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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - February 14

Fox in Snow_Photo by JaniceGill on Unsplash (500x500).jpg
Fox in Snow_Photo by JaniceGill on Unsplash (500x500).jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
February 14, 2020    
Border country marks the half-way point of month two with images of scarlet hearts scattered over depths of our snowy landscape. Come to think of it, Valentines’ Day always splits February in two.                                                                                                                                                     

Since our last meeting on the radio, the atmospheric elements have been reasonably ordinary. A little snow and a few nights of subzero have been sandwiched between a few blue sky days as what we might expect this time of year.                                                                         

While the northland missed out on the big snow happening down south, this area has plenty. A walk off the plowed path earlier this week, as I did some winter brush pile burning, was a surprising challenge without snow shoes. Plowing through the woods found me wading in fluff from knee to near pockets deep in places.                                                                                                                                          

In one instance, it took me ten minutes to advance about fifty yards as I struggled to pull my boots from any number of now early season crusted layers. The trek had this old guy huffing and puffing by the time I got back on a solid track.                                                                                                           

It becomes fairly evident why large critters of the “wild neighborhood” possess the savvy to travel the path most used whenever possible, even when it is maintained by us two legged beings. If there were white tails in this neighborhood, as there was several years ago, they would be having a tough winter staying ahead of those hungry wolves in this belly deep snow.                                                                                                                                                      

Whereas our friendly fox prefers the maintained snow paths when she stops by, I see pock marks where she has veered off into the deep stuff and has scrambled to get back on top of things. The same shows true for the pine marten, as it maneuvers its way with a chicken treat in its jaws.                                                                                                                                                                               
On another note about this foxy gal, while many Gunflint folks have a story to tell about one or more of these red canids, the Smiths’ have one of their own to share. During the last couple visits, we have found the critter becoming ever more curious about this place in the woods.                                                                                                                                                                                       
In early visits she seldom got too close, but with pangs of hunger clouding her natural wariness, it has since come right to the wood shop door for a treat. With an evolving comfort level that I am the guy with the bucket of chicken, the little red gal has now edged her way up onto the deck around the house.                                                                                                                                                                 
Just days ago, we caught her sitting on the deck where she could look up through the windows. Obviously she could see us gawking folks inside, and she readily conveyed a subtle look of “don’t you see me, I’m here.” With each visit, as we watch her in amazement, I’ m not sure who is treated more, we observers or Ms. Fox.                                                                                                                    
The mid-Trail neighborhood looks to be busy this weekend as the Ridge Riders Snowmobile Club holds their annual drag races on Hungry Jack Lake. Registration begins at 11:00 am at Hungry Jack Lodge with racing to begin around 12:00 noon. There will be considerable traffic along the Trail and on HJ Road so be patient and safe.                                   
In other news, with my brush burning chores in the rear view mirror and snow removal tasks up to date, I’m able to get back into the wood shop. With the help of my saw dust making buddy on Loon Lake and good friend and diamond willow pro in Iowa, wood shaping has my attention.                                                                                                                                                                      
Projects include artifacts rehabilitation for the new Interpretive Cabin on the Chik-Wauk Museum Campus. The GTHS Exhibits Committee is hard at work completing arrangement of interior cabin exhibit items for the 2020 Campus opening on Memorial Day weekend.                                                                                                           

Meanwhile, the Chik-Wauk Campus Director and several Trustees are busy with next summer preparations as the GTHS celebrates year ten of telling the cultural and natural stories of the historic Gunflint Trail.                                                                                                                                                                                               

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is savored, like the sweetness of Valentines’ Day!