A week into this month and our Gunflint weather has mellowed from the last ghastly segment of July. Cooling northern air settled over the area and a brief thundershower in the wee hours of last Sunday morning calmed the dust in this neighborhood. Although the rain was not of major consequence, the dropping dampened the thirsty forest floor for at least a day or so.
Chapter eight of the year was ushered in on winds to remind us of November gales. As I commence this week's Trail review, three consecutive days has seen Gunflint Lake and her sky-blue cousins thrashing in frenzy.
The geographical alignment of the lake outside our door makes her most temperamental when prevailing west-northwesterly air comes barreling down “the pike” in earnest. In fact, the “old gal” is most unforgiving of anyone who does not give her respect during times of wrestling with the gales.
I know of at least three near disasters during the rough seas of last weekend here on Gunflint Lake. Two involved canoers having to seek refuge assistance while another episode found two boaters caught in a violent storm-front surge which ended up with an emergency stop at the Wildersmith dock.
In both instances the lake-faring navigators were experienced folks, but ended up being no match for the fury of our angry Gunflint waters. All were well taken care of by friendly, accommodating Gunflint south shore residents. So all is well that ended well!
Our dockside observations provided a seldom seen aquatic trek up the lake one evening last week. This adventure occurred during a somewhat calmer time of the recent blustery sequence. The fact of the matter is this incident took place in the hour or so prior to the storm front surge mentioned above.
Heading eastward (up the lake) three innovative canoeing parties had apparently conceived a plan to take advantage of the breezy conditions. Aligning themselves side by side, a tarp (maybe it was a canopy top) was stretched between the two outer canoes at the bows with rear corners of the resulting sail anchored in the hands of two comrades in the sterns. Meanwhile the third unit was sandwiched in between with the stern paddler of this canoe steering the catamaran like craft.
The crew seemed quite experienced in sailing maneuvers as they cruised by us on-lookers in no time at all. Apparently headed toward a rendezvous at Camper's Island, they soon disappeared from view. I’m guessing they beat the storm to a shore side campsite, or maybe they’re caught up in the trees near Bridal Falls still hanging onto their sail. In any event, it was intriguing to watch them battle the rolling waters.
The upper Gunflint heads off into week two of this month of the “Blueberry Moon” (Miinike Giizis) focused on a busy next few days. Sunday is a chamber music concert, Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings. It begins at 4:00 pm in the Mid-Trail (Schaap) Community Center. Requests for last minute seating reservations can be made by calling Susan at 388-9494. At this writing, it is unknown if seating remains available.
Scheduled for the next day, Monday (the 10th) is the August meeting of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society. This gathering begins at 1:30 pm in the Seagull Lake Community Center. The program will feature Earl Niewald, retired USFS/Gunflint District Ranger who served during the BWCA controversies of the late 1970’s. This should be an interesting historical reflection! Treats will again be served after the program.
Then on this coming Wednesday, August 12, the annual Mid-Trail fundraising bash for the Trail Volunteer Fire and EMS crews takes center stage. The Flea Market, Gift Boutique, Auction and Quilt Raffle commences at 1:00 pm in the Schaap Community Center. This is always an energetic event, especially the often hilarious bidding wars for some great handcrafted items by local artisans. Come early and stay late, for the big quilt drawing around 4:00 pm. Soft drinks and baked goods will also be on sale. Be there or be square!
The Gunflint summer has whizzed by. In the minds of some out this way, summer is over after July 4 while others say it's “kaput” following the downtown Fisherman’s Picnic.
This thought is being confirmed by “Mother Nature,” too, as the ground level flora, dogbane, is now golden along area roadsides and a few birch trees and young maples are beginning temper chlorophyll production in this time of dwindling daylight minutes. And according to the Minnesota DNR, the August stanza also shows lake water temps peaking during this first week and slowly trending southward from this point forward. So the beacon of fall is beginning to glow!
This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the trail, don’t miss the unused warm season days up the Gunflint!
(Photo by David Griffin Photography)