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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 20

Mushrooms Photo by Fran Smith.jpg
Mushrooms Photo by Fran Smith.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by    Fred Smith
September 20, 2019    
The Gunflint will be in full Autumnal splendor within days, if it’s not already here in some neighborhoods. After several weeks of cool, cloudy and wet, the territory has finally broken out of the rut with some warmth and sunshine over the past few days.                                                                               

The brightness couldn’t have come at a better time to shine a spotlight on our leafy color show. Recent travels about the territory are simply remarkable.  The solar array makes the forest gold, orange and scarlet. It illuminates to nearly blinding luster.                                                                                         

Pair this radiance with the essence of earthly dampness and one has the recipe for incredible wilderness beauty and romance of this changing season. Speaking of this timely changing, Monday marks the moment when “Sol” is making the one day heavenly stop at due east and west.                                                                                                                                                                  

Where have all the days gone? It seems as though we were just celebrating the Equinox of Spring and here it is six months later! Whereas the Vernal time was exciting in its promise of re-birth, these Autumnal moments are those to cherish as well. Hope everyone enjoys the show as there’s a new act every day.                                                                                                                                                
I don’t know if the following tidbit means anything in regard to weather predicting lore, but I have discovered three Tamaraks, along the upper Trail past the Magnetic Trail head, have turned golden already. Since this is a late October ritual, makes one wonder if this is a subtle message. Guess we’d all better get chugging on pre-winter chores!                                                                                                                                                                    
A couple fall samplings are shared in my WTIP website column this week, check them out with a click on the Community Voices section and scroll down.                                                                    

Things are simply mushrooming throughout the forest. There may have been better years for fungi growth in the past, but I can’t remember one that equals the prolific yield this season. I don’t know my mushrooms, but the varieties appear to be uncountable.                                                                                                 

And if this fungus among us is not enough, a glance up into a Mountain Ash tree at the burgeoning crop of red berries finds them weighing heavily on often tender branches. A report or two have indicated branches and young trees giving up under this berry burden. This will make it easy for bears, but it’s going to take a lot of cedar wax wings to finish the hanging harvest.                                                                                                                                                                                       

As summer green is fading fast, it is interesting to note, the hardiness of Black eyed Susan blooms. Without question, they must be the toughest flowers in the territory. They started appearing in late July to early August and they are still going strong. They are currently paired with purple asters along backcountry roads as the last summer floral decorations.                                                                                                                                                                                 
A couple stopped by the Chik-Wauk Nature Center last Saturday and shared seeing a different kind of Loon. With trusty camera phone in hand, they recorded its presence on the bay near Seagull Outfitters. Doing a little research with USFS Biologist Peg Robertson, who happened to be present, it was determined this was a yellow-billed Loon, quite different from our iconic Common Loon.                                                                                                                                                                                     
Such yellow bills are occasionally observed in Lake Superior during migration from their summertime Tundra residence. This one, an apparent loner, must have experienced a GPS malfunction in order to be seen a bit off course, over fifty miles from the big lake.                                                                                                                                       

A reminder, Saturday’s program at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center features Chel Anderson. Chel will be sharing her natural world expertise on the subject of Beavers, and their importance to the ecosystem.                                                                                                                                            

The program will begin at 2:00pm. All are invited, and perhaps plan to arrive in time to enjoy a hike on the colorful Chik-Wauk Trails. Next to winter, this is the coolest time of year in the upper Trail, no bugs and unequaled natural radiance.                                                                                                                                     

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as nature is always happening!