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Wildersmith May 24

Northern Lights (Charlie Stinchcomb/Flickr)
Northern Lights (Charlie Stinchcomb/Flickr)

Wildersmith_20130524_finalcut.mp312.62 MB

Alas, genuine spring on the Gunflint!  The power of Zigwan (spring in Ojibwe) has overcome the frosty spirit of a long winter.

Since our last meeting on the radio there’s a celebration of sort with winter’s final passing. The long watch for open waters on the big lakes ended pretty much all over the territory last weekend. Exact dates for disappearance of the hard water on Saganaga and Seagull Lakes are sketchy depending upon with whom you talk. The dates are firm, though, for Poplar and Gunflint lakes, as Sarah at Trail Center and yours truly here on the Gunflint declared ice out on May 17.

The ice on Gunflint Lake didn’t go without surging back and forth for several days, leaving shorelines stacked with crystal shards. Although I have not heard of any major shoreline damage, we here at Wildersmith came within a heartbeat of losing our water line to the marauding ice cake.

Another couple items are to be celebrated along with the full “budding flower” moon of tomorrow night. Some much needed rain finally dampened the territory along with our first thunder of the season, while canoeists and anglers are smiling as they are now free to buzz to their favorite fishing places.

With winter 2012-13 now into the books, a brief review of our long months past seems to be in order. I can only reflect on what has taken place here at Wildersmith as the cold facts might vary from place to place along this 57-mile Trail.

To say the least it was a doozy, starting slow, gaining momentum month by month and closing with a lingering fury! For us cold climate enthusiasts, it was satisfying to once again experience the true character of what defines us.

On snow, we had our first measurable amount on Thanksgiving (though flurries teased us on Sept. 22) and the last came on May 11-12. In between, 107 ½ inches were tallied with the largest amount falling on April 19, 23 inches.

The Gunflint Lake succumbed to solidarity Dec. 22 and regained liquidity May 17. Between those momentous occasions the coldest recorded low temperature was an actual bone chilling minus 43 on Jan. 24. A few days prior to that frosty morning we experienced our coldest daytime high temp in 14 winters here when we got up to a paltry minus 28, brrrr!

That’s all behind us and with exception of a few mini-glaciers hidden in the coniferous shade, the past six months have melted into memories. So joyous was the winter, I celebrated its leaving by getting right into the lake.

The fact is, I was in that icy liquid twice, the day our ice left and the next day too. Both of the cool excursions were out of necessity and not out of a real zest for a cool dip.

Equipped with insulated cold water gear, I assisted with the installation of a neighbor’s dock the first time in, and then extended wild fire sprinkler system pumping lines out from the shores at three locales next day. I can assure all that the 30-something degree water is worthy of extreme caution for those hitting the canoe circuit or heading out on fishing escapades. Please be safe!

In our wild neighborhood an unexpected avian observation has captured the attention of folks down on County Rd. 20 where it intersects with the Mile O Pine.  A neighbor alerted us Smiths to a nest of ravens high in a giant white pine. I have since found that the nesting residents have been squawking for several weeks, and the two or maybe three youngsters are so big that mom and dad can’t even get in the nest. They are sure to take that first flight of independence any day, making for peace and quiet around there once more.

With the loons back on area lakes, one more homecoming is of mention. The hummingbirds have answered their northern call and are hungrily zipping about in search of some manmade nectar. No blooms yet, so it’s up to us!

Another animal account found yours truly in apparent close proximity to one of our wilderness warriors not long ago, and didn’t even know it. I had been in the yard doing some brushing and headed into the house when my wife made me aware that a wolf had just scampered along our lake shore not 100 feet away from where I had entered.

I don’t know that it had been sizing me up, but for sure, it was likely closer than I would have preferred it to be.  I’m happy that it was running away instead of at me.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the coming of the green!

Airdate: May 24, 2013