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 Family Fun

Gunflint Trail lakes starting to freeze.

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: November 17, 2009 - 10:15 AM

The Gunflint Trail is in one of its quiet times.  Most visitors have returned home until we fill up again for the holidays.  Even so there are stil things to see and do on the Trail.

Temperatures have dropped into the freezing range at night.  We have had two cold still nights.  As a result, Iron Lake Little Iron Lake and Swamper Lake are now skimmed over with ice as are all the ponds that I could see while driving to town yesterday.  It will be several weeks before the big lakes freeze.

If we can get about a week to ten days of cold weather with no precipitation, these little lakes will be ready for ice skating.  It is the only time of year that you can skate all over the lake without snow or sluch to slow you down.  It can also be very dangerous if you are not sure the ice is safe.  Check with local people before you to skate.  People who have skated tell me it is wonderful to fly over the lakes but do be very careful.

Sunday night we had a young couple come through who have been backpacking in the area.  They sent a package for re-supply to Gunflint Lodge and stopped by to pick it up.  The next leg of their journey is to hike the Kekekabic Trail to Ely.  It just seems a little too cold for me to be sleeping out in a tent but we wish them well.

It is the middle of the rifle deer hunting season up here.  So far it has been very slow.  Part of the reason is that all those healthy wolves that have been seen all summer also need to eat.  Some hunters are reporting seeing wolves from their stands.  As a result, the deer herd is down in size.  Also with no snow on the ground, it is very difficult to track deer.  Finally, the dry leaves are very noisy which alerts the deer to hunters in the area.  One hunter told me that he was out one morning on his stand and saw a mouse and a squirrel.

Guests everywhere have been out enjoying the hiking.  All the ski trails are mowed and there is no snow on them.  The last three days have been picture perfect with clear skies, wonderful sunshine and little wind.  You should, of course, wear bright orange clothing in the woods at this time.  Most resorts have some to lend if you forget to bring it.  The leaves may be gone but it is still a great time to be in the woods.  Even if you are not hunting, you can be alert to the possiblity of spotting deer, moose, or wolves.  It is a very special feeling to spot these animals while walking in the forest. 

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. 

Beautiful Fall on the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: September 18, 2009 - 4:44 PM
I hate to repeat myself but the last three weeks on the Gunflint Trail have been just glorious.  It's the fall weather we all dream about.  Temperatures have been in the 60's and 70's during the day.  At night it gets down into the 50's.  The lakes have been staying pretty warm.  Barb Gecas at Heston's Resort said she has guests in this week who have gone swimming every day.  Terri Caldwell at Loon Lake Lodge told me that they had guests swimming too.  Terri even went in herself which does not sound good to me at all.  The leaves are just starting to turn so there is lots of fall color left to come.

Lake trout fishing has been slow and it is probably due to those warm lakes.  We need the surface water temperatues to drop to 50 degrees to bring the trout up.  The other alternative is for the wind to blow steadily for several days from one direction.  That will "turn the lake over" and bring the cold waters up.

Walleye fishing has been good.  There aren't a lot of big ones but lots of eaters.  Forrest Parson at Hungry Jack Lodge says his guests have been catching walleye in the evenings.  He said they have also been doing well on pan fish in Little Iron Lake and bass are buiting everywhere.  Debbie Mark at Seagull Outfitters says that Seagull Lake homeowners are catching walleyes in 14 feet of water.  Barb Gecas says her guests had a ball catching northerns on Iron Lake.

Moose are starting to reappear in anticipation of the rut.  Ted Young from Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast says that a bull moose spent 45 minutes in their yard.  Guests were taking pictures and videos left and right.  The next morning one of the video cameramen came in very disheartened.  He had been playing with his camera and managed to erase all the moose video.

Lin Sherfy at Rockwood Lodge had guests running in to tell her about a huge bull moose on the Gunflint Trail between Rockwood and Old Northwoods.  Lin also had guests trying to portage from Morgan Lake to Jake.  A bull moose blocked the portage and refused to let them through.

Teresa Baumann from Golden Eagle Lodge is still harvesting berries.  This time it was chokecherries which she made into jam.  It is a big project involving boiling the berries and mashing them through a sieve before making the jam.  Lin Sherfy mentioned that there are still a few blueberries out there.

Sue Ahrendt from Tuscarora Lodge hiked the new Centenial Trail in her backyard.  You start at the Kekekabic parking lot and go in near the Paulson Mine.  On the way back you take a new loop.  This loop gives you a beautiful view of the ponds on the Round Lake Road.  At one point there is almost a tunnel made by the forest overhead.  Another spot takes you up and down where a trestle for the railroad used to be.  The entire loop is about 3.3 miles and ends up back at the Kekekabic parking lot.

Last night Barb Gecas went out on the lake in a boat after dark.  This is the dark side of the moon so she was treated to a spectacular display of stars.  She said the Milky Way was particularly stunning.  I often advise winter guests to walk out on the lake after dinner for the same kind of start show.

Gunflint Trail Guests Had a Beautiful Week in the Woods.

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: August 29, 2009 - 11:32 AM
Generally speaking we had a beautiful week on the Gunflint Trail.  All our guests were outside on the waterfront.  Kids were learning to paddle kayaks and canoes or just throwing rocks in the lake.  Fishermen were out with guides.  Many decided to eat lunch and dinner on the patio.  On Friday the weather changed and it was rainy.  As I look out my window today, things appear to be lightening up.  Bruce predicts it will clear this afternoon.

Guide Jon Schei from Gunflint Lodge has been catching lake trout by trolling with crank baits.  One of his guests brought in an 11 lb. trout.  It measured 34" in length.  He has also had luck with walleyes using leeches and night crawlers.  On the other hand Guide Dennis Todd has been catching walleyes in 18-30 feet of water using minnows.  Live bait of any kind seems to be the way to catch walleyes right now.  Dennis has also been catching a lot of 2-3 lb. lake trout in 40-65 feet of water jigging with spoons.  Mike Prom from Voyageur Canoe Outfitters reports that he had a party come in from the Granite River who did great using night crawlers for smallmouth bass and even got one up to 20".  Debbie Mark at Seagull Outfitters says her canoe parties are also catching lots of smallmouth bass and northern pike.  Shari Baker from Gunflint Pines sent her boys out fishing with their grandfather on Saganaga Lake.  They had good luck with walleyes.

We had a house fire up on Saganaga last week.  Shari said she saw a wolf on the road as she drove up to the fire.  Barb Gecas from Heston's  commented on how many wolves we have all seen this summer.  She feels all the wolves will keep the deer population down and give more of the young trees a chance to grow rather than be eaten by the deer.

Barb also mentioned that one of the homeowners watched a bear swim across Gunflint Lake from Canada.  It is not very often that you see that.  Everyone has been seeing an exceptional number of bear this summer.  With all the ripe berries, the bear have really had a feast.

We are finally getting near the end of the blueberry and raspberry seasons.  Both of these berries have been particularly prolific and long-lasting this summer.  We have all been earting fresh berries, pies and jam but the end is in sight.

Barbara Young at Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast hasd a guest exploring a large open area behind their lodge.  This man is a hunter and he was counting the number of moose beds in this area.  He counted over 20 places where resting moose had flattened down the grasses.  Barbara and I wondered how many moose that represented.

Danny Baumann at Golden Eagle is starting to look ahead to the winter season.  This is the time of year when he starts mowing his ski trails.  It serves a dual puprose.  First they are ready for the ski season but before that his fall guests will have some great hiking trails.

I am taking a week off from writing.  Bruce and I will be out hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park next week.

Gunflint Trail resorts and outfitters busy with vacationers

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: July 31, 2009 - 11:08 AM

Everyone I talked with today tells me that business on the Gunflint Trail is busy, busy, busy.  That's the way it should be.  Bob Baker of Gunflint Pines says that lake trout are biting well on Gunflint and North lakes.  They are in 40-60 feet of water and will bite on whatever you throw at them.  Jigging has worked well with small spoons similar to Swedish Pimples.  You let the lure sink to the bottom and then reel it up quickly.  The trout have been following the lure until it is as close as five feet to the boat before biting.  Walleyes have been a little slower in 12-15 feet of water.  Smallmouth bass are hitting well with bobbers using leeches and nightcrawlers.  Andy Ahrendt at Tuscarora Lodge says some of his cabin guests have been doing well fishing for brook trout at an unnamed lakes.  They are trolling with small spinners and catching lots of fat fish.  It all sounds tasty to me.

The big news of the week is blueberries.  Andy said they had their first blueberry pie at Tuscarora.  Luana Brandt at Nor'Wester Lodge is also into baking blueberry pies.  Her brother-in-law, Paul, picks the berries and she bakes the pies.  Luana says it is a "match made in heaven."  If the blueberry harvest continues to be this good, Luana is going to get Husband Carl to make blueberry wine.

In addtion to blueberries, the raspberries are now appearing all over.  This is my favorite fruit to pick.  All winter long I look at the 1/2 pint containers (that's 1 cup!) of raspberries in the grocery store at $3-4 each.  With the first picking of raspberries, Bruce and I sit down with a big bowl for dessert one night.  That is when I know that my life is rich.  Friends and family feel that way when they get their raspberry jam for Christmas.

Andy McDonnell at Bearskin Lodge has added to the continuing saga of their cow and calf moose.  A couple days ago the animals laid down right in front of the lodge dining room windows.  It was time for a four hour nap.  Who knows how many pictures were taken during that time.  No one at the lodge has seen the pair for the past couple of days.  They have probably moved on to another spot in the forest but it sure was interesting while the twosome was at Bearskin.  We'll see what Andy has to say next week.

Some friends from Texas were staying at Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast this week.  They reminded me to tell you that the mushrooms are HUGE this summer due to the rain.  Big yellow and red ones are all over.  It is just great fun to see them.  Of course, all you do is look at mushrooms.  It's too easy to get into serious trouble if you try to eat them.


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