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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 11, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   May 11, 2018 

Going into week two of month five, this time of the Ojibwe “budding flowers moon” is not yet a reality. However, at the rate things have been going for the past seven, there’ll be blooms by the time we reach the fullest of heavens “big cheese” near months’ end.                                                  

Days, since we last met on the radio, have been pleasant, comfortably warm and sunny with cool nights settling back into the thirties. In spite of this pleasing atmosphere, the territory continues struggling to muster significant rain. Light showers earlier in the week tempered the wildfire potential. Yet the danger is only a few hours of drying wind and sunshine away, still no burning ban.
With the fishing opener at hand, hard water has not given up on the bigger lakes out this way, but several smaller bodies are said to be beckoning anglers. So, wetting a line is not going to be the opening day bust we expected a few weeks ago. 
Most wetlands, swamps, and ponds along the Trail have become liquid again, attracting any number of waterfowl. Further, there are several reports of loons overhead, and I’m told the nesting pair at Chik-Wauk has returned to their seasonal home on Sag Bay. One more winged note, robins have returned to the area, but none have been observed in this neighborhood to date.                                                                                                                                                       

We at Wildersmith have been privy to a menagerie of up north critters over the past week. Observations include a moose, fox, snowshoe hares, a new pine marten and large wolf tracks along the Mile O Pine. While Trail neighbors have reported bear sightings, and a lynx.  
The moose, perhaps a two-year-old bull, interrupted an evening trip up the Trail by slogging along in front of our vehicle for quite a distance. It stopped several times and turned to look at us who were no doubt interrupting his meanderings too. Without a close encounter, “Murray the Moose” eventually went off into the forest.  
Meanwhile, those north woods bunnies are out and about after having not been seen for weeks. In the process of changing to summer attire, the only lagomorph memory of winter can be found in their bleached undercarriage and white socks.  
The fox mentioned has paid us a visit twice in the past few days. While I’ve heard of many folks with friendly foxes, this is a first at Wildersmith. This foxy guy shows up out of nowhere and might be a lost pet because it has no fear of us    two-legged creatures. It is quite persistent about wanting a hand-out and hangs around until we willingly oblige. Guess it has us hooked, and the pine martens now have to share their poultry treats.
While I have not observed any bears yet, the first reported observation came from some folks over on Washout Rd. Since that news came in, more of the ebony beasts have been poking around at various locations. And the lynx sighting came from somewhere up the Trail. 
My earlier mention of Chik-Wauk causes me to remind WTIP listener/readers the historical campus will be opening for the season two weeks from this one (on Memorial Day weekend). It looks to be a busy season with more of the Gunflint story, great natural history programming, and construction of two exciting facility additions. 
The timber frame Watercraft Exhibit Building (WEB) will be raised in a week or so and an Interpretive Cabin will go up as soon as the frost is out to allow for footings. The cabin will be located on one of the original resort cabin sites, while the WEB will be near the Back Bay just off the entrance lane. Actual exhibits in the two buildings, are dependent on funding resources becoming available but hope to be open for viewing the summer of 2019.  
Two of our Gunflint neighbors have recently been honored for their devotion to helping people. Gunflint Community congratulations are extended to John and Rose Schloot. The longtime residents and owners of Cross River Lodge (formerly Borderland Lodge) were recognized as 2018 winners of the Dolly Johnson Friend of Emergency Services Award.  
Commencing in 2003, the awards program recognizes people who are not on the front line in emergency situations. The honor for John and Rose is bestowed for their on-going and ever-present support of our local EMS and Search & Rescue volunteers in crucial behind the scenes roles during times of crisis. We on the Gunflint are so fortunate to have folks like the Schloot’s in our midst. Thanks to the both of them and many others always standing ready!   
On a final note, the Gunflint Green-up reunion held last Saturday was a lively and scrumptious success. The potluck provided so many delectable offerings, one attendee who shall remain anonymous, was observed with an assortment of five desserts on his plate. Big thanks to the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee organizers and all who attended.     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with wilderness adventures yet to be seen.