Week one of June saw a significant turnabout in upper Gunflint Trail weather. The sultry end to May gave way to some glorious cool days, and territory residents even got a smidgen of rain during the period…little under a half inch at Wildersmith.
There are more blooms to brag about. Should frequencies of rain increase, there could be a bumper crop of wild strawberries, and the same could hold true for raspberries as I see what must be a billion blossoms along our Mile O’ Pine.
It’s a bit early to pass judgment on the blueberry potential. With the thousands of acres left barren by the Ham Lake fire, every one knows that plants of the blue have taken over just about every spot on the sunny hillsides. We just need abundant moisture to ensure plenty of blueberry hills.
And believe it or not, I observed some domestic perennials in flower down the road. The northern ritual for peonies is about three weeks early as are the lilacs in the Wildersmith yard. Both may have been shivering, however.
Several next generation wild critters have been making candid appearances. Yes, many of the newborn are out and about. I have a report of twin moose calves being seen along the Trail, and I came upon a pair of gawky yearlings in the middle of the black top in a curvy stretch along the Cross River last Saturday morning. Then a momma grouse was seen strutting across the Mile O’ Pine with a line of puffballs strolling not far behind.
A few days later, during a trip to Grand Marais, the Smiths came upon a fox that had her kits out of the den and along the road in the vicinity of the Rockwood Lodge turn off. If traveling in this locale, be mindful it’s a 40 mph zone, and be ready to give these young’uns a break.
There is a short stretch along south Gunflint Lake Road where I always see a number of snowshoe hares hanging out. I haven’t seen any of their little ones, but surely, with their skills in multiplication, they can’t be far away.
Planning for the next big Gunflint community event is gaining intensity. Of course I’m speaking of the grand opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center on July Fourth. A special preview is being offered to members of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society at the next regular meeting June 28. A fish fry is being held on the shore of Sag Bay at the museum site beginning at noon. All current members are invited. After lunch and the usual meeting, attendees will be encouraged to tour the museum and walk the trails.
Look for many more announcements in days to come on the programming times for events on the Fourth of July at Chik-Wauk.
While all this museum hoopla is going on, organizers of the annual Canoe Races have not been sitting idly by. Coordinators of this year’s event have the wheels in motion for another big fundraising effort. The Trail Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue team is the recipient of resources generated by this water spectacle that has been going on for 30-some years. Tickets are on sale now and continue until the evening of July 21 for the huge raffle drawing and grand prize giveaway, a Wenonah canoe.
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some of the wilderness activities.
By Fred Smith
Wildersmith on the Gunflint