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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 11

Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg
Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
September 11, 2020    

For many, September is one of the most exceptional times of the year. It is like a new year so to speak with many aspects of our culture re-upping. In Gunflint territory, we are on the cusp of the usual beautiful happenings over the next several weeks.                           

Whether it be late season fishing, waiting for a bear to take the bait, trekking back country for grouse, hiking a trail, doing dock time at the edge of ripping waters, cruising the Trail leaf peeping, taking one last paddle in the BWCA, catching a late day Canadian sun set or watching the dark sky, this is the place to be.                                                                                                             

While some “fall” rituals just occur, almost going un-noticed, others captivate attention with almost overnight changes or suddenly coming up absent from our warm season daily routines.                                                                                                                                                  

Waves of warblers have hit the air waves, hawks are cast toward warmer locales, Canadian honkers are wedging their way south and our hummingbirds may be drafting in honker airborne wake.  Last weekend the “hummers” were noticeably missing from the Wildersmith sweetness station after consuming countless bottles of simple syrup for weeks on end. And I’m betting some of our neighboring “snowbirds” have joined the migration too.                                                                                                                

Along the Trail and other back country roads the first real scarlet leaves are identifying our obscure population of sugar maples, and dashes of gold from last week are growing in mass taking over our rocky elevations.                                                                                                                  
At ground level, ferns of many species are fading to brown, and magically, a variety of mushroom are popping up where the previous day there was nothing. Including the water temp falling into the high fifties on Gunflint Lake, these are a few observations as we mellow into the times of growing calm and quiet places.                                                                                       

Atmospheric conditions have been joining in on this autumnal communal. We have been tinkering with high thirty degree readings until the last few mornings when freezing cold got serious. The area received some precipitation but usual trickles of roadside ditches have gone bone dry. When the upper Trail has been sunny, the days have been marvelous.                     

With the early September cold, I detected the first whiff of smoke from a neighbor’s wood burner in the middle of Labor Day. And as sundown closed out the holiday weekend, cool conditions and the relentless wind prompted the first seasonal firing of the Wildersmith wood stove. I’d almost forgotten how comfy it feels when that old stove is consuming a little birch.                                                                                                                                                          
Along with several annoying gusty days, outer wear has turned to sweaters, sweatshirts, and hats as a few winter chores have been checked off the getting ready list. If these conditions are a precursor to the real gales of late October and November, locals had better anchor things down.                                                                                                                                                                     

Speaking of “getting ready” chores, a few boats have been brought ashore for winter, and a pile of future years’ firewood has been stacked in the Wildersmith woodshed. In addition, some fire wise trimming and clean-up has been piled for white season burning.                                                                                                                                                                          

Bear activities are beginning to percolate over the “moccasin telegraph.” A recent report came to me about an attempted Ursa breaking and entering at a residence along South Gunflint Lake Road.                                                                                                                                                

In the wee hours of the morning a momma bear and her cubs clawed in through a window causing quite a stir. While the momma got part way through the opening, her cubs made it into a porch area before being discouraged by frightened residents.                                                  

Last week a visiting bear hunter reported a “wild neighborhood” parade of critters caught on the trail cam over his baiting station. A moose, two white tails, a fox, a wolf, a skunk, some grouse, a sundry of rodents and of course, a bear stopped by to investigate the aromatics, even consuming a good deal of the luring treats. Can you imagine a wolf with a donut in its mouth? Yup, a local Canis Lupis with a sweet tooth!                                                                                       

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is a journal of natural marvels!