Eerie Red Glow

The wind blows on. The eerie red glow over the end of the Gunflint Trail last night at 11pm has now moved to the north. As far as I’ve heard, all of the people are still safe. We need rain. We need calm. We are extemely grateful for the volunteer fire departments that have been working in the area. They have evacuated the entire upper Gunflint Trail. Please pray for the safety of these courageous men and women. It was an inferno out there last night.
As of 11pm, Tuscarora was still OK. They managed to quell some flare ups that occurred yesterday….the embers are still hot and sparkly. Nothing about this fire is contained.
We feel incredibly sad.

The wind keeps blowing…

The Ham Lake fire burns…..For current coverage of the Ham Lake fire please visit : http://www.inciweb.org/ or www.boreal.org

As of 11:00 am today, the end of the Gunflint Trail (beyond Tuscarora) was put under a mandatory evacuation. The humidity is so low, the wind is so high—they are not sure what this fire is going to do, but know that it could possibly threaten the south shore of Seagull, and the end of the Gunflint Trail.

The fire crossed the Gunflint Trail in the vicinity of the Seagull Guard Station. It is moving north.
I’ve learned not to make predictions—-but will keep you posted.

Phone lines are out—we’re working on them, but having trouble getting messages forwarded as well. Please feel free to email—ahrendt@boreal.org with any communication. I’ll try to check it every 4 hours or so…

Tuscarora looks good—smoke has cleared, all is well. The hills beyond the mailbox are burning.

All of the permits for Cross Bay, Missing Link, Brant Lake, and Seagull and Saganaga are closed as of today. We are glad to make other arrangements—and are well able to get you into the woods. Please email us for a back up plan. We will also let you know as the fire moves on, and as they begin to open these closures (as of right now, none of these lakes has been burned).

Please send all of your positive energies and prayers to our neighbors at the end of the Gunflint Trail. So far, everyone is safe. The embers around Tuscarora are cooling, the sprinklers have turned the oasis green, the shores of Round Lake are untouched. We hope the same for our generous neighbors.

Ham Lake Fire

Foreshadowing:
It’s been so dry. We were returning from installing the dock on Sag on Friday and spotted the orange snowmobile fence on the hill; Andy and I both thought the orange was fire for a split second. I thought—“wow, what if a fire started in our back yard?”—we always seem to have so much warning.

We ate our dinner on the deck—a beautiful warm night, and when the kids left the table we spoke in low tones—this feels too eerie. It isn’t right for early spring. We were glad that the leaves are starting to pop—the green foliage makes it seem much less dry.

May 5th:
We spoke briefly as we woke up on Saturday about the busy day ahead. We had started to joke about our fire paranoia. “Doesn’t it feel like a farce to just rush through the activities, as if all is going to be normal?” Later in the morning when Andy came in he said “Do you smell smoke?” I didn’t—I thought we were letting our imaginations get away with us.

At about 11:30 Andy came rushing in the door—“Call the Forest Service, there’s a fire” then he left. I called the Forest Service, a few neighbors—it was so close to us, the smoke was blowing our way, no one else knew.

So, the kids and I sort of stumbled through a“fire drill”—they grabbed some important things—we evacuated. As we were driving out, flames were on both sides of the road, the tops of trees were falling and igniting the grass like kindling. The snowshoe hares were hopping. Everything happened so fast. We got to the mailbox and looked back—the kids worried, said they had no idea it could happen like that. We were all shaken.

We watched and wondered what was burning—more fire fighters and airplanes arrived. After some time had passed, we were escorted back in. As we drove down the road, the Cross River looked the same—a favorite view of mine—then as we approached the Cross Bay Parking Lot we could see flames lingering—where the fire had crossed the road. As we drove on—-it was unbelievable the devastation that happened within about an hour. My heart sank as I wondered about our home.

Then to Tuscarora—which felt like a little oasis. You can see that it looks the same, except for the red retardant that they painted the place with—from the air. Very smoky—but it looked as though we eked through. The kids say—now we are completely safe—we have a fire ring around us! The shores of Round Lake didn’t burn—a narrow strip from Ham Lake, through the woods, down the access road, then beyond.

With Jake and Mike, our two new staff members—-( trial by fire—we quickly had to show Mike how to lift a canoe-)–we loaded all of the Kevlar canoes—a fuel source—and left them temporarily on trailers at Gunflint Outfitters. The planes dropped foam all afternoon—protecting the canoe yard.

By evening, I left to get the kids and sleep in a cabin with a phone—offered to us by our neighbors at Gunflint Pines. Sprinkler systems had been set up, they were hoping to turn the power back on, a crew of fire fighters (and Andy) were staying the night to keep an eye on hot spots. It is done.

According to initial—unconfirmed reports—the fire had started on the narrows campsite on Ham Lake. The campers had moved on. Perhaps some embers were not completely cool?? The fire was narrow—on the map its footprint looks like a cigar—and had progressed to Honker Lake—the winds were from the south east.

We lost one shed near the house at the back of the Tuscarora property. (The back house is not part of the Tuscarora base—most guests have never been back there). The back house is fine—-although the fire burned fairly hotly around it. They say it was protected by its grassy yard.

Please bear with us as we get our phones up and running. We’ll keep you posted. All is well at Tuscarora—needless to say, we have fabulous and generous neighbors. We had a May 5th to remember!

Day Trip


Andy and I ventured down to Long Island Lake to check out the impact of the Famine Lake Fire. It’s hard to leave this time of year— with the 70 degree weather calling us to do all of the spring tasks at once, but we had a day —and we were reminded how lucky we are to take advantage of our expansive back yard.

· We HIGHLY recommend early bug-free spring trips, when the only footprints were ours—-and those of the wolves, moose, and deer.
· Denali finally became an expert at canoe etiquette for Labradors—as long as we put her in the bow of the boat.
· We were scouring the bogs for moose on Rib Lake and saw bounding deer instead—don’t know how long that will surprise us, but definitely didn’t feel “normal”.
· The south shore of Long Island was touched in just a few places—one badly burned point, one brown island as we entered the lake. All of the favorite campsites are the same—some views have changed slightly. (The photo was taken from the island site on the far east end of Long Island—note the eagle in the top right corner of the photo). We both felt confident after the day trip that folks won’t be disappointed—and needn’t avoid that route because of the brief September fire.
· The Loons are back in full force. The waterfoul were active, the birds seem to sing especially boisterously this time of year. It’s great to be alive in the north woods!

Ice Out!

The last of the ice on Round Lake sunk in the rain yesterday. The weather has been sunny–+60 degrees. The locals say, no matter what the winter is like, ice out depends on the amount of sunshine we get in April. Apparently one week of warm sunshine goes a very long way!!!