Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ice Out!

Shortly after I posted my blog, Neighbor Fred called me. He could see all the way down to the sand beach and there was no ice. So now we can officially say that winter is over and spring is here. It is right on time. We checked out our last winter group (Books in the Woods) this morning. The next package will be the beginning of May.

The guys are already tearing apart the kitchen as they clean everything. I am making some soup at my house for managers' lunch tomorrow since Don is turning off all the gas in the kitchen. It will take about a week to clean all the exhaust hoods, ovens (5) and burners (10). Meanwhile all the walls and ceiling tiles are being washed. Once the walls are clean, Don has 3 gallons of white paint waiting in his office.

The front rooms are also getting torn apart. Mandy and Kacy cleaned most of the main room but the dining room still has to be done. Also the floors of both have to be finished. In Don's office is some extra hard wax. After it goes on, we will let it harden for a couple days before walking on it.

I don't know if I want to wish you can still see some wax or not when you come up this summer. If you can see the wax, that means it held up really well. If you can't see the wax, that means we have been really, really busy.

At any rate, I have to get my own house clean today. When Bruce and I get back, it is nice to come into a clean house. The spring cleaning bug has really bit hard.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who Cares About The Ice?

It’s hard to believe that we are deep in the heart of April. The weather feels more like May. The northwest wind has come up today and the ice is moving to the east. This is the way it normally goes out. I talked with Fred Smith who lives closer to the east end of Gunflint. He still has ice but it is moving. We will see what happens during the rest of the day. If it finishes going out today, that would make it only one day past when Don Brazell would have had it going out.

Sometimes I think that you must get tired of reading about the ice going off the lake. Why does it hold such a fascination for me? Perhaps because it is such a sharp division between winter and summer. All winter the ice is on the lake. It is hard to imagine what open water is like. The reverse is true during the summer. Most of our guests have never seen the lake with ice on it, ice that is thick enough to drive a truck on. When the ice is off, it is truly time to get geared up for summer business and activities. So we are all ready for fishing, families and canoe trips.

Meanwhile, with this nice weather everyone is getting the urge to go out hiking. Bruce and I hiked the Centennial Trail off the Kekekabic Trail. We started on the Round Lake Road and hiked up the trail. There are several nice viewing areas as you climb up. At one point you could see the ponds on the Round Lake Road below and the stable and hay barn at Gunflint in the distance. Once we reached the Kek it was pretty much downhill back to the road.

The Forest Service has also marked and cleared the trail up to the old Gunflint Fire Tower. It is about ¾’s of a mile off the Kekekabic Trail. One day Bruce and I will take off to walk that.

These various trails in the woods are great to get out on during the spring. Our two best walkers are Bonnie and Sheryl. They like to go in the late afternoon. I heard that their next hike will be on the Canadian side of the lake.

We used to have a cross country ski trail called the East End Trail that ran on the old railroad grade of the Duluth, Port Arthur and Western Railroad. That’s the one that came from Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay) along the north shore of Gunflint, across a bridge over the narrows and into the Paulson Mine. Walking on the Kek you can still see several of the test pits that were dug searching for iron ore. All they ever found was taconite which could not be refined at that time (1893).

This railroad was also used for logging on the U. S. side. It crossed over to the U. S. side near Bridal Falls. On the east side of the falls you can still see the railroad trestle. It was made by piling up logs on top of each other until the road bed was high enough to get over the hills on the south shore of Gunflint. It is not what you expect to find while exploring the woods. Actually there are several roads and hiking trails around that were originally railroad grades. Another one is the Gunflint Narrows Road. When the museum up at Chik-Wauk opens, we will have them marked on a large map of the area.

Bruce and I are taking off for 10 days. It’s time to see grandchildren and other parts of the country. We won’t be home until the 22nd so don’t expect to hear from me.

Who Cares About The Ice?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

It's a Really Really Early Spring

If we thought that spring was coming early, now we have proof. All you need to do is look at our picture. Today there is no snow around the outfitting building.. The picture with all the snow was taken April 1st of 2009 looking at the outfitting building.. There is just a bit more snow than we have now.
Of course, the other sure sign of spring is the ice going off the lakes. We have a system for deciding when the lice will leave the lakes. It all goes back to our first mailman, Don Brazell. Don delivered mail and freight up here fir 30-40 years. In the spring he took note of when the North Brule River started flowing free of ice. He then observed that one week later the smaller lakes went out. A week after that the larger lakes were clear of ice.
On Friday, March 26th, Sheryl went to town. There was ice on the North Brule. When she came home later that day, the ice was done and the river was running freely. She took a picture of the event. It’s my third picture. If Don’s predictions run true, the ice should be off Gunflint Lake on Friday, April 9th. That is the earliest any of us can remember it.
Today the entire ice is black and the wind is blowing. The ice is off where the Cross River enters the lake by Moosehorn. That is always the starting point. Slowly the flowing river waters will eat into the ice creating a larger portion of open water. Meanwhile the main sheet of ice on the lake is floating free from shore. Winds buffet it back and form eating away at the edges. On just the proper day, a northwest wind will start the entire flow moving out from the Cross River and down to the east end of the lake. Depending on the wind, this can be done in one or two days. We will see if the lake is out by next Friday.
We are all enjoying the warm weather but there is a little down side to this. I am anxious to get into my garden but I still don’t think I can plant anything until lake in May. If I try basil, it will be black the first morning that the temperature gets anywhere near freezing. So for two months I will try to be patient.
This has been a very busy week at the lodge. Most of our cabins are full with families up for the Easter week. There are probably more kids in camp than adults. We are all getting ready for the summer season with kids all over.
The new cabins are coming along right on schedule. The interior paneling is finished and both of them have been varnished. Jordy and his crew are starting the exterior siding next week. Meanwhile Bruce and Dave Kleusch are gathering rocks to landscape around each cabin. The other day they filled the big red dump truck five times. Both of them stood grinning from ear to ear as they looked at the size of their rock pile.