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 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.

Families Enjoy the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: July 14, 2009 - 3:57 PM
The Gunflint Trail is filled with families exploring the north woods.  They are out hiking, fishing, and searching for blueberries.  Of course, every lake has kids enjoying the water while parents lazily watch.  For many young children, it is their first experience playing in a lake or riding in a canoe.  These children are having the woods and waters of this area imprinted in their lives.  We will be seeing them for years to come.

Many are out trying a little fishing but not all are as lucky as one father was.  Deb Smith of Golden Eagle Lodge reports that Tom Zemlin (Edina, MN) was out fishing with his family on Flour Lake when he hooking a large northern.  They didn't have a bigger enough net in the boat to land the fish so they decided to beach it on shore.  But they didn't want to take a chance on the line getting caught in the motor so they rowed to shore.  It was a very successful beaching operation.  Once the fish was in the boat, they hurried back to Golden Eagle to weigh it.  The northern was 22 lbs and measured 41 1/2 inches.  What a great catch!

Carl Brandt from Nor'Wester Lodge had some guests fishing on Saganaga Lake with Guide Curtis Blake.  Using leeches and slip bobbers, one of the party hooked a 13 lb. (31 3/4") walleye.  There were also many smaller fish in the stringer before the end of the day.

Ever so often even the outfitters and resorters get out to fish.  Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters found herself sitting in a boat on Seagull Lake the other day for the first time this summer.  Her reward was a 29" walleye.  She was also using a slip bobber and leech.

Animals are regularly appearing all over the Trail.  Shari Bake from Gunflint Pines had some employees and their friends go down to Trail Center for breakfast.  On the way back they spotted 2 fox and two wolves.  We are just not used to seeing as many wolves as have appeared this summer.  Sue Arhendt of Tuscarora Lodge had some staff members spot a porcupine at the resort.  There used to be lots of porkies on the Trail but the pine marten have reduced the population until they are rarely seen.

Dave Seaton from Hungry Jack Outfitters reported seeing a large Western Racer Snake (a garter snake to me) trying to eat a big toad.  The snake's eyes were bigger than its stomach and the toad got away minus one leg.

Yesterday the Gunflint Trail greeted the Canoe The Heartland paddlers.  These young people are canoeing the Quetico and BWCAW in honor of the 100th anniversary of both parks.  Their big voyageur canoe was a joy to see.  About 150 people gathered at Chik-Wauk Lodge to watch these modern day voyageurs arrive.  There were games for the kids, canoe rides, and a shore lunch cookout for everyone.  The rangers from the U. S. Forest Service and the Quetico Provincial Park presented several very interesting talks about the area.

Tomorrow evening is the annual Gunflint Trail Canoe Races at Gunflint Lodge.  For over 25 years this event has raised money to support the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.  If you are in the area, be sure to stop by.

Gunflint Trail Resorts Hopping for Holiday Weekend

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: July 6, 2009 - 1:16 PM
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. 

June is Ready to Burst on the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot Updated: May 28, 2009 - 2:41 PM
Gunflint Trail fishing has been a little hit or miss lately.  Forrest Parsons of Hungry Jack Lodge had some guests out with Guide Roger Campbell.  They did very well on bass and northern with a few nice walleyes,  Bobber fishing with leeches and minoows seemed to work best.  Mike Berg from Seagull Creek Fishing Camp had some guests ovenight on Seagull Lake.  They caught lots of walleyes including one at 31"  Kyle Edlund (Woodbury, MN) went down the Granite River with Mike for walleyes.  They worked hard but had great fun catching the walleyes.  Kyle and Mike also canoed past American Point one day.  By trolling with spinners in the shallow bays, they did well with lake trout.  Dan Baumann of Golden Eagle Lodge said his son, Zach, and Drew Johnson went into a nearby lake for northern.  They caught and released 29 fish using spoons, rapalas and plastic baits.

The Trail is definitely in the time of year when moose are appearing, especially cows with new calves.  Debbie Mark from Seagull Outfitters had guests on Seagul Lake who saw a cow with twins along the shore.  Paula Beattie from Moosehorn Bed and Breakfast said her guests saw moose at the Cross River bridge.  This morning the folks at Nor'Wester Lodge were entertained as a cow moose was teaching her twins to swim.  One did fine but the other was not quite as enthusiastic.  A little later Luana saw a new moose mother and her wobbly calf walk right through the resort.  At Bearskin Lodge, Bob McCloughan had some excited guests come in.  They had been out fishing and had seen a cow moose lying down right at the shore and feeding twin calves.  Seeing something like that is a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

This is also the time of year when guests start to explore the various hiking trails adjacent to the Gunflint Trail.  One of my favorite hikes is the Magnetic Rock Trail located about 50 miles up from Grand Marais.  This gentle uphill hike goes in for 1 3/4's miles to the site of Magnetic Rock.  The rock is magnetite and about 60 feet tall and 20 feet by 30 feet at the base.  It spins compasses and a magnet will stick to it.  As interesting as the rock is, the walk in is best.  After crossing a narrow creek, you follow the path across expossed bedrock, burned over forest, more exposed bedrock and finally more burned over area to the rock.  Don't let the prospect of burned over forest deter you from the hike.  It is just so interesting to see how a new forest is growing up.  This is a natural part of the life of a forest.  Especially in the bedrock places, there is a great variety of wildflowers.  Later in the summer, this trail is a prime spot for blueberries.  Getting out and exploring trails like Magnetic Rock is a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

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