Way up in the northern-most part of Minnesota is an area known as the Gunflint Trail. This paved, two-lane road travels inland from Grand Marais on the western shore of Lake Superior for 57 miles ending at Seagull and Saganaga Lakes. Bordering on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the area is a treasure of hills, cliffs, lakes, forests, and some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Last month when we planned a mid-March trip to the Gunflint we expected to do some snowshoeing and winter exploring, anticipating lots of snow and cold temperatures. Little did we know that last Friday’s 20 degree temps would change into sunshine and near 50 on Saturday. There’s still plenty of snow in the area, and the lakes are still frozen with 20+ inches of ice, but it doesn’t seem like the middle of winter when you’re taking off hats and coats to cool off! We also didn’t know that this was the weekend for the Mush for a Cure, a non-competitive sled dog event to raise funds to help find a cure for breast cancer. With close to 40 mushers and lots of loud and excited dogs, the Mush began on frozen Gunflint Lake. The event is all for fun, with mushers, dogs, and spectators festooned in pink costumes and paraphernalia. The race is led by Captain Mammogram who rides his pink snowmobile enhanced with fake breasts. This was the sixth year for the Mush for a Cure and this year alone they raised over $29,000 (and still counting) to donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, bringing their total donations to close to $130,000. But this isn’t just a dog sledding event, it’s a weekend of activities including a pajama party, a king and queen coronation, and head shaving. We received an invite from John of Cross River Lodge to his crossing on Cook County 46. By following his sign that read “Free Beer 11 am to 1pm” we found a crowd of delightful and supportive people. For every free beer and/or beverage he handed out his Lodge donated $5 to the Mush, up to $500. With the warm temps, the cold beverages went quickly, and John made good on his pledge. And I’m proud to say that all the people at John’s crossing were more than ready to help out with an unfortunate accident that took place — our thoughts go out to the musher and his family. The organizers, sponsors, volunteers, and participants — everyone was having fun while raising money for a very serious cause. There was a grand feeling of community, of everyone coming together to celebrate the near-end of winter and to support a great and unique event. What a fun way to spend a winter weekend in northern Minnesota!
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