Sue Kerfoot

In 1968, Sue married Bruce Kerfoot and moved from Chicago to the Gunflint Trail. They have run the Gunflint Lodge since then. As a novice northwoods resident, she has spent much of that time absorbing the rhythms of the local people and the nature world that make up the Gunflint Trail.

Posts about Events

Gunflint Trail Weather Ups and Downs

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: November 28, 2009 - 8:43 AM
Weather changes everything on the Gunflint Trail.  The last time I wrote, I had seen frozen lakes -- Iron, Little Iron, Swamper and a bunch of ponds.  Delete all that.  Since then the weather has warmed up and we have had rain.  The ice everywhere has melted.  The last couple of days the temperatures have gradually dropped.  Yesterday morning it was 21 degres at my house.  Hopefully this means that the lakes will begin freezing again.  We will need some fairly cold weather to get the big lakes frozen and safe by the Christmas holidays.

The firearms deer hunting season ended last Sunday.  Many of our hunters were disappointed but the deer seemed to appear more by the end of the season.  One of the neighbors drove to town on Monday and saw eight deer on the road.  Now that the season is over, those who feed deeer will start in.

The Trail is not only at the in between season for weather but also for game seasons.  Some fish can still be legally caught but it is not very comfortable on the water.  Most hunting is over.  It is hard to tell from day to day what the temperature will be.  Canoeing is not much fun.  If you go overnight, the possiblity exists that the lake could freeze over while you are sleeping.  Breaking ice with a canoe is not a good idea.  So we are all waiting for winter.

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, it is time for winter.  In addition to being cold today, it is clear skies and sunshine.  A good cold night should help cool the lakes off.  But what we really want is snow.  All the resorts are ready to start accumulating snow for ski trails and snowmobile trails.  Snowshoes and skies have replaced paddles and life jackets on the rental shelves.  We hope to see some of you on the Gunflint Trail this winter.

Bruce and I are taking a two week driving trip that seems to cover half the country.  I will write again after we get home on the 14th.

Quiet on the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: October 29, 2009 - 11:03 AM
Life is slowing down on the Gunflint Trail.  Most of our guests are gone until Thanksgiving comes.  The weather is that in between fall and winter mess.  The leaves are gone.  A few days ago the tamarack were in their fall splendor but even they have shed their needles.  Snow buntings are migrating south.  The mallards have pretty much flown out.  I haven't heard a loon in quite a while.

Of course, we are still seeing game.  Bruce was at the Trout Lake Road coming home and saw two huge bull moose staring at him.  They probably were distraacted by his car from fighting each other.  It is that time of year when bull moose are looking for cows and ready to fight any other moose who gets in their way.  I believe that most parties hunting moose on the Trail were successful.

Partridge hunting is continuing but still rather slow.  Mandy Kroeger, the head wrangler at Gunflint Lodge, found a covey of six partridge.  She got four of them.  Bruce and I have not been out much but still have a few for winter meals.

Right now everyone is getting ready for deer hunting season.  Stands are being claimed and guns are being cleaned.  I believe that the season opens here on November 7th.  A fresh venison dinner sounds really good right now.

We had a little excitement at Gunflint Lodge last Thursday when one of our duplexes burned down.  The fire department was here quickly and stopped it from doing any more damamge.  Of course, the most important thing is that no one was hurt.

Needless to say, we are now in the midst of planning the building of new units.  On Monday the cleanup and installation of the new septic system starts.  Cement work has to get finished in the next couple of weeks before it gets too cold.  Our contractor is talking with Bruce as I type this.

Unless something really exciting happens, I will probably skip next week.

Gunflint Trail Now A National Scenic Byway

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: October 17, 2009 - 8:34 AM
Yesterday, October 16, the Gunflint Trail was added to the list of National Scenic Byways.  There are only eight roads in Minnesota receiving this designation.  So what does it mean?  First of all it means that the Gunflint Trail is one of the prettiest roads in the state.  But it takes more than beauty to get listed.  Recognition is also given for the historic and recreational components of the Gunflint Trail.  Even those of us who live on the Trail are taking a new look as we drive along.  We always knew how lucky we are to live here but it is nice to have others recognize this too.  If you wish to get more information on the new listing, go to www.byways.org.

We have a young successful moose hunter on the Gunflint Trail.  This is 12-year-old Kelly Holmin from Nicollet, Minnesota.  She and her uncle got a moose license this year.  Kelly has been up two weekends hunting on the Trail.  On Thursday she was down in the Greenwood country walking in the woods looking for moose at about 3:00 p.m.  It had been a long day of walking.  This one appeared in a valley below her.  She took one shot at about 75 years.  It was a solid body shot.  The moose ran a bit while Kelly tried a second shot but missed.  Then the moose just collapsed and died.  The rack on this moose stretches for 58".  After pictures, the hard work began.  She and her father skinned and carted the moose to their vehicle with a little help from their ATV.  Unfortunately for reasons I don't understand Kelly's picture won't unload.

Greg Gecas from Heston's Resort told me an unofficial survey that he and a neighbor conducted for a few months this year.  Both men have been working outside installing wildfire suppression systems.  They noted when they saw loons flying and calling to each other.  With 24 hours, the weather changed from good to bad.  Over the course of a couple of months, they noted the calling loons five times.  After three times, the weather turned bad within 24 hours.  Greg firgured the loons had a better percentage of success than weathermen.  So take note the next time you see loons flying and calling.  What does the weather do the next day?

Speaking of weather, we are having a bit of cold weather up the Trail.  It has been staying in the low 30's and spitting some rain mixed with snow.  Something is wrong with this picture when we have green poplar leaves and snow on the ground.  It looks like today the sun is coming out. 

Any Early Snow Hits The Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: October 10, 2009 - 11:05 AM
It was white on the Gunflint Trail this morning.  Overnight we got about 1-2 inches of snow.  This weekend was going to be the peak of fall color so the snow was quite a surprise.  Our leaves are still tighly attached to the trees.  Even the snow and wind of today is not sending them spirally to the ground.  Looking out the window in my office, everything is blowing but I see no leaves in the wind.  By tomorrow all this white stuff will probably be gone and we will be back to fall color.

As is part of the fall season, we have some hunters around.  Partridge hunters are numerous but no one is bragging about the number of birds they have found.  Bruce and I have been out a few times and gotten some.  There will be several good partridge meals in the Kerfoot home.

There are four moose licenses for the upper Gunflint Trail.  Three of the hunting groups have gotten their moose.  I understand that the three shot were quite nice.  Shari Baker at Gunflint Pines reports that the one coming into their place had huge palms on the rack and about 4-5 times on each rack.  Hopefully the last group will fill out soon.  At the Ham Lake landing on the Tuscarora Road, we saw a car and trailer with a chest freezer on the trailer.  It must be from some moose hunters going into the BWCA through Ham Lake.

Wolves seem to be more prevalent than ever.  Sue McCloughan at Bearskin Lodge had some guests out hiking the Beaver Dam Trail.  They saw four wolf pups.  At Golden Eagle Lodge Teresa Baumann saw a wolf on their road and prints behind their shop.  Shari Baker said they had bears in the garbage.  After the bears left, a wolf came in the scavenger through the leftovers.  Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge has been hearing wolves but has not seen any.  Bruce Kerfoot saw a wolf at the junction of the Gunflint Trail and the South Gunflint Lake roads.

Then we have had the miscellaneous sightings of other animals.  Teresa Baumann has had a lynx sighting on their road.  Since then she feels that there are fewer rabbits around.  Tom Caldwell at Loon Lake Lodge has had a coyote hanging around for a week or so.  The other day Tom was walking to the lodge and the coyote ran right in front of him.  It is hard to tell who was the most surprised.  Finally, almost everyone driving the Trail is seeing fox in the plural.  As their winter coats fill out, these red fox are just beautiful to see.

Luana Brandt says that Poplar Lake is filled with animals.  Several neighbors have reported seeing beavers.  She has seen large otters playing around the dock.  The ducks and eagle are dancing around each other.  When the eagle comes, the ducks hid under the dock or a cedar tree.  The Brandts did get a whinisical gift from the eagle -- one perfect white feather.

As we have fewer tourists on the Trail, the animals will continue to come out.  Even for us, no matter how many times you see these animals, it is still thrilling to see another one. 

It's Time for the Fall Animal Parade on the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: September 26, 2009 - 5:02 PM
Once again fall color is still coming to the Gunflint Trail.  I think the true color has held off because we just haven't had any cold weather.  September has been our summer.

Meanwhile, fishing continues to hang in there.  Jon Schei from Gunflint Lodge says that everything is biting on minnows.  Lake trout are still in deep water because the top water has not cooled down.  Walleyes are biting well but there are few big ones.  Smallmouth bass are also biting well but they like the larger minnows.  Down at Hungry Jack Lodge, Forrest Parson still sees some large walleyes coming in.  One guest released a 31" fish this week.  His walleyes are biting on leeches and minnows while the bass like night crawlers.  With this nice weather it is really pleasant to be on the lake all day.

As there get to be fewer people on the Trail and in the BWCA, the animals becaome more obvious.  I have a slug of animal stories this week.

At Tuscarora Lodge, Andy and Sue Ahrendt were awakened the other morning between 4:30 and 5:00 by wolves howling over towards the public landing.  A little later a moose mother camp into camp.  She seemed a little dazed.  Did the wolves get a calf from her?  There was no sign of this yet but it certainly can happen.

At Gunflint we had some guests come off a canoe trip with their own wolf story.  Apparently the Mrs. was using the biffy out back when two wolf pups came into view.  She got scared and called for her husband.  He was too busy to come immediately because he was taking a picture of a wolf in camp.  Eventually he came to help her scare off the pups.

Some neighbors had to make an ambulance run into town the other night.  Everything worked out well but my story is about the ride home.  Shari Baker from Gunflint Pines says they saw a wolf pup, a moose, 6 fox and a bear.  It is getting to the time of year when we see animals on the road regularly.

Nancy Seaton of Hungry Jack Outfitters had her attention drawn to an aspen tree across a split of water.  For some reason four pileated woodpeckers were creating a ruckus over one poor aspen tree.  It is unusual to see two together let alone four.

In spite of the nice weather there are signs that winter is coming.  Barbara Young at Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast has seen a couple of Juncoes migrating south as have I.  These are on the early end of the migration.  Of course, the real sign of winter is when the snow buntings migrate through.  Also our hummingbirds are gone for the year.  Barbara says another sign of winter preparation is that they got a load of firewood this week.

Sue McCloughan at Bearskin Lodge reported that they have just about finished mowing all their ski trails.  This is a real boon to the fall hikers.  These newly mowed trails are wonderful to explore during the fall.  It is time for all of us to get out and hike a bit.

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