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Monday, January 7, 2008

Gunflint Lake Ice Check

Gunflint Lake

Camper's Island

The river outlet on the northeast side of the lake

Wildlife super highway

The narrows on the west side of the lake

The day after the Loon Lake ice check we headed on to Gunflint Lake to do the same. This lake is much larger and we were less certain about what we would find.

We found 8 inches of black ice in front of the lodge and almost half way across the lake. A week and a half previous there had been only 5 inches.

Slushy conditions were found as we traveled along the shoreline, however the slush was not quite as bad when about 50 feet away from the shore. Only a few inches of snow were present in most places on this portion of the lake. The slush continued until the peninsula where the last cabin stood. In the bay by the peninsula, conditions were much better for dog sledding, unfortunately, we would have to travel a few miles under less than ideal conditions to get to this point.

Beyond this little bay and about 5 1/2 miles from the lodge is Camper's Island, a heavily wooded island with vast lake views and a campsite with a picnic table for lunch stops with our guests. We had been most concerned about the ice in this area as Bridle Falls empties into Gunflint Lake near this island. We were amazed to find 10 inches of black ice halfway between the island and the shore on which lies the Bridle Falls outlet. Just above this outlet is where we found ourselves the day previously. So close to making our connection to Gunflint Lake from Loon Lake, however due to the terrain and the number of blow down trees, this connection was unattainable.

From Camper's Island we navigated to the northeast on the lake to check the conditions along a narrows where a river runs into the lake. We had seen spotty wolf, fox, deer and otter tracks on the lake to this point. At this river outlet, there was a super highway of tracks made by the local wildlife.

Heading back to the lodge, we continued to the west to check on another area of current on the lake. This area was wide open and again in a "narrows" between two land masses.

The areas of current we discovered are scenic places to take guests to view wildlife, however extreme caution must be taken due to the changing and vulnerable ice conditions around the open water. A basic respect for mother nature must be applied when on any wilderness adventure.

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