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Wildersmith February 11


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Alas, America is beyond its self-imposed Super Sunday! After more than two weeks of nonsensical analytical madness about cheese or steel, the masses can return to normal, whatever that means.

Out here in the wilderness every day is ‘super’, but in a more common sense way. Measured by increasing daylight vs. darkness minutes, a rosy February sunrise, a wild animal chase for survival or a solitary moment of peace for white tails to lie down in deep snow under our balsam canopy, we’re enriched by a more sane sense of life events.

Super Sunday viewers endured nearly fours hours of televised consumer propaganda, with a little NFL football inserted here and there. The message conveyed in the paragraph above probably seems bewildering, since I was once a teacher of high school football and love the game, but enough is enough for this guy.

Be that as it may, it’s encouraging now that half of America is happy with the Pack’s Big Bowl outcome. And isn’t this an improvement over the whole of our country that is either mad, badgering or critical of whatever is, or is not, happening in life’s many sectors? It sure is time for a bit of Valentine’s Day love, don’t you think?

With almost half of month two into the record books, the upper Trail is being shorted on snow distribution. It is not unexpected, as February is one of the driest border country months, but more than one local has expressed jealousy and irritation that everywhere south and east of the Arrowhead is getting the snow that we want. Folks residing in those places seem to have no appreciation for Mother Nature’s fleecy gift.

One thing in our favor is that we had no January thaw, so the white of late October remains compressed to the ground at Wildersmith, along with the 76 1/2 inches that have been measured to date.

A mini warm-up late last week sparked some interest in spring, but thermometers still did not edge above the magic 32. For the record we have not been above freezing in our neighborhood since November 15.

Winter Tracks festivities got under way last weekend throughout the county with all kinds of cold and snow activities. I think there may have been some new land speed records set by snowmobile riders on Gunflint Lake. I’m assuming that all who created near-sonic booms had a good time, and got back to their point of origin safely or to service stops for GORP (Gas, Oil and Repair Parts).

There was considerable dog sledding activity over the weekend too, as Gunflint Lodge sponsored a package for guests that included such adventures. It’s appropriate that this happened as the nearly 400-mile John Beargrease Sled Dog Race just completed its annual trek out Gunflint way. The silent beauty of this historic, age-old mode of travel is a considerable contrast from modern day power sledding.

For other quiet winter sports lovers, the groomed cross-country ski trail system is outstanding, maybe the best in several winters. And the white is deep enough now, that hiking actually requires snowshoes away from the beaten path.

Perhaps the biggest difficulty for those in the business of promoting X-C skiing exploits is keeping up with trail grooming. Seems like they just get caught up with setting tracks, and here comes Old Man Winter with another deposit to cover their work. Guess that’s a happy problem.

Sustenance in the wild kingdom is ongoing. Wolves have to eat too, so they have opened any number of fast food venues from deep in the woods to right along back country roads. It is unbelievable how quickly those venison kill sites come and go. The wild neighborhood has a pretty good handle on the practice of leave not a trace.

Another wild critter was observed recently in an unusual predator/prey happening.
A gal down the road watched as a hungry whiskey Jack (Canadian Jay) caught a glimpse of an injured pine siskin, apparently hurt in a window glass collision.

Regaining a degree of consciousness following the reflection encounter, the little avian thrashed about in the snow attempting to right itself into flight. Seizing an opportunity, Mr. Gray Jay swooped down, snatched the tipsy bird and was last seen winging off to the treetops. I’m rather certain that the Jay bird had no intention of nursing Tweety back to health. Woodsy wonders will never cease!

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some chocolate and the romance of the wilderness!

Airdate: February 11, 2011

Photo courtesy of Sarah H/artescienza via Flickr.