Sunshine! And an Ice Report

The sun is out today, for the first time in several weeks. I could tell that everyone was getting a little anxious with all of the grey days that we have had. It was mentioned more than once on our local radio station, WTIP. When they start talking about it there, we know that it is worth mentioning. This is the first sunshine we've seen in the new year.

While in my room yesterday to do a chore, I happened to glance out the window to see three wolves on the Canadian side of the lake. Two were resting right on the ice, near the island. The third wolf was traversing from east to west, a couple hundred yards behind his companions. Whenever I see wolves on the ice, I tend to drop everything I'm doing, grab the binoculars, and watch them. This first happened in my earliest years up here. I remember seeing two of them out there on Christmas Eve, and I couldn't stop watching, no matter what else had to be done that day. When I see them in the morning like this, especially if they are in no hurry to get anywhere, I imagine that they are relaxing after a long night's work of hunting and gathering. In most cases, they have just finished attacking and eating their fill of a deer from the south side of Gunflint Lake. We see evidence of this in the form of discarded carcasses, first devoured by the wolves, and then picked clean by the ravens. We've learned to notice when a group of ravens is gathered on the ice or in the woods. It often means that a fresh kill is nearby. Though not a pretty sight, it is a part of nature's ways, the food chain, and it means that we will continue to see magnificent creatures like the wolves.

While Greg was out plowing today, he, too, got to see a wolf. This one was on the road ahead of him. As he approached, it headed down the driveway of a neighbor. Greg got a good look at it as it ran off. He said that it was very large and it had a full bushy tail. Another wolf report came from our friends who have a home up on Seagull Lake. For the first time that they know of, a pack of wolves now lives in the vicinity. Someone saw five of them resting on the ice of Seagull, and others have seen them running on the ice and in the woods. One person saw a lone wolf chase a deer out on to the ice, and despite its best efforts, the deer escaped. The deer seem to have widened their range since the blowdown occurred, and we are now seeing this in the increasing number of wolf packs as well.

On Saturday, I asked Robert to head out on the ice to check on the thickness of it. We haven't had a lot of cold weather, and several people have been asking how the ice is coming along. Twenty yards out, Robert punched his first hole through, and it was about eight inches. He went twenty more yards out, and it was six inches thick. I have seen snowmobiles travelling slowly around the south shore of the lake, but still none out in the middle. But I figure if the wolves are out there, it must be improving. The morning temp today was 17, and then we dropped to fourteen. This will help, but what we'd really like are some cold nights.

The winter hasn't stopped Robert from working outside on his '67 Mustang. On Saturday, he removed the old transmission, and then installed a different one. He is working under the canopy that houses the sawmill, so while he has a roof above him, he is still subject to the elements. Gotta love a car to want to do that!

The groomer is out and running today, thanks to a fresh batch of snow. I hope to try those fresh tracks yet this afternoon, as I hear they are doing the Lonely Lake trail. It's just too nice to stay indoors.