As the holiday weekend opened, the Gunflint Trail awoke to sunshine. It wasn't hot summer weather but everyone was glad to see the sunshine. As a result businesses were busy up and down the Trail. Restaurants were full and cabins were bursting at the seams. Every owner was standing at their business saying, "Welcome."
With a good strong wind and lots of families around, there were not as many fishermen as usual. For fly fisherment, Nancy Waver at Trout Lake Resort reports that the May fly hatch is on. This means that rainbows are feeding on the surface. Nancy says it has been great fishing. At the other end of fishing, Barb Gecas from Heston's Lodge reports that her guests have been having good luck casting for smallmouth bass on the lee shore. In fact, they got so many bass that Barb and her family also had fresh fish for dinner.
These last few days have yielded several unusual animal sightings. Bob and Jaret Baker from Gunflint Pines Resort were fishing last night down in Little Gunflint. They watched a young bull moose cross the international boundary from Canada to the U. S. The right antler of this moose was mal-formed. The palm was facing down not up. Bob speculated that this might have been caused by an earlier injury. He said this antler formation is sometimes called "drop tine."
Tom Caldwell from Loon Lake Lodge also had some especially lucky guests last night. They were driving along the Gunflint Trail near what locals call the "Octagon House" on the south shore of Loon Lake. In the middle of the road was a fair sized animal that didn't quite look like a wolf. The animal stopped and they stopped giving each of them a clear view of the other one. The guests ticked off "sold brown hide, big cat, long tail -- cougar!" It was pretty exciting. After the animal wandered off, the guests got out of their car and looked at the animal's paw prints which were huge.
The final animal sighting came from Sue Arhendt at Tuscarora Lodge. One of her staff members was running on the snowmobile trail near the lodge. She came across a black bear on the trail. Both of them stood for a second and looked at each other. As the runner turned to go, she noticed some activity near the bear. A mother grouse was protecting her chicks and attacked the bear. The bear quickly retreated from that sharp, peaking beak and the chicks were safe for another day.
As always, animal sightings are a matter of being in the right place at the right time. After forty years on the Trail I have never seen any of these events.
On Friday, July 3rd members of the Gunflint community gathered on Saganaga Lake to say farewell to Irv Benson who died during the winter. Irv was a local legend who came up to the area after World War II. He married Tempest Powell and lived on the lake for the rest of his life. He learned his woods lore from Tempest but brought with him a natural mechanical inclination for improvisation that served him well. It is always a shame to see these old timers pass on.