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

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.

It Is Indian Summer On The Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: September 11, 2009 - 3:46 PM
Somehow the Gunflint Trail has blossomed into Indian Summer.  The last week or so has been just beautiful.  After a cool summer, this warm weather is what we have all been looking for.  The leaves are just starting to turn so there should be lots of great fall weather still to come.

Bob Baker from Gunflint Pines Resort says that fishing is improving some.  The walleyes have been biting well on Saganaga Lake.  Most of them are in the "eater" class.  Jigs with live bait have worked the best.  The warm weather has made it very nice to spend the day fishing.  Forrest Parson at Hungry Jack Lodge sent me a great picture of a walleye caught and released by one of his guests.  The walleye was 31.5 inches long.  Tom Caldwell from Loon Lake Lodge told me that the father and son who did so well fishing on Loon earlier returned this week.  They fished on Little Iron Lake and had great luck with walleyes.  Their fish were all in the 2 lb. plus size.  Tom says tht he can't remember when a guest has had such good luck with walleyes on Little Iron.

If you are going to be up on the Gunflint Trail on Monday, September 21st, there will be an interesting program you may want to attend.  Mark Jirsa, a Univeristy of Minnesota Geologist, will be leading an interpretive walk to two Sudbury meteorite impact sites.  As you may know, Mark has been discovering evidence that a huge meteoite that landed in Sudbury, Ontario, (500 miles away) blew ejecta to our area.  The walk will start at the gravel pit on the Gunflint Narrows Road (formerly Warren's Road) at 4:15 p.m.   At 6:30 p.m. on the same day, Mark will give a presentation at the Gunflint Lodge on this topic.

There is a new hiking trail going in on the Gunflint Trail.  Many of you have probably hiked in on the Kekekabic Hiking Trail to the Paulson Mine.  This mine was accessed by a railroad that came from Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 1893.  They dug some test pits and took out one load of what was supposed to be high grade iron ore.  It turned out to be taconite which could not be proccessed at that time.

The Kekekabic had gone past the mine site on its way to Ely for many years.  This fall the U. S. Forest Service is building a loop trail out to the mine site and even using some of the old railroad grades that lead to the mine.  The plan is to finish the entire trail this fall.  Yesterday I heard one dynamite blast coming from the trail work.  Next time you are up on the Trail, be sure to plan a hike on this new trail.

Off the Gunflint Trail And Into the Boundary Waters

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: August 14, 2009 - 4:31 PM
In northern Minnesota we are blessed with one of the most unique wilderness areas in the nation and perhaps the world.  The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is 1 million acres in size and has over 1000 lakes.  It is set in the rugged Laurentian Highlands on a land sculpted many years ago by glaciers.  The waters of this area have never know industrial development.  There are no roads or homes.

Generally speaking Minnesotans are divided into three groups of opinion on the BWCAW.  There are those who fight fiercely to protect it from overuse even if some know little about it.  There are those who have never heard of it and don't like that kind of vacation anyway.  Finally there are those who renew their souls with a trip in the Boundary Waters.

Bruce and I just came back from a canoe trip with another couple.  It confirmed our membership in that third group.  August is a busy time for resorters so it has to be a pretty special trip to draw us away from home.  Out in the canoe country the phone doesn't ring; there is no TV; the radio is silent.  Time is measured by the sun rather than something strapped to your wrist.

So what do you do in the wilderness?  You absorb the magnificent natural setting that is 360 degrees around you.  Wildlife is peeking out from around every corner..  One of our most interesting sightings was a family of rabbits who joined us for breakfast each morning.  They munched on leaves.  We are oatmeal.  The two adult snowshoe rabbits were starting to get ready for winter.  Their back paws were partially white.  Cedar wax wings fed on the red berries of a tree at our campsite.  A large snapping turtle swam by our swimming hole one morning.  We thought about sharing the hole with him   Of course, the ever present squirrels and Canada jays were looking for handouts.

We like to fish and explore new lakes.  One day we went into Rabbit Lake and caught some lake trout for dinner.  Another day we went into Bullfrog Lake for largemouth bass.  None of us had been to either lake and we had them all to ourselves.  Neither lake was a long paddle or a strenuous portage from our base camp.  The fresh fish for dinner was just a bonus.

Part of being on a canoe trip is to sit and look and listen.  We watched clouds blow by.  The waves on the water with occasional loons popping up offered endless variety.  There is nothing that can compare to being in your tent at night listening to the loons calling and the wind blowing in the trees.  For a short time at night, I even enjoy listening to rain falling on my tent.  You feel cozy and all tucked in.

Like all good things, there is a price to be paid for canoe trips.  Paddling into the wind makes my arms and shoulders ache.  Portaging a food pack over an 80-rod portage is no joy either.  But it is all possible.  You take your time and do it one paddle stroke or one step at a time.  At night you are tired not from stress but from physical labor.  Sleep comes easily and refreshes your mind and your body. 

Gunflint Trail experiences a variety of events this week.

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: July 24, 2009 - 3:18 PM
Gunflint Trail fishing has been a little slow this week.  As Luana Brandt of Nor'Wester Lodge said, "The kids have been happy but their dads haven't been so happy."  It just means that kids love to catch fish no matter what the size while dads want bigger fish.  Andy McDonnell from Bearskin Lodge had a happy fisherman there.  The man caught a 10 lb walleye on a slip bobber with a leech.  Now that summer is here, leeches and crawlers are the preferred live bait.  This week may have been slow but next week could be an entirely different story.

Meanwhile other things have been happening.  Dave Seaton from Hungry Jack Outfitters had a new expereience routing one of his groups.  Everyone in the group was profoundly deaf.  Dave said there were lots of notes and hand signs.  He dropped them off at Saganaga and forgot his notepad so they were reduced to a small scrap of paper for notes.  One of the group's biggest concerns was how they were going to call Dave for a pickup.  The answer was to just stop by any outfitter on the Trail and they will make the call for you.  When he got home, Dave called everyone and, of course, all the outfitters agreed to help the party if they stopped.  Helpful neighbors is one of the perks of living on the Trail.

Sue and Andy Arhendt of Tuscarora sponsored one of the more fun events on the Trail this week.  On Thursday a small triathlon was held at their place.  About 40-50 people participated.  The event consisted of a 1/2-mile swim, a 3-mile bike ride and a 2-mile run.  The event was very casual.  Some people participate as groups and others alone.  The ages varied.  Some did just a couple sections.  Some wore life vests and flippers for the swim.  The rules were simple -- have a good time.  Everyone go a Tuscarora Tee Shirt and had dinner afterward.  This was the fifth year for the event.  Oh yes, the winner was Andrew Weckwerth who works at Tuscarora.

Many of the people who work at the businesses on the Trail get out and explore the area on their days off.  So Jake Kimps of Seagull Outfitters was telling me about how he spent a recent day off.  He decided to explore the lakes along the Kekekabic Trail.  This meant carrying a canoe into Mine, Bingshick and Fay Lakes.  He was hoping to catch some brook trout but didn't have any luck.  Just for your information, this little portage was five miles in and five miles out.  Even carrying a solo Kevlar canoe, it is a long haul.  I felt a little better when Jake told me he was 22 years old.  That's almost 1/3 my age.  Jake said there were moose in the ponds along the trail and blueberries on the south facing slopes.

Barbara Young from Poplar Creek Bed and Breakfast said there have been moose all around their grounds.  The only trouble is that they like to appear at 4:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.  One of her housekeepers did encounter a moose while going to clean a cabin.  The housekeeper waited 20 miles for the moose to move away from the cabin door.

Gunflint Trail Canoe Races Were Held Wednesday

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: July 17, 2009 - 7:19 AM

Wednesday (7/15) the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races were held.  It was misting and raining off and on all day but nothing happened during the races.  About 200 people appeared for the event.  The new children's games were exceptionally popular but everyone found something to participate in.  The event raised $14,000 for the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.  These monies are an indication of the high regard that the community has for all our fire fighters and EMT's.

Of course, fishing has continued throughout the week.  Forrest Parsons from Hungry Jack Lodge reported that Joe Marko (Hugo, MN) caught a 28 !/2 inch walleye on a slip bobber in about 20 feet of water to start the week out right.  My picture is of Joe and his walleye.  Bob Baker from Gunflint Pines has been seeing good lake trout fishing on Gunflint and North Lakes.  They have been jigging with spoons or using smaller spoons while trolling with downriggers.  The trout are in 45-75 feet of water.

Dan Baumann of Golden Eagle Lodge told me his guests have been having great luck fishing for herring on Flour Lake.  The fish have been biting on spoons like cleos and daredevils plus Dan's favorite, the sonar jig.  To be successful bringing in these fish, you need to have a very light drag or the hook will rip out of their mouths.  The herring have been running 2-3 pounds.  Dan likes to smoke them or make fishcakes.  Another favorite way to cook them is to gut, de-head and scale the fish and then bake them like you would brook trout.  With a daily limit of 50 fish, this fishing offers lots of action.  Dan also reminded me that Tommy Eckel from Grand Marais used to commerically fish herring on Flour Lake about 15-20 years ago.

Although every resorter hates to see rain during the day, this mist we have been having is a blessing for the blueberries.  It just coats them with moisture and turns hard little balls into big juicy berries.  Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters had guests who came in saying the blueberries in the burn area on Alpine Lake were "outrageous."  Luana Brandt from Nor'Wester Lodge has heard reports of potentially huge blueberry crops around the end of the Gunflint Trail.  Every berry lover is digging for their favorite picking pots.

The bears are also looking forward to berry season.  Sue Arhendt from Tuscarora Lodge saw the remains from bears eating strawberries on the snowmobile trail.  Considering the fact that our wild strawberries aren't much bigger than the tip of your little finger, how do these bears harvest the berries with their large paws?  Sue said the bears were also digging up all the ant hills in the area.

The Forest Service and outfitters seminars have been very well attended this summer.  The most popular ones are the more active seminars such as the paddle and a lunch one.  If you are going to be in the area, be sure to check the seminar schedules to see if something catches your fancy.


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