Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter on the Kekekabic Trail

Last week I met two young men who were leaving the next morning to snowshoe the Kekekabic Trail from here to Ely. They both had winter camping experience and seemed prepared for the trip. We have not heard otherwise, so they must have had a good trip.

This has not always been the case with people trying to do the Kek in the winter. Mother Nature has a way of changing your plans. Many years ago we had a party stop by who had turned around on their trip due to problems with extremely cold temperatures. In those years you did not just start a car in the winter and it was bloody cold out. They came into the house and called down the trail for a pickup.

Meanwhile some their toes were black with frostbite! I knew that we had to slowly warm them up but it is hard to find something to put water and men’s feet into. Two of them went on the side of the bath tub. Bruce got roasting pans from the lodge for more of them. When their friends came to get them, they went down to Grand Marais. No one lost toes but it was touch and go.

Some years later we had another party come for help. Their experience on the Kek had been just the opposite. They were planning on snowshoeing to Ely and had all the warm weather gear. Mother Nature decided to warm the temperatures up and it stopped them immediately. Their clothes were too hot and they had too much gear. They came in and called for a pick up from Ely. During the three hours at our house I fed them a full dinner which included two t-bones steaks each. My very young sons were quite intimidated by these exhausted strangers.

We have had several light snowfalls this week. The picture is just on our driveway. It shows you how totally full of snow all the trees are. Anyone driving in the area will see these beautiful trees everywhere. By now the snow has been pasted onto them. It is going to take a strong wind to blow the snow off. I have read that the sloping nature of pine tree branches is to help them support the snow load without breaking. Looking at this picture, it makes sense to me.

Today is the opening of the lake trout season on the Minnesota side of Gunflint Lake. There are ice houses that have appeared during the week. The managers sit at lunch in the lodge and watch these house being placed on the lake. Sometimes it is very interesting. Another fun time is to watch people trying to take them off in March. After snowfalls and slush some of them are frozen in. Again we sit and watch from the warmth of the lodge.

Bruce is going to wait until after the weekend to go out. He will drive his truck around looking for blood (from caught fish) on the snow by houses and fish holes. Then he will pick his spot to fish. A little luck might give us fresh fish for dinner.


Donna said...

Beautiful photo, Sue! Can't wait to get there in Feb. for x-country skiing. We stay across the lake at Moosehorn/Cross River but always stop by there for a bite to eat. Thanks for the blogs!

mary ann said...

Wanted you to know that your blog is most interesting. You write well. I look forward to reading it. Mary Ann