Listen Now
Pledge Now


Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 25

Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg
Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
September 25, 2020    

Here we are once again; September engine 2020 has roared past Gunflint station with the old caboose a few lengths from heading off into oblivion. It’s hard to imagine we are humming the final stanza of a September song.                                                                                       

Recent days in the upper Gunflint have been splendid. Temps have bounced back from last weeks’ frostiness to more normal expectations…under smoke filtered sunshine. The warmth has even aroused some members of the insect population.                                                          

Meanwhile the smoke from those west coast infernos is caught in the jet stream and is high aloft, dimming “Sol’s beam. Luckily, to date, the usual noxious smell and ensuing air quality difficulties seem to be minimal around Wildersmith.                                                              

Like a broken record there is no good new with regard to rain since our last meeting. A few drops last Saturday morning is all we have been able to muster along the Mile O Pine, barely dampening the dust.                                                                                                                        

This in mind, a component of autumn is missing. Although color aspects are full speed ahead, the aromatics of dank earth and decaying leaves is not yet wafting through the forest. So woods users are kicking up dust and crunching a very dry landscape until “Mother Nature” opens the spigot to allow the delight of seasonal pungency.                                                                                                                                                         

While parts of the upper Trail are in varying stages of fall intensity, the Mile O Pine is beyond vivid. There is little to say that was good about the 1999 Derecho but the big blow down did allow sunshine to enable a sparse advancement of maples in places of the upper Trail.                                                     

Twenty plus years later, we are beyond the spoils of the tragedy as scarlet beauties are on fire. The crimson is mingled with oranges and golds against the evergreen back drop in a breath taking mosaic. Every day seems to get a little brighter and in the words of distinguished… Phenologist and educator Larry Weber they are “tree---mendous!                        

All who live along similar pristine pathways are enjoying gift while it lasts’. Knowing this awesome happening is short lived, unfortunately, a melancholy end to this spectacle is in the cards.                                                                                                                                                    

Some tokens of gold and rust have already started to descend from their summer connection, and are being windrowed by the few passing neighborhood vehicles. The array of golden rows along the roadway brings to mind that our back country pathways will be outlined in white after a few more weeks are recorded.                                                                                                                                                            
Earlier in our week, stiff breezes created a mini blizzard of coniferous needles. These elder generation needles are adding another layer of landscape carpeting to the “duff” accumulation of thousands of years. Talk about plush!                                                                                                                                            

The rut is on in “moosedom.” Over in the Iron lake area, some grouse hunters reported a first sign setting the stage for establishing territory and attracting attention of a member of the fairer gender. They came upon an area of tree bark scrapes and a lot of hoof prints crushing the surrounding brush. Ungulate romance is in the air!                                                    

Speaking of grouse, good reports are coming in from hunters on their first weekend, and DNR information tells of many successes for bear chasers as well.                                                                                      

The Gunflint Community is saying good bye to a family of historical renown. Bruce Kerfoot, son of the iconic Justine, and wife Sue are departing the North woods next week. Bruce who has lived on the Gunflint Trail since birth, and Sue will be moving south into Missouri, establishing new residency near son Robert and his family.                                                   

Legends of the Kerfoot family date back to the 1920’s, and Bruce has observed Gunflint Trail history unfold on a daily basis for all of his eight decades living around and operating Gunflint Lodge.                                                                                                                                               
Both Bruce and Sue are living chapters of Gunflint Trail history. And, their contributions to the Gunflint Community are uncountable.                                                                                                                                                                     

While they plan to winter in their new digs to the south, I’m told they plan on summers back on the Trail. So they will continue ties with many old friends and neighbors.                                                  

The Gunflint Community wishes them the best in their new life endeavors and always welcomes them back to their place of many memories!                                                                             

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as “Mother Nature” whispers “can do” with confidence.