August has run in upon us before we are ready. I am sure that the Fourth of July was just a couple of days ago. When I look at my calendar for August, it will probably be flying by just as fast as July did.
A couple days ago I got an e-mail from an old employee. He had just completed a canoe trip down the Granite River. On Clove Lake, he spotted a pair of Trumpeter Swans with a cygnet or young one. Kent says the cygnet cannot fly for a while after it is born. So his thought was that the pair of swans will be staying on Clove for a bit. If you are planning a canoe trip through that area, be sure to look for them. Also remember to stay plenty far away so they do not feel harassed.
Animals are popping out all over. There is a wet area on the way up to Seagull that has regularly had a momma moose and two calves. Bruce and I have been up to Chik-Wauk several times this past week. Twice while coming back we have spotted a wolf. One was between the Blankenburg gravel pit and Seagull and the other was between Cross River and the North Gunflint Lake Road. Each animal was not startled by the car and did not run off. I think they were in no rush because they were just as hot as we were. At any rate, both were magnificent animals.
Eva’s mother, Nancy, is visiting. We went blueberry picking with her one morning. Nancy and I make a good contrast to Bruce. We pick cleanly and his bucket is a mess. Of course, he also gets twice as many berries as we do. We got a enough to freeze a bag for winter and to make 14 jars of blueberry lemon jam. Not a bad morning’s work.
My basil in the garden has been particularly good. This week I supplied the lodge and still had lots left. So I spent a little time making pesto. My friend, Bev, gave me this recipe. The worst part about it is cleaning the basil. Otherwise you just dump everything into the food processor. I package it in one cup portions and freeze it for winter. Now there are five dinners worth in the freezer.
Yesterday we decided to go lake trout fishing with Nancy. For several weeks the guides have had excellent luck on North Lake. Lately the water level going down the rapids between Little North and Little Gunflint has been too low for the guides to drag their boats up. We took one of the smallest boats the lodge has. Bruce was able to drag the boat up into Little North.
The lake was beautiful. We saw lots of seagulls and loons. But, more importantly, the beeper on the fish finder kept going off as it spotted fish beneath us. After trying a couple of spots with no luck, we found the honey hole. Within an hour we had our limit of nice size fish and had thrown a few back in. That was enough for us.
We sat and drifted, ate our sandwiches and generally enjoyed being on the lake. There was one other boat and we saw one group of 4 canoes going toward the South Lake portage. There was enough breeze so that we didn’t get too hot. Of course, I got a little too much sun but it was no big deal. As you might guess, fresh lake trout, garden green beans, and fresh salad from the garden make a great dinner.
Last week we had a team from the International Boundary Commission stop by to rent a boat for a bit. They were surveying all the boundary markers in the area. Going through the narrows from Gunflint to Magnetic, you may have noticed one of these markers. They are embedded in rocks, square-shaped and topped with a pyramid shape. On the sides they have an identification number and say “U. S. Canada International Boundary” or something close to that. These are not the actually boundary but they are points from which star sightings were taken to establish the boundary in the middle of the lake. As we went down the lake, I noticed this team had painted all the markers white. I saw more markers than every before.
There is an interesting story about the establishing of the international boundary in the area. In addition to marking the border, the team cataloged the elevation of each lake in relationship to sea level. These elevations are still found on some of the canoe maps of the area. By looking at them, you can tell if your portage is going to be generally uphill, downhill or level.
At any rate they had trouble on Gunflint Lake. It seems that they kept getting different water elevations on the lake. Eventually, they figured out that the northwest wind pushes enough water to the eastern end of the lake, that the eastern end is higher than the western end. We saw this same thing happen during the 1999 Blowdown when the eastern end was several feet deeper than the western end. For the surveyors, the solution was to measure the lake in the winter when the ice made the lake the same elevation all over.
It is Fisherman’s Picnic weekend in Grand Marais. Bruce and I are off to town. We walk in front of the Red Cross vehicle and throw candy to people watching the parade. It is dumb but kinda of fun. Those little kids get such a smile on their faces when you throw them candy. In fact every one enjoys getting a little candy.