even the moose and I cannot grouse too much since we last met on the radio. 

Speaking of rain, we had plenty in June and the spell seems to be spilling over into July. We in the Wildersmith neighborhood have picked up well over another inch since the 4th of July. So area lakes continue their upward climb, putting some residents’ docks at surface level. 

Having spent the lion's share of my life in "urbania," I had little regard for the perils of travel on rural roads. Since 1999, I have learned a lot about living in back country, especially our arteries of mobility, as “Mother Nature” has her way with most everything as we all know. 

One such natural happening captures my attention whenever we are blessed with copious amounts of rain. Out here in the woods, evidence of what falling and running water does to porous gravel roads is plain dreadful. Gaining access to the Wildersmith place requires four and one-half miles of traveling on crushed rock. Over the years, I’ve come to know the road pretty well with regard to avoiding those teeth-jarring potholes. It’s my observation that no matter how many times the County Roads crew grades them smooth, those bumps in the road always re-appear, and in the same location.

Wondering why, it’s my idea maybe roadways were not intended to be as currently located. Secondly, in concert with early engineering design and the difficult lay of the land, droppings from the heavens just cannot be controlled by the “gal” in charge. Water goes where it wants to go. And, lastly, vehicle users complicate washed-out spots by pounding our way through such indentations over and over again with little concern. All this seemingly meaningless bumpy commentary has been stimulated by six weeks of inordinate rain around here, good for the forest but not for the roads. My attention to wash-board pathways is renewed with every instance of precipitation and each trip down the road.  

To an extent, on a somewhat positive note, these nature-made speed bumps are worthy as a means of slowing the pace of visiting suburban folk, while also improving regular user driving skills at avoiding the difficult road to wheel terrain. All being said, back road bumps are what they are, a way of life in unorganized territory. 

Back to news of greater importance, Sunday programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center this weekend features a visit from the folks at the International Wolf Center in Ely. The presentation “Wolves at Our Door” will be held from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. All are welcome!

Then on Tuesday, the 18th, a “Fishing Basics” class for children will be held at the Nature Center as well from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Space is limited and registration is free, but must be done in advance. There is still time, so give Chik-Wauk a call by Monday at 218-388-9915. 

If these two events aren’t enough busyness, the 40th annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races hit the water on Wednesday, the 19th. As usual they will be held on the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge. Events run from 4:00 until 8:00-ish when the gunwale pumping and the grand prize drawing for the kayak will conclude the excitement. Food tent (open at 4:30), races (beginning at 6:00), a silent auction, and continuous raffle prize drawings highlight what is always a great night in the Gunflint Community. All proceeds again go to support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad.

A note from the “wild neighborhood” tells of a sighting not happening much out this way anymore. With the whitetail population about totally decimated in the upper Trail, it is pretty exciting when there is an observation. The Smiths were fortunate during a recent trip home from the village to come upon a doe and her two fawns along the Trail. While all animal babies are cute, in my opinion there are none more precious than recently born deer, and these were no exception. There was some indecision about crossing the road in front of the vehicle, both by mom and her youngsters, so we stopped to allow their terror to calm. Then watched with interest as the mom guided them bounding off into the forest. It was amazing the grace with which the little ones navigated such difficult terrain being probably only a couple weeks old. 

Finally, a huge Wildersmith thanks to all who stepped up in support of WTIP for the “Summer of Love” membership drive. It goes without saying the family of listeners are simply the greatest. This is your radio station, and everyone should be proud of what is made possible through your resources. Eternally grateful, the staff and volunteers look forward to bringing you more high-quality radio entertainment and information in the days, months and years to come!

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with anticipation of learning something new daily!
 
 

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