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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint October 13

WTIP News     October 13, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
I can’t believe the days could go by any faster either here or anywhere. We Gunflinters are nearing the half-way point of month ten as the tourist season is slowing to a crawl.   

Weather over the past seven has remained moderate and somewhat dry in the upper Trail region. In spite of a frosty spot here and there, the area has escaped a killing freeze up to this weeks’ news release.

 We could easily be lulled to sleep on this issue, but it’s going to happen, so we year around folk had better be getting those outdoor water facilities prepared. Of special note is the winterization of the wildfire sprinkler systems.

 Since we last met on the radio, yours truly has scratched a few chores off my winterizing list. The snow blade has been mounted and a snow blower check started on the first pull so my check-offs are dwindling. One more trip into the cool lake will bring in the sprinkler system lines and the biggest tasks will be history.   
Our color extravaganza is starting to become distant in the rear view mirror. Showers of leaves have been the order over the past few days, and Tamarak needles are gaining their golden glow rapidly.                                                                                                                                     
Speaking of autumnal views, each day provides an expanding opportunity to see through “the forest for the trees.” One often takes for granted wildland things seen in the woods until the leaves are on and the foliage hides them away. Well, the time has come back to us with thinning gold tokens, opening up for a renewed slant on things once hidden, but now revealed.                                                                                                                                                                                       
This time of year is never more magic than when one treks down a back country road. With the greedy world about to consume us, it is soul soothing to stroll or drive down one of these off Trail Gunflint roads.      
A damp earth fragrance, a leaf strewn path, a calm breeze, a sky of blue sharing both sunshine and puffy clouds, occasional avian tweets, drumming grouse, and squirrels scrambling here and there are blended with the serenity of almost zero civilization hubbub. Thus, we observers are charmed with a formula for the idyllic life experience. That’s the way it is with sights and sounds of October in Gunflint country.   
On these cool nights, good reading is a must as we hunker down by the wood stove. Recently, I came across an intriguing article in the fall edition of INTERNATIONAL WOLF magazine. I would think anyone concerned that indigenous lives matter might share my interest in this article focusing on the relationship between the Anishinaabe (Original Man) and Ma’iingan (the wolf) in a creation story.                                                                                                                                                                     
Author, Tovar Cerulli, reflects on the direction of wolf management in the eyes of the Ojibwe through a unique spiritual and cultural understanding of the wolf. I am no professional critic, but I recommend this thought-provoking selection. Chase it down in your local library or perhaps find it on line at internationalwolf@wolf .org.

So many bruin stories continue flowing in I can “bearly” keep up. Two instances of larcenous bear activity have occurred in this neighborhood within recent days.  
The first report came from a gal up the hill from Wildersmith telling about finding her car door ajar, only to open it fully and have a young bear jump out. The next night, “Bruno” came back and opened the vehicle door again, climbed in and did some real damage while sniffing and scrounging for some kind of treat.  
Then in another semi breaking and entering episode; I believe it to be a bear, got into my barbeque storage bin and made off with a pair of blue hot material gloves. Seems funny this nosing around has never happened before, as these gloves have been in that unit for years. I’m guessing the critter might have sniffed an air of cooking grease on the gloves and decided they were for the taking.    

An interesting fact is the gloves were heavy duty leather welding gloves, and if consumed it must have been a chewing good time. Funnier yet, how about the bear passing a little leather, neighbors might keep an eye out for a blue calling card that is definitely not of blueberry consumption. 
On a final note, a couple AWOL “whiskey jacks” (Canadian Jays) have returned from summers’ wherever. These camp robbers are busy every day in a re-education of us Smith’s to be out at the feed trough promptly with a treat. My how trainable we have become!    
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, as we await winter to round the bend!



Superior National Forest Update October 13

National Forest Update – October 12, 2017.
Hi.  I’m Cathy Peterson, administrative support assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of October 13th.

With frost on the ground, it is not only time to find the ice scraper you stored in the garage all summer, but it is time for us to shut down the water supply at the fee campgrounds before the pipes freeze.  Since there are many campgrounds on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts, it usually takes us a week or so to shut them all off.  We will try to update our website on which campgrounds will have water, but just to be safe, plan on bringing water with you if you are camping.  Camping fees will still be collected if the water system is still on, but if the system is shut down, there will be no fee for camping.  It is also the end of garbage service at the campgrounds, so plan to pack out your garbage.  If the dumpster is locked, please don’t pile garbage bags next to it for the bears to get into.  The locked dumpster just means that garbage service won’t be available until next spring and you will have to bring your garbage home for disposal.

If you do head out to the campground, you’ll find that this is a pretty good time of year for camping.  You have to make sure to pack warm enough gear to deal with cold nights, but there are no mosquitoes, and the early sunsets mean you don’t have to stay up late to enjoy the starlit skies and a campfire.  For Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trips, remember to fill out a self-issued permit at the entry point for both day use and overnight trips.

You could smell smoke in the air which is not from a campfire in a few places.  Our fire crew will be conducting pile burning in several areas on the Forest over the next two weeks.  These burn piles are being attended to and are checked daily until they are out, please don’t disturb them. 

The Forest is a busy place in the fall.  There are still leaf watchers cruising the forest, though many of the leaves are now down.  Grouse hunting continues, so wear orange whether you are hunting or not.  We are also seeing lots of ATV use right now.  Our Motor Vehicle Use Map is available at all Forest Service offices as well as online and this map is the authority on which roads and trails are available for ATV use.  Signs on the ground may be incorrect; when they don’t agree with the map, assume the map is correct.  With our rainy fall, trails and roads can be soft.  ATVs should make sure to follow Tread Lightly guidelines and avoid creating ruts, holes, or otherwise digging up the surface of the trail or road.

There is also a lot of logging traffic out there.  Be careful and watch for logging trucks if you are on an ATV, pick up, or car.   On the Gunflint District, expect hauling on Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, Ball Club Road, Devil Track Road, and CC14.  On the Tofte District, look for trucks on the Pancore Road, the Sawbill Trail, Dumbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, the Perent Lake Road, the Trappers Lake Road, and the road south of Windy Lake.  Also over the next two weeks, there will be trucks hauling gravel along Forest Road 170, the Grade, west of the Sawbill Trail as crews work to resurface 3.6 miles of the road. 

However you decide to enjoy the fall - camping, canoeing, hunting, driving, or hiking - it’s time to get outside and take advantage of the last few weeks before the snow flies.  Until next time, this has been Cathy Peterson with the National Forest Update.


Empty Bowls

Upcoming Make-A-Bowl offered at GM Art Colony for Empty Bowls

The Empty Bowls dinner and silent auction takes place at St. John’s Catholic Church in Grand Marais on Monday, November 13th. The Grand Marais Art Colony will host another Make-A-Bowl session to provide bowls for the dinner on Saturday, October 21st. WTIP’s Will Moore spoke with Art Colony instructor Hannah Laky to learn more.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint October 6

WTIP News     October 6, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint         by Fred Smith

The atmosphere in the upper Trail has been pretty seasonal since we last met on the radio, cool but not cold at night, and warm but not too hot under sunshine. Furthermore, enough moisture has dampened north-country to maintain low fire danger, and enhance the aroma of fall.                                                                                                                                                                      
In the midst of one of those recent precipitation droppings, we had a spectacular rainbow grace our northern heavens. While we in these parts expect color luminosity from the Aurora at night, fine rainbows are not unusual.   
The fact this one hovered over the north shore of Gunflint Lake in Canadian skies makes it somewhat atypical. Usually an east or west phenome, this celestial spectrum happened when rays of “old Sol” were piercing the drizzle laden cloud cover from the south around the noontime hour, creating a beautiful, but short lived prismatic episode. How about this, a tinted rendition of “Mother Nature” simultaneously on earth and in the skies!    

October has crept up on us so fast we have barely noticed its arrival. A week into the books finds it unimaginable the full “falling Leaves” moon has passed us by. Yes, it happened quietly on the fifth, if you hadn’t noticed. 

Our avian migration continues as we now add “snow birds” to the flocks, winging all directions south.  With seasonal neighbors taking off, those of us choosing to stay and hold down the fort, find the urgency of “getting ready for winter” in clear focus.

My good neighbor down the road and his grouse hunting buddies from metropolis came to my aid this past weekend. They provided big manpower in bringing the dock a shore; helping to motor the boat down the lake for its return to winter storage; and in closing up an exterior lake water system. What would we do without neighbors? These major chores checked off the list, the Wildersmith two are moving on to a sundry of less heavy duty items.

The color show of our upper Gunflint is waning as this scoop hits the air. With maple leaves down and birch tokens piling on, stage two finds a quaking golden hue of aspen at its peak. Looking out our window to the forest, the buttery tones are so bright it looks as though the sun is shining, even on a cloudy day. As the emerald plumage of summer succumbs to a colorful end and descends unto another layer of history, the spotlight is set for a final act of this autumnal drama, as we wait for those aurous tamarack needles to drop the season ending curtain.

Memorable animal tidbits have come my way recently. The first of which comes from the mid-Trail neighborhood. To preface this one, for many years, neighbors in that area of the Trail have offered sustenance to any number of fox. 
In this tale of the woods, a bear was observed dipping into the food cache intended for the fox, at an unnamed residence. While the bear was partaking, a fox came onto the scene. In a sudden fit of rage, the fox took after the startled bear and ran it off. The fox came back to feed after the chase.                                                                                                                                                                         
While eating the fox noticed the inquisitive bear returned, peeking around the corner of a building nearby. Apparently feeling the bear did not understand, Mr./Ms. Fox took out in hot pursuit once again. This time, in hope of putting a little more meaning into its grub rights, the fox gave chase and got close enough to give the unknowing Ursae a good bite on the rump. I have not heard of any further confrontation, so I’m assuming the fox got its point across. The scene kind of harkens back to those old “Uncle Remus” stories about “Braer Fox and Braer Bear” read when I was a kid.                                                                                                                                                                                       
I’m told the four bear cubs’ Mother, got into trouble by being aggressive with some gals down the road and has since been dispatched. This is sad, but not too un-expected, as the sloth had been interacting in people neighborhoods for much of the summer. It was bound to happen, but now there are four orphan cubs that definitely will be challenged with surviving the coming winter. Furthermore, should the little ones make it through the winter they too are in danger of gravitating to their mothers’ fate having been reared in human proximity?                                                                                                                                                   
In a more laughable, man/animal convergence, a couple was driving the Trail recently when a moose came up out of the ditch causing and immediate stoppage and stand-off as to who might have the right-of-way.  
It seemed the moose didn’t care to cross, but set off ambling along the shoulder. The couple proceeded slowly with the moose right beside the vehicle. Thinking the moose might be a problem, the driver increased speed to get around and move away from the big guy. However, as the vehicle sped up so did Mr. Moose. Soon the moose broke into a gallop staying alongside on the shoulder path.  
The moose, apparently running for gold, competed for some distance. In the end however, this iconic critter conceded to being just a sprinter and not a long distance runner, dropping off into the ditch and heading for the timber. Final race results indicated DNF, the moose did not finish.

Congratulations and thanks to Sarah Hamilton and her staff at Trail Center for entering the humanitarian relief effort for people of Puerto Rico. She is sending a first shipment of her mid-Trail produced “Camp Chow” (dry packaged meals) to help feed hungry people. For more details on this heartfelt endeavor or to maybe help out in some way, go to the website,      
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith on the Trail, at Wildersmith, where every day is great, in the land of cool, blue waters!



Superior National Forest Update October 6

National Forest Update – October 5, 2017.
Hi.  I’m Debbi Lamusga, information receptionist, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of October 5th.
This is usually our peak time for fall colors, and for fall color photographers.  There are more people than leaves out there right now, so watch out on every corner.  As far as the leaves are concerned, the maples were hitting peak when we had all the rain and wind this past week, and they didn’t last too well.  Our aspen and birch though are right now at the top of their game, and the woods are a beautiful contrast of yellow hardwoods and dark green conifers.  If you are out in the woods for colors, make sure you are colored orange so hunters can see you.  If you’re hunting, be extra careful as there are more people than usual prowling the back roads and trails.  Whether you are driving for hunting or in search of the perfect fall photos, you should know that in addition to knocking down leaves, the heavy rains made some good sized ruts in some of our roads, particularly at the edges.  These can be a bad surprise when you come over the hill and find deep washouts on your side of the road and another vehicle on the other side.  Be prepared that you may have to slow down and stop over any hill or around any corner.
 And finally, if you just can’t get out in the woods this fall, or would like to share the fall colors with your friends in Florida, friend the Superior National Forest on Facebook for our fall color blog and links to photos of the Superior in her autumn splendor.
It’s the season for a little autumn camping and fishing.  Our fee campgrounds will continue to have water available through October 20th, so it is not too late to have a few more nights in a tent.  Docks will start to come in in mid-October, but should all still be in position this next week.  We are starting to see some frost and freeze advisories, so if you do go camping, pack the heavy sleeping bag and the extra jacket even if it seems plenty warm in the sun of the afternoon.  Stay bear aware too this time of year.  Our local bruins are still up and very active this time of year as they try to pack on a few more pounds before settling in for the winter, so when camping be sure to secure all your food and garbage in a bear secure manner.
There is some logging activity this week with hauling being done.  For the most part, trucks will be in the same locations as last week.  On Gunflint, trucks are using Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, and Ball Club Road.  On the Tofte District, look for trucks on the Pancore Road, the Sawbill Trail, Dumbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 705, the 4 Mile Grade, The Grade, the Perent Lake Road, and the Trappers Lake Road.   New this week will be harvest activity on the west side of the Timber Frear area, with trucks using the road south of Windy Lake.
Enjoy our second yellow peak of fall, and maybe have a campfire complete with hot chocolate or hot cider, neither of which seems right in the summer but both seem so right in the fall.  Until next week, this has been Debbi Lamusga with the National Forest Update.


by Andy Simonds via Flickr

Great Expectations School News Oct 6

School News from Great Expectations with Grace and Wren.


Autumn is in the air

North Woods Naturalist: Heading into fall

September is gone and we’re moving into October, and soon we’ll be experiencing all the signs of winter. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about heading into fall.


Bill Sarah Adam

West End News October 5

West End News 10/5/2017  
If you haven’t had a chance to sneak out and take part in the Art Along the Lake Fall Studio Tour, this weekend is your last chance. The fall studio tour is a fabulous time for locals and visitors alike to meet artists in their studios. Stops on the tour include home studios as well as galleries, and some are featuring guest artists. The locations are all open daily from 10am to 5pm until Sunday, October 8th. Of particular note is the tour stop at Mary Jane Huggins’ place in Tofte. She has many demonstrations going on each day, including bracelet weaving and scarf dying workshops as well as basket weaving and spinning demonstrations. If you haven’t yet spent some hours chatting with Mary Jane, don’t miss your opportunity this weekend!
Birch Grove Community School is off to a running start this fall. The new curriculum has arrived, purchased thanks to funds provided by the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation. The school also just received a $500 donation from the Library Friends of Cook County, thanks friends! Community lunches have also started up again, with the next one this Tuesday October 10. Come on down to Birch Grove for a delicious lunch and a chance to chat with the west end’s youngest residents. A reminder that there is no school on Friday October 6th, and the school board meeting will be taking place on Tuesday October 17 at 6pm.
While I know the Gunflint Trail has had more than its fair share of bear trouble this year, up here on the Sawbill Trail we are having a different kind of wild life issue. Every fall the red squirrels go into overdrive it seems, storing up food for the impending snow storms. This year though, instead of simply collecting seeds out of the towering white pines, the little buggers are using us for target practice with their pinecones. There is a constant barrage of banging with the cones dropping out of the trees onto our metal roofs. Walking between buildings almost requires a hard hat at this point. Some folks in our campground had a particularly vindictive squirrel that they swore was dropping cones on them on purpose. When they mentioned it to their neighbors, they fessed up that they had originally set up in that same site but moved after they realized the squirrel was out to get them! I wonder if filling our bird feeders will ease the squirrels aggressive fall actions?
Honorary west ender, Bill Hansen, and his son Adam are currently vacationing in Kenya. Adam studied abroad in Nairobi in college and this is the second time the pair have travelled back to visit Adam’s old friends and host family. This visit, they have decided to forego the dog and pony show of public transportation and have rented a car, allowing them some freedom to visit out of the way places. One such place, was the home of Barack Obama’s grandmother, Sarah. On a whim, the guys looked her up and drove to her house. Outside was a security guard, on an even crazier whim, they asked him if they could say hello and pay their respects. The guard called the 95 year old woman up and she promptly invited them in for a visit. Bill reports that they had a wonderful chat about her life as a farmer. Her main concern now, though, is the importance of promoting education for all. It’s a good reminder how, even a world away, peoples’ values and goals can be so very similar.
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.



School News - Sawtooth Elementary Oct 3

School News from Sawtooth Elementary

by Payton, Katie and Henry


Night Sky by Nikolay Mihaylov via Flickr

Northern Sky: Sept 30 - Oct 13

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota. She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and contributes to WTIP bi-weekly with "Northern Sky," where she shares what's happening with stars, planets and more.