Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 6

Fiddlehead Fern
Fiddlehead Fern

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It took until June, but the last of winter’s snow cover is now gone along the Mile O Pine. However, we still have some areas of frost in the ground as evidenced by a culvert or two containing ice remnants.
           
So I’ll close the books on the season that was, with a few winter facts as a sampling of what the northland endured. I qualify these items by saying this data was from the happenings in my neighborhood. Other places in the Minnesota Arrowhead could have had way more or less snow and/or cold, depending on the natural character of a particular location.
           
Snow accumulation at Wildersmith was 120 1/2 inches. We experienced just shy of 100 days where the temperature was below zero. And we had lake ice from December 8,, 2013 until May 19, 2014. For those of us that cherish winter personality, it was one to behold!
           
Those chilling facts are behind us now, and the territory has advanced to near full leaf-out stage. Again this week the upper Trail sweltered in a few days of early summer-like humidity. This has brought out the marsh marigolds, dandelions, wild strawberry blossoms and fiddlehead ferns, to name but a few of our ground level perennials.
           
On a less than happy note, the first wave of mosquitos has taken over with a vengeance, itch, itch, and droves of black flies are clouding my bug net as I begin stacking next year’s firewood. Everyone should be putting out a welcome flag to all bats and dragonflies ASAP!
           
Our tinder-dry conditions at this end of the Trail were tempered somewhat last Sunday and Monday with some much needed rain, although the amounts at this place were less than overwhelming. With slightly over an inch in my rain gauge, we’re breathing a little easier about fire potential for the time being.
           
Prior to the rain, yours truly turned on the wildfire sprinkler system (WFSS) as both a test run and to dampen down the crunchy forest floor. I would recommend that everyone who has such a system to be doing the same when these increasing drought-like conditions begin to make you feel uneasy.
           
As a sideline, running the WFSS system for an hour (one tank of gasoline) on a hot humid evening will greatly surprise you by how it cools down the house and surrounding area, in addition to creating that fire safe umbrella of moisture.
             
The re-setting of lakeside docks along with launching winter-stored watercraft is proceeding at a steady pace in upper Gunflint lakes, while the human snowbirds continue their gradual return to the woods.
           
Meanwhile, a couple Bruno returnees have been sighted along the Mile O Pine, and the snowshoe hares observed recently have pretty much completed their summer wardrobe ensemble with now dirty-looking white socks.
             
And not long ago a local ravens’ nest has taken on an empty look as I watched the young’uns out on a touch and go training flight exercise. They sure grow up fast!
           
Memorial services are being held at the Gunflint Lodge Conference Center for a couple of long time area residents who have passed from our midst. All are welcome to attend as the upper Gunflint reflects on the lives of these two friends and neighbors.
           
The first such remembrance is for Dennis Todd. It will be held Saturday, June 7 at 10 a.m. Dennis guided fisher folks out of Gunflint Lodge for some 27 years. He perished in a boating accident late last fall on Lake Saganaga.
           
The second service is for Eleanor Matsis, a top-notch area educator and also a devoted pioneer employee of the Gunflint Lodge. Ms. Matsis will be remembered on Saturday, June 14 at 2 p.m. Eleanor was a resident of the Care Center in Grand Marais at the time of her passing this past winter.
           
A couple more notes of interest come from the Cook County Invasives Team (CCIT) and the U.S. Forest Service. The director of the CCIT, Angelique Edgerton, encourages residents with questions and concerns about possible invasive plant species around their home/cabin properties to please give her a call. She would welcome an opportunity to come out for individual visits to both identify and give consultation for eliminating problem invaders. Angelique can be reached at 387-3772.
           
A timely educational experience is being offered by the Forest Service on dealing with bears. Suzanne Campbell of both the Tofte and Gunflint ranger stations is interested in meeting with area lake property owner groups to share insights on living amongst the sometimes bothersome critters. Sharing in the program will be Mary Manning, a local DNR conservation officer. If your group would like to schedule this event, give Suzanne a call at either ranger station number.
           
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the blooming Gunflint!

(Photo by Robbie on Flickr)
           
 


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