Sunday, February 24, 2013

Moving Along on the Lake

One of the nice parts about living in the woods is that there is always something happening. It is nothing earth-shattering but just little quirts in life.

Take our weather as an example. You would think the temperature would be pretty consistent from one spot to another. Guess again. The other day Bonnie was driving to work. At the top of the Gunflint hill she happened to look at her car thermometer. It said 7 degrees above. Then as she went down the hill and in the side road to the outfitters, the temperature dropped. By the time she stopped behind the outfitters, her thermometer read 25 below! That is quite a change for such a short distance.

Animals living here are also great fun to watch. The other day we saw a snowshoe hare on the lake. Because the hare is white, we only saw it because of the speed at which it was running around. None of us has ever seen a hare on the ice. I did see another one at my house the other day. Unfortunately, he is probably not going to be around much longer. Yesterday when Bruce was driving home at 4:00 p.m., there was a lynx sitting on top of one of the snow banks in our driveway. Snowshoe hares are one of the lynx’s favorite meals.

Of course, the best things to watch are usually the fixes that people manage to get themselves into. Our neighbor stopped by at lunch yesterday. He had a half story to tell. Some guests had taken their 4-wheel ATV down to the east end of the lake to fish. They had, with difficulty, gotten way past the furthest summer home to the east. The snow was deep and they constantly had to back up and take a run to move forward. Eventually the transmission on the ATV broke. Now they are truly stuck in the middle of nowhere.

They walk in and get the 4-wheel drive pickup. Again the deep snow forces them to continually back up and take a run for it. Finally they gave up. Taking the transmission out of an ATV is a lot different than taking the transmission out of a truck.

So Saturday (the next day), they bring down their buddies’ two snowmobiles to try to tow the machine out. Problem is that the two front wheels of the ATV keep bogging down in the snow. Next they try to use shovels to hold the front wheels up. Then they try two small sleds under the wheels. No luck. Now they are in town to buy a heavier sled.

The men got back from town with four sleds. One went under each wheel. This let them tow the ATV to land without getting the tires bogged down in the snow. I imagine it was quite a project. Glad all that I had to do was write about it.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Signs of the Season

Sheryl has been out walking around the woods. She saw this owl on a hike to the high cliffs. I especially liked the snow surrounding the owl.

You know, we never complain about too much snow round here. Over the weekend we got 5-8 inches of the fluffy white stuff. Our snow banks seem to be a mile high. In addition the ski trails and snowmobile trails are wonderful. We have a few white puffy clouds today but basically no snow in the forecast - 20% which is just a face saver for the weatherman in case something comes.

The lake is just as full of ice. I have heard up to 24” of good ice. Certainly people are going all over for fishing. My favorite story comes from our neighbor. Bob is now going out and cutting about a three foot by four foot hole in the ice with his chain saw. He puts in line at about 3 feet down and watches the fish come up to his bait. When the fish is hooked, he doesn’t have to put his arm in a tiny hole to get the fish out. Bob just takes his handy landing net and nets the fish. Watching the fish is almost as much fun as catching the fish.

I know the next question is what does Bob do with this huge slab of ice from the hole? He uses a pole to slide the slab under the adjoining ice. That way the slab is out of his way and he doesn’t have to try to lift it out of the water. Bob is a pretty tricky fellow.

In case you haven’t heard, Bruce has agreed to have his head shaved this year for the Mush for the Cure. All the money goes for research into breast cancer research. He has to raise $2500 for the privilege of getting his hair shaved. If you are interested there is a wonderful picture of Bruce soliciting your donations at I was the photographer of Bruce not the owl.

Over the weekend word was received that Ralph Griffis of Chik-Wauk Lodge died. He and his wife (who is still living) were the last private owners of Chik-Wauk. My favorite story of Ralph goes back some years to when they owned the lodge and I was a new bride. We had been having lots of rain and the lake waters were really rising. Ralph called me one day and asked if the water in Gunflint Lake was still coming up. I said yes but was quite confused. Ralph patiently explained to me that Gunflint Lake flows into Saganaga Lake (his lake) via the Granite River. One week after Gunflint stops coming up, Saganaga stops coming up. It takes that week to drain from Gunflint to Sag. It is pretty obvious when you think about it.

When I look outside, it is like we are in the middle of winter. There is, however, one small sign that spring is on the way. Our days are getting longer. All the extra minutes each day are finally adding up and now we have a couple extra hours of day light than on December 21st. This reverses itself on June 21st when the days start getting shorter.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


We are into our typical winter weather patterns. The temperature has been going down with clear skies, a waning moon, and no wind at night. This morning it was 30 below at our house. In a few days it is due to warm up to above zero. Then we will get some snow. Meanwhile the cold temperatures give us really good traction for driving. This variation of deep cold and no snow with warmer temperatures and snow will keep up for much of the winter.

Looking at the temperatures outside makes me look at the inside of our home. It is comfortably 70 degrees. That is a 100 degree temperature differential. When we have the fireplace going it is even a greater difference.

Daughter Shawn and her husband, Bob, give Bruce a big load of firewood each year for Father’s Day. We keep drying until just these cold days. There is nothing better than to come into a house with a cheery fire in the fireplace. We start it before dinner, throw an extra log on before going down to the lodge after dinner, and then put on a couple of logs when we come home. The smell, crackling and popping are all the music that we need in the house.

We have been seeing a pair of moose regularly just south of the North Brule River. I understand that there are also four moose hanging out around the upper end of the Trail. Neighbor Sally says she sees them every time she drives back and forth to down.

The ice on Gunflint is quite thick in many places. We are starting to see vehicles on the lake regularly. This does not mean that you can drive just anywhere. Always check with someone local before going out. On Gunflint, for example, it never freezes over at the Narrows leading to Magnetic no matter how cold it gets. In fact I have never been over close to the Narrows during the winter in all the years I have lived here.

I am slowly getting packed up for the big move to Tucker Lake. It will be a big change in our lives. Even though it is six weeks from now, both of us are getting excited for the move. The big question is how did we get so much stuff? I don’t know how people can move every few years. And getting boxes is another big deal. We are lucky to have all the food and liquor boxes that are delivered to the lodge regularly. Also I don’t have to do too much to pack our clothes. With only five miles to move, I will tie groups of hangers together and move them in the car. The short distance also allows me to pack things like towels in plastic bags. I think when I unpack there will be a lot more stuff leaving our house.

Just so you know that things are split, Bruce gets the garage to pack and move plus his office. Both are jam packed.