Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Lonely Lake’s ice started to break away from the shore near the beginning of last week. The two Labrador’s that were hiking with us that day jumped joyously into the water for an early season swim, and the saint Bernard slowly waded in behind them. By last Thursday, the ice was completely out.

Usually, it is well over a week between the time that the ice of Lonely Lake and Gunflint Lake goes out. This year, the conditions were warm enough for most of the ice to go out on Gunflint last Monday. As of today, there was only open water within sight of the lodge. The remaining ice on the lake is down at the east end.

When I walked to Lonely Lake today, I noticed the flowers of the leatherleaf plant starting to appear. The leatherleaf maintains its leaves throughout the year, as do many other members of the heath family. The flowers of this shrub have not fully opened yet, but you can see rows of tiny, white buds down each branch.

The call of the spring peeper can be heard for some distance this time of year. The tiny (about 1 inch long) spring peeper is the frog that makes a “peep, peep, peep” sound, which can be almost deafening when heard in a great chorus at close range. Over the last few weeks, I have heard them in the hidden ponds off of Gunflint Lake, and the High Cliffs Trail.

Last week, as we hiked the Amperage Run trail, I heard a large group of western chorus frogs calling out as we approached the first wetland. They sound much like the noise made when you rub your finger down the teeth of a comb.

The vast majority of our snow is gone. Today I hiked several of the trails, and only noticed a few tiny patches of snow on the west half of the mid-cliffs trail. We have been getting much more rain than snow lately, but that does not necessarily mean that more snow will not fall over the next month.

Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the many signs of spring.

John Silliman
Gunflint Lodge Naturalist

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