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.