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North Shore Weekend


  • Saturday 7-10am
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.



What's On:
Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)

North Woods Naturalist: Avian Insectivores

There is a class of birds that almost completely feed on insects. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about avian insectivores.



Wildwoods Wildlife Rehab Center - May 31, 2018

North Shore Morning host, Dennis Waldrop talks with Wildwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center's Tara Smith about the animals they are seeing at the center and volunteering opportunities.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 1, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith   June 1, 2018
Commencing with this weeks’ report during a busy Memorial Day weekend, the North Woods has experienced a sudden turn to summer. Our atmosphere lost its’ spring luster to some ugly July/August stickiness. We can only hope this unpleasant natural sauna is temporary.                                                                                                                                                                              

If you’ve been following my column over the years, it’s plenty evident I don’t favor hot and humid. So with what’s been going on in the last days of May is not making me and the moose very happy. Our only consolation is in knowing the tropical madness throughout Gunflint Territory is not as miserable as it is for our Minnesota brethren to the south.                                                                                 

The unofficial start of the summer season found the Gunflint Byway alive with uncountable visitors during the long holiday. There were people everywhere. If this is an indication of things to come, businesses out this way could have a banner summer time.                        

For yours truly, the weekend found me caught in the midst of chores for two seasons. With help from some great friends, I was putting the dock into the lake one day, while stacking firewood the next. In regard to the woodshed filling, this wood will be remembered as having warmed me twice over, both now and a winter or two down the road.                                                           

Some scattered showers in the upper Trail had done little more than settle the dusty back country roads and barely tempered wildfire danger. At Wildersmith the rain gauge collected less than two tenths, while areas in the mid-trail and up at the end saw a little over a third of an inch. Then in the past couple days “Mother Nature” finally squelched the recent drought with a great one-inch soaker.                                                                                                                                             

One of those earlier shower episodes included some big-time thunder and lightning, so I’d be surprised if there might be a strike smoldering somewhere in the forest. Everyone needs to keep an eye to the sky for smoke signals. Let’s hope the recent moisture episode doused that danger.                                                                                                                                                                                            
Other thoughts about water find area lake temps have really spiked up the past few days. Whereas the water was in the high thirties about three weeks ago as ice went out, this past weekend found it had reached the sixty-degree mark on Gunflint.                                                                                

Another issue finds the late spring/early summer pollen time exploding. I don’t usually pay much attention to the happening, but this dusting seems beyond normal. The collective allergen is layered on everything, from the vehicle to a yellow/ green skim on lake surfaces.                                   

I was over on West Bearskin Lake last Sunday headed for the annual big pancake feed at Camp Menogyn. I couldn’t believe how the wind had blown the pollen slurry into a nasty goop up along the shoreline. It was, and is pretty yucky!                                                                                                             

Speaking of another annual back woods annoyance, the black fly hatching has catapulted the bitin’ critters into our everyday lives. At the same time, mosquitoes are gaining attention too. So the war is on!  Bug nets and a slathering of repellent dupes are called to arms, and all other exposed bodily parts.                                                                                                                                                                     

Bruno reports have intensified since we last met. Members of the Gunflint ebony sloth are getting closer and closer to human interactions, but I’ve heard of no major calamities yet.                       

I did hear of a crazy happening that took place for a fisherman in the mid-trail area. Although details are somewhat sketchy, it seems his tackle box was set on the dock while he tended to some other business. Returning later, the tackle box was found upside down on the dock in a pool of water.                                                                                                                                                                    

Blame is pointed at a bear as the best possible culprit, after having been observed in the neighborhood earlier. Conjecture has it the bear mauled around with the box trying to open it (probably thought it looked like a campers food chest), and knocked it into the lake. Then not to give up on a potential feast, managed to pull it out of the water and back onto the dock.                                                                                                

Apparently finding access too frustrating, the accused departed leaving the angler’s treasures un-opened. When opened by the rightful owner, the box was half full of water and in a tangled mess while revealing a few dings and bite marks. Knowing bears can find a way to get into almost anything, one might guess this bear is off scratching its head in wonder of what it missed.                                                                                                                                                                              

In closing, a reminder is given with regard to the Boundary Waters Canoe Expo. It’s the first big summer event on the calendar along the Trail. Activities and the latest on everything paddling will begin at 9:00 am, next Saturday, June 9, and run through Sunday afternoon. For more info, go to the Boundary Waters Expo website, or email                                                                                              

For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great as we await a next adventure in the “wild neighborhood.”



Superior National Forest Update - June 1, 2018

National Forest Update – May 31, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Brandee Wenzel, administration and support assistant, 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. For start of June, here’s what’s going on in the Forest.

With the start of the summer months, we are getting some good thunderstorms.  Just a reminder to everyone, lightning is nothing to play around with.  Most lightning strikes occur in front of the rain, so if you are out on the water and hear a storm approaching, don’t wait until the rain starts – get off the lake and seek a safe place to ride out the storm, immediately.  If you are on land, avoid sheltering under tall trees, and minimize your contact with the ground.  If you’re in your house, well, have a second cup of coffee and enjoy the show.

The rain we have been getting has helped a bit with fire danger, but it is still pretty dry.  We need a good soaker to really relieve the fire danger.  Green up has also helped a lot as wet live vegetation is pretty resistant to fire, and the rain is also helping forest green up to progress.

Rain is also letting us start to grade some roads.  Many roads are still in pretty rough shape from winter and spring – the 600 Road, in particular, has some large sinkholes in it, so drive with caution until we can make some repairs.  If you run across any particularly noteworthy road problems while you are out driving, please take note of where the problem is, take some photos if you have a phone with you, and report it to either the Tofte or Gunflint Ranger Stations.

There is still not a lot of timber hauling going on out on the roads.  You can expect truck traffic on the Trapper’s Lake Road in Tofte, and on the Greenwood and Firebox Roads in Gunflint. 

You can start to expect more visitor traffic though.  Be patient and respectful of visitors that might be a bit lost, or are driving a bigger rig than they are used to.  If you are one of those who might become a bit lost, be aware that automobile GPS units often have problems with our roads.  Some snowmobile trails appear as roads on a GPS, and some roads don’t appear at all.  Your best bet is to purchase a visitor map from one of the districts which will have all the roads on it.  Navigate from the map, and don’t trust that calm voice coming from your GPS which tells you to turn down a trail into a lake.

You will also have to be patient on our main street of Highway 61.  Culverts are going to be replaced in several places along the highway causing one lane traffic with flaggers or temporary stop lights.  Just plan for delays, don’t try to make up your lost time by speeding after you pass the construction. 

This weekend is graduation for seniors in both Grand Marais and Silver Bay.  Congratulations to all of them!  Unfortunately, there are often auto accidents associated with graduation, so please celebrate with care.  Don’t let you or your friends become a statistic this weekend by drinking and driving or letting someone else get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.  We look forward to all of you heading off into life this fall, whether college, job or tech school. 

Enjoy your weekend, and until next week, this has been Brandee Wenzel with the National Forest Update.



The Muffin Man

CJ Heithoff talks with Drury Lane Book's, The Muffin Man.
Kevin Kager has worked with children at daycares in Cook County for over 20 years.
His Muffin Man story hour is a favorite Saturday morning event at Drury Lane Books.


Spring stream

North Woods Naturalist: Spring buffet

Spring is in full force. The sights, smells, and feel of the season. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about the spring buffet.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 25

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     May 25, 2018    

May is heading into the final lap, and the green-up continues. It’s almost all things spring and nearly summer as early wild blooms are bursting with splendor. All sign of winter is gone. Official summer is less than a month away, as the Ojibwe, “budding flowers” moon bids the fifth segment of ’18 farewell.  
The wild sunny gold of Marsh Marigolds and Dandelions in concert with domestic Daffodils is blazing our Trail with yellow fever. Add in a twinkling of purplish Squill along with a few Violets and we’re having a bloomin’ good prelude to the warm season color show. And we know “Mother Nature” has more blossoming adventures in the weeks to come.  
Leaf out continues its momentum as Quaking Aspen tokens are exploding by the moment. It is hard to fathom how these trembling leaflets expand in the few hours from morning until evening. I’ve been making daily trips to the Chik-Wauk Campus and the growth of this green Aspen maze is simply magical. Meanwhile, birch and maple buds have yet to catch their Poplar cousins, but their day is coming. 
Complementing the green wave is a surge of hummingbirds and robins into the territory.  Furthering the spring explosion, in any area of standing water, peepers are singing a happy tune. Yep, springtime has the spotlight!    
Mentioning Chik-Wauk, a few lines ago finds preparations for this weekends’ season-opening are buzzing just like things out of doors. The ninth season of telling the Gunflint Trail story through the Museum and Nature Center begins at 10:00 am Saturday. The facility is open each day until 5:00 pm.   
The temporary museum exhibit of the Ham Lake fire has been expanded to include “The Gunflint Green-up” in honor of the tenth anniversary of this massive tree planting event prompted by the 75,000-acre fire. You won’t want to miss it.            
If that isn’t enough, visitors will get the first peek at the timber frame structure designed to eventually house the historic watercraft exhibit. The terrific timber framing team completed the raising just days ago. This work of historical construction in itself …is architectural magnificence. It was hand hewn and pegged together by 19 residents and friends of the Gunflint Trail Community.  Under the guidance of Peter Henrikson through the North House Folks School, visitors have to see this as well. See a picture with my WTIP column at 
A couple manicuring efforts are underway along the Scenic Byway. Firstly, residents and travelers along the Trail and on back country roads have probably observed blue paint markings on trees and slash. If you haven’t already chased down the reason, its’ all part of Arrowhead Electric Coop’s right of away clearing processes. If you observed a blue “X” the tree inside the easement is being recommended as a removal candidate. A blue “dot” means the tree, needs work, and it is scheduled for pruning. Blue on brush means complete removal of the slash and very small trees.    
Residents should not panic at this as the contractor will visit with each property owner personally or through communication avenues to seek permission to work on the row across their respective property.  AEC does not contemplate any spray applications this year. If you have any further questions, contact AEC @ 218-663-7239.      
The second is a spruce up of the Trailside ditches. The GT Scenic Byway Committee has been working with lake homeowner groups to do a Trail clean-up. The task was completed during the past few days by many area residents. In cooperation with the Cook County Highway Department, collected trash was picked up from various roadside locations a day or so ago. So if you observed an assortment of black bags and larger items of trash along the roadside that was what it was all about. Big thanks to all in the great Gunflint Community who pitched in to clean-up, after those who pitch out!   
On a closing note, I received word about a wolf/beaver confrontation awhile back. The predator/prey drama played out while the area lakes were still under ice. From the sound of things, it was quite a fracas over on Leo Lake before the cantankerous beaver finally succumbed to the hungry Canid. I’m betting the beaver made this more of a battle than Mr. Wolf envisioned before the attack.    
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as all things emerald, engulf our Northern Riviera.                                                                                                                                              


June Sky

Northern Sky: May 26 - June 8

Northern Sky  –  May 26 – June 8, 2018
May closes out--almost--with another full moon, the full flower moon. The moment of fullness arrives at 9:19 a.m. on Tuesday, the 29th. But by then the moon will already have set, so if you want to see it, go outside at sunrise. It'll be over in the west, looking pretty against a pale sky.
If you're up even earlier that day, say, 90 minutes before sunrise, you'll have a great view of stars and planets. Like Jupiter getting ready to set in the west. Or the moon right above the crown of Scorpius, a more or less vertical curved line of three stars very low in the southwest. Just southeast of the moon you'll see the scorpion’s red heart, Antares, the rival of Mars. East of the moon are two bright objects. One is Saturn. It's just above the Teapot of Sagittarius, a lovely star pattern that actually looks like a teapot. These mornings it tips its spout as if to pour tea on the stinger of the scorpion. Earth is catching up to Saturn in the orbital race, and on June 27, we lap the ringed planet, and it'll be at its brightest.
The other bright object is farther east, and that's Mars. Mars is already starting to dazzle us with its growing brilliance. That's because, as I've been saying, it, too, is going to get lapped by Earth soon. At the end of July, in fact--just a month after Saturn. Above Mars, the Summer Triangle of bright stars twinkles away. And, wouldn't you know it, gaining altitude in the east is the Great Square of Pegasus, an autumn constellation.
After full moon, the moon continues its way eastward. On June 1, it'll be between Saturn and the Teaspoon, a curved line of stars hanging down over the handle of the Teapot. On the 2nd it'll be between Saturn and Mars, and on the morning of the 3rd it hovers over Mars; these two objects will look like a big pearl above a small ruby. After passing Mars, the moon glides through a relatively dim starfield on its way to becoming new.
In the evening sky, we have Jupiter again. It's up in the southeast by nightfall, very bright but no match for Venus. The planets I mentioned earlier follow Jupiter into the sky, but not all of them make it during the evening—that is, pre-midnight—hours. As for Venus, it continues to blaze away in the west. During the first week of June the Gemini twins Pollux and Castor drop toward the planet. The brighter twin, Pollux, is the one closer to Venus. During the last several days of May and into June, the twins and Venus form a triangle that starts out long and thin but then shortens and flattens as these three objects shift positions. By Friday, June 8, they'll have formed one of the flattest triangles in history. The twins are among the last of the winter stars to head into the sunset, but they'll all reappear in the morning sky by late summer.
Turning a little to the north from Venus, you may see Capella, a gorgeous multicolored winter star. It's the brightest in Auriga, the charioteer, but with so many bright stars up in the winter, it may get kind of lost in the shuffle.
Also after nightfall, we have Spica, in Virgo, the next bright object west of Jupiter. If skies are dark, you might want to grab a star chart and try to trace the form of Virgo. Spica is the constellation's only bright star, so it can be a challenge to find Virgo the first time.


Maple Hill Church by Bryan Hansel

Magnetic North - May 23, 2018

Magnetic North 5/14/18
Cemetery Competition 
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where winter’s grip is but a memory, albeit one leaving a few bruises. Just when green grass and the melody of spring peeper frogs at dusk enters our world, so too does the annual search for the stuff we put away last fall - or did we throw it away or donate it? You know, the rakes, gardening tools, bug hats and so forth. 

Living for years with a fastidious man of Norwegian descent only made my seasonal treasure hunt more torturous… Mr. Take-and-Put was my nickname for Paul. He relished packing up gear to a fare thee well, with yards of duct tape encircling boxed items in the style of Egyptian mummies. The parcel would then be labeled with black magic marker in big uppercase letters. “GARDEN TOOLS: TROWEL, HAND RAKE, DANDELION ROOT GRABBER...” and so on. But then came the fatal flaw in his otherwise brilliant moves.

He stowed the boxes and promptly forgot where they were. The barn, the garage rafters, the back forty cabin, any one of five sheds? One year we replaced 75 feet of garden hose before finding the neatly coiled, taped and labeled sections in the old outhouse next to the chicken coop. Why there?  Why not there, he asked, adding that his Norwegian grandmother always said that “When you come to where a thing is, you find it.” Clearly, something had been lost in the translation.

And, even though it has been five years, this past week since Paul’s passing, I still have not “come to where” certain things he stowed away are on the farm. .So when I visited his grave last week, I hoped for some insight or clues as to where certain missing items might be tucked away. Paul’s and my parents' graves at Maple Hill Cemetery are in a lovely spot tucked under the sloping branches of a thirty-foot red pine and overlooking the picture postcard old white clapboard church.

Every big day, like birthdays, holidays and such, I visit and leave a box of DOTS candies, his favorites on the marker stone. The stone is nothing fancy. Flush with the ground, as is required for grass cutting, with Paul’s name and dates of birth and death and the inscription, “A life well loved”. It’s a place of peace and memories for me. And sometimes answers. Both large and small.

This year, as in years past, I wondered aloud about the location of such farm items as the fence tightening tool. But before I even got out of my car on the steep little hill running by the gravesite, I was struck by two things that irked me. First, the shepherds crook plant hanger was gone and second, Paul’s plot looked positively naked in comparison to the plots to the left and right of his. Both of these had been planted with daffodil bulbs, now in full bloom. All Paul’s and my parents’ monuments had for adornments were dead pinecones and a box of candy. And just like that, my sweet nostalgia morphed into the green-eyed monster of envy, accompanied by her faithful sidekick, resentment.

Bad enough that someone swiped the plant hanger, I stewed. But what really got my nanny were those oh-so-perky and delightful daffodils. It was all I could do to refocus on the reason I’d come to the place, even as I slurped down Paul’s favorite, strawberry malted began reciting Shakespeare’s sonnet, one hundred sixteen - now an annual ritual for birthday visits. You know, the one that begins, 
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove”

But not even the bard could restrain my thoughts from fastening on the stolen plant hanger. “What kind of person would rob a plant hangar from a grave?” I fumed mid-stanza. “The kind who had never heard of karma, obviously!” 

But back to Shakespeare…
“O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”
“Oh Yeah,” my resentful little mind butted in. “TAKEN is the word, alright. Maybe I should install one of those remote cameras.  On the red pine and catch the miscreant in the act.”
And then, back to the sonnet,
“Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.”

And with that, I blew my nose, finished the strawberry malt and said my farewells. Three days later, though, I was back, with a lavish basket of shade tolerant indigo blue flowers that I know will bloom their little hearts out all summer long.
I chuckled as I place the basket on the headstone-the shepherd’s crook hanger is on order. “I’ll see your daffodils,” and raise you one cascading extra-large lobelia basket.”

Then, I watered the ridiculously lavish basket, just the kind Paul would have splurged on, and finished Shakespeare’s lines about what love is and is not. 

If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

Driving out of the little cemetery this time, I was smiling with pleasure, even as I wondered aloud where my Mr. Take-and-Put stowed that fence tightener.  Ah, well, when I come to where the thing is, I’ll find it. Right?
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North.


White crown

North Woods Naturalist: White-crowned sparrows

They are harbingers of spring, but they don’t stay around long.. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about white-crowned sparrows.