First snow, but don’t get out the skis quite yet
Yes, you heard it right. It snowed on the Gunflint Trail this morning. It didn't last long, but for a short time there was a layer of white on every flat surface. Many of our resort guests awoke this morning to see snow falling outside their cabin windows.
We think the snowfall was probably caused by Quinn and Kate, Bearskin employees who had worked 8 days in a row and thought they could perhaps take a pleasant little BWCA canoe trip once they finally had time off. Of course it snowed. With their luck, it was fortunate the whole BWCA didn't ice over.
After a fairly warm and sunny September, the past 10 days have been cool and often overcast or rainy. The change in weather has finally brought the color out in the foliage. It was beginning to look like many tree leaves would go straight from yellowish-green to shriveled brown without ever passing through a vibrant yellow or orange stage. Now, however, the hills surrounding the Gunflint Trail are vivid with color.
"How long will the leaves last?" ask callers. Last year we observed the leaves rather suddenly tumble down from the trees in about 48 hours between October 11th & October 13th: http://bearskin.wordpress.com/2008/10/14/falling-leaves/ Based on my photos, there are more leaves on the trees now than there were at this time last year. During this past summer season, everything from snowmelt to berry ripening seemed to be on a schedule of occurring 2 weeks late. Leaf color has also been a bit delayed, so it will be interesting to observe whether the leaves persist on the trees a bit longer too.
If it turns out that one day soon all the yellow and orange leaves suddenly plummet from the trees, there will still be plenty to see along the Gunflint Trail. Animal activity greatly increases this time of year. Moose sightings are more common now, although because moose are in "rutting season" during October moose viewing can be risky business. Andy and his friend Ada spend a great deal of time hiking local trails. They came over a rise on one of our ski trails yesterday and encountered a very large bull moose, who indicated great displeasure with their arrival in his territory. What the moose did next is a mystery, because both Andy and Ada wisely turned and ran as fast as they could back down the trail. Nothing like Andy's more famous moose encounter.
We've also heard several stories of hikers spotting numerous smaller animals lately: wolf pups frolicking with each other, foxes playing odd "catch me if you can" games with hikers, pine martins stealthily slipping into the woods. Many hikers have reported seeing bear "scat" on the trails, sometimes very fresh, but lately nobody has actually spotted a bear. (Not counting the little guy Bob scared away from the dumpster a couple times.) Pileated woodpeckers have been very active right outside the lodge. The red squirrels have abandoned chasing each other all day and seem to be concentrating on serious food gathering. Trading the colorful leaves for more animal visibility may be a fair exchange.