Wildersmith On The Gunflint July 1, 2009

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Entering the second half of 2009, many are wondering where the first half went. It surely has flown by. Month seven features the “full buck” moon, and it reaches its pinnacle in a few short days, as daylight minutes are trickling away.

A weekend of celebration and remembering is on tap. While our nation observes our 233rd birthday, residents of the upper Gunflint will take time out to remember a windblown tragedy that changed the forest for the rest of our lives.

Yes, it was 10 years ago this Saturday that the rage of our natural world ripped a gash in the forest from Ely to Grand Marais. Over 300,000 acres of the northern Minnesota forest was slammed into twisted confusion.
It has taken many years to dig out of the mess, and much still remains as it fell on that fateful Fourth in 1999. However, the spirit of the folks in this wilderness will not be discouraged…even after more disaster with forest fires in ’05…’06…and ’07.
It is my belief that sorrow and grief of the past decade has blossomed into an undaunted Gunflint community. There’s a splendid sense among Trail folks that’s determined to see the forest rise again from storm and fire!
Thinking more about our wilderness community, thanks go out to many residents that worked at the Trail clean-up over the past couple weeks. There may still be places that need attention, but a great deal of mankind’s debris has been retrieved for proper disposal. If you can offer additional help, give Doug Graham or me a call and we can send you to a location that has not been canvassed.
This has to be an ongoing task too, as more litter is likely to appear after the annual ditch mowing in August and a few more weeks of tourist visits. Hope everyone is willing to keep pitching in to keep up with those that pitch out.
While folks have been trying to beautify the most traveled portion of the corridor, some off-Trail sites are sparkling with infusion of summer color. Lupine Lane (better known as County Road 50) is in full efflorescence.
And, a hiking couple reports the observation of some rare wood lilies along the Magnetic Rock Trail. Guess the splendid orange blooms are set in a sea of yellow hawkweed that provides a breathtaking landscape vista.
One has to be wondering if the promise of a bumper blueberry crop might be in a state of compromise. With June usually being one of our wetter months, it stands to reason that with drought-like rain amounts in the region over the last six weeks, that the crop volume will be diminished.
I’m beginning to think that the rain gods must have placed a curse over the Gunflint Lake watershed. This area can barely muster a dust settler out of every prognostication.
Although the wilderness is green, the persistent dry conditions are worrisome as things relate to wildfire potential. Residents and business alike are not only praying for rain, but also that wilderness visitors will use good sense with regard to campfires.
Confirmation that it’s really dry comes in a drive down any of our back-country roads. The dust is chokingly bad!
A great time was had by all who attended the 12th annual North Shore Health Care Foundation barbeque at Gunflint Lodge last Sunday evening. The fundraiser saw a lively crowd dining on scrumptious ribs and chicken along with a variety of buffet items. The eating extravaganza was festive with considerable reminiscent toe-tapping to some great musical entertainment provided by the talented Gerald Thilmany of Loon Lake.
Momentum is building for the annual Canoe Races as planners are putting the final touches on activities for this year’s event. Tickets for some fantastic raffle items as well as a Wenonah canoe are on sale in many places along the Trail. They will also be sold during special sales at the Trail Center restaurant the next two weekends, and until drawings begin on the evening of the races.
Mark your calendar for the big day, Wednesday, July 15th on the Gunflint Lodge waterfront. Food court opens at 4 p.m.with races and prize drawings to commence at 6. Be there for the fun and support our Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue teams. Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some time on the sky blue waters!

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