Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Early Winter on the Gunflint Trail

I did a little tour of the neighborhood looking for pictures for the blog. Having to come up with pictures makes me do more than sit at the computer and think nice thoughts. For our trip we bought one of the small digital cameras. It sure was nice to just pop it into my small fanny pack. Now the plan it to keep it in the car for each time we go to town. Of course, I forgot it when we went to town yesterday. Two moose were on the road when we came home. You will just have to take my word for it.

Now that things are quiet around the lodge, animals have been appearing again. Lee has seen moose and otters. One of the otters was having a grand time sliding down some new shore ice into the lake. The deer are also all around especially since the hunting season ended. How they know to disappear during hunting season is beyond me. This morning there were three on our driveway. The fox couple from last year also appears to be hanging around.

Today I went visiting the ski trails that have now been packed and groomed for the first time this winter. There are no tracks on them yet. Those will come with the next snow fall. It is just good to start seeing all the trails come out of the woods. I think this picture of the Highlands Trail by the road overlook gives you a pretty good idea.

My pictures will improve with practice – I hope.

Gunflint Lake is not frozen yet. This picture by the bridge at Cross River shows how the ice is forming out into the lake.

There are actually three bands of ice. The first one was just before we got our last two inches of snow. Then there is a narrow band frozen one cold night. Finally we got a much wider band that froze last night. Beyond that is the open water steaming as it cools down. The steaming means that the water is warmer than the air. That is not hard to believe since it was 7 degrees this morning.

Most of the smaller lakes along the Trail are frozen now. Magnetic Lake froze several days ago. Loon Lake was in the middle of freezing yesterday. Parts were frozen but there were also patches of open water. Loon may have finished freezing last night. It was cold and calm. Our coldest nights come during a full moon with no clouds and no wind. Once a lake is totally frozen, it won’t go out until next spring. If it has open water, there is always a chance that strong winds will blow it open again.

Then there is the issue of making solid, hard ice. Ideally, there is a period of 5-6 nights after a lake freezes when the temperatures are low and there is no snow. This will give you several inches of clear blue ice. Snow during this period will insulate the new ice and really slow down the growth of the ice. And this is what puts us into a bind because, of course, we would like lots and lots of snow. Fortunately, Mother Nature makes the decisions about ice and snow.

Another stop I made was at the lodge. Bonnie went out yesterday and cut a balsam Christmas tree for the lodge. This picture shows it propped up against the steps leading into the lodge.

The bright orange tag shows that we paid our $5 fee to the Forest Service for cutting a tree on their land. Trees cut in a natural forest are not like those from a tree farm. They are much more irregular and not nearly as dense because they have not been cut and formed during their growth.

This weekend the tree will go up as part of our first weekend of Holiday Decorating. Each year we have guests who come to help decorate the lodge and grounds for Christmas. I will admit that helping decorate Gunflint Lodge is not quite as prestigious as decorating the White House (they use volunteers too) but we think it is just as much fun.

I’ll spend the next couple of days exploring the neighborhood some more. Who knows what stories will appear.

1 comment:

Brit said...

Keep the snow coming Sue...we'll see you guys in a week! Merry Christmas!