Saturday, December 27, 2008


There is nothing like the holidays to get one behind on schedules. Here I am a day or so late with the blog. We are at the better late than never stage.

Last week Don and Jacob went out to check the thickness of the ice. Here they are all dress up to go. They are checking it several weeks earlier than last year which is good news. The thickness of the ice ranged from 5 to 10 inches, another good thing. The bad news is that we have snow on the ice which is leading to slush on the ice. If anyone is planning on traveling across the ice, be sure you know what the slush conditions are on that particular lake. Later in the day after Don and Jacob came in, we noticed two deer following the guys’ path on the lake. The deer went to each drilled hole and took a drink of water.

One of my favorite slush stories happened right in front of the lodge. Bruce’s mother, Justine, had two small Polaris Playmate snowmobiles. As boys, Robert and Lee rode out on the ice in front of the lodge. Eventually, they put one of the snowmobiles in a slush pocket.

Of course, Bruce was gone somewhere that day so Mom and I were down helping the boys deal with the slush. We weren’t 100 feet off the shore but what a mess. They were in about a foot of slush. Now slush doesn’t freeze until the insulating dry snow on top of it is disturbed. Obviously a snowmobile disturbs the dry snow. This means that you must get a snowmobile out of the slush before it freezes in for the winter.

The first step is to get the snowmobile above the slush. We piled firewood under it. Lifting the machine was no easy task as the slush in the track added lots of weight to an already heavy machine. Once you get the snowmobile up, the next job is to clear the track of all slush otherwise the track will freeze solid. So first we dug out as much as possible with our hands. That’s a really fun, warm job. Then we started the machine. Two of us held the back end up so the snowmobile was resting only on its front two skis. A third person then runs the machine at full speed so any remaining slush was shot out the back. The lifters have to stay off to one side if they don’t want to get covered with spitting slush. The snowmobile is then lowered onto its dry stack of firewood. If there had been a couple of strong men there, they would have pushed until the snowmobile got to shore but we couldn’t do it. So, then final step was to make a path through the slush disturbing the dry snow until we got to shore. This was left to freeze overnight. As we left the machine, all four of us were tired and soaking wet.

The next morning we started the machine up and drove it to shore. It was put in a heated garage to thaw out all the remaining slush. Luckily we just had to deal with a small machine that was close to home. Putting one of today’s big machines in a slush pocket on a remote lake is a real problem. The boys and I alone would not have been able to get the machine out and home.

Last week we had a first time experience at Gunflint Lodge. After running the place since 1929, the Kerfoot family does not often have a first time experience at the lodge but this was such a time. One night in front of the fireplace Dave got down on one knee and asked Melissa to marry him. He had planned it all in advance and knew it would really thrill her. The next evening I caught up with them and here is a picture of the newly engaged couple.

They were both still glowing from the night before.

Everyone seemed to have a good Christmas at Gunflint. As many staff as possible made it home for Christmas. That meant that many of them were driving or flying back on the 26th to be at work on the 27th. They shared the roads with guests who were also coming up to Gunflint. Right now we have an almost full resort with people out exploring the woods all around us. The dog teams are giving rides. Guests are out snowshoeing everywhere. The ski trails are great. We even had a few flakes of snow coming down about an hour ago. The dining room is busy as the fireplaces merrily blaze away. For those of us who love the resort business there is nothing more fun than a houseful of happy, busy guests.

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