Oh my, a year and a day since my last post. Wow, time really does fly. 2015 was an awesome year for us. With any luck (and true diligence) I will be able to write a summary post soon. But first, I think it is more important to address the pressing question of the day: What is the status of the ice on Gunflint Lake?
Our freeze-up timeline this year was unlike any we had ever seen. The western half of the lake, from our point to the northwesterly direction, finally froze around December 29th. Everyone here for the holidays remarked on how unusual it was to see open water. Some folks asked about the possibility of taking a sauna and jumping in to the lake. We discouraged this, since our landing ramp is at an angle, and being ice-covered from the lapping of waves, one would have to slide in, and then somehow figure out how to crawl out on an uphill slope. So we contented ourselves with watching this amazing beast of a lake, for that is what it tends to look like in the dark days of late fall/early winter, as it cools itself enough to freeze.
By January 4th, we finally saw ice on the eastern half of the lake. For the next few days, it stayed frozen and it didn't snow. The temperatures, however, were still not conducive to much ice formation. Greg checked ice thickness at that stage (just past our point, very near to shore), and found approximately one and a half inches of "eastern" ice. The painful part of this process was limited to viewing the incredibly smooth glass that invited skating on a mirror surface--so near to do, yet so far from possible at that thickness. He likened it to gazing at a field of perfectly-ripened blueberries that he was not allowed to pick.
Now the thermometer has finally dropped into the range of decent below-zero temperatures. On Monday, Greg measured 6" of ice to the west of our point, and about 5" of ice to the east of the point. There are a few inches of snow on top of it, but we are hoping that it is not enough to insulate the lake from more ice-making. He has ventured out on the snowmobile, traveling down the shore to the west, and straight across to the north side.
Trout season opens on Gunflint Lake this coming Saturday. As with any ice travel, check with the local folks to see what the current reports are before heading out there.