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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 18

Wildersmith_Fall Color.jpg
Wildersmith_Fall Color.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by    Fred Smith
September 18, 2020    

Our Gunflint September keeps on “rollin’ along, just as its eight predecessors have. The colorful leaf revue is now in the spotlight as the Equinox makes autumn official in just a few days.                                                                                                                                                             

The north land cold spell of last week has backed off a bit, dishing up more splendid days. Although, a few evenings have still required ambiance from crackling embers in the wood burning stove.                                                                                                                                    

While we all savor the recent pleasantness, it has been of little benefit to the drought like conditions of late. Places in the upper territory are crispy as falling leaves begin to accumulate and ground level brush turns tinder dry.                                                                              

The terror of wildfire along the west coast is an eerie reminder of what this area endured with the scorching Ham Lake Inferno of 2007. Burning of any kind should be exercised with caution whether resident or visitor. Probably wouldn’t hurt to test those wild fire sprinkler systems as a precautionary note. It seems a burning ban would be prudent!                                                                                                                     
 Activity in the forest continues with many visitors flooding area outfitters and resorts. It will become even more crowded this weekend with the addition of hunters for the grouse season opener.                                                                                                                         

With warning to all hunters, please be safe with those firearms and extra cautious with anything that could ignite the forest. And a warning as well to those “Minnesota Chicken” birds, you’re in the sights as a menu item this weekend.                                                                                                  
While the water temps on Gunflint Lake continue to ooze downward, so too is the lake level. It has been below the last notch on the DNR gauge at my dock for two weeks now.                            

I have lived here twenty-one years and never seen the “Gunflint Gal” so low. I was even nervous about getting the boat off the lift for its trip to winter storage, but made it OK. It is doubtful things will change by ice time as any precipitation will be gobbled up by the dry earth before running off the watershed.
So as days fly by, I try to check off at least one item from the “getting ready” list each day. Knowing really nice days are limited a few more chores were crossed off since we last met. These were some of the easiest, and I continue procrastinating on some of the less pleasant. You’ll find me in the lake this weekend as some good guys from metropolis will help me bring the dock ashore.                                                                                                                                                                        

Isn’t it exciting learning the sky canopy over the BWCA and Superior National Forest has been officially recognized as one of 13 darkest sky regions on the planet by the International Dark Sky Association? I guess most of us who live here already knew this by just looking up at night.                                                                                                                                                                  

We Gunflinters will soon be able to share this with the world. Final technical adjustments for the All Sky Camera, at Chik Wauk Museum, are nearing completion for beaming end of the trail digitals from the heavens.                                                                                             

 It has been a slow week for “wild neighborhood” critter reports. Neighbors down the road have been experiencing bear visits to their yard, but none have bothered us at Wildersmith to date. There may be others, but I’m not hearing of recent bear shenanigans.                  

A note of concern comes from folks up at end of the Trail who last year indicated what they believed was a spike in moose numbers, but this year things appear to have changed. With few animals being observed, the word is there are a couple wolf packs patrolling territories up that way and competition for prey maybe the reason for the downturn. Hopefully the big critters are there somewhere and have been just cooling it in obscurity of the fir forest.                                             

If sadness of the missing moose isn’t enough, I regret reporting one of our upper Trail neighbors passed away recently. Mervin “Merv” Meeks lived along the Sag Lake Corridor on the Sag Lake Trail. Merv will be missed by not only his family but his Sag Lake friends and neighbors. Gunflint Community Condolences are extended to his wife Marilyn and all who knew and loved this kind man.                                                                                                                                                   

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where the power of nature is awesome, and every day is special, in the land of trees and water!