Listen Now
Pledge Now


Wildersmith on the Gunflint - August 3, 2018

Swimming Black Bear.jpg
Swimming Black Bear.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       August 3, 2018

 July along the Gunflint Trail has quietly faded away. We’re off into the eighth stanza of 2018. It seems implausible we Gunflinters should be observing autumn signs nudging their way into the summer green, but such is the case.
The past seven-day segment has been much the same as those preceding. It’s been warm and nice. The territory did get a minor dropping of rain last Saturday, amounting to barely two-tenths of an inch along the Mile O Pine. There was more bark than bite as thunder garnered more attention than raindrops, and there was more of the same early evening Sunday. Then a hefty dose drenched the territory to greet the new month with one and three-tenths inches here in the Wildersmith gauge.                                                                
A suggestion to area residents, with the ignition of a small wildfire southwest of Seagull Lake during the past few days, would be to crank up those wildfire sprinkler systems to add a little more moisture and confirm operational fitness.                                               
Getting back to those signs of fall mentioned earlier, I‘ve noticed hillsides in the upper Trail region with a splash of gold as juvenile birch or aspen have discovered the daylight minutes diminishing. Further, the aureus of dogbane is increasing along roadsides while goldenrod, Joe Pye weed, and milkweed are casting new tones to the North woods spectrum. 

Since the Ojibwe, “blueberry moon” is next in the lunar line-up, it’s appropriate for the final blueberry push. I don’t see any slacking in the number of visitor vehicles out along the Trail. All are parked in precarious places with drivers immersed somewhere in the wild filling buckets and baskets.  

While on the invasive plant pull up at Chik-Wauk last Saturday, yours truly found a cache of Juneberries AKA serviceberries or even Saskatoon berries. They are sure easier picking than the blues, and I think, even sweeter. I heard of a recent pastry delight baked with a combination of rhubarb and juneberries. It sounds great with a dip of vanilla, but not for those of us with sugar concerns.
Speaking of sweetness, fun in the mid-Trail gets underway Wednesday in the Schaap Community Center facility, at 12:00 noon. The flea market and gift boutique starts things off, followed at 1:30 by the live auction and finally, the drawing for the beautiful mid-Trail quilter’s 2018 patchwork.                                                                                                                                                                               
This mid-Trail event is the second leg of the Gunflint Trail triple pursuit for support of the volunteer fire department. This in mind, the first leg, our Gunflint Trail Canoe Races, of two weeks ago, raised over 24 thousand dollars. These funds are vitally important, so everyone possible, please get out and support our neighbors in the middle.   

Almost before one can blink their eyes, the last fundraiser for the fire department takes center stage on Sunday, August 12th with the Gunflint Woods, Winds, Strings and a Little Jazz Concert. This event is usually a sell-out with only 150 seats available in the Schaap Center for the 5:00 pm performance, better get reservations made ASAP.  Give Patsy Coleman a call at 313-673-6202. 
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is excited to announce a special event coming to end of the Trail on August 16 & 17. The Society, with cooperation from the volunteer fire department, and in partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth, is bringing the GeoDome mobile planetarium theater to our upper reaches.                                                                                                                                                
This is the final stop for the “Dark Sky Caravan” delegation which starts at the UMD Planetarium on Saturday, August 11th. With daily stops along the north shore, it ends at one of the darkest places in the country to gaze the celestial. All are being held at the Seagull Lake Community Center and fire hall on the dates listed above.
Events are free with programming from 5:00 pm until 11:00 pm both days. Planetarium shows will be offered on the half-hour with observations in the out of doors too when darkness is most consuming. In the event there are cloudy skies, programs will be limited to the GeoDome. A side note confirms the caravan visit will coincide with the annual Perseid Meteor Showers. 
UMD staff and students will lead attendees through a dynamic digital space exploration experience.  Volunteers from the Arrowhead Astronomical Society will be offering live sky consultation. This educational outreach from the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium through the University of Minnesota will be an experience to remember. Mark your calendars, and bring a flashlight to find your car in the late night darkness.
Not speaking of dark skies now, but of another dark item in creation, a bear made a visit to Wildersmith a few days ago, our first of the season. Happily, the visit was casual and did not involve my having to banish this ebony critter from the property. This observation happened during a dockside fishing event as my wife was startled to see a big “Bruno” showing off its aquatic skills not far from where she was sitting.                                                                                                 

As she was landing her usual “pet smallie” the hefty critter gave her the eye but never missed a stroke while continuing on by. She was nevertheless a little unsettled after hearing about the Leo Lake gal who recently bumped into one while berry picking. The north woods character eventually exited the big pool a ways down the lake and disappeared into the forest, no harm, no foul!                                                                      
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with endless natural world adventures!