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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 1, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   June 1, 2018
Commencing with this weeks’ report during a busy Memorial Day weekend, the North Woods has experienced a sudden turn to summer. Our atmosphere lost its’ spring luster to some ugly July/August stickiness. We can only hope this unpleasant natural sauna is temporary.                                                                                                                                                                              

If you’ve been following my column over the years, it’s plenty evident I don’t favor hot and humid. So with what’s been going on in the last days of May is not making me and the moose very happy. Our only consolation is in knowing the tropical madness throughout Gunflint Territory is not as miserable as it is for our Minnesota brethren to the south.                                                                                 

The unofficial start of the summer season found the Gunflint Byway alive with uncountable visitors during the long holiday. There were people everywhere. If this is an indication of things to come, businesses out this way could have a banner summer time.                        

For yours truly, the weekend found me caught in the midst of chores for two seasons. With help from some great friends, I was putting the dock into the lake one day, while stacking firewood the next. In regard to the woodshed filling, this wood will be remembered as having warmed me twice over, both now and a winter or two down the road.                                                           

Some scattered showers in the upper Trail had done little more than settle the dusty back country roads and barely tempered wildfire danger. At Wildersmith the rain gauge collected less than two tenths, while areas in the mid-trail and up at the end saw a little over a third of an inch. Then in the past couple days “Mother Nature” finally squelched the recent drought with a great one-inch soaker.                                                                                                                                             

One of those earlier shower episodes included some big-time thunder and lightning, so I’d be surprised if there might be a strike smoldering somewhere in the forest. Everyone needs to keep an eye to the sky for smoke signals. Let’s hope the recent moisture episode doused that danger.                                                                                                                                                                                            
Other thoughts about water find area lake temps have really spiked up the past few days. Whereas the water was in the high thirties about three weeks ago as ice went out, this past weekend found it had reached the sixty-degree mark on Gunflint.                                                                                

Another issue finds the late spring/early summer pollen time exploding. I don’t usually pay much attention to the happening, but this dusting seems beyond normal. The collective allergen is layered on everything, from the vehicle to a yellow/ green skim on lake surfaces.                                   

I was over on West Bearskin Lake last Sunday headed for the annual big pancake feed at Camp Menogyn. I couldn’t believe how the wind had blown the pollen slurry into a nasty goop up along the shoreline. It was, and is pretty yucky!                                                                                                             

Speaking of another annual back woods annoyance, the black fly hatching has catapulted the bitin’ critters into our everyday lives. At the same time, mosquitoes are gaining attention too. So the war is on!  Bug nets and a slathering of repellent dupes are called to arms, and all other exposed bodily parts.                                                                                                                                                                     

Bruno reports have intensified since we last met. Members of the Gunflint ebony sloth are getting closer and closer to human interactions, but I’ve heard of no major calamities yet.                       

I did hear of a crazy happening that took place for a fisherman in the mid-trail area. Although details are somewhat sketchy, it seems his tackle box was set on the dock while he tended to some other business. Returning later, the tackle box was found upside down on the dock in a pool of water.                                                                                                                                                                    

Blame is pointed at a bear as the best possible culprit, after having been observed in the neighborhood earlier. Conjecture has it the bear mauled around with the box trying to open it (probably thought it looked like a campers food chest), and knocked it into the lake. Then not to give up on a potential feast, managed to pull it out of the water and back onto the dock.                                                                                                

Apparently finding access too frustrating, the accused departed leaving the angler’s treasures un-opened. When opened by the rightful owner, the box was half full of water and in a tangled mess while revealing a few dings and bite marks. Knowing bears can find a way to get into almost anything, one might guess this bear is off scratching its head in wonder of what it missed.                                                                                                                                                                              

In closing, a reminder is given with regard to the Boundary Waters Canoe Expo. It’s the first big summer event on the calendar along the Trail. Activities and the latest on everything paddling will begin at 9:00 am, next Saturday, June 9, and run through Sunday afternoon. For more info, go to the Boundary Waters Expo website, or email                                                                                              

For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great as we await a next adventure in the “wild neighborhood.”