Hi. I’m Steve Robertsen with the Superior National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Forest. For up to the minute information on topics such as fire restrictions, be sure to check our website or at a Ranger Station.
For the week of July 11th, here’s what’s going on around the Forest.
While much of the rest of the state is drying out a bit, we’ve had significant storms this past week. Road weight restrictions have been lifted by the county, but many of the gravel roads are pretty rough from erosion. Watch out for soft edges and shoulders on all the roads. While driving, you may run into logging traffic near Harriet Lake, the Four Mile Grade, and the Sawbill Trail on the Tofte District, and near Shoe Lake, Greenwood Lake, and Devil Track Lake on the Gunflint. Gravel trucks are hauling gravel for construction along the Caribou Trail and near the road construction on the Gunflint Trail.
Regarding fire, slash is being burned near the Honeymoon and Caribou Trail intersection, so you may see smoke in that area. Fire crews are still working on fuel reduction at East Bearskin Campground, so there are people there cutting undergrowth, and signs that the understory has been cut recently. This is part of an effort to reduce the amount of fuel available for wild fires and to help create a more natural balance of overstory and understory in the woods.
Wet and cool weather really dominates the forest right now. People have even seen ice in some rocky crevices along Lake Superior! I don’t think there’s still ice on the trails, but if you are hiking, expect muddy trail conditions. Please don’t widen trails by trying to avoid mud holes – your best bet is just to slog through it. If you are canoeing, be safe. High water has hidden many rocks and made some portages almost canoe-able, but sometimes the emphasis is on the ‘almost’. Beaver dams have even been washed out in places, so areas where you have been before may seem a lot different this year. Whether you are hiking or canoeing, bring mosquito repellent! It is a banner year for bugs, so be prepared.
On the plus side, the cool weather seems to have prolonged our spring wildflowers and some birds are still singing like it was spring. Loon eggs are hatching, so keep an eye out for loon chicks near (or on!) their parents in the water, but please don’t approach loon families. Give them their distance.
Hope you enjoy another week in the Forest and on the water. Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.