Hi. This is, Paulette Anholm, information assistant on the Tofte and Gunflint Ranger Districts, with the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Forest. For the week of July 29, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
It is the end of July and the beginning of August, and the fireweed has begun its countdown to the end of summer. Fireweed is the tall lavender flower with narrow leaves found in open areas after fires, but also in openings along roads and trails. The flowers are in a single spike, and begin blooming from the bottom at the end of July. They slowly creep up the stalk, and when the flowers reach the top, summer has ended. We still have a few weeks though to enjoy some summer activities out in the woods, so here’s some information to help you on your journey.
The paving project continues on the Sawbill Trail, usually not too bad, but allow time for the occasional long wait. There is also construction on The Grade near Toohey and Fourmile Lakes. That stretch was closed completely earlier this week for culvert replacement, but is now open. You may encounter logging trucks in some places on the Forest. On the Gunflint District, harvest is taking place off of Greenwood Road and Firebox Road. On the Tofte District, there will be trucks in the area around Sawbill Landing near Isabella.
Back roads may still have signs of the recent storms in the form of branches and other debris on the road. There may be some deadfalls blocking the road, but most have been cleared. Be aware that the storm activity has bent or loosened some trees, and some trees are still falling and may block previously cleared roadways. These same conditions are true for trails and portages. Give yourself extra time, and if carrying a canoe on your shoulders, you may want to scout the route before you start out.
Campers in the Boundary Waters or at backcountry sites should always look for possible hazard trees when making camp, but especially after storms which may have left broken branches dangling in trees, or caused other trees to be weakened.
This is a great time of year to get out and look for late summer wildflowers. Spring may be famous for flowers, but right now isn’t bad either. Along with the fireweed, we’ve spotted many other flowers not seen in the spring, such as a ragged fringed orchid. The advantage of looking for flowers now is that you can also be looking for blueberries and raspberries. If you are in search of berries, make sure to park well off the roadway. We also don’t recommend picking berries right on the road right of way due to road chemicals that may be in the area, and possible invasive species control spraying that takes place on some roads.
Enjoy our warm summer days, and see if you can get enough berries to make a pie! Until next week, this has been Paulette Anholm with the National Forest Update.