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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!


What's On:
Felt Hat (Martin Sharman/Flickr)

Moments in Time: The Ghost of Bucko Bushman

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The past is never that far away. Everything that has happened in this tiny corner of the world is present today. In this edition of Moments in Time, Rick Anderson shares a story that cuts to the heart of how the people who came before us live on in memory and in spirit.

Red Fox (Anthony Adams/Flickr)

Wildersmith September 21

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It’s official, the calendar says that our fall excursion is on schedule along the Gunflint Byway. For a day now, east is truly east and west is west with our daytime luminary, Sol.
Although autumn has been elbowing its way up the Trail for a few weeks, it seemed that we'd never run out of summer. I've had so much warm and sticky that I'm happy to finally see that equinox come to fruition. We should be able to really get on with this wonderful season! It's leaf peeper time!
Fire- and dragonflies are gone, a few hummingbirds are in their last sweet stop approach and murders of crows are caw-cussing throughout the territory as they begin to head wherever they head for the winter.
I've noticed a couple of the four-legged furry beings have been tending to the tick of the natural clock too. Several white tails have already started the exchange of their sleek copper-tone warm weather slickers for that cedar-bark gray of colder days ahead.
And a fox or two have shown themselves along the byway sporting thickening coats and those lush plumes trailing from their posteriors. With a few almost cold nights of late, I can just imagine them all curled up inside a den somewhere with that cuddly wraparound stole insulating their lanky bodies.
Another autumnal apparel quirk is showing up throughout the forest. The blaze orange of the shoot-'em-up crew is now drawing their bead on some unsuspecting wild thing. With bear, grouse and moose hunting season at hand, let's hope that the only statistics are counted in bag limits. Everyone is encouraged to be safe by being properly attired, including the unarmed folks that also trudge nature’s paths.
I sound like a broken record as I reaffirm that the rain gods continue with their border country work stoppage. A mere seven one-hundredths is all that has been measured over the past seven days at Wildersmith.
It is amazing that we had many timely rains during the summer extending through the first week of August. Since then, the faucet has been shut down to barely a few drips for the better part of the past six weeks.
Hope springs eternal that this gets turned around sooner rather than later. Streams and rivers are bone dry in most up-the-Trail locales. Meanwhile, lake levels that depend upon huge watershed infusions are declining at an alarming rate. The DNR Gunflint Lake level gauge at the Wildersmith dock is about one week from dropping off the scale, much the same as it did last year.
Temperatures have been unconditionally good during the same time period. We even had some near frost around here on a couple occasions. That "near frost" definition means close to crystal rooftops, but no cigar. There have been some serious reports of frost in other places and even an unconfirmed report of snowflakes in the Pine Mountain Road area.
"Getting ready for winter" chores are in full swing around the territory. Yours truly has been busy putting the finishing touches on the summer list of things to do.
A number of lakeside docks are on shore and the few remaining in our sky blue waters have seen their usual watercraft headed for winter storage. Inventorying the woodshed is the name of the game for all of us year-round folks, along with cutting and splitting whatever can be found for the '13/'14 season.
Another task for many of us is putting deer protection around succulent shrubs and adolescent trees. I've even given thought to mounting my snow blade, checking out snow blower operations and trying to decide when would be the best time to put on my winter wheels. The beat goes on and on.
One pre-winter job that should be put on hold for as long as possible is winterizing those wild fire sprinkler systems. Our extreme fire danger makes closing these down right now pretty risky! There'll be some time for this in October.
Keep on hangin' on, and savor this awesome place!

Airdate: September 21, 2012

Robert DesJarlait

Anishinaabe Way: Robert DesJarlait

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Red Lake Anishinaabe Robert DesJarlait is a writer, journalist, artist, a co-founder of the group "Protect our Manoomin" and a member of the University of Minnesota Council of Elders.  He recently told the story of the spiritual connection between the Anishinaabeg and the wolf (ma'aingan). It is a cautionary tale of man and animal's intertwined fate. Robert signs his works of art with the symbol of a wolf's paw to honor this historic and ancient connection.


BWCA (Robert Engberg/Flickr)

Gunflint Notebook: Taking It Slow

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As summer comes to a close, Steve heads out on a canoe trip with his kids in the BWCAW. In this edition of Gunflint Notebook, Steve catches up on the small things that we often overlook in the grind of everyday life.

Commissioner Hakes

Commissioner Hakes reports on community center progress

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City and county progress on the community center. WTIP’s Jay Andersen spoke with Commissioner Sue Hakes about recent developments.


Moose with tree.  Photo by Charles Petricek

West End News: September 13

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Cindy and I were watching the Twins game last week, when she suddenly said, "Wait, pause, go back!  I think I see our friend Walter in the crowd behind the batter."  I quickly rewound a few seconds and she said, "No, I'm sorry, it's not Walter."  At which point I said, "That isn't Walter, but look on the other side of the batter and you'll see Kyle Nelson and Diane Blanchett."  Sure enough, there were the two West End residents, big as life, at the Twins game.  They looked like they were having a good time.  All I want to know is how did they get those great seats and can they get them for us!
John Groth, from the Lutsen Fire Department and the Lutsen post office, called the other day to remind me of the 17th Annual Lutsen Fire Department Pacake Breakfast Fundraiser.  This year, it is being held on Sunday, September 16th, from 8 to 11 am, at the Lutsen Fire Hall.  The Fire Hall is located on the corner of the Caribou Trail and Highway 61 in Lutsen.  This isn't just your ordinary pancake breakfast.  The pancake recipe is a famous secret, if that's not an oxymoron.  The syrup is donated by local maple syrup producers, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it is the best in the world.  The syrup alone is worth the price of admission.  Also, the new fire truck will be on display and you can also observe the progress in the construction on the new fire hall, although only from a safe distance.  Again, that's Sunday, September 16th from 8 to 11 am.  Call John at 663-7702 if you have questions.
As always, there is a lot going on at Birch Grove.  The new playground equipment is being installed by volunteers.  More volunteers are needed.  There is a work session scheduled for Friday, September 14th at  3 pm and Saturday, September 15th at 9 am.
The Birch Grove Community lunch is back with the return of the school year.  It is held on the second Tuesday of every month.  It starts at 11:30 and there is a small charge.  Everyone is welcome and the food is delicious.
The new wood fired bread oven at Birch Grove should be done by the time you hear this.  It was built in cooperation with North House Folk School and should provide us all with yummy bread and pizza for many years to come.  Thanks to the students, volunteers and North House for making this happen.
Tim and Charles Petricek from Racine, Wisconsin are frequent campers in the area.  They are amateur photographers and have a real knack for finding interesting wildlife.  Over the years they have photographed just about every big animal that we have in the woods.  Last weekend, they were fishing on a local lake when they saw a cow moose swimming across the lake.  They were too far away to get a picture of that moose, but within minutes a giant bull moose entered the water in pursuit of the cow.  The bull, which has one of the biggest racks I’ve ever seen, swam right past Tim and Charles and they were able to get good pictures.  The really interesting part was that the bull had a small tree stuck in it’s antlers.  Some people have all the luck.

Sue performs with the Portage Band at Radiowaves 2011 (Matthew Brown)

Local Music Project: Sue Maijala

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Sue Maijala has lived in Cook County for over 20 years. She grew up in rural northwestern Minnesota near the Red River Valley in a farming town of 300 people called Middle River. She started playing clarinet in school band, but soon fulfilled the band's need for a drummer. It wasn't long before her high school band director had other uses for her skills, and from there, Sue expanded her musical experience into a variety of polka bands across Minnesota. Learn more in this edition of The Local Music Project.

Mountain Ash (Amanda Graham/Flickr)

Wildersmith September 14

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If silence is golden, then it’s going to be pretty quiet in these parts. Gold is the catchword as the forest is exploding through the Gunflint hillsides. By the time this scoop reaches you readers and listeners, our landscape will be one to behold.
With only a few spindly showers over the area since we last met over the airwaves, border country remains sadly dry. The mood is kind of eerie as residents are edgy with regard to the possibility of somebody being careless with fire, or an act of nature happening in the form of a lightning strike.
Luckily, thus far this section of the Superior National Forest has been spared while several patches to our west and north have been experiencing a number of small blazes. We on the Gunflint are thankful that people in proximity to these burns have not been adversely affected. Further, all can be grateful that the Forest Service has got right after these incidents, and at this writing, all are either out or contained.
One element of fall is the smell of burning leaves; however, if you live in the forest this is not a pleasant thought. A smell of autumn that is welcomed, though, is the aroma coming from fallen leaves when they’ve been spritzed with a bit of rain.
I got my first whiff of fall just a few days ago following one of our feeble showers. That marvelous indescribable scent would be worth a fortune if it could only be captured and put in a bottle. Ahhh, the essence of our changing times!
The last rose of summer has long since passed, but the last blooms of this fading season are hanging on in dazzling color. Large leaf asters are about the last vestige of bright color against the muted backdrop of other dying wilderness flora. They’re out in abundance this year, and as opposed to their usual white to pale blue color are the most vivid tint of lilac I’ve observed during my short time in the wilderness.
Speaking of roses, our extended dry spell seems to have spelled doom for this year’s rose hip crop. They are rapidly wilting on the stem and many will not be maturing as firm fruit when the first freeze usually sets them in readiness for harvesting.
Some friends who reside over on Loon Lake report that they had a bumper crop of mountain ash berries this year. Their three trees were loaded with the cheery, cherry red fruit until a flock of cedar waxwings invaded one day last week. There were an uncountable number of the hungry birds and in one days setting, they devoured the entire crop. I have since found that this is not an unusual happening.
We all know that loon pairs are forever. They love, honor and serve each other just as human unions can do. A local fellow tells of sitting on a dock recently when a loon popped up out of the water within a few feet from where he was perched.
To his surprise the handsome bird had been fishing and brought its catch out of the water. After a bit of shaking the finny and dunking it back underwater a couple times, the amiable bird swam off a short distance to where its mate had surfaced and “served” it the catch of the day.
How’s that for an affectionate gesture in our often-tough natural world? This avian love affair kind of goes hand in hand with the amorous snapping turtle story of last week.
Some 60 members of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society took part in a historic cabin tour last Saturday.  The event, which was open to members only, found the touring participants getting to step back in time as they journeyed to seven cabin/homes in the historic district on the shores of Hungry Jack Lake.
The GTHS is grateful to the property owners for opening up their celebrated dwellings while sharing hospitality and storied information about their wilderness havens. Raves were heard from the visitors, leaving many thirsting for more such opportunities. Hopefully, this might become an annual fund raising event for the historical society. Kudos to all the organizers and the gracious homeowners!
Keep on hangin’ on and savor gold in “them thar hills!”

Airdate: September 14, 2012

Crescent Moon & Venus (Jan Kalab/Flickr)

Northern Sky: September Brings A Striking Morning Sky

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Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column. In this edition of Northern Sky, Deane explains some of the great things to see in the morning sky this September: new & crescent moons, the autumnal equinox, and much more.

Read this month's Starwatch column.

Check out Deane's story on the U of M's role in exploring the Van Allen Belt.

Noah Horak - on the road

West End News: September 6

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Noah Horak is a native son of Tofte. His parents are Jan and Kathy Horak, who own Cobblestone Cabins. Noah, who is 28, quit his job as an electrical engineer several months ago and is riding his motorcycle around the world for at least the next two years.  He spent the first few months exploring Canada, Alaska, and the western United States.  He was home in Tofte for the month of July, then headed for Europe.
After being in Europe for just a short time, his motorcycle was stolen, in broad daylight, in Dublin, Ireland.  What could have been a disastrous ending to his adventure turned into a real blessing when he was adopted by the motorcycle community in Dublin.  He was not only given outstanding hospitality, but they arranged for a replacement cycle and gave him shop space to put it into condition to continue his trip.  They also pulled out all the stops to find his stolen cycle, and eventually the bike was located and recovered.
Noah is now back on the road, currently in Scotland where he reports great scenery, friendly people and good trout fishing.  He is writing a blog and posting many spectacular pictures documenting his adventure.  You can find it by googling "rtw with noah," as in “round the world with Noah."  It’s clear from his blog posts that Noah’s outgoing and friendly personality is serving him well in his travels. The only really bad part of this story is how jealous I feel every time I read his blog…
Speaking of big adventures, Dave and Amy Freeman, from Lutsen have just passed a major milestone on their epic journey around North America.  Dave and Amy technically live in Lutsen, but in reality, they live on the trail, while they complete a 12,000 mile trip by kayak, canoe and dogsled through the U.S. and Canada.  They started out from Seattle in 2010, traveled by kayak to Alaska, hiked over the mountains, paddled a canoe up the Yukon River – yes, you heard that correctly, they paddled upstream on the Yukon - then dog sledded across the Northwest Territories and canoed from Great Slave Lake to Grand Portage.  That would be enough for most people, but Dave and Amy headed east down the Great Lakes in kayaks this spring and just this week they entered the Atlantic Ocean between Maine and New Brunswick.  They have turned south and will wind up in Key West, Florida eight months from now.
This is not vacation for them.  They do it as part of a web based curriculum that they offer to schools all across the country.  They now have hundreds of thousands of students that follow their travels in real time.  The students become quite involved in the trip and learn a variety of valuable lessons along the way.  Right now, the trip is scheduled to end in Key West, but the last time I talked to them, they were toying with the idea of continuing around the Gulf of Mexico and on down to Central and South America, with the possibility of ending up back in Seattle a few years from now.  You can follow Dave and Amy’s adventure online at  Again, the sin of jealousy arises every time I read their blog, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying their adventures vicariously.
For those of us holding down the fort here in the West End, there is a wonderful opportunity to pursue higher education without having to travel outside the county.  Cook County Higher Education, based in Grand Marais, has been quietly helping people achieve their dreams by going to college right here in Cook County.  In the last fifteen years, more than 500 people have completed college degrees or certifications through this innovative program.  The wonderful staff at Cook County Higher Ed will help you form your education plan and will support and encourage you while you complete your studies.  They charge nothing for their services, as they are a non-profit supported by public funds as well as considerable foundation and private support.
I especially encourage any West End residents who would like to go, or go back to college, to check out Cook County Higher Education.  They are especially skilled at helping people who have been out of school for a long time, or people who didn’t have a good experience with school in the past. They will do whatever it takes to make sure that you are successful.  There are many other interesting things happening there, but they are too numerous to mention here.  You can find them on the web by searching Cook County Higher Education, or call them at 387-3411.
The recent holiday weekend was noteworthy for its great weather and great fishing.  The weather was essentially perfect, which usually isn’t good for fishing, but contrary to tradition, fishing was excellent.  In the more than 50 years that I’ve been in the Cook County tourism business, I’ve never seen a holiday weekend that was so ideal.  It’s so unusual, that it makes me worry that it might be the first sign of the coming apocalypse.  Mark my words, within the month it will be raining frogs around here.   Or maybe we just get lucky once and awhile.