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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - January 29

Wildersmith Let it Snow
Wildersmith Let it Snow

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
January 29, 2021    

January is fading away under the Ojibwe “Great Spirit” moon (Gich-Manidoo-Giizis), giddy and unpredictable as a spring lamb. The early part of this week was somewhat cold, but not like this time of year used to be. Around this place, we have yet to see one of those week-long spells of yesteryear, where the mercury never climbed to the plus side of zero.                               

By the next time we meet on the radio, February will be several days old and the worst of winter could well be in the review mirror. Month two may have snow to fall and winds to howl, but real northland winter has been “winter” in name only to this point.                 

Further, there are slightly over three weeks of ’21, chapter 2, left in the last fully winter segment. March springs onto the scene, signaling the end to a disappointing visit from the once “tough, spirit of the North.”                                                                                                                       

The scourge of overdue snow in most parts of border country has extended the drought another week. A feeble dropping last weekend netted only two inches in this neighborhood. We might blame the nation’s delivery services for white shipments missing the territory, but the reality is, systems are avoiding this moisture starved area like we have the plague.                   

On the bright side, two positives can be said for the meek seasonal character. One lies in the fact there has been less energy expended to move snow either by hand or mechanically, and the other realized , in knowing the wood shed will likely have carry over to ’21-’22.                                 

The thirty-seventh annual John Beargease sled dog marathon hits the trails Sunday.  Event organizers confirm that although snow depths are not as they would prefer, and with warmer weekend temps predicted, trails are nevertheless, safe for the teams to run.                                   

The race departs as usual from just north of Duluth on its three hundred plus miles journey to a finish at Grand Portage sometime on February third or fourth. Dogs and their mushers will silently, swoosh into this area to the Trail Center check point sometime late Monday and on to the King’s road turn-around, then head on to the Portage finish.                                

Unfortunately, due to continuing COVID complications, there will be no spectator interaction for Trail residents. However, the race can be followed with on-line connections from start to finish. Fans will just have to cheer our area mushers on from their living rooms. Teams are wished a safe race, and good luck to all from the WTIP family of listeners.                                    

The ice report on Gunflint Lake is running from nine to sixteen inches, while slush conditions of a few weeks ago have improved to where there is very little.                              

There’s a lot of angling activity going on, but while the conditions above the ice are good, happenings below the ice have been slow in the past few days. When catches have been pulled onto the ice, sizes are running smaller than usual. Reports on a few other area lakes seem better, with good catches of rainbows and splake.                                                                        

In addition to anglers filling up the parking lots, the all-season resorts appear to be doing quite well with winter vacationers to this point. One might think the business is being spiked upward as folks want to spread out from COVID infestations of suburbia. Whatever the reason, it is great for area business owners and their staffs during these trying times in our country.                                                                                                                                            
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we stand in readiness to see if the real “Mr. Winter” will get serious!