Gunflint Lodge

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located on the Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais, Minnesota
Updated: 11 hours 47 min ago

Struggling to Get Into Spring

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 2:38pm
Welcome to the winter wonderland on the Gunflint Trail. We took an overnight trip down to the Twin Cities. Until we got past Duluth, the weather was snow and slop on the road. You wondered when winter was ever going to stop. Yesterday we came home and the Gunflint Trail was dry all the way up. Even the Tucker Lake Road was bare. Today we woke up to snow everywhere. During the mid-morning hours we got about 4 inches. When I drove down to the lodge, it was unplowed snow, melting stuff and rain. What a mess. The county plowed up while I was at the lodge. Now the wet mess is freezing and slippery. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 50 degrees. We will keep our fingers crossed. Even the birds were exceptionally hungry. I put out two huge buckets of sunflower seeds. Also our bird’s variety has increased. The juncos are starting to migrate north. That means I have seen two of them. Bonnie claims to have seen snow buntings going north but I have not seen them. Purple finches and pine siskins are at the feeders. Goldfinches bodies’ are turning yellow now. The birds have patches of yellow and tan. I would like to be able to tag them so I could follow the color change in a specific bird. We saw what appeared to be a morning dove one day. Back at the lodge, the deer are beginning to wander off. We only have a few pregnant females so they must be getting ready to give birth. It is always a fine art to determine how many pregnant females there are. Also we never get to see the results (fawns) so that makes it even more of a guessing game. Don went out and drilled a hole in the ice to see how thick it is. He got 36 inches which is quite a bit for now. Also the North Brule River does not have free running water yet. The river has to be totally running. Then two weeks after that Gunflint Lake should be open. You do the math. Even though the ice seems to be safe, there is no one (men nor animals) on it. I think there are probably places where the ice is not really safe. This might be where we have spring holes. Of course, no one knows exactly where those are so it is better to just stay off the ice. My favorite time of the breakup comes towards the end. There are little tiny bits of ice that are floating around. When they move, the ice pieces tinkle. For some reason I just love to hear this sound. It is getting to be graduation time. Over the Memorial Day weekend we are going out to California. Brian’s son, Sam, graduates from high school. He is going to the University of San Francisco. Back in Minnesota, Shawn’s daughter, Emma, graduates and is headed to St. Thomas for college. I don’t know how they grew up so fast.
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April at Gunflint

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 1:36pm
Bruce and I were gone for a few days at the beginning of the week. We were both impressed by the amount of snow that has melted in just those few days. Since then it has continued to melt even more. At lunch today, someone told me that the snow has melted a foot in the last few days. Certainly our driveway at Tucker Lake is almost bare. My seven-foot snow banks are down so I can look over the tops of them. Out in the garden I still can't see the outlines of the raised beds but the raspberry canes are now visible. The real day to watch will be tomorrow. The forecast is for 70% chance of snow/rain. Rain would be wonderful but snow is not so welcome. Freezing rain is a terrible forecast so that would be nice to avoid. April is a month when I seem to always be looking forward. We are not very busy and I look forward to getting into the summer season. Reservations are coming in and I look forward to having them come in faster. The ice is getting a little bit dark and I look forward to open water. The snow is still here and I look forward to bare ground. Once the ground is bare then I can look forward to planting my garden in June. Once the garden is planted I look every day to see if any little plant has popped up. But let's get through April first. Some friends on the lake and I are getting ready to start a new project. We want to record all the stories we know about earlier residents of Gunflint Lake. Of course, there are going to be lots of conversations about how we should have asked Justine or Peggy about their stories. It is truly amazing how fast information about people can just get lost. So four of us are going to work on what we know and can find out about those who lived on Gunflint Lake before us. I am betting that we will find some amazing stories to save. At the Tucker Lake house we have two pine martens who seem to have taken us over. Usually just one of them appears but this morning both were here together. Last night they ate the chicken bones Bruce put out. This morning they were cleaning up sunflower seeds that the birds had dropped on the ground. How many sunflower seeds does it take to fill up a pine marten? Now that the Tucker Lake road is down to bare ground, Bruce wants to start walking on it in the morning. We usually do very well at this until Bruce feels that he should be at the lodge at 7:00 a.m. It is a wonderful walk of 1 mile to the Gunflint Trail. He is usually in a race when he does it but I take a more leisurely approach. The nights have been quite warm and we have been able to open our bedroom to fresh, outside air. What a joy it is.
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