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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 10, 2019

Fran & Fred Smith - Photo by CJ Heithoff
Fran & Fred Smith - Photo by CJ Heithoff

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   May 10, 2019    
The Smiths’ are back in the woods following a jaunt to Iowa for a visit with our daughter, many old friends and a weekend at America’s Athletic Classic, the Drake Relays. It’s always great to be home in the serenity of forty-nine degrees north. The mayhem of traffic and humanity in semi-organized civilization is culture shock for us woods dwellers.                                                                                                                     

While spring has been stumbling along in the northland, it was a delight to see green grass and trees trimmed in a new generation of leaves in the Hawkeye State.                                                 

With my partiality toward winter, it was disappointing to miss the beauty of the brief cold season resurgence while away. However, I have no regrets about not being around to move the wet heavy stuff. “Mother Nature” had taken care of snow removal by the time we pulled onto the Mile O Pine, leaving me with only minimal sidewalk scooping. A side effect finds melting the recent eight or so inches of snow has given mud a boost on back country roads, and further complicating growing pot holes.                                                                                                                                                         

Spring might have her act together in border country as we head into this Mothers’ Day weekend, and the Minnesota angling opener. Our good earth is mostly bare, with the only snow remaining being that heaped up in winter plowing efforts. By this time next week, we may be able to close the winter chapter along the Mile O Pine. I’ll let you all know when observing 2018-19 winter character is no longer possible, remembering there has been snow on the ground in some fashion since the last days of October.                                                                               
Meanwhile rivers and streams are gushing abundantly toward lakes, ponds and wetlands with cold mountain run-off. Pussy willows buds are puffing with zest and green tipped buds are showing on a few birch and aspen.  Early season sprouts of rhubarb and chives are piecing the top soil on the sunny side of the Wildersmith house and daffodils are up in other warm confines.                                                                                                                                                                                         
On a not so positive note regarding the soon to bloom season, I was found to be under surveillance of the first mosquito a couple days ago. It was one of those big “daddy’s,” just buzzing by checking me out, and likely headed back to headquarters for a report to the troops on my availability as a blood donor.                                                                                                                                         
Although I’ve been out of the area for the better part of two weeks, going into this report, I have yet to hear of any bear annoyances. They have to be out and about though so care is being exercised to not tempt them into making bad decisions. In the meantime I’ve observed a couple other wintertime nappers, those being chipmunks and wood chucks. Every critter and everything is in the wake up mode.                                                                                                                                                                           
With dreams of catching the “big one” this weekend, fisher people can relax in regard knowing ice is out on most lakes of the territory. As I commenced this scribing last Sunday evening, the Gunflint Gal was still a big ice cube although it has broken from the shore, west to east, as far as this mid-lake neighborhood. For the record, the Gunflint has been under ice cover for five months (since December 6th).                                                                                                                                 

All conditions being considered, it’s a good bet this body will be open too as watercraft are launched to kick-off the season. Good luck to all with a word of caution, as the water is dangerously cold. Make good decisions and take no chances in boat or canoe.                                                                                                                                            

A recent interview with WTIP news director, Joe Friedrichs, and the County Planning and Zoning Administrator, revealed consideration for amending the Gunflint Trail ATV usage ordinance. The plan involves changing the current limited travel portions to open/unlimited usage from Grand Marais to the west end of County road 92 at Iron Lake (some 35 miles).                                                                                  
Public comments on the issue to the P & Z (Planning Commission) are being accepted with a public hearing expected in June (though no date has been set). It can be assumed after P & Z examines and listens to public comments the issue will be passed on to County Commissioners for a future agenda.                                                                                                                               
Interested parties, either in support of, or in opposition to this ordinance amendment, should make their feelings known ASAP to the Planning & Zoning office in the Courthouse (in writing or by email). An expression of your opinions on this issue to our district Commissioner would seem prudent too.                                                                                                                                   

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, even more so on the opening day of fishing season!