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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:
Vicki Biggs-Anderson

Magnetic North - July 6, 2018

Magnetic North 7/1/18
Isle Royale Saga Part 2
Welcome back to Magnetic North and the follow-up to my sailing saga of forty years ago. As I said before, time spent tied up to the wall by the Coast Guard Station in Grand Marais was all too short. My husband, our daughter, Gretchen and our young medical intern and friend, Pam, were on a quest, not a looky-loo sightseeing excursion. We’d crossed Lake Superior from the Apostle Islands in a dense cloud of fog, motoring most of the way until we made land and slipped through the narrow slot into the town harbor. It was merely a pit stop - ice, grub, and shuteye - before the Big Push to Isle Royale’s Washington Harbor. And the July morning brought the clearest skies of the summer, a gift from a major high-pressure system tied in a bow with 30-plus mile per hour winds.

And that was just at 8 o’clock in the morning.

Landlubbers will look out at the big lake dancing to the music of winds like that and crow, “What a great day for a sail, eh?” 
But anyone who has ever hoisted a sail in such conditions might well differ. Sure, you wouldn’t have to touch the motor, but you also would have to seriously consider attaching your lifejacket to the rigging during the voyage. Sailboats keel to one side under much lesser wind power, and that day, we would be sailing parallel to the waves which were growing taller with every passing hour.

After a brief, too brief for this kid, conference with our sailing friends in a 33-footer, we opted to set out well before noon for the island, sticking as close together as possible. And so we did.

I am guessing that before we’d even passed Five Mile Rock, our friend, Pam, Gretchen and I had consumed the maximum dose of Dramamine, as much to settle our nerves as our stomachs.

That sideways wind was the kind we had that day going to Isle Royale; One side rail of the boat just about even with the water and stomach lurching drops from the top of wave thoughts to their bottoms... Up. Down. Up. Down. And never a letup in the wind.
Not that it was boring. Anything but.

At one point, I looked up at the cabin door to see Gretchen holding her knitting needles in one little hand -they were of course aimed at her eyeballs. Soon after that, I looked across at our sailing friends in their much bigger boat, only to see their mast disappear in the troughs of the waves separating our crafts.

I will say this. There were no biting flies that day.

Thanks to the ferocious wind, we made Isle Royale just a bit after noon, coming up alongside Rock of Ages Lighthouse, still in huge waves. I was instructed to keep my eye on the depth finder and report if we were about to see the wreck of the America closer than planned. 

“Ten feet,” I croaked as the famed lighthouse loomed off our bow. That’s ten feet from the tip of the keel, mind you.
“Eight feet....five!” I squawked, “Will you for the love of Pete put he blasted sails DOWN?!” It was less a question than a command. I tend to get bossy when death nears.

“Well, cheated death again,” my husband cried over the roar of the motor, as we tied up to the dock. 

A gaggle of teenage campers stood ogling our two sailboats, oblivious to the conditions beyond the harbor mouth…“Wow, what a great day for a sail,” one yelled enthusiastically.  My reply was -mercifully - muffled by the shouts of my husband and our young physician friend who had just seen Gretchen and the pug fall off the bow into the lake.

Both dog and child wore life jackets. It was not the first - or last - time for such drama.

It was three more years before I refused to sail on Superior ever again and another 14 before I got my heart’s desire and moved to the North Shore, at long last, happily aground at the end of a gravel road. Aside from a few humbling experiences with goats and geese and assorted critters, I have not once since ended my days here with the phrase, “Well, cheated death again,”
As for the young woman who gamely made the trip with us to the Isle, her experience seemed to have forced her to question where her life was going, at least now that it was not ending on the rocks of Superior. Within months of returning to the cities, she quit medicine and became a Buddhist monk. I kid you not.

It is ironic that having endured forced marches into the BWCA and near death experiences on the big lake, I still felt drawn to this place. And over the years I’ve come to find enough to fill my cup in just being here. Not covering kilometers in the wilderness. Not circling the lake on the highway or crossing it on water. Just being in a place where I can look out the window and see a doe licking her newborn fawn clean, or ride a kicksled at midnight down my snowy driveway under Northern Lights, or know who is related to who and where to find help when a newcomer needs a plumber, electrician or even get a skunk out from under one’s porch.

It’s not high adventure - nothing Robert W. Service would have written poems about. But for me and for Paul, it was and is more, much, much, more than enough.

For WTIP this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North.


Star Watch - Late July

Northern Sky: July 7 - 20, 2018

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota.

She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and in this feature she shares what there is to see in the night sky in our region.
Deane's column can be found on the University of Minnesota website at


Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 6, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by    Fred Smith     July 6, 2018    

Remarkably, this weeks’ upper Trail scoop finds us filing away week one of July. It’s unconscionable how time escapes us so rapidly. In case you didn’t notice, we passed the half-way point of year ’18. Seems like just yesterday, we were embracing its’ arrival.  

The big hoopla of Independence Day has faded into obscurity as we set off into another week of invigorating summer time activities along the Trail. From the looks of things, based on the amount of traffic and clogged business parking facilities, hospitality operations, and area outfitters must be busy; busy; busy.                                                                                                                          
With miserably hot and humid weather conditions gripping most all places south, it’s no wonder this area is inundated with folks trying to escape to a cool spot up north. It has been obviously cooler than civilization south of Cook County, but real cool is somewhat questionable among those of us residents who were experiencing our own bit of tropical conditions for a few days.                                                                                                                                                                              
While in the high seventies to around eighty degrees in this neighborhood, and there’s been some minor whining from yours truly. Remember, I’m the one who has great admiration for warmth not to exceed fifty-five to sixty during any portion of the warm season.                                                                 
Looking back on my fifty-seven years in Iowa and those uncountable stifling summer days, I feel for all folks who’ve been sweating out the hundred degrees stuff. So I’m thankful, the conditions we Gunflinters’ have endured are not as bad as they might be.                                                                              
Speaking more about our version of northland hotness, I can only imagine how irritating the past several days have been for those in our “wild neighborhood” who wear a fur coat year around. From tiny rodents to massive moose, I could see they too might be a little ouchy when they cannot peel off a garment or find a little cool comfort.                                                                                                         
Meanwhile, the other character of weather in this territory found us better blessed as June faded into July. Although amounts of rain can be variable throughout the near sixty-mile Gunflint corridor, all got some much-needed moisture. While dodging a bullet from some violent storms in regions west and south, the upper Trail saw creeks and rivers gushing into area lakes and ponds with a vengeance during the big rain last Sunday. For the weekend past, the Wildersmith gauge collected nearly two inches of the “wet/cooling” stuff.

Being out of doors at various times in the past days, I find the biting bug situation to be increasingly annoying. The black flies are not too engaging now unless one is disturbing the earth, whereas mosquitoes have been fully committed to relieving me of a little blood. Last Sunday they were particularly nasty prior to the rainstorm. So it’s definitely time to be looking at this part of the world through a bug net and slathering other body parts with “deet.”  

Speaking of bugs, as opposed to the incorrigibles just mentioned, The Chik-Wauk Nature Center program for this week features, Pat Thomas who will be sharing her expertise on Pollinators and other “beneficial” insects in your yard. This should be an interesting topic of discussion with so many of the ecosystems arthropods in a state of decline and at risk of expiration. The presentation begins at 2:00 pm, Sunday afternoon.                                                                                                                 
The Gunflint Trail Canoe Races are but eleven days away from this weekend. If listeners haven’t bought into the event grand prize drawing yet, tickets are on sale in the Mid-Trail area at Trail Center Restaurant, and also at Gunflint Lodge, Cross River Lodge, Seagull Outfitters, Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and Chik-Wauk Museum. The prize is another fantastic kayak from the good folks at, Winona Canoe works.                                                                                                                           

In addition to this giveaway, there’ll be a silent raffle for many Trail crafted items and a live auction of other big prizes. Of particular note is a beautiful, locally stitched Gunflint T-shirt quilt, featuring representation from all contributing Trail businesses and organizations.                                                         
Don’t forget, on top of all the fun, this event is our way of supporting the fire and rescue men and women. Pitch in with your resources and volunteerism!                                                                       

In a correction from last week, activities commence on the 18th with food service at 4:30 pm (not 4:00), and races at 6:00.                                                                                                                                            
A reminder is given to all Gunflint Trail Historical Society members of the meeting this coming Monday, the 9th. The gathering will be held at the Schaap Community Center (mid-Trail) beginning at 1:30 pm. Our time will reflect on friends and neighbors who have passed from our midst in the past year, through “Gunflint Trail, Resident Remembrances.” Treats will be served following the recognitions.                                                                                                                                                               
For WTIP, where we’re “going for 20 more” years of quality radio, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day of life in this wild land is special! 



Superior National Forest Update - July 6, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest.  It is midsummer here, though technically midsummer’s eve was June 24th.  Whoever came up with that date did not live in Minnesota – we know that midsummer is at least in July.  In any event, this is the time of year for swimming, picnicking, and camping – the perfect time to get out into the woods.

There are four different kinds of camping experiences on the Superior.  Our fee campgrounds provide a car camping experience that is a little more remote than some of the heavily used state parks.  On the Tofte and Gunflint Districts, fee campgrounds have no electrical or water hook ups, but they do have water available from a solar powered pump and dumpsters for garbage.  For people who just have to have electricity and bring a generator, remember that quiet hours are between 10 and 6, so motorized equipment should be powered down during that time.  Campsites provide a fire ring, a picnic table, and space for one vehicle.  There are outhouses, but no running water.  Additional non-towed vehicles will have to pay an additional half fee.  Our campgrounds are operated by concessionaires, so who the fee is paid to varies between campgrounds.  If you are making out a check, be sure to look at the information kiosk on who the fee is paid to.  The funds go to both the Forest Service and the concessionaire and without this public/private partnership, we would have difficulty maintaining campgrounds to our standards.  Comments and concerns about fee campgrounds should be sent to both the Forest Service and the concessionaire.  Contact information is usually located on the kiosk near the campground entrance.

Rustic campgrounds are a free alternative to fee campgrounds.  They also have picnic tables and fire rings at campsites, but have no water available and no garbage service.  Almost all of the rustic campgrounds were developed near boat launches, so they are excellent for people planning to spend a few days fishing.  With any campground, the Forest Service limits stays to 14 days or fewer, so no setting up a second summer home at the campground, and you have to occupy your site on the first day and not leave it unattended for more than 24 hours, so no “claiming” sites ahead of time, or ‘saving’ a campsite while you are gone.

We also have backcountry campsites.  These are individual campsites, usually accessed by water, which are similar to the sites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  They have fire rings and space for a tent, and in some cases a table.  There are no outhouses, but each site has an open air wilderness latrine.  These are great sites for people who want a wilderness like experience without the permitting required for the Boundary Waters, or that would like to use an outboard instead of a canoe.  Just like the BW though, there is a nine person limit at each campsite.  This is actually true of all our campsites and campgrounds, except at designated group sites.

Lastly, the general forest is open to dispersed camping.  You are allowed to set up camp anywhere on the Forest where it isn’t prohibited.  One prohibition is that you are not allowed to camp within 150 yards of a developed area.  That includes campgrounds, but also roads, trails, and boat accesses.  In other words, you can’t declare a boat access as your campsite.  The same rules which apply to campground camping apply to dispersed camping as well:  there is a nine person limit, 14 days or fewer at a site, and you can’t abandon your gear for more than 24 hours.

Our roads are in mostly decent shape, but recent rain storms have caused some rutting.  If you are driving after a storm, watch out for fallen trees and washouts.  Both are not uncommon in the forest.  Watch for trucks hauling on the Dumbell River Road, Trappers Lake Road, Carlton Pit Road, Greenwood and Old Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Firebox Road, Ward Lake Road, Cook County 39, Cook County 60, and the Springdale Road.

Enjoy midsummer, and we hope you get a chance to go out and camp!  Until next time, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.


Lin Salisbury

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury - Paula McLain

In this edition of Superior Reviews, Lin Salisbury reviews Paula McLain's book, "Love and Ruin".



MN Dept of Health - Syphilis & HIV

There has been a resurgence in the number of cases of syphilis nation-wide.
WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with Krissie Guerard from the Minnesota Department of Health about the importance of getting tested.

More information is available at



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 29, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       June 29, 2018 
June in wild country is fading into history as the full “Strawberry Moon” beams down on the north woods. Here come July and another American birthday celebration, number two hundred forty-two to be exact.                                                                                                                                     

As June gives way to month seven, July is “busting out all over.” It’s just a “bloomin’ paradise along the Byway. If it isn’t yellow, it’s white; if it isn’t white, it’s pink; if it isn’t pink, it’s orange; if it isn’t orange, it’s purple; it’s a Technicolor eruption. What’s more, this is just the beginning.  Summer is barely a week old.                                                                                                                  

A weekend shower ushered us into this last week of month six, with more good fortune for a wildland that can dry out unbelievably fast. The rain although spotty came with a good bit of pre-Independence day fireworks in this neighborhood. While the Mid-Trail area saw sprinkles to a trace, thunder boomers at the end of the Trail dropped over an inch in some locations. In between, the Gunflint/Loon Lake locale caught nearly a half inch.                                                                      
Connecting with the “wild neighborhood,” we’ve often heard the literary expression of “wolves at the door.” In fact a recent program at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center was even entitled the same.                                                                                                                                                                      
A recent encounter in the mid-Trail neighborhood has a similar resonance. In this case, however, I would call it, how about “moose at the window.”  Two of the iconic critters made a surprise visit to a residence and actually enabled a photo shoot through the glass. Don’t know if this was a just by chance passing through or a couple of peeping “toms.” Whatever the ungulate rationale for being there, a digital is shared for all to see on the WTIP website posting of Wildersmith under the Community Voices column.                                                                                      

After weeks of “hummer” activity at area nectar stations, take-offs and departures have come to a near standstill. It’s obviously nesting time and since the mommas are saddled with all phases of nesting/nurturing duties, they don’t get too far away from those thimble sized incubators. Question is what are all the papas doing during this time, don’t they need fueling refills?                                                                                                                                                                 

A wonder of nature in the backcountry is, why do potholes in the road continue to appear in the same location? Having lived nearly three-fourths of my life in suburbia, I have yet to fully adjust to driving on washboard roads with sometimes cavernous “chuck holes.”                                         

No matter how hard our County Road crews work to maintain them, the seemingly natural speed bumps continue to reappear without fail. Sometimes those jaw-jarring spots happen at the top of a hill, while other times at the bottom and sometimes in between on most every secondary path through the forest.                                                                                                                                                                                        
I suppose it could have to do with the type of vehicles, speed, and usage volume. Then again, weather conditions certainly play a role, especially with regard to precipitation. Knowing the intensity of falling, running and accumulating water can show no mercy, these no doubt takes a toll too.                                                                                                                                                                                          
All told, the rough ride scene is probably a combination of many factors. Regardless, the subject remains an un-curable fact of life in unorganized territory. In the final analysis, the annoying cavities, are what they are, be patient, be attentive, slow down and be good at playing “dodge hole,” as the maintainer will get here and there soon...                                                                                                                                      
With July in our sights, it’s that time when the Gunflint Community starts gearing up for the Canoe Races. Planning is full speed ahead as the big day is little more than two weeks away. Calendars should be marked for Wednesday, the 18th with activities beginning at 4:00 pm and races at 6:00.                                                                                                                                                            
Volunteers are needed beginning next weekend (July 6/7) to help sell kayak raffle tickets during the days leading up to the event, please (call Sally Valentini @ 388-0900 to sign-up), and servers will be needed in the food tent on Race night(call Cindy Ceo @ 388-0305 to assist with this phase).                                                                                                                                                                              
This is the forty-first annual fundraiser in support of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer FD & Rescue crews. Plan to be there for food and fun as WTIP broadcasts the happenings, in concert with the stations’ kick-off of the summer membership drive.                                                                                     

This coming Sunday, July 1st, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is holding an open house on the Chik-Wauk Campus to officially un-vale its Water Craft Exhibit Building. The celebration of timber framing by 19 GTHS volunteers will run from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. Visitors are invited up to inspect, hear stories of the crafting/raising adventure, and learn of what’s to come. Cake and lite beverages will be served.                                                                                                      

Closing for this week, the annual Northshore Health Care Foundation barbeque fundraiser was held last Sunday at Gunflint Lodge. Over seventy generous folks trekked out the Byway on a splendid day, to enjoy swell dining overlooking the ambiance of sparkling Gunflint waters. Thanks to Foundation organizers and the Lodge staff for a delightful event.                                                                                                                                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every moment is great, under both bright days and dark sky nights!                                                                                                      



Superior National Forest Update - June 29, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Bradley Mills, seasonal naturalist, with this week’s edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts of the Superior National Forest.  This is the start of one of our busiest weeks in the Forest, the Fourth of July.  In addition to fireworks, there are a lot of people who celebrate the Fourth with a family camping trip, a picnic, or a fishing trip…or all three!  However you celebrate, the Forest and the Fourth just sort of go together.

As you travel, you’ll find that our roads are in pretty good shape.  There are a few places where gravel from recent grading has not packed down yet.  These areas can have less traction than expected when you go around corners or when you brake.  The roads are nice and smooth now, so on the straight areas, you might be tempted to gain more speed than is wise for braking or cornering.  It’s a good idea to test your braking once in a while, just to get an idea of what the road surface is really like, and to expect that even on straight roads, an animal could jump out at any time.  You could also be braking for logging traffic along a few roads.  On the Gunflint District, you could find haul trucks on Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Cook County 39, and Ward Lake Road.  On the Tofte side, expect trucks on the Trapper’s Lake and Dumbell Roads.

There’s been several small incidents this past week with falls and broken bones.  Forest trails are not maintained to the same sort of standards as trails in city parks, and you will find rough footing in places along almost any of our trails.  Watch your step:  a twisted ankle can wreck a vacation just as much as a more major event, and we hate seeing people having to cut short their visit to go to the doctor.  Be particularly careful along waterways.  As little as six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person off their feet.

Since it is the Fourth, a lot of people will be looking for fireworks.  Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay all have great municipal fireworks displays.  There are parades in Grand Marais and Tofte and celebrations during the day in all three communities.  But, there are no fireworks allowed anywhere on the National Forest.  This includes fireworks that are legal elsewhere in Minnesota.  Despite recent rains, we are always concerned about the potential of fires and the Fourth is no reason to start a wildfire.  Fire balloons, where a small candle is used to inflate a plastic garbage bag like hot air balloon, are of particular concern as they not only are carrying a source of ignition, they are also littering.

I’ve had a lot of fun as a forest interpreter with the first two weeks of naturalist programs this summer.  Please come join us at one of the many campfire or other programs going on at area resorts and at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground, Sawbill Campground, and Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill.  A full schedule can be found on the Superior’s website, Visit Cook County’s website, or in a brochure at many brochure racks around the area.  We’d love to see you.

Whether you are hiking, fishing, camping, or eating s’mores with us at a campfire, have a great Fourth of July and a great time out in the Forest. 

Until next time, this has been Bradley Mills with the National Forest Update.



Talking Books - June 25, 2018

"Talking Books" is a monthly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Gwen Danfelt shares what she is reading and what's new in the literary world.


Lake Superior waves. Photo by Joe Friedrichs.JPG

North Woods Naturalist: Spring turnover

When lakes turnover in the spring, it’s an important event for some microscopic single-cell plants. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson in part one of a two-part series about diatoms.