Thanks to the current that runs through the water, Gull River, which meanders through the Trail’s End Campground near Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, never ices over completely in the wintertime. In these late winter days, the scene of bright blue water lapping at dark ice is lovely precursor to springtime scenes ahead.
Ice remains solid and stable on Gunflint Trail lakes, but the return of bald eagles, noisier songbirds, the end of the winter lake trout season and more daylight means spring is on the minds of many Gunflint Trail residents. Years ago, this was time of year when trappers like Charlie Boostrom would head out to collect their winter traplines. Those living on islands on the Canadian side of Saganaga Lake — Powells, Bensons, and Madsens — might start making sure they had all the necessary provisions to get them through springtime “ice out”, when the ice becomes impassible and they must wait at their island homes for open water before they can traverse the lake again. Even today, although subzero mornings have “winter” written all over them, it’s a time when Gunflint Trail residents start thinking less about hauling in the nightly firewood and more about starting the seeds for the summer gardens.
At Chik-Wauk, preparations continue for the summer season. While Memorial Day weekend, when Chik-Wauk opens, may seem a long ways off, we know opening day will still manage to sneak up on us.
If you’re looking for an excuse to hang out on the Chik-Wauk grounds before we open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, you might be interested in planting trees on Chik-Wauk’s grounds as part of the Gunflint Green Up. Not only is tree planting good for the soul, you’ll also have a chance to check out the new boardwalk before anyone else.