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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - January 4, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       January 4, 2019    
The planet has made the turn into another year, and we at Wildersmith wish everyone a happier and less turbulent year than the one just past.                                                                                                           
This being said, the Smiths’ are back in the woods after a quick jaunt to Iowa for a Merry Christmas with our son and his family. The stay was short as weather forecasts’ for this part of the world shortened our time together. Nevertheless, it’s always a sweet time with those grandsons regardless of their no longer being little guys.                                                                                                                         
Staying just ahead of the pending storm, we hit the Mile O Pine only hours before the first flakes. In spite of the countless times we’ve returned to this border country Riviera from our southerly journeys, the phenom of this special place invariably radiates a fresh and untamed sensory response.                                                                                                                                                      
This unexplainable experience is real and so immensely enchanting, especially in the deep of winter. When reaching the top of the hill above Grand Marais, one is easily overcome with the serene majesty of a snow-covered world, knowing this is one of the few places on earth where mankind has minimized the plunder of creation into seemingly irreparable misery.                                          
With winter in a passive state for the better part of month twelve, many of us with a passion for the white and brittle cold of the forest has been in a mild state of despair. Not to be kept down too long though, finally the “great spirit of the north” regained a grip with a whiz-bang close to 2018.                                                                                                                                                              
The Gunflint Trail was not spared this time as the forecasters’ hit the mark. I’m not hearing of snow totals from the mid-Trail snow zones, but this neighborhood and along the south shore of the Gunflint recorded up to twelve inches.                                                                      
Everybody that deals in winter business opportunities have to be smiling, especially, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snow removers. Our world is blanketed with the solitude of white, and yours truly enjoyed every moment of the four-plus hours it took to heap the stuff around Wildersmith out of the way.                                                                                                                                                     
Taking this first ten days of the actual winter season a step further, the day of clearing roads and driveways saw temps dip to more seasonable expectations. The mercury slipped by the hour and by next morning, temperatures fell into the twenties to near thirty below the nothing mark. Thankfully, winds in this neighborhood were not too unbearable. Since last weekend, and except for New Years’ eve and daytime, things have yo-yo’d up to less bitter readings.                                                                                                                                                           

Organizers of the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog races have breathed a sigh of relief with the cool snowy additions. Thinking there might not be enough snow-base on the race course, it was feared the races might have to be canceled. The issue is mute now as they are set to get underway as scheduled, Saturday morning.                                                                                                            

As always, the excitement of barking dogs, colorful handlers and steam-breathing mushers will take-over the mid-Trail area around Trail Center Restaurant & Lodge from late Friday night through late morning Sunday. Races will start at 8:00 am featuring an eight dog, 65-mile race and a twelve dog, 100-mile event.                                                                                                                              

Winners and awards will be presented around 10:00 am Sunday at the Trail Center race headquarters, all are welcome. The best spectator viewing locations will be at the Trail Center start line, Big Bear Lodge, Rockwood Lodge and Blankenberg Pit where the 100-mile race loops back down the Trails toward the mandatory layover.                                                                                                                                 

All residents and visitors are urged to get out and give a cheer to these athletes in action!                                                                                                                                                                                  

For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, all decked out in the crystal of the season!