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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 22, 2018

Fran & Fred Smith
Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by     Fred Smith       June 22, 2018    
After tinkering around in the northland for several weeks, the Solstice of June has declared this summer official. Although its’ been more than summer-like in many areas of the state already, the Gunflint Territory has pretty much been spared the tropical nasties so far. The moose and I hope this temperate spell can be extended into September, and then cool off.                                                          
During the past weekend, our wilderness world received a much-needed blessing from the heavens. Luckily, not falling as a huge deluge, this neighborhood received over an inch during three days of clouds and showers.                                                                                                                          
The moisture was hopefully enough to squelch a recent fire discovered a dozen or so miles northwest of Lake Saganaga in the Quetico. At last report, the ignition had consumed about forty acres and was being monitored while allowed to burn an area apparently in need of fuel reduction.                                                                                                                                                  
Trekking in the forest is a major recreational activity throughout the BWCA and Superior National Forest. While accidents and emergencies do occur on area Trails, such incidents are continually being addressed through advancing technology to assist search and rescue responders in their often difficult emergency missions.                                                                                                                                                    
Local trail users are starting to see new signage on some County trail systems. If listener/readers have not seen them yet, the blue and white signs have a series numbers and letters at the top and bottom. These “Emergency Location Markers” identify wilderness locations using the US National Grid (USNG). USNG use of rescue signs is relatively new and Cook County is beginning to pilot the plan.  USNG signing has been in use on Lake County snowmobile, ski and hiking trails for a few years. Cook County has installed some USNG signs on snowmobile trails, Pincushion Trail, Honeymoon Bluff Trail, some Chik-Wauk Trails and bike trails.
The great thing about the USNG application is even without cell coverage, if a user opens their phone and keeps the browser open, it will work without cell service as it is a satellite-based system allowing 911 Dispatch the ability to pick-up at least some accurate location information.                                                                                                                                                                             
“In an Emergency, call 911”, provide Dispatch with the two larger sets of 4-digit numbers on the sign bottom to accurately describe the location of the caller. The two sets of 4-digit numbers provide location info up to within 10-meter accuracy. As this signage project evolves Cook County will have some 240 locations marked. For more information, one might want to contact the Office of Emergency Management.                                                                                                
Residents along the Trail are reporting more and more moose sightings, any number of which have come in from up on the Sag Lake Trail and around Moose Pond Drive. One fellow has counted five recently, including a handsome set of twin calves. More observations have come from the Iron Lake campground and a few from Mid-Trail neighborhoods. Hurray for Moose!                                                                                                                                                 
Meanwhile, bear mommas are making candid appearances with their cubs in any number of locations. If they are causing trouble with us human invaders, I have not been informed of any, other than the tackle box incident a couple weeks ago.                                                             

 A couple Gunflint Lake residents did a double-take in reporting an unusual summer sighting of a great snowy owl. The observation came just a few days ago in an area of the lower Trail. It was determined to be a male and appeared in healthy condition. This winged predator might have a GPS problem though because it’s not supposed to be around these parts this time of the year. Usual migration takes them to northernmost Canada for breeding season by now.                                                                                                                                                
Special programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center continues with two events this weekend. Saturday the 23rd, The International Wolf Center will be presenting a program on none other than “Wolves”, beginning at 11:30 AM.                                                                                               
Then on Sunday the 24th, bird expert, Kate Kelnberger will be talking about “Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Hummingbirds and Sapsuckers”, beginning at 2:00 PM.                                                      
Both programs are free to the public with support donations being appreciated.                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint, where every day is great, as the planet begins is slow trek the back other direction!