Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Forces Have Landed on the Beach


Every time staff members head out the outfitting door a fleet takes off to protect them—frantically attacking the black flies and mosquitoes….
We’ve had a healthy bug spring here at Tuscarora, plenty of rain (we like that), high water, cool June weather.
Staff members have armed themselves with positive mental attitudes---
most effective (and charming) defenses. Then there are the bug head nets---a splendid invention. And we’ve EVEN resorted to the bug dope—not a common thing when you live here. This morning I broke down and wore it on the road. Once I can get past the smell ---I'm always amazed with how well that stuff works.

(Incidentally—I learned about DEET today---that it was invented by the US Army after jungle warfare in WWII….and it apparently interferes with the olfactory lobes in mosquitoes---they can’t smell our sweat to find us. Then I read some research on DEET, and am choosing the very effective Repel Lemon Eucalyptus alternative product in our store. )

On cloudy windless days, when the mosquitoes are the happiest , I remember some wise words of parenting advice given to me we first had a colicky new baby…My friend's words seem to also apply to many life situations---Don’t worry, she said, just when something starts REALLY getting to you (when you wonder how you can function on two hours of sleep for the rest of your life)--, the pattern will change. One day you’ll wake up and that part will be over.
And so it seems!--- the reinforcements have arrived. They speed around and must kill millions. Can they make an actual dent in the population? Who knows---- but I do know that the bug cycles hit the decline every year when the dragon flies arrive. They are like the busy little army guys in the helicopters, working overtime to clear everybody’s heads. God bless the dragonflies!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We had a great time!

Hello All!
Matt, Veronica and I recently stayed in cabin #2 over Father's Day weekend. We all had a great time. Thanks so much for the wonderful memories. Veronica misses Denali very much and has told all her friends of her wonderful catch.
Kindest Regards,


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blueberry Blossoms

The other day Shelby and I visited our favorite blueberry spot, burned out by last year’s fire. I suspected they would come back, but not so many so soon! The absolute abundance is hard to believe.
It's funny how blueberry patches inspire hoarding. Once, before I knew about Serious Picking Culture, my friend Ingrid took me to her hot spot in Chequamegon National Forest. (At the time I didn’t realize what a significant invitation that was). We drove into an area recently logged and could see people hunched over in different spots along the way. As we approached, they would disappear. We laughed as we watched them “hit the deck” so we wouldn’t discover their secret patches. Yet there was an entire forest of blueberries… we picked gallons.
The other day, as I drove from our secret spot, I was wondering about the incriminating photos---and Shelby warned me not to post them. I looked at the acres and acres of blueberry patches along the side roads of the upper Gunflint Trail---there will be no shortage this year! Still, we can’t tell you where we took the photos…

Monday, June 16, 2008

Heritage Middle School

We.welcomed the 8th graders from Middlebury Indianna last night----this morning they all cheerfully headed into the woods!

Jamison's group was heading toward the Frost River---to venture into the unknown---I think Jamie just wanted to earn the right to a Tuscarora Portage Survivor tshirt!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Seagull Creek

A couple years ago, the kids and I set out one June afternoon to conquer Seagull Creek, where it runs from the north side of the Gunflint Trial, eventually passing under a culvert and flowing into Seagull Lake near Blankenberg beach. It looked intriguing, we had a lovely day,a map, and a few hours before dinner. We took a canoe and gave it a shot. Water levels had come down since early spring when we first had this idea---but really this was the first afternoon with time for an adventure, so we were off.
A few beaver dams later, we realized we should have packed head nets or mosquito repellent. Oops. A few more beaver dams in, we tried to figure out exactly how far we had come. Maps with spidery creeks on them can be deceiving. Should this take an hour? Two hours? Will we be able to get through? We knew that we didn’t want to go BACK over those beaver dams----2 nasty buggy portages later the water started getting really shallow. Surely we would come to the lake soon??? Another bad portage, plus some major slogging through water too shallow to paddle, but mud as deep as my waist; then we started wondering about time. We were 3 hours in: it would be dark in 3 hours. The lake must be around the corner???? ......we all had lumps in our throats as we decided it would be smarter to turn around and head back through the misery. The only thing worse than the torture of turning back would be to spend the night in this muddy hellhole. At dusk we made it to the car, maybe a little better for it, maybe just bitten and crabby. Daniel declared the experience to be the low point of his life, so far. Shelby was quiet. I vowed never to talk them into paddling Seagull Creek again. I promised that I didn’t purposefully SEEK nasty adventures, even if they might build character...

The next season: heavy rains came in June. We would drive over Seagull Creek and remember the misery of it. Daniel was absolutely relieved –NEVER AGAIN. Shelby and I were quiet. Finally we admitted that we still wanted to conquer it: we were constantly reminded that we lost that battle. So, early one afternoon the two of us packed plenty of water, snacks, head nets, bug dope, sunglasses….everything we thought we might need, and went equipped to take it on. In high water, well prepared--- a great adventure, beautiful, easy. We expected the worst, and we couldn’t have been more delighted. Yippee! I’m posting photos from this year’s Seagull Creek trip with staff members Stefan and Ryan. It remains a charming 3 hour trip! The beaver dams are mostly washed out, the portages are almost non-existent. Apparently when it rains enough to paddle across the parking lot in Grand Marais, the impossible Seagull Creek becomes paddleable too.
It just goes to show you---- I know it must show you something. There must be some great life lesson wrapped in this experience. Fun afternoon memory OR mosquito misery, low point. It just depends upon the head net and the water levels.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Four Nights on Fred Hulting

Andy and Sue -
I visited you this past week with John Dryer - you gave us gear and a tow for our trip up to Saganagons for four nights…
Thank you again for the great service - the gear worked well, and we had wonderful attention from our tow-boat driver Stefan and pick-up person Andy.

Attached are a couple of pictures of John with fish: a 21 inch Lake trout he caught, and a couple of Bass (one form each of us) that were caught during our day trek into Moose Bay Lake. You also find a sunset shot over Saganagons (yes, we did see some sun!).
We picked an interesting four days for the trip - our first night (Thursday) coincided with the heavy rain - we then watched the lake rise 3-4 inches the next day. The extremely high water made everything look very different than in past years. On Friday we had to deal with the heavy winds that stranded us for awhile (and put out tent in the lake!). Saturday was beautiful, but the black flies arrived, creating different challenges.
Something new for me was the chance to experience some of the wonders of spring in the animal world, including seeing an extended mating display by two loons (who even let us catch them in the "act"), and getting chased away by beavers protecting pups in their houses on two different bays.
In the end we had a wonderful trip with many good memories…hard to come home…
Hope your summer is a good one - see you again soon!Fred

Friday, June 6, 2008

Grand Marais Rains

Cook County Emergency and Road Crews have had a busy Friday...along with lots of people with lots of flooded basements. This would be the Coop Parking Lot in down town Grand Marais. (photo:

Allow some extra time if you are traveling to Tuscarora, in some places Hwy 61 and the Gunflint Trail are single lane only.

Here at Tuscarora, we just had another rainy day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Round Lake Wolves

This is Stan, our Cabin 3 guest. As he headed out with two leashed dogs at 6am Saturday morning, I alerted him to the wolf pack in our area—I see them often in the early morning (you’d think I’d get used to them, but they still send my heart racing . )
Stan nodded, but the twinkle in his eye gave me the feeling that he thought I was being a little over dramatic. When he came back though, he chuckled as he told me that I must have those wolves on radio collar—to send them out on command, because he met a huge one.
Cary from Cabin 6, walking his dog a little later, also came on a pup. I’ve been told that the presence of a dog will increase the chances of a wolf encounters—seems to be so.
Twice in the last few weeks, a roly piglet wolf-pup with a big fluffy tail was seen. Seems like we’ve narrowed down where the den might be, so I feel a little protective of these guys. From the sightings this spring, I think I've figured out the pack. (I’m just filling in blanks really, I haven’t actually been close enough to determine gender, or see the pack together---consider the next part fiction, sort of).
Our Round Lake Pack
The big grey bushy husky leader has challenged Denali a couple of times. He must be the alpha; the way he looks me in the eye makes the back of my neck prickle, then his gaze makes me sort of angry. Three lankier whiter sleddog-like adults are more skittish. The other two adolescents must be last years pups. Early in May Denali came nose to nose with those two--they showed no aggression. When I whistled for her, they looked like they might come to me too. And then the new puppies---or the puppy? I haven’t personally confirmed a sighting of this one. So--I'm guessing this makes the pack or seven or eight whose territory intersects Tuscarora territory.
When we listen to them howl in the evenings, we can tell this is a fine time to be a wolf on the Gunflint Trail!

Check out the cool video clip that Barb Geccas (from Hestons on Gunflint Lake) took in April of a wolf on their property.