The upper Trail is “marching” into month three as February bids adieu in lamb-like character. Following a rather harsh first three weeks, the month of hearts and chocolates faded away with Old Man Winter delivering our snow to many places south and starting an early spring meltdown.
The conditions have been terrific, with several days of sunshine glistening off mounds of snow piled here and there in kaleidoscope sparkles. This has made for wonderful outdoor activities in the woods.
A day or so prior to the calming of our atmospheric conditions, I was down on the shore of Gunflint watching as two fishermen were attempting to retrieve a dead four-wheeler. It was one of those days when the wind was a-howling out of the north and a light snow was being whipped into white oblivion.
The stalled unit could not have been much farther from land in any direction, and the visibility made it nearly impossible to see them in the struggle to bring it to shore. Two days later, and after several unsuccessful towing modes were attempted, the ATV was brought to land with big sleds under each of four wheels.
Their demise made me think about just how unforgiving this territory can be sometimes, tough as old leather, but with a beauty of adventure to behold. This trip to the Gunflint will surely be one to remember for those poor souls.
This coming Sunday, March 3, marks the first of two big weekends along the Trail. The annual trout fishing derby, which dates back to 1957, will see ice anglers from all over gathering on the Gunflint Lake ice to try their hand at catching the biggest fish. By the way, the largest finnie registered between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. will bring the catcher a nice $500 award!
This happening is a real treat as a mini-community springs up on the ice in a matter of minutes and then disappears in much the same fashion after a few short hours. While the catching may not be great for everyone, there is a guarantee that fun will be had by all!
Next weekend, the seventh annual Mush for a Cure sled dog race will be held along the Trail. This event has as its mission to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. It will kick off two days of everything coming up pink, Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9.
With the main event being the dogsled race (starting @ noon Saturday) running from lake shores at Gunflint Pines Resort to Trail Center, the congregation of entries and the sourdough start are some kind of magical, hot-pink excitement! Hope everyone able can get out and support at least some of the many scheduled activities.
By the way, if you wish to contribute to the mission by helping with pledges to a particular musher, just go to the Mush for a Cure website or look for their collection canisters at many places throughout the county. You can also support the event by contributing to “The Bald, Brave and Beautiful” head shaving contest. Several contemporary legends of the territory have their locks on the block. Let’s not let them off the hook!
Living in the wilderness is such a privilege! Each day can provide an adventure or observation that may be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Such has been the case since we last met on the radio.
A friend tells me of an experience paralleling that of the fabled “Tortoise and the Hare,” only this account is north-woods style. Seems he was out dipping a line through the ice when he noticed a snowshoe hare coming lickety-split across the Gunflint from Canada. He soon discovered that this unusual sprint across the frozen crust was being prompted by a hungry fisher. The race for survival soon turned to be no contest as the dashing “wabbit” was about a mile down the lake when the pursuer called it a day for this particular quest.
Recalling the terrapin/rabbit story, slow and steady usually wins the race. However, this border country episode confirms that speed is always a determining factor in life for another day. Hare one, fisher nothing!
Another spectacle of the wild happened on one of the most recent sub-zero mornings at Wildersmith. This one is so captivating and tranquil.
The white tail population has been waning for the past three or four years, and we have only a few that browse around the yard anymore. So it is a rare diversion when any come by and hang out for a length of time.
On this particular frosty morning, a doe and her yearling fawn graced us by finding a place for a little R & R amongst our lakeside balsam stand. The two curled up with noses to their chests in a snowy nest and caught a little shut-eye. They napped for some time, which must have been quite long considering their typical transient tribulations for survival.
For both the observers and, I would guess, those wild neighborhood critters, the scene was a remarkably hushed and calming moment in this part of the northern forest.
On a final note, Gunflint Trail wishes for a happy 95th birthday go out to another of our iconic pioneers, Lawrence “Gus” Wooding in Sarasota, Florida!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the peace of our great north woods!
Airdate: March 1, 2013