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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 21, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       December 21, 2018    
This weeks’ Gunflint scoop finds me listening to howling winds swooping down Gunflint Lake. Over the past days, they’ve been blowing with warm winter wishes and for certain, not the usual biting zest of December. The calendar says winter is here now, but one would hardly know it at the moment.                                                                                                                                                                      

For over a week, these air currents have ushered in another degenerating sample of our pending climate catastrophe. At this time, it feels like we have jump-started March at Christmas time. Local snowmen have been dripping with worry, and a minority of us with affection for serious winter character are downcast.                                                                                                                                                                     

An added note finds Gunflint Territory with our wintertime drought extended into yet another week. Since Thanksgiving, this neighborhood has received little to no precipitation. Coupled with the spring-like air of recent days, the snowpack has withered to just a few inches.                                  

With the “Gunflint Mail Run” sled dog races but two weeks away (January 5 & 6th), the upper Gunflint needs winter to get back on track pronto!                                                                                          

By the way, “Mail Run” organizers are still looking for volunteers to help administer the various aspects. If you can help, get on the website, “Mail Run Sled Dog Race 2019” and sign up now.                                                                                                                                                                                         
Early in the month, our lake freeze fashioned a perfect storm in regard to providing ice skating opportunities. In just days after our “ice on”, folks were enjoying the best gliding conditions in years. I’ve heard of people raving about skating for  miles.                                                                                                             

It is hard telling what the recent warmth has done to the ice. I’m guessing safe conditions could be suspect in places where the intensity of “Sol” glanced across the surface. The Gunflint Gal is even showing black ice from its middle on to the Canadian shores at this scribing. It might be this “old icy gal” could open back up if things don’t cool down in short order.                                                                                                                                                                                                       
Besides the effects of “Sol’s” assault, the hard water body outside our back door has been moaning for days as she heaves and splits under pressures of these abnormal happenings. Water is certain to be seeping onto the surface so we could expect complications for “on ice” activities from this point forward.                                                                                                                                                                     

Enough of this cold season sadness, visions of Saint Nick are dancing in our heads. Along with the glitz of the season, spirits of our days and nights have been brightened as “out on the blacktop, moose have appeared.”                                                                                                                                                  
It seems I haven’t talked to one person who hasn’t encountered at least one or more of the massive north-country icons. They’re out lapping up road salt and often blocking traffic. Some have mentioned mini herds of as many as five at one time in those traditional moose zones.                                                                                                                                                                                               

If we’re not all observing the same ones, perhaps it’s been a good year for newborn survivals, causing a renewed surge in moose residents. With a lot of moose on the loose, drivers beware. To this point, I’ve not heard of any moose/vehicular contacts, let’s keep it this way!                                                           

The rulers of our Gunflint predator population have been out and about too. A number of wolf sightings have been reported up and down the Trail over the last week. Tracks and scat have been found along the Mile O Pine too.                                                                                                                                  
I received word of a recent wolf episode where shortly after the Gunflint Lake freezing, one of the few deer, living out this way, made a dreadful decision. Whereas it ventured or was chased, onto the slippery surface, the local pack cashed in for a venison dinner, sad, but this is the way of the wilderness, wolves have to eat too.                                                                                              

Casting aside our dismay over this current winter debacle, celebrations are the order of life for the next several days. Enjoy the Solstice, the sun will soon be nudging back northward; the “little spirit moon” will be casting a luster of mid-day onto us earthly beings and the “birthday of all birthdays” will hopefully spread at least a few moments of peace over our ravaged planet.                                                                                                                                                                                  
 In closing, during this holiday time, it saddens me to report the death of longtime Trail resident and member of the business community, Irene Baumann. Passing a week ago today (Friday, December 14th) after a period of hospitalization. Irene was Matriarch of the three-generation Baumann family operation of Golden Eagle Lodge. Gunflint Community condolences are extended to her family and many friends.                                                                                                                               

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the Smith’s wish all, safe and merry holiday times.