Listen Now
Pledge Now


Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 4, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith      May 4, 2018    

The Smiths’ are back in the woods. It’s always great to travel and renew with old friends, but the return to the quiet of un-organized territory can’t be matched. Comparing border country to the hubbub of our often taken-for-granted civilized world, finds there are way too many people and vehicles. It is madness, making me wonder how many more inhabitants the planet can tolerate.    
Meanwhile, the trip back out the trail finds spring has assumed control. Although the snow has dwindled to provide our landscape with more brown than white, lakes are still bound in memories of winter past, but the fuzzy of pussy willow buds confirms Vernal is here to stay. I’m also declaring spring official as its staying above freezing ‘round the clock.    
While mud season continues, I’m seeing areas of improvement along the Mile O Pine, and it’s probably the same along other wilderness roads. Mini glaciers remain prominent away from the road in the shaded woods but have retreated some allowing the melting demise to open up frozen culverts. That in mind, there are growing sections of now dusty rural gravel, so its mud and slop in one spot and then choking dust in another, more character of spring in the wildland.  
Speaking of dust, the moisture drought in the upper Trail region is cause for growing wildfire concern. The rain gauge at Wildersmith was dry when we departed eleven days ago, and counting a mini shower upon our return, this neighborhood has measured less than a tenth of an inch since I don’t know when.                                                                                                                                                                               
I know governing agencies monitor conditions. However, it seems a total burning ban for this part of the world is in order to lessen the chance of another Ham tragedy until things green up. Remembering humans are responsible for 98% of wildfires in Minnesota, can’t it be better to “act” instead of having to “react” to someone’s bad decision.                                                                                                                                                                    
In the meantime, area residents should be on the watch to get their wildfire sprinkler lines into the lakes at the first sign of open water, and to be testing pump units to assure their readiness.                                                                                                                                                                                             
On a note related to the memory of our Ham Lake experience, the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee has organized a reunion commemorating their efforts to help in the forest re-birth. It has been ten years since the famous Gunflint Green-up energized hundreds of Gunflint advocates to assist “Mother Nature” with a start-over after the 2007 inferno. 
To mark the monumental tree planting effort, a potluck supper is being held this coming Saturday. The eating event will be held at the Seagull Lake Community Center beginning at 5:00 pm. In addition, from 3:00 pm until the supper, one can trek out into some of the re-forested areas to check on how things have grown with Myra Theimer from the USFS.                                                                           
For the potluck at 5:00 pm, brats, buns, drink, and table service will be provided with attendees being asked to bring a complimenting side dish and/or dessert. It should be a fun time to reminisce this great green effort.                                                                                                                                                   
Being out of the territory for several days, I’m mostly out of the loop on “wild neighborhood” scoops. I haven’t heard of any sightings yet, but assume Bruno families are out of their winter quarters. Our warm weather should be a signal for the human part of the bear/ people equation to secure all nutritional temptations from the hungry black critters. As I mention about this time every year, if we people weren’t here, there would be no bear problems. So who is the problem?                                                                                                                                                                        
Another wintertime snoozer is out, as I got word of a first woodchuck being spotted along the Trail, and as I reported a couple weeks ago, skunks have had their coming out too.                                                                                                                                                                        
Happy days are here again, for my little red rodent friends. My first morning back found one at the wood shop door to greet me. I know it’s really not me, but the potential for a seed hand-out putting squirrely in a welcoming mode. This little one came right into the shop and climbed up on the seed barrel, then followed me out, hoping I would scatter some happiness on the ground. One can be put in a real bind trying to keep select critters happy while not tempting some un-wanted Ursus visitors.  
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, watching another seasonal rendition unfold.