The Gunflint Trail is about to awaken from a short rest between winter and summer. Our snow melted very early and the ice was off most lakes by the first week of April. No one can remember it going out so early. In fact, I can remember the spring of 1996 when Gunflint Lake had ice on it until May 19th. Even last year we were not sure that the ice would be out for opening.
The early ice-out, will change the fishing strategy for many fishermen. The question is what is the best plan? The majority of the walleye spawning is over. The lake trout will still be in shallow water. The theory is that the fish have spread to their summer habitats. Stay tuned next week when we know what happened.
Meanwhile there have already been some fun activities going on along the Trail. On Sunday May 2nd, the Ham Lake Run was conducted. There are three parts to the run depending on your age and how far you wish to run. All together about 190 runners participated which was a nice increase from last year. The cool weather cooperated and the light breeze helped too. After the race, a great meal was served to racers and volunteers.
The weekend of May 7-9 was the Gunflint Green Up. Just under 200 people participated on Saturday in releasing pines planted in previous years. Through studies the USFS had found that if they go in a couple years after planting pine seedlings and cut away the broadleaf plants around the seedlings, the survival rate is greatly increased. The main reason for this is that the young pines now get much more exposure to sunlight. In addition to the volunteers' work, the USFS will be releasing on an additional 3000 acres.
Just north of the North Gunflint Lake Road is a perfect example of how effective releasing is. As you are driving up the Gunflint Trail there is a plantation immediately north of the road and on your right. It was planted just after the Blowdown of 1999. Two years later the USFA went in and released the pines. The result was the wonderful growth of red pines that is now visible to anyone driving by. Many trees are talled than I am (5-6).
Talking with the volunteers afterward was interesting. Many of them worked where they had planted trees in previous years. When they first looked around, it didn't seem as if many trees had surived. Then someone spotted a tree and pretty soon everyone was seeing lots of trees. They just had to learned how to "look" for the trees. These volunteers will be checking on "their" trees for many years to come.
On May 29th there is going to be a Gunflint Trail garage sale. Each business will have tables out with things they are interested in selling. It should be quite a lot of stuff. If you are on the Trail that Saturday, spend a little time visiting the sales that will be going on up and down the Trail. I'll probably meet you as I search for some treasures.