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Wildersmith Feb. 17

Wildersmith_20100217.mp38.58 MB

The upper Trail got a refresher snow on Valentine’s Day, and it couldn’t have come at a more romantic time.  The north woods ambiance was at its best with both love in the air and silent flakes trickling earthward.

The unpredicted miracle of white flocked the forest once again. And those huge marshmallow puffs, still hanging around from the wet snow dousing that ended January, received a welcome embellishment.

Speaking of those heavily laden pine boughs, there’s a small grove of adolescent red pine nestled along the Trail just west of where the Ham Lake Fire crossed the blacktop. The diminutive stand has been catching my eye ever since that late January storm. The thing that intrigues me is that their drooping limbs resemble the saggy arms of a garden sentinel.

Yes, when I first observed them, the young conifers startled me because it looked like dozens of scarecrows had been staked out. Their tilted growth stems and slumping branches project a distinct similarity to a weather-beaten stick person that has been left out in the elements for months, watching over rows of veggies.

With the persistent cold, the green with white clad beings have clung to their winter dressing, allowing me to conjure up all sorts of mental animations as I whiz by. I must say that if one would put a face on each of them, they would give a look of despair what with their heavy burden. Come May, I’ll bet they look a whole lot perkier.

Another shanty town of fish houses cropped up down the lake last weekend. I stopped by about midday last Saturday for a little investigation and conversation. The occupants were having a great time trying to entice some “lakers” to accept an invitation to dinner, while trying to one up each other with tales of the lake.

Fortunately for me, the catch of the morning had taken a dip in some batter and was swimming in a hot tub of oil. I was invited to partake of vittles being cooked over hard water. It was a splendid north country winter shore lunch, right in the middle of Gunflint Lake. What a fun time on a spectacular border country day!

More fun times are in the offing for residents and folks that happen out this way. The sixth annual Gunflint Trail Winter Tracks kicks off in another week, Feb. 25 through  Feb. 28. Sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Association, all kinds of fun events are planned at various sites along the Byway to help celebrate winter out here in the woods.

To find exact scheduling of the many activities, check out the website, and join in the fun.

Wolf tales continue to trickle in. A gal skiing over on a Loon Lake Trail spooked some of the wilderness warriors, evoking growls from deep in the trees.

Then another story is shared about a house cat and wolf who trade glances through the glass of sliding door. I’m told that a wolf often comes onto the deck of a trail side home and peeks in the slider.

The residents’ curious cat pops out to see who’s snooping around and startles the wolf into jumping back. Guess this little game of cat and mouse or, better yet, cat and wolf, is quite comical, as the savage critter doesn’t quite know what to think of this funky feline with its nose to the glass.

 I’m guessing that the cat doesn’t know when it’s well off, as the hungry wolf surely has a meowing appetizer in mind.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the wonders of the wilderness!