A belated Happy New Year to everyone! The days spin by so fast regardless of where one is located, and being in the wilderness is no exception, 2011 is already a week old!
Once again my thanks are extended to the Nosey pup from over on Hungry Jack Lake. I didn’t hear her latest Gunflint scoop, but I’m sure that she and her dad brought you up to speed on holiday happenings along the upper Trail.
A quick trip to Iowa for a Christmas visit to our daughter found us returning to the woods in the midst of rain along the North Shore. It was really quite ugly, and we worried that we might be skating at any moment. However, the mess stayed liquid clear into Grand Marais.
As might be expected, things turned white once we got out on the Trail a few miles, and the ugliness turned to wilderness beauty by the time mid-Trail was reached. From there on the trip home was extraordinarily spectacular as flakes stuck to every branch and needle.
By next morning, almost seven inches had layered over the last batch at Wildersmith, and the forest was redecorated once more with mounds of crystal frosting. In the meantime, we at Wildersmith took to indoor un-decorating of symbolic items that had been adorning our holiday celebration. Christmas 2010 is thus packed away, and if you’re like us you’re all holidayed out, but while it was happening, it was great as ever!
The year-end snow happening closed down what was a pretty dry December out here in the woods. And, although we are plenty white around the territory, folks out this way remain hopeful that January and the succeeding months will dish up some above-normal moisture. We need a lot of help in replenishing drought-depleted lake levels.
The power sledding enthusiasts should find the trail conditions much improved over what has been reported, while cross-country ski conditions, which have been quite good, are now even better.
The often harsh enchantment of January in these parts can wear thin, but the excitement of hard water fishing for trout will soon be causing a mad rush to icy GPS locales of old. So activities related to cold are beginning to hit their peak.
With the ice making into its fourth full week on Gunflint Lake, most augers will easily be gnawing at more than a foot of ice by time the season opens in a couple weeks. I’m sure there might be two or more feet on smaller area lakes that froze several weeks earlier.
I was out on the morning chore run a couple days ago and listened to a growling expose from the Gunflint Lake Gal. I don’t know to whom she was talking, but I did the listening. Speaking in unintelligible terms, I’m guessing she is still adjusting to her winter coat or maybe relating a story of the past. The mystique of rolling water under acres of ice cake remains as another instance of wilderness spirit speaking to us in so many different ways.
And speaking of border country spirits, we just passed into the new phase of the Great Spirit Moon (Gich-Manidoo-Giizis). Also acclaimed as the month of the Full Wolf Moon, it could make one speculate about captivating frozen howls from the Gunflint Lake Gal and the great lunar spirit. Who knows, just another mystery of voices in the woods!
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor the bite of January frost, wood smoke and a warm fire!