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Wildersmith January 27

"Although it was not really bone chilling, like often has been recorded (40-50 below), serious ice-making cold set in this week"

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With our northwoods January fading fast, the month got a little brittle last week. Typically, the third stanza of month one is the coldest of the season and it was no exception so far this year.

Although it was not really bone chilling, like often has been recorded, (no 40 to 50 below), serious ice-making cold set in at Wildersmith. Several days of minus something helped get the ‘Zamboni’ started.

A winter tune of a different note was humming through the forest. The cedar trees were snapping soulful cracks as their sap stiffened to the popping point. Meanwhile the lake outside my door was rumbling occasional baritone notes while shivering in her thickening coat. The old Gunflint Gal even coughed up a thundering bass note or two the other night that shook the house. And if Nature didn’t conjure up enough seasonal noise, it was so cold that the deck around the house popped like a kettle of corn.

All this sudden cold stuff still amounted to only one-half of what it should be as we went another week with meager snow. However, the “old man of the north” must be taking pity on us, because as I key the Gunflint scoop, we are getting a timely dose of fresh crystals. Although it is not exactly a deluge, our Gunflint community is nevertheless thankful.

In spite of the less than normal depth of white, snow activists are making the best of it. Cross-country skiers are having wonderful times on the great trails out this way. Snowmobilers meanwhile are getting along, but dealing with very rough trail circumstances while the sleigh ride business is heavenly as ever and ice anglers are drillin’ and a catchin’. No one should be hesitant about coming out for a little winter fun, we are still open!

The lack of winter stymied the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Race, but not Cook County’s Frank Moe and Odin Jorgenson. With the Gunflint Trail being about the only Minnesota place with any snow, things were happening fast as they began to organize what will be an abbreviated Beargrease substitute. A meeting was held this past Wednesday to solicit volunteer help for the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race.

It will be short and sweet, but nevertheless, an exciting chance for mushers to give their dogs a run. The competition will be a sprint to be sure, starting at 4 p.m. this coming Monday, Jan. 30 from the Devil Track Lake Landing. The mid-race check point will be at Trail Center that night, and will finish back at the Landing early next morning, Jan. 31.

This is great for the area and if you can help out in any way give either Frank, (218) 368-0661 or Odin, 370-5934 a call. If you can’t help, get out and at least give these teams a cheer. Look for more race details on Boreal Access. Guess a little snow is a whole lot better than no snow!

This isn’t the only sled dog race in the making. Planning is under way for the sixth annual Mush for a Cure in just a matter of weeks. The big pink schedule of events along the Trail will take place the weekend of March 9 through 11. This colorful extravaganza has contributed over $100,000 to breast cancer research during the past five years. Get involved however you can, more information is available on the “Mush for a Cure” website.

Wilderness warrior sightings are coming in almost daily. The Gunflint/Loon Lake Pack, or at least parts of it, has been seen a number of times cavorting around on the Gunflint ice. And several of us have observed the monster wolf of the gang in many different Gunflint Lake neighborhoods. It’s big and healthy, apparently not missing any meals.

It’s unusual to catch sight of a wolf at all, let alone seeing more wolves than white tails, particularly in the Gunflint Lake area, but that’s the way it seems. Then again, maybe there’s the reason, more predators than prey. I’m guessing the pack will eventually move on as venison opportunities become less and less.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the best of border country!

Airdate: January 27, 2012

Photo courtesy of Liz West via Flickr.