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.

Gunflint Trail Weather Ups and Downs

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot under Events 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.

Gunflint Trail lakes starting to freeze.

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot under Family Fun 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. 

Quiet on the Gunflint Trail

Posted by: Sue Kerfoot under Events 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 under Events, Outdoors Women 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

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 under Events, Family Fun 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. 


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