Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - November 30, 2018

Snowshoe Hare_by_Dan Newcomb.jpg
Snowshoe Hare_by_Dan Newcomb.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith          November 30, 2018    

A week away from the keyboard finds me back at it last Sunday evening. The Smith’s had a delightful time in Iowa with our daughter, celebrating “turkey day.” The weather down in Iowa was far from frightful. In fact, barely a skiff of snow muted their tawny landscape. So travel situations made for a stressless jaunt in both directions.                                                                             

With yours truly already into the winter mood, the best part of the return was climbing up the Trail to our winter wonderland. Adding to the white patina, “Mother Nature” was in the process of a little touch-up work. Thus, the last fifty miles to Wildersmith through this byway tunnel of evergreen was not only spectacular but also energizing for our pre-holiday spirit.                                                                            

The Smith’s hope your Thanksgiving was pleasant! Thinking of the past weekend’s trek into Holiday madness, I trust “Black Friday” ventures did not have you seeing “red” much less put you into the “red.”                                                                                                                            
Speaking of this seasonal essence, Gunflint Trail residents are reminded of the Open House Christmas Party as we kick-off this first weekend of December. The event will be held at the Schaap Community Center (mid-Trail fire hall) this Saturday, the 1st.                                                        

The gala put on by the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews is to recognize and thank Trail residents for their continuing support of the department. Doors open at 4:00 pm and good times will run until 7:00. Food and refreshments will be provided, and in the interest of this giving season, attendees are asked to bring an item for donation to the local food shelf.     
 
I just have to share with you an unusual critter happening, as our trip started south along the Trail last week. Some distance down the byway, we rounded a curve to find a USFS vehicle blocking traffic in the opposite lane. The circumstance was perplexing as to what was going on with no apparent human activity observed.  
                                                                                                      
As we slowed, checking out the surroundings we found the reason for this traffic stoppage. On the road shoulder to our right, a race for life was in the unfolding, and it had the attention of this forest ranger too.                                                                                                                           

A snowshoe hare came bounding along the snowy ditch right at us with a pine marten in hot pursuit. There was maybe a dozen feet separating the two, and it was hard to tell how the race was going.  Knowing who might have been declared the winner is undetermined as they eventually dipped into the forest beyond our view.      
                                                                                                        
One thing for certain is they are sprinters, not distance runners. It was all a matter of who could last the longest. We’ll never know whether a rabbit dinner was had, or there was angst of a martin finishing second? In either case, this small animal chapter of predator/prey activity provided yet another episode of wildland drama.                                                                                              

On down the road, a “king of the north woods carnivores” crossed our path, so this was a bonus observation, to say the least.                                                                                                                                                

And on another carnivorous note, a fellow living in the mid-Trail neighborhood experienced an eerie meeting with a six pack of gray wolves, just days before the Thanksgiving week. I’m told he set out in his canoe on Poplar Lake (before the ice came on) paddling to check out an eagle nest he’d been watching. Reaching the location, he put ashore and commenced into the woods a short distance.                                                                                                                                                                       

Not far on his journey, he had an uncomfortable feeling he was in the company of something or somebody, causing him to stop, listen and look around. To his surprise he’d come upon the pack, lounging in a sunny opening of the forest canopy not twenty feet away.                                               

Of course, they saw him too. He stood silently and watched them for several minutes. Then one stood up and looked him over, and the rest followed suit before meandering off out of sight. Although there seemed to be no aggressiveness, his trip was terminated.                                        

While he made his way safely back to his watercraft, another wolf crossed his path. It is unknown if this was a pack member. In any event, this wolf went on without causing further concern. I’m betting there was a lot of glancing back over his shoulder in-route to getting in that canoe.                                                                                                                                                                                             
It might be thought that the wolves, though curious, had less concern with this human in close proximity than he had of the wolf presence, but one can never be sure. It is well known they prefer venison, so he probably didn’t make their mouths’ water. The Gunflint Community is happy this adventure ended free from harm.                                                                                                                                                              
In closing, during the recent Mile O Pine absence, my foxy friend was left to fend for itself. However, a good neighbor down the road picked up the slack, accommodating the oft hungry critter. Along with his grandson Merrick, the two of them had an enjoyable time treating this bushy red “buddy” of the neighborhood.                                                                                                                                                            

The two have since departed back to metropolis, breaking the short term act of kindness. I’m guessing “Braer Fox” will find its way back to Wildersmith because the food service has re-opened with Turkey parts on the menu. I hope the “moccasin telegraph” is getting the word out.                                                                                                                                                           

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with adventures behind every tree or around every curve.
 

Listen: