Gunflint: Reflections of the Trail by Justine Kerfoot

By Justine Kerfoot

Justine Kerfoot has lived on Minnesota's distant Gunflint path for 5 a long time. She's gutsy, an expert, and funny. such a lot of all she's real-a specified girl of energy and personality! Her willing observations and hot sensitivity recreate memorable episodes and touching moments from her years at the path.

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These past few days have sent temperatures soaring into the 50s. The nights are barely freezing. On the trails, twigs and stubble that had been below the snow line earlier in the season are starting to sprout like hazardous spikes. Bare spots are growing on the sunny side of beaver dams. Creeks are gurgling and slowly gaining momentum and will soon be rushing with gusto. 31 G U N F LI N T Among the local people traveling the back country, there is a persistent question: How much longer? When the slush ice starts to go there is very little safe blue ice beneath.

We paddled swiftly onto its bony back hoping for a crumbling breakthrough. It was like skidding onto a living being. It heaved a little, chuckled an echoing laugh and slid us back to the spot from which we had made our surge. Unable to reach a shore, we chose an abandoned beaver house in the creek for our lunch site. Like a castle surrounded by a moat with a flooded marsh near by, the house protected all who sought shelter. Numerous water-boatmen (aquatic hemipterous insects) were emerging from a grassy shelf to be suddenly propelled to the surface and to scoot irregularly on their delicately padded feet.

The mild temperatures turned the miniature flakes into iridescent ice that clung to everything it touched. Tall pines wore halos of diamonds. The birch and aspen glistened and bowed over the road in great arcs. The weather knocked out our power lines—still not an unusual occurrence. Candles and lamps appeared in the windows and the crusted snow reflected soft March light. Cabins and yards looked as if they had been plucked from old Christmas cards. In this taunting beauty a group of persistent electric company linemen sawed and chopped and wallowed through the snow from six in the morning until midnight for four days trying to revitalize the electric lines.

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