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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - January 10

MNConsVol_MNDNR (341x500).jpg
MNConsVol_MNDNR (341x500).jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
January 10, 2020    
Gunflint territory celebrates the Ojibwe, “Great Spirit “moon (Gich-Manidoo-Giiziz) and an eclipse all at once this Friday evening. With hope for clear skies, this lunar double feature should be splendid on the breast of this beautiful white landscape.                                                                                                                           

A trifecta could even happen if the “Great Spirit” would summon another night of howling wolves in this border country neighborhood. What a “hat trick” of dark hour happenings that would be.                                                                                                                                                               
Since last week’s commentary about the pack gathering along the Northshore of Gunflint Lake, at least one of the northern icons crossed the lake. Such was confirmed with tracks along the Wildersmith shore where the Canid came up into the yard before heading back to the icy surface during its nocturnal patrol.                                                                                                                                                                    

Meanwhile, a distant canine cousin returned to the yard a few days later. My foxy friend re-appeared after being A.W.O.L. over the days of Christmas. It’s hard telling where she’d been dining lately, but came right up on the deck seeking attention. With the usual expectation of a hand-out, I obliged again with barnyard fowl and fries. I could be wrong, but it seemed I detected a grin on her face as I tossed goodies out on the snow.                                                                                                                                                               
Speaking of another North Country critter, one who is now dozing the winter away, I had the pleasure of gaining some insights about bear hibernation habits in the January/February issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine. It’s amazing what Minnesota researchers are discovering about Ursus slumbering tendencies.                                                       
In the article, entitled INTO THE BEAR’S LAIR, by Amie Durenberger, “scientists believe that getting a better understanding of the physiological mechanisms of hibernation may lead to breakthroughs in human medicine.” The author relates remarkable adventure at gathering such dozing data in this frozen wild country. I recommend getting a copy for reading on a cold winter night, or find it on-line at                                                                                                                                 

Another MCV article has some interesting perspectives on the problems statewide road maintenance departments are causing the environment through salt applications. While traffic safety is always an issue, Chloride contamination is a serious concern for our precious waters.                                                  
With this ever-growing threat to Minnesota’s freshwater resources, efforts are being stepped up by the MPCA and DNR to tackle our salty polluting problem. “Salt does not breakdown or settle out, “Chloride is permanent. You can’t get it out.” The article, “HOLD THE SALT” should be required reading for everyone who enjoys a fresh glass of water and a clear, healthy lake for whatever recreation. Perhaps the days of using just plain old sand should be re-visited, at the very least, on the byways of Gunflint territory.                                                                                                                                                                              

In other news, one of the most refreshing events ever, kicks off tomorrow (Saturday). It’s refreshing because of the snowy, cold crisp air venue and the energies between man and dog.                                                                                                                                                                                          
All is in readiness for the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Races. The twelve dog, long distance race hits the trail beginning at 8:00am on Poplar lake (mid-Trail), followed by the eight dogshorter race at 9:00am. Races will conclude Sunday by late afternoon.                                                                                                                                                                               

This will be a hectic time for traffic from Trail Center on up the Trail, so folks are asked to slow down and expect some pedestrian/vehicle congestion during the weekend.                                                        

The energy and color of the event is a big deal, so come out and enjoy the historic re-enactment of wilderness travel in yester-year! There are several sites along the race course where mushers and their teams can be observed. Check-out the Gunflint Mail Run website for race course mapping and best observation sites.                                                                                                                                                      

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where we savor every day, whether cloudy or clear!