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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 25

Frosted Trees - Martine Lambrechts
Frosted Trees - Martine Lambrechts

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 25, 2019    

The downfall of summer, along the Gunflint Trail, is characterized by the waning Ojibwe, “falling leaves” moon. In fact most deciduous tree branches are barren and lurking overhead with an eeriness of pre-Halloween fright. It’s as if those scraggily arms might just reach down and grab you from the landscape.                                                                                                                                                                                

Speaking of these sometimes scary occasions, yours truly had a spooky happening a while back that is fitting to share during the WTIP “Fearless Radio” membership drive. The episode took place after my recent winterization of neighborhood wild fire sprinkler systems.                                                                                                    

In order to complete this task I have to go into the Lake. This requires getting into my wet suit in order to deal with the now frigid lake water. This is all simple enough, and when the job is done the suit is rinsed out and hung up to dry outside my back door. I don’t give the process much thought as the black garment usually takes a couple days to dry.                                                                                                                     

Now if one gives the scene a nonchalant glance, it appears like a headless person lurking there. I’ll often walk by the empty ebony garment several times before it gets dry enough for indoor storage.                                         

The drift of my tale is revealed after my first hanging the suit up a few days ago. My wife summoned me to run an errand out to the wood shop, whereby I dashed out the door at around twilight time. Without giving this any consideration, out I flew, and there was this ominous being sneakily hanging right in front of me.                                                                                                                                  

To say I was taken aback for a moment is an understatement! My heart jumped in fright at the sight of this shadowy being, a “Sasquatch” or “Big Foot” look-alike at the very least. The breathless gasps relaxed as reality regained a grip. It seems laughable now, but it was an uncanny, wilderness moment.                                                                                                                                                                                     

As October fades, the unexpected ghost of winter has departed the territory, for the time being. Since the spotty winter storm of two weekends ago, warmer temps, even including a couple sunny days, have been energizing out here in the wild land as we Gunflinters check off the “getting ready” chores. The list for yours truly is down to less than the fingers on one hand, and among them a cord or so of firewood left to stack in the shed.                                                                                                                                   

Speaking of the storm, a narrow band of about twenty some miles was in the bullseye. Barely a trace accumulated around Tuscarora Outfitters on Round Lake, to upwards of eighteen inches deep in the woods in the mid-Trail snow zone. Closer to Wildersmith, our measurement pales in comparison to the foot piled up just over a couple ridges to the south at my neighbors on Loon Lake. “Mother Nature” and “old man winter” operate in funny ways and on their own terms!                                                                                         

The few days of “Moose Madness” weekend featured some actual moose appearances for a few Trail residents and visitors. The Smith’s were also among those treated to an Alces-alces moment. A young Bull ambled down the Trail in front of us one evening while another couple shared the siting of a big cow near the Trail/Moose Pond Dr. intersection. Yet another was said to have been seen on the South Gunflint Lake road.                                                                                                                                                                              

While I’m not hearing of too much bear activity in this neighborhood, the Smith’s did cross paths with one of the jet black growlers a few days ago.  And, some darkness hour travels have provided some golden/green eyed glimpses from roadside ditches of fox on the prowl.                                                                        

In closing this week, the voice of “Fearless Radio” is screeching for listener support during the days of this fall membership campaign. There is nothing tricky about WTIP as the station is the real thing, offering the best of information and entertainment. To keep this broadcast endeavor alive and well requires sustaining financial commitments from many sources, the most important of which is our listener members.                                                                                                                                                                           
So the hope is all will open their Halloween cache, and treat WTIP by re-upping or joining a new with your autumn assurance. The current drive lasts until noon on Monday, but don’t delay! Call in with your pledge, 387-1070 or toll free @ 1-800-473-9847; or click and pledge at; or stop by the station in person, 1712 West Highway 61.                                                                                                                    

The future of your Community Radio station depends on “we,” and as the song lyrics proclaim, “you plus me, equals “we.” Thanks so much in advance for stepping up!                                                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as starlit heavens meet woods and water.