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AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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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Wild blueberries

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 24

Gunflint area atmospheric conditions remain on the sticky side as I commence with this week's scoop. Rain has been on the scant side since my last scribing and back country roads not treated chemically swirl with vehicular dust storms at every passing.

Summer is now officially a month old as we pass this fourth of five Fridays in month seven. The many Gunflint Community events of the past month have kept a lot of folks so busy, July has slipped away, barely being noticed. Although a few more special Gunflint events are on tab in a couple weeks, the area gets a brief break to just slow down and enjoy the magic of tromping out in the green forest, canoeing or fishing sky blue waters, berry harvesting, catching a critter adventure or continuing the process of “getting ready for winter.”

Mosquitoes must be reloading somewhere because they have lessened their onslaught around here, at least for the time being. This has enabled me to stop procrastinating on a few summer projects from my pre-winter check list. With five structures to maintain, keeping up with preservation is ongoing. Thus I have begun staining one side of each building in the second year of a four year sequence. You just gotta love it!

Speaking of berry harvesting, those collecting gurus have rung the picking bell. Reports confirm the crop is less abundant than in the past few years. However, the first batch I saw in a serving bowl was deep blue and scrumptious as ever. Since the blue pearl crop is apparently not a bucket buster, a real battle could be shaping up between bear and mankind to get their fill. Pickers will want to be leery of “Brunos” who may not be so willing to share a sparse patch. This time of year usually finds Ursa confined to blues picking, but our meager fruit crop could have implications for increased traffic around areas of human inhabitance. All should beware of the necessity to be good housekeepers so as to not tempt the hungry critters into becoming troublesome.

I don’t know if recent bear looting up near the end of the Trail was caused by a lack of berry opportunities, but several repetitions of breaking and entering resulted in considerable damage to properties and scares to people. Eventually this annoying animal had to be dispatched to the “great hunting ground in the wild blue.” This is unfortunate, if in fact, we two-legged beings carelessly provided this four-legged animal with favorable circumstances for criminal activity.

Hummingbird traffic to area nectar stations is back on track. After probable nesting hiatus, the mini-drones are a blur both landing and taking off from our sweetness jar at Wildersmith. It’s obvious they must possess the most intricate global positioning system in the universe to be able to avoid mid-air collisions with not only each other and on occasion, yours truly, but also countless stationary obstacles is beyond wonder.

Speaking of more Gunflint wonders, The Gunflint Community and many others from around the county stepped up big time at last week's annual canoe races event. A final tally of proceeds in support of the Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews counted a record net of slightly over $23,000. What a tremendous effort by all involved! Another congrats and thanks to everyone!

This is Fred Smith, at Wildersmith, on the Trail -- enjoy the peak of summer along the Gunflint!

(Photo by Cynthia Zullo on Flickr)

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Superior National Forest Update: July 24

Hi.  I’m Ali Bickford, Information Specialist at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Duluth, 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 Forest. For the week of July 17th, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.
The Superior National Forest is roughly the size of the state of Connecticut, and the Supervisor’s Office, or SO, is its capital city.  We at the SO provide support and forest level direction to the five ranger districts.  In addition to administrators, there are biologists, archeologists, computer specialists, and public relations people all working for the Forest in Duluth to help our field going people in places like Tofte and Grand Marais, as well as Ely, Cook, and Aurora. So Next time you’re in Duluth, feel free to stop in and say hi, we would love to see you!
This should be a good weekend for outdoor recreation, so you may want to postpone that trip to Duluth for a rainier day.  There are some logging operations going on that you might run into during your travels, so watch out for log trucks near Harriet and Wilson Lakes as things wind down on those timber sales. But a crew just started by Hogback Lake this week, so there will still be some traffic on the east end of the Wanless Road and on Lake County 7.  Another crew is on the Dumbbell River Road and log trucks will be hauling there for at least the next week.  Those trucks will be heading west on the Wanless Road, toward Hwy. 1. 
There may be the odd log truck on the Grade and Sawbill Trail, as well.   Be aware that the Fourmile Grade between Richey Lake Road (FR 346) and Lake County #7 was closed this week to replace a large culvert at Wanless Creek.  The plan is to have that open for this weekend, but there is always the possibility of a delay.
Our midsummer is marked by two of what you can call “55 mile per hour flowers”.  These are plants you can identify from your car window when cruising past at 55.  You’ll see the broad white umbrellas of small flowers that belong to a cow parsnip, significantly taller than the other plants along the roadway.  This giant plant can get up to 8 feet high in one season.  It is a native species, but is often confused with a non-native invasive species called giant hogweed.  Giant hogweed is a relative of cow parsnip, but hogweed makes cow parsnip look small.  Hogweed can easily be taller than a house, but its main problem is that touching it causes an awful rash and blisters that can last for a year.  Luckily for us, it isn’t found here yet. Like many invasives, it is brought into an area by people on their travels.  You can help keep plants like hogweed from coming into our area by cleaning your shoes and recreation equipment before you travel back to the Northwoods.  By the way, cow parsnip can also cause a rash for some people, so if you need to clear it, cut it by hand, and use gloves don’t use a weed whip as they spray the juices around.
Our other 55 mile per hour plant is a lot friendlier.  The purple magenta flowers of fireweed are seen along many roadsides from now until the end of summer.  In fact, this plant counts down the summer with flowers starting at the bottom of the spike, and progressing upward each week.  When the flowers reach the top, summer is over.  The plant is called fireweed because it grows in openings after a fire, but it is just as happy to grow in openings caused by roads. 
Also in those openings, you will find ripe blueberries.  That means that you will also find lots of cars parked along the sides of the roads where people are blueberry picking.  If you are parking, try to find a wider spot in the road so you don’t block the roadway, and pull off as far as you safely can.  You may want to have a passenger get out and help spot the edge of the roadway though, many of our roads have an abrupt drop off, and you want to avoid accidently parking in the ditch.
Many of our fire crews have been out west helping with wildfires in Washington and California.  This is possible because so far, this has been a year with low fire danger on the Forest.  Remember that even in low danger times, you need to make sure any fire you light is out when you leave it.  Don’t decide that it is ok to just let a campfire burn out just because it isn’t a high fire danger day - always put your fires out.
With that though, have a great weekend, and enjoy the Forest.  Until next week, this has been Ali Bickford with the Superior National Forest Update. 
 

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Common yellowthroat

Field Notes: Common yellowthroat

Field Notes with Molly Hoffman can be heard every Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning between 8:00 and 10:00.  Support for Field Notes comes from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

(Photo by Stan Lupo on Flickr)

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West End News: July 23

It was a week of disaster and near disaster in Tofte. 
 
Firmly in the disaster category, the Life Flight had to be summoned to Tofte and all our hearts go out to the Martinez family in their time of sorrow.
 
In the near disaster category, Rita Wehseler rolled her pickup on to its top on Highway 61 right in front of the rescue squad garage.  She had to take the ditch to avoid a vehicle pulling out of Bluefin and it was steep enough to flip her over.  Fortunately, she was wearing her seatbelt and escaped with minor injuries.  As we all know, Rita is pretty tough.  Once you've been dragged for a few miles by a dog team at 45 below zero, your perspective changes a bit.
 
Nevertheless, we're all grateful that she wasn't seriously hurt and it's a good reminder to all of us to respect the danger of the highway during this busy, busy season.
 
Finally, in the category of serious, but kind of funny now, the ice truck caught fire and burned up in Tofte last week.  The story around town is that it broke down and then caught fire spontaneously.  No one was hurt, but the ice was a total loss.
 
Dave and Amy Freeman call Lutsen home, but they actually live most of their lives in a tent, in their capacity as wilderness guides and the principals of Wilderness Classroom, the non-profit organization that connects school children with wilderness via technology.  One or both have paddled the length of the Amazon River, the Mississippi River, The River of Doubt in Brazil, paddled, hiked and dog-sledded halfway around North America, and paddled from Grand Marais to Washington D.C., just to name a few of their adventures.
 
Now, they are fulfilling a long-time goal by camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for a full year, without coming out.  From September 23, 2015, until September 22, 2016, they will travel the length and breadth of the BWCA Wilderness, but will not leave even for a single moment, unless they have an emergency.
 
They are calling it their "Year in the Wilderness" and are hoping to use the feat to call attention to the environmental threat posed by international mining interests that are hoping to mine sulfide-bearing rock within both the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior watersheds.
 
The Freemans are encouraging people to join them for short periods during the year, which is also how they plan to be re-supplied with food.  They plan to travel over 3,000 miles by canoe, foot, ski, snowshoe and dog team.  They will stay at more than 120 campsites.
 
You can find out more about their trip - and sign up to travel with them for a while - by googling "Campaign To Save the Wilderness."
 
Right now in the wilderness and in secret locations outside the wilderness, blueberries are starting to ripen.  Although far from the peak, ripe berries are being picked, especially on the south facing slopes.  It looks like it will be a mediocre berry crop this year, especially after we were all spoiled by last season's record harvest.
 
Between the half decent berry crop and a bumper crop of hazelnuts, the bears should be infrequent visitors to campsites, cabins and back yards this season.  Although there is always the possibility of bears capitalizing on easy access to human food, the availability of ample natural foods will keep most of the bruins deep in the woods, where they belong.
 

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Cow Parsnip (Photo by Marilylle Soveran on Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Lush July

The combination of moist weather and cooler temps means a lush July this year. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about perfect weather for blooming wild plants.

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Solar photovoltaic workshop offered on July 23

If you’d like to learn more about solar power options for your home or cabin, there are resources available in Cook County. WTIP volunteer Mary Manning talked with Virginia Danfelt of the Cook County Local Energy Project (CCLEP) on North Shore Morning.
 
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CCLEP will host a solar PV workshop on Thursday, July 23, 7:00 at the Community Center followed by a solar PV tour on Saturday, July 25 at 9:00 am. These events kick off a Solar Initiative Project with the production of Going Solar: A Cook County Guide.
Fore more information go to cookcountylocalenergy.org or contact Virginia Danfelt, CCLEP Coordinator, at localenergy@boreal.org.
 

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New 'Local Food Market' offers a taste of the northern summer

Everyone is invited to visit the new Local Food Market for locally produced foods, an opportunity to meet your farmer neighbors, and enjoy the bounty of summer on the North Shore. WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan spoke with Kristin Dearruda Wharton on North Shore Morning.
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The new Local Food Market will be open weekly on Thursdays through August.  Hours are 4 to 6 pm at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais, rain or shine.  More information for shoppers and vendors from Kristin at 387-2330 or from Diane at 387-3015.

Guidelines for Farm Market vendors are here.

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The Marvelous Imagination of Katie Addams: Chapter 17

Chapter 17: The Storm

(Photo courtesy of Loren Kerns on Flickr)

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Chippewa City Church {photo courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society}

120th Anniversary Celebration: Chippewa City Church, Sunday July 19

Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, known locally as Chippewa City Church, is the site of a celebration this Sunday, with history, music and more. WTIP volunteer Julie Carlson spoke with Chippewa City historian Staci Drouillard on North Shore Morning.
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Chippewa City 120 year Celebration and Fundraiser
Sun., July 19, 2015  1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Chippewa City Church, Highway 61, 1 mile east of downtown Grand Marais
1:00      Presentation and slide show with Chippewa City Historian Staci Drouillard
Bring your Chippewa City memorabilia, photos and stories to share.
2:00      Live music with SplinterTones  (2:00 – 4:00)
            Silent Auction
            Treats and Goodies
4:00     Prize Drawing
            Silent Auction ends

The Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church is located about one mile east of Grand Marais. Call the museum for information regarding visiting opportunities at 218-387-2883.
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 17

Having reached the halfway point in July, Gunflint weather has turned frightful for the moose and me. Although hot humid conditions have not been as bad in these parts as other places in the Midwest, it has nevertheless been uncomfortable for my ungulate friends and those of us who have a disdain for sweating. Meanwhile, those favoring stickiness of jungle-like tropics must be happy as clams.

A timely rain soaked the area earlier this week. And although this moisture added angst to our sticky air, it was nonetheless welcomed after minimal amounts the previous seven. After many days of smoky skies reflecting huge Canadian fires in Saskatchewan, we are thankful for the rain cleansing our air and tempering our own wildfire danger, at least for the time being.

The Gunflint forest is lush with green. It’s incredible how consuming “Mother Nature” is with regard to growing things. She certainly has the “master green thumb.” It seems in the blink of an eye, wild grass species along the Mile O Pine are six feet high. Taking this a step further, much of this grassy flora is presently going to seed as summer whizzes by. A faint glimmer of fall is in the distance.

As of last weekend, word from 3 area blueberry pickers tells of limited harvesting to date. However, by the time my scribing hits the air wave things could be turnin’ up blue in them “thar” patches.

One of these pickin’ “pros” did indicate there appears to be less fruit on upper branches than in past years. Her thought is late frost might have doomed some blossoms before the blackflies did their pollinating exercises. As I drive the Trail this season, it’s evident vast areas exposed by the Ham Lake Wildfire, creating perfect habitat for expanded berry development in recent years, have rapidly given way to sapling trees of many varieties. I’m no expert, but it would seem growing shade from the new forest generation will no doubt diminish many sun drenched areas of prolific berry production as years progress. However, like fisher folks with their hidden depths, long time berry picking masters will still have their secret spots so the blue pearls will be had by some.

There’s a conspiracy in select locations along the south shore of Gunflint Lake this summer. Fortunately not one schemed by some humans, but this arrangement is of a natural order. Several residents tell of more than usual numbers of raven families in this locale. There is also one such within ear shot of Wildersmith.

If one is not familiar with the naming of a group of ravens, Webster defines such as a “conspiracy,” thus our Gunflint Conspiracy. These glossy corvine beings (crow-like birds) can also be known as “unkindness.”

It would seem this “unkindness” tab to be more appropriate as their continual raucous conversation, particularly the youngsters, grows annoying after hours on end. Their vocal chords must be tougher than rawhide!

Another grouping in this “wild neighborhood” is frequenting our yard in growing numbers lately. However, I cannot find Webster being accountable for assigning a handle to more than one in this assemblage. I’m talking about at least a half dozen red squirrels gathering all at one time for some regular seed scrounging in a small grassy patch. With enough chatter to sometimes match the raven talk, it would be my thought the rodent groupies should be called “mayhem” because that’s what it is during their dining experience.

The thirty-ninth Gunflint Trail Canoe Races hit the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge this past Wednesday. As usual, a fine turn-out for the annual Volunteer Fire Department and EMS crew fundraiser witnessed more great community spirit and enthusiasm. Congratulations, and thanks to races Chairman Chris Steele and his nearly one hundred volunteers for putting on another splendid show.

The grand prize giveaway, that fabulous kayak from the Wenonah Canoe Company, found Clare Cardinal of Central Iowa as the lucky winner. More thanks are extended to many charitable county merchants and crafts people for donating prizes to the always exciting raffle drawings.

As one of dozens of volunteers at WTIP, and on behalf of all associated with broadcast production, a repeated thanks is extended to the over three hundred new and renewing members for their support of last week's “feelin’ groovy” celebration. It is heart-warming to have so many community radio followers step up to assure WTIP remains the vibrant resource it has become over the past eighteen years. We’ll all do our best to keep the radio waves hummin’ with tip of the Arrowhead and north shore spirit!

On a final note, seating reservations for the Gunflint Woods, Winds and Strings chamber music concert at the Schaap Community Center on August 9 continue on sale. Be reminded there are only 150 seats available, and the first two years of performances were sell-outs, so secure your spot for this classical performance ASAP by calling Susan at 388-9494.

This is Fred Smith at Wildersmith, on the Trail. Wilderness adventure awaits you on the Gunflint!

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