Friday, January 11, 2008

Snow Flakes Keep Falling

With winter temperatures in the moderate ranges, I have been trying to take a few walks. One of my most constant walks is just down the back road. A neighbor’s mail box is exactly one mile from us. So that is my walk – a mile up and a mile back.

I took Tucker with me on a couple recent walks. He, of course, travels twice a much ground as I do. Tucker likes to just roll in the snow which doesn’t appeal to me. He also seems fascinated by any stick in the woods. Now he is reduced to digging and pulling them out as this picture shows.

When there is no snow, he picks up dead branches (sometimes four or five feet long) and prances down the road with them. He seems quite proud of himself.

Another walk we took was on the back trail to the lookout. As we looked over the forest and lake, a herd of deer raced through between us and the stable. I managed to catch three of the deer in an opening. Hopefully you will be able to see them too.

It is interesting walking to the lookout. As many of you know, the area between it and the lodge felt the full force of the 1999 Blowdown. As a result we had a logger come in and clean everything out. The next summer we planted 5000 pine trees of various species. It is all coming up again. The birch, which grow off the stumps of dead trees, are 10 feet tall. The poplar, which grow from the roots of other trees, are just as tall. In between we have the spruce and white pine and cedar we planted coming up. They are now in the 2-4 foot range. We also have balsam, which comes up on its own, filling in everywhere. All in all there is the makings of a very nice mixed forest growing. In the summer, the leaves fill in enough that you can no longer see through from one end to the other.

On one hand it is easy to look at the Blowdown as a disaster but it also saved us. Our forest in the back basin was growing old. We didn’t want to log it but trees were aging and something needed to be done. Admittedly the Blowdown took things to extreme but it has given us a new forest. I do, however, miss the wonderful, huge white pines that were lost. Those will take generations to replace.

Another project for this time of year is to test the thickness of the ice. Yesterday Don and Jacob donned their fire department dry suits (gumbies), picked up an auger and walked across the ice to a little over half away across. This is the part of the lake that was one of the last areas to freeze. Here you can see them drilling a hole in the ice.

They found the ice was from 10-12 inches thick which is very good. The snow on the ice is wind-whipped into a hard crust. There are also many areas of bare, slippery ice. I walked across those areas very carefully and still found myself slipping occasionally.

Those bare patches reminded me of a trip I took across the ice years ago. I was driving a group of women in a van across the ice to ski on the East End Trail which used to run on the old railroad bed on the north shore of Gunflint. The ice was very slippery and I didn’t want to have the van go too fast. I just put the vehicle into drive and kept my foot off the gas pedal. When in drive, there is just a very little forward push on the tires. It was enough to slowly move me across the ice.

The best news is saved for last. It’s snowing outside as I write. We have about an inch of new snow. The north shore of the lake is visible but just barely. The snow is fine and steady. I never watch the weather so who knows how much we are supposed to get. It is just good to look out my office windows and see the snow come down. The other bonus is that I don’t have to drive anywhere today. Let it snow!

1 comment:

J-Buck said...

Hi there,

I read in an APRIL 2007 blog of yours about a story 15-20 yrs ago about Eric THompson helping you out out on the lake...

I happen to be an old friend of Eric, Jane, and Scott Thompson. Scott used to play on the same hockey team as me back when we were 12 and 13...Im 20 now.

The last I checked they had moved to Minnetonka, MN. If you have any idea where they are now or how I could contact them, that would be great. Thanks alot!

Jordan Buckley,