After a seemingly endless winter, the ice finally retreated from the shores of Gunflint Lake on May 19th. Though it wasn't the latest ice out date we recall, it still was later than we hoped. Fishing season opened without us on May 10th. A nearby neighbor mentioned that it was a little alarming to look out on the lake to see an intrepid fisherman sitting on a lawn chair, fishing through the ice!
I don't think that fisherman had much to worry about, as the slabs of ice that I was seeing and photographing were at least sixteen inches thick. We never experienced a wind strong enough to start breaking up the ice mass, and while there was some drama with a few big sheets pushing up on shore, it was mostly a quiet ice out. The west end of the lake cleared first, then the shorelines, and eventually it was moving out of the view in front of us. On Sunday night, May 18, Greg launched a boat to take a ride to the east. We had thought that the ice was mostly gone, but surprisingly, he reported that roughly four miles of it still locked in the southern shore. He was able to travel all the way to the East End beach, and then into Little Gunflint, but only by traveling the Canadian side of the lake. The remainder of the ice left the next day.
The weather stayed cool, even with the sunshine we were seeing. Spring started to peek out a bit, and the last remnants of snow receded. As of this writing, we still have ice in the creek near the rustic retreat driveway, and there may be a bit of the snow drift left behind the boats. Finally, we moved into full-blown summer, when the temps took a decidedly nice hike up the thermometer last weekend, and stayed there for a good part of the week. In the space of about five days, the leaves literally popped out, from sharp chartreuse, to a softer shade of spring green now. Soon enough, that fleeting brush of color will have passed, and we will be into the deep, rich full-on green of summer leaves.
The lake has not kept the pace of rising temperatures in the same fashion. Early reports from boaters noted that it was about 44 degrees in Little Gunflint, and 38 in Big Gunflint. I imagine it has increased some since then, but a group of canoeists who came by on Friday told me that it was still very cold. Looks can be so deceiving! When the thermometer says 87 degrees, it is hard to believe that the lake can still be only in the high forties. One of these days it will catch up, and then it will be possible to swim comfortably.
So we're getting there! At times, I admit that I felt like I might never be warm again. I would go wash dishes just to feel heat on my hands. The power of the sun this past week really helped things along. Lots of green to be seen, and soon the flowers will be blooming. It's a great time to be on the Trail.