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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 20, 2018

Fran & Fred Smith
Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

 Three weeks into July and summer is spinning out of control in the upper Gunflint. The end of week two found the Byway weather outside, frightful. “Old Sol” was a beast, with muggy conditions for a few days. Relief oozed in last Sunday afternoon, with hope for clear skies and cool temps as the Gunflint Community headed into last Wednesday’s canoe races. 
For the first time in several Sundays,’ the area missed a substantial rain. That being said, rushing rivers and rising lake levels throughout the territory have likely steadied. Whereas Gunflint Lake had been quite low following the meager spring snowmelt and minimal rainfall, it has risen nearly a foot over the past month. 
Although we are but a month into official summer, it seems there some interesting changes going on.  Maybe it’s just me, but it appears the blueberries have come on a couple weeks earlier than usual, and fireweed is in bloom a bit prematurely. Meanwhile, if folks are looking as they travel along the Trail, one can see Spreading Dogbane turning golden, which is perhaps the earliest indication of autumn.
Reporting on critters of the “wild neighborhood”, a gal in the mid-Trail area tells of a seldom observed natural happening. She was in the right place at the right time to see what turned out to be a Luna Moth emerging from its chrysalis.                                                                                                     
She says, as the “coming out” commenced, the head was an ugly looking glob, but as things progressed things got better and better. When all was done, the amazing pale green nocturnal lepidopteran insect was a spectacle to behold. 
Another mid-trail episode was shared by a lady on a recent Leo Lake kayak expedition.  In this case, she was just into her journey when distracted by something moving around her feet. Able to glance down into the bow area, a slithering passenger was discovered. Being not too fond of snakes, this screaming gal never paddled so fast in finding a place to land, nor did it take her long to “de-kayak”.    
Apparently, the north woods serpent was equally uncomfortable with the situation as it escaped simultaneously during the onshore confusion. Somehow it got out without being seen as it could not be found in a subsequent craft inspection. Neither relaxed or refreshed from the usual aquatic experience, she got back in and paddled home in record time, proving her cardio system must be in great shape during such a stressful time. By the way, she can outrun a bear too!                                                                                                                                                                                   
An amusing situation occurred a few days ago around out hummingbird feeder. I was casually walking by the nectar jar when I observed a bumble bee sipping at one of the florets. While the bee was enjoying the sweetness, a hummer buzzed in for a drink as well. As the scene unfolded, the bee would not allow the tiny bird to land. I watched for several moments as the bee kept the bird in a holding pattern, launching strafing attacks each time the bird tried to land. In the end, the bird gave up and darted off. The bee continued guzzling for some time before departing on an apparent sugar high.                                                                                                                                                                                     
In a programming note from the Chik-Wauk Nature Center, a class on Lichens is being offered to interested folks. The class will be held on August 24th in the Nature Center. Pre-registration is necessary as class size is limited.  Find out more by checking on the Chik-Wauk website. 
For immediate consideration though, this weekend will provide more learning experiences up at the end of the Trail Museum site. Saturday is the first phase of an experience in learning about invasive plants of the area, and the need to eradicate them for the sake of native flora. Events get underway at 10:00 o’clock and continue through the day. Then on the next Saturday, July 28, the second phase of the program will involve a planned pulling of the nasty invaders around the Chik-Wauk Campus. In the context of what “Smokey the Bear” might say, “Only we can prevent invasive plant expansion.”                                                                                       
Then on this Sunday, don’t forget the “The Man Behind the Mystery” in the Nature Center at 2 p.m. as David Battistel presents more research on the historic Paulson Mine. 
In the midst of all these activities, “the” community radio station of the North Shore is seeking new and continued member support in their summer funding drive. Heading off into the third decade of broadcasting, toward “20 more years” of community service and audio excellence, WTIP needs you! 
Please don’t be bashful about stepping up with whatever resources you can share to keep radio alive and well here in the Northland and around the globe. Stop by and pledge in person at the studios; click and join at; or give our operators a call now…at 218-388-1070 or toll-free 1-800-473-9847.  
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, in “zippity, do dah style!