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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 19

Wildersmith_Photo by Fran Smith
Wildersmith_Photo by Fran Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 19, 2019
Commencing this weeks’ Gunflint scoop finds the weather outside’s been frightful. Hot and humid has quite a few of us thinking of frost, including the moose. The land of natural air conditioning is on the “fritz.”                                                                                                                                       

One positive about the atmospheric conditions was the territory at long last got a dose of rain. Amounts were spotty from the few reports received with the mid-Trail area getting the most. In this Gunflint Lake neighborhood, the Wildersmith gauge gathered just shy of eight tenths of an inch. Then another round dumped a half inch or better just a few days ago.                                                                                                                                                                      

Although we can always use more, it soaked up the forest floor to ease wild fire danger somewhat. One thing it didn’t do was add much to the watershed whereby declining lake levels might be stabilized.                                                                                                                                                                       
So with lake water temps going up, surface levels are still going down. By the way lake water temps here on the Gunflint Gal are hovering around the seventy-two-degree mark.                              

A related rain note comes with a minus sign. The moisture seems to have energized, excited and enraged the mosquito population. Couple this blood-sucking component with the stickiness, and conditions have made for less than human comfort.                                                                     

It’s hard to tell if the rain did the wild berry crops any good. I’ve been getting a few discouraging reports on the blueberry crop, and my observation of June Berries looks about the same.                                                                                                                                                                                   
While thinking of the sweet berry harvest, those thoughts probably seem a little premature. However, my speculations of autumn were awakened a few days ago on a trip up toward end of the Trail.                                                                                                                                                             
Hidden in a few select locations, I observed golden leaves on some juvenile birch trees. It could be the dry conditions are responsible, but maybe not as the daylight minutes have diminished since the solstice, sending a signal to some green things. I’ll get a lot more excited about the autumnal coming when I see Dogbane turning gold along the roadsides.                                                                                                                           

In related flora notes, as the summer calendar completes the one-third segment, early blooms of the invading Hawkweed and Lupine are beginning to fade and rosehips have cast off those rosy-pink petals in a number of places. In the mid to late summer categories, I see Cow Parsnips and Fireweed making initial appearances along with that nasty sweet white clover, so perhaps the juvenile birches know something we don’t                                                                                                                                                                                  
All of us at WTIP are in a recovery mode after a great six day run for the “Radio of 2000 Lakes” summer membership drive. What a sensational showing of love and support for North Shore Community Radio.                                                                                                                                          
The Board of Directors, staff and dozens of volunteers are indeed grateful for the pledges by new and renewing members and business underwriters to keep this radio “phenom” going full speed ahead. Thanks so much!                                                                                                                                        
Joining the WTIP family can still happen, so if anyone listening missed their chance to pledge, it can still be done with a call or a click.                                                                                                                                                                                 

Final results of the forty-third Gunflint Trail canoes races are yet to be revealed as the event completed a paddling extravaganza this past Wednesday. I’ll have details in next weeks’ news.                                                                                                                                                                                
In the meantime, folks along the Gunflint should mark their calendars for the next big Community happening. The annual Mid-Trail flea market, gift boutique and auction will be held on Wednesday, August 7th, at the Schaap Community Center.                                                                                                

I’m told the 2019 quilt edition is another beauty, and tickets are on sale throughout the area. So one and all should get their tickets, you can’t win, if you don’t enter. The drawing for this grand prize will end a day of fun and fundraising for the GTVFD.                                                                            

I just received word from the Nature Center at Chik-Wauk about a natural world exhibit that not many humans get to observe. A live display of Monarch caterpillars in the chrysalis stage of development has been brought in from a milk weed patch in the north woods. It will be interesting to watch their progress toward the day when they can be released as orange & black beauties. Visitors better not delay getting up there to see this marvelous exhibit “Mother Nature” will not wait.                                                                                                                                                                
Sunday programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center resumes this weekend. The Campus welcomes back David Battistel, Gunflint Researcher/Historian from Thunder Bay. David will talk about “LeeBlain…Ghost Town of the Gunflint.” The program will commence at 2:00 pm, all are invited to hear this seldom heard chapter of Gunflint history.                                                                   

A reminder that Tuesday, “Kids Day” at the Nature Center continues 11:00 to 4:00, and Tuesday USFS presentations also happen up at the Museum beginning at 2:00pm.                                                

Also next week, look for new programing on Thursday afternoons, beginning the 25th. Campus visitors can take a trip through the “Nighttime Galaxy” with Joel and Josh in the Nature Center, beginning around the three o’clock hour.                                                                                                        

This is the first event in a pilot of exploratory partnership between the GTHS at Chik-Wauk, the USFS Gunflint Ranger District and the University of Minnesota Duluth. More information will be forth coming.                                                                                                                                                                              
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the buzz of summer takes on many meanings!