Marcia Roepke
Trail Time

Trail Time – Late March Snow

We’re nearing the end of March and up here on the Gunflint Trail, I’m looking out my window at more than 15” of snow and it’s still coming down. This is day three of our March Lion snowstorm. Lars has been snowblowing with the tractor for a few hours today. With the snow still falling, I think I’ll have to dig my snowshoes out again before I stray off the path. I was out stomping through the snow earlier; it’s a darn good cardio workout without the snowshoes. I had put mine away for the season, but so much deep beautiful snow deserves a good tromp through the woods.

It’s hard to believe that two weeks ago Lars and I were having our morning coffee outside, sitting in the sun, entranced by the chickadees. I got a little sunburn that day. Well, who knows, that could happen in two weeks again. Or three. But it will happen. We can count on that.

A snowstorm like this can really mess up people’s plans if they have to go anywhere, but it’s a boon to the woods, waters and wildlife as we transition to spring. This snowfall means a lot in terms of rainfall. It brings relief — the worry about a dry spring is lessened now. And maybe because of this snow, we won’t have to cut a hole through the ice on the lake to pump water to our wildfire abatement sprinklers. That is a real thing and exactly what we would need to do if the lakes are still frozen and the woods are bone dry.

They say that ten inches of snow equals one inch of water, but that is highly dependent on the water content of the snow. This particular snow is not heavy with water, but neither is it the light fluffy kind.

I have it from an expert that this is particularly good snow to plow. “It’s a dream!” said my plowman. This weather is a boon to the people who plow, since many of them depend on it as a seasonal source of income. Up to now, there had only been two times the plow had to go down our road. That’s two times this winter. That’s really unusual. In fact it’s weird, but I have used that word too much to describe this winter, so I am putting it to rest.

The people who plow our roads and drives are some of the unsung heroes of the Trail. I am imagining how we can celebrate them. I was thinking about how in England there’s a Ploughman’s lunch on the menu at many of the country pubs. They mean the kind of plowing of the earth. A Ploughman’s lunch there is usually made up of a hunk of cheese, good crusty bread, butter, and pickles or relish. It also sometimes has chutney or fruit, pickled onions, sliced ham, pork pie, maybe a boiled egg, or even some pâté. Yum.

But plowman is a bit of a misnomer, since quite a few women plow as well. Let’s call it the plower’s lunch. Or, even better: The People of the Plow luncheon special. I plan on serving that venerable meal to my plower as soon as I can, accompanied by a nice dark ale. You can count on that. You know who you are.

Speaking of food, most of the restaurants on the Gunflint Trail will  be closed for the season after March 31 and will reopen in April or May.

Gunflint Lodge keeps its restaurant, Justine’s, open year round. I gave them a call to see if they might start up the sleigh rides again now that we have snow, and they said they might, depending on weather conditions. I know I’m tempted to take a sleigh ride. I’d love to see those two gorgeous Clydesdale horses out in this snow. If that appeals to you, make sure to call to check before you make the drive.

A sleigh ride and a plower’s lunch. Now that’s a plan for a good snowy winter’s day.