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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: May 19

A turkey on the Gunflint Trail
A turkey on the Gunflint Trail

The Trail is a happening place, both for us human invaders and the natural world. On the mortal side of things, spring means house cleaning time for us. 
                                                                       
It’s time to grab a few garbage bags and hit the Trail. The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee is encouraging volunteers to do a pick-up of winter's trash along the Trail during the next week, beginning this Monday, May 22. Many of our friends and neighbors have already picked a stretch, but there are several sections closer to town needing attention. If you can lend a hand, please give Nancy Seaton a call (388-2275) and sign up. Clean-up days run through Thursday, May 25, with the County scheduled to round up the accumulated roadside bags on the final collection date. Let's get the byway spruced up as another example of Gunflint Community power!      
                                                 
Meanwhile, on Mother Nature's side of the ledger, deciduous green bud tips of seven days ago are slowly beginning to unfurl. Most notably are the aspen (popple), with a few birches starting to follow suit. Coniferous tree cousins, particularly the red pines, are showing buds at the wick stage of their candling toward the next generation of branches.

At this writing the territory has grown quite dry again. Until a brief dampening in the past couple days, there’s been little to no precipitation around here since the “May Day” frozen stuff.  If the rain gods would cough up a decent rain, all things green would really pop, and fear of someone setting off a fire would be eased.                                                                                                    

Not only has our great weather of late lifted people's spirits, members of the “wild neighborhood” are making increased candid appearances. A couple reports have come in telling of momma bears herding their multiple winter deliveries through the forest.                                    

One such is a momma bear with a foursome of fur balls. Then another tells of a trio of cubs following their mom across the Trail around the Fox Ridge Road/Trail intersection. No doubt there are many yet to be revealed twin sets out there, too. So it looks as though the deity of fertility has favored growing the Bruno population in ’17.  

I’ve received no reports of bear vandalism yet, but knowing they are hungry, it’s only a matter of time until they’ll be tempted by an ill-prepared resident or unsuspecting visitor.      

Speaking of more forest newborns, a couple fellows have been in the right place at the right time to see moose cows with calves. One observation was a singleton while the other was a set of twins. Hurrah for moose regeneration!                                                                                                                    
Although it is not open to the public yet, good news from Chik-Wauk Museum staff is shared concerning the annual loon return. The iconic couple is back, and they have been sitting on the nesting platform for going on two weeks. With all incubation things going as hoped, new chicks should be hatching shortly after the Chik-Wauk opening Memorial Day weekend.                                                                                                  

On an added Chik-Wauk note, a wonderful new temporary exhibit featuring history of the Ham Lake Fire will be ready for viewing on opening day. There’s also some great programming on tap for the coming season. Check the Chik-Wauk website for a weekly event menu, and for GTHS members the recent newsletter release includes many special event listings. The Museum and Hiking Trails will be open daily 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., while the Nature Center is open 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.                                                                                                                                                               
While some think there are plenty of “turkeys” living out here in the woods, none of these would garner attention from the DNR. A report has come my way that an honest to goodness wild bird of the turkey species has been spotted by a couple living over on Leo Lake. It was noticed on their road recently, and luckily they were able to get a digital record for verification.                                                                                                                                                                    
Gunflint nature photographer, Nace Hagemann, has also told of seeing one in about the same vicinity. Perhaps it was the same bird. Nace further tells he’s heard of several additional turkey sighting reports from around the county. Community radio listeners can get a glimpse of the mid-Trail wild gobbler posted alongside this column on the web at WTIP.org.                                                                                                                                              
While it’s considered unusual to see one this far north, trends have been growing to indicate the “big birds” are moving this way with warming climatic conditions. So we might expect to see more of these critters strutting about in the years to come. Hmmm, looks as though there could be some new “fast food” opportunities in store for carnivores of unorganized territory.                                                                                                                                                               
It’s with sadness I report the passing of two long time Gunflint territory residents. News comes on the recent passing of Donna Preus and Mary Katherine (Kate) Lammers Blank. Both of these two ladies resided with their families along the shores of Gunflint Lake for many decades. Their Gunflint Lake and Trail Friends and neighbors extend deepest condolences to the families on their loss.                                                                                                                                                  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with angler tales of the one that got away, growing by the inch.

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