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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:

Wildersmith on the Gunflint October 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Superior National Forest Update October 6

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


Autumn is in the air

North Woods Naturalist: Heading into fall

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


Bill Sarah Adam

West End News October 5

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


Night Sky by Nikolay Mihaylov via Flickr

Northern Sky: Sept 30 - Oct 13

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


Bear Cub by Wayne Kelso via Flickr

Wildersmith on the Gunflint September 29

WTIP News     September 29, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

The Equinox of last week says its fall, but summer managed what yours truly hopes is one last gasp as I hit the key board last Sunday evening.  In spite of it being quite warm and sticky over the past weekend, conditions weren’t as intolerable as they have been in places not too far south. Around the upper Gunflint, maybe the moose were the only ones suffering heat issues.
Speaking of moose, one made a trek down the Mile O Pine in recent days. It was sighted by one neighbor, but my only official confirmation came in the form of hoof prints. Over the years they are seldom seen out this way. In fact only one observation was noted last year, so maybe this is it for the season. By the way, I’m told this iconic visitor was a young bull.     

Although summer took a swipe at us wildland folk, our autumn décor is un-shaken. On top of this “leaf peepers’ delight, the sweet essence of the season has captured us. This bouquet of cedar, pine, and spruce mixed with the scent of damp earth and dying leaves summons an incomparable nasal sensation, the likes of which cannot be put in a bottle. Ah, fall, how treasured thou art!       
 If the smell of the season isn’t enough satisfaction, my visual senses were up lifted at sunset on the evening of the Equinox. Hoping to get a glimpse of “old Sol” as it settled over the due west horizon, I headed toward the Wildersmith dock. Upon my arrival, I was disappointed to find a bank of clouds looming in the western sky.   Settling in anyway, I soon detected a sliver of clearing encouragement just at the boundary between granite and the heavens. My perseverance was soon rewarded as the cloud cover separated on its’ eastward trip, creating open space where the now “red, molten steel” day-star appeared in totality.                                                                                                                                               
With a solar hot iron bar reflecting down the rippling Gunflint water, I was immersed in this celestial happening. It was as if something super-natural fashioned the moment allowing me to watch the sun melt away into the final leg of its annual trip south. At this particular spot in the universe, by 6:55 pm central daylight time, our daily solar disappearing act was all over, and autumn is now leading us toward winter.                                                                                                                                                   

The “gang of five” bears continue appearing here and there along the south shore of Gunflint Lake. There’s been concerned conversation on whether the four cubs might be able to survive winter. With four tummies to fill over the summer, it doesn’t appear they grew as much as a normal twosome might. They remain relatively small and surely have been weaned from momma. While she is bulking up, it would appear the little ones might not add enough body mass before denning time, to sustain them during the winter slumber. And mom, in her long winters’ nap, surely won’t be providing.                                                                                                                 

It’s another wonder of nature. Guess we’ll have to cross our fingers and hope the little “Teddies” make it to spring.    
 As flashes of aspen gold blur the granite hillsides, the highlands are echoing the noise of more air traffic headed south, as Canadian geese continue honking their “V” formations overhead. Meanwhile, adult loons appear to have taken flight and there are no humming birds around here anymore. But the chickadees, nuthatches, “whiskey jacks” and blue jays are energized while juvenile loons gather for their first excursion to the gulf.

In the meantime, on land, there still has not been a turtle hatching at Chik-Wauk.  Another surface report came my way telling of a half dozen geese landing on the byway black-top in the upper end of the Trail. While probably unusual to land in such a hard surface locale, it seems their feeling of entitlement to take one-half from the middle of the road might parallel that to which moose often subscribe. The six-some had little regard for blocking traffic and took their sweet time before waddling out of the way. For some vehicle operators, the scene might have inspired a decision to have goose for dinner.                                                                                                                      

One additional “growing things” note comes to mind, here it is a day or so from October and the Wildersmith two are finally watching as tomatoes have commenced ripening. While I guessed some time ago, either fried green or pickling would be the standard for this season, “better late than never” patience, pays off.                                                                                                                                                         

It’s with sadness I report the passing of an upper Gunflint Trail neighbor. Word has been received on the death of Cornelia Einsweiler. She and husband Bob have been summer residents in the Seagull Lake area for decades, dating back to the days of Chik-Wauk Resort operations. Cornelia died in Austin, Texas to where she and Bob had been evacuated from their Florida home during the rage of Hurricane Irma. Gunflint Community comfort and condolences are extended to her surviving family and friends.                                                                                                                                                  
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, as daytime minutes dwindle, and talk of winter is being whispered.


(Barbara Monroe/Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Yellowjackets

Throughout the northern part of the state, and here in Cook County, we’re receiving numerous accounts of aggressive yellowjackets. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about what’s up with the wasps.


Pickle Ball

West End News September 28

West End News 9/28/2017
Let me start with a hearty thank you to Bill Hansen, aka Dad, for filling in last week while I had a rare September vacation to Denver, Colorado. While being away this time of year can be difficult for a number of reasons, I was especially worried that we would miss out on the best of the fall colors as this is shaping up to be a stellar year. The maples lead the charge a couple of weeks ago, with some brilliant reds just hinting at the show to come. Luckily, we don’t appear to have missed the lovely golds and oranges of the birch and aspen. It seems the farther inland you go from Lake Superior, the more the trees have changed, so up here at the end of the Sawbill trail it is quite lovely right now. As we begin to say goodbye to our summer visitors, the wildlife has started moving back in. A large whitetail buck has been frequenting our back yard and the wolves have been heard howling out in the Wilderness. Grouse hunting has been a little slow, but it is challenging while the leaves are still on the trees, at least that’s what the unlucky hunters tell me.
The Schroeder Area Historical Society will be hosting Marcia Anderson at the Cross River Heritage Center on Saturday, September 30 at 11am. Marcia will be discussing her book, A Bag Worth a Pony, a history of bandolier bags. These heavily beaded shoulder bags are made and worn by several North American Indian tribes around the Great Lakes. From the 1870s to the present day, Ojibwe bead artists in Minnesota have been especially well known for there lively, creative designs. Often, the Ojibwe would trade a beaded bandolier bag for a pony from neighboring Dakota people, hence the name of Marcia’s book.
The West End Pickle Ball players would like to share that they will be playing every Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 11am at Birch Grove Community Center. All levels are welcome, even those who have never heard of pickle ball before! If you are interested, call Carroll Peterson at 612-377-8748 for more information. Pickle Ball is basically a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. You play on a badminton sized court with a paddle and plastic ball with holes. It’s a great sport with simple rules and a fun way to stay active through the winter.
Birch Grove Community School was recently awarded a grant of $21,600 dollars from the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation for new math and reading curriculum. The curriculum arrived this week and the teachers and students are eager to begin exploring the new materials. Birch Grove is also gearing up for the annual Halloween Carnival, which is not to be missed! This year it will be on Sunday October 29, from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. The carnival features games, cookie decorating, bingo, prizes, food, and, my personal favorite, the cake walk. Costumes are welcome and there’s fun to be had for the whole family.
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.


Fall Colors by Bill via Flickr

West End News September 21

Clare Shirley is traveling this week, so she called in the second string to present the West End News. Clare is a tough act to follow, but I will do my best.
The U. S. Forest Service is asking for public comment on Lutsen Mountains Ski Area's proposal to expand onto 550 acres of public land adjacent to the existing ski hill.
You can see Lutsen Mountains' proposed master development plan online at Basically, the ski area owners are saying, that given the state of the ski industry nation-wide, they need to grow dramatically in order to survive. Based on the statistics and Lutsen Mountains' long and deep involvement in the ski industry, it's hard to argue with their analysis.
Lutsen Mountains is the largest private employer in Cook County now.  Many other businesses rely on their existence, so it is very important to all of us that they survive and thrive.
The Forest Service is involved because terrain that is suitable for ski area expansion is on public land administered by the Forest Service.  It is actually very common for the Forest Service to make land available for ski areas.  Many, if not most, of the big western ski areas are located on federal land, which is leased by the businesses under an agreement called a special use permit. The process of applying for a special use permit is still in the early stages, so comments should address issues that you think the Forest Service should investigate.  The issues can be about social and community impacts, not just the obvious land-use and environmental impacts.
The deadline for these preliminary public comments is September 29th. You can find the physical and cyber addresses at the Superior National Forest website.
I saw long time Lutsen resident, Steve Dobbelmann a couple of weeks ago and immediately noticed that he is even thinner than usual.  It turns out that he was diagnosed with stage three dance in the tonsil and lymph node on the right side of his neck back in May.
He spent the summer receiving intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments. As with all cancer treatments, he was burned and sickened as a side effect to stopping the disease.  The good news is that Steve has now completed his treatments and the side effects are starting to recede.  The success rate for his type of cancer, treated in this way, is 85 to 90 per cent, so Steve and his family are feeling pretty upbeat.
This is good news, because we'd like to keep Steve around Lutsen for another 40 years if we can.
The county budget and property tax levy are much on people's minds now days.  The county is proposing a pretty substantial property tax increase this year. In past years, the county board, under pressure from tax payers, has elected to spend reserves and delay capital improvements to keep the levy low, which has now caught up with them, requiring a higher levy to get the budget back in balance.
While it is very easy to have the opinion that the county should spend less, the reality is much more complicated and nuanced than that.  My philosophy is that taxes should be raised and spent, efficiently for three reasons. The first is to provide services that are best handled by public entities.  Roads, law enforcement, education, public health are a few examples.  Second, are things that pay a handsome return on investment.  The YMCA, Cook County Higher Education, Child Protection Services, and community centers are good examples.  All prevent huge spending later by building community and preventing problems now.  This is the definition of wisdom, in my opinion.  The third category includes things that are simply the right thing to do.  A community is measured and respected according to how it takes care of its members who can't take care of themselves.  I, for one, don't want to abandon people with legitimate needs to their fate, like was done in the dark ages.  We are better than that.
The good news for taxpayers is that Minnesota has a number of ways to reduce your property tax bill if you are having trouble paying it.  The Cook County website has a helpful section that will allow you to easily determine if you are eligible.  I urge everyone to investigate, because it's surprising what is available.
Finally, I urge you to be polite and encouraging to our county commissioners, even if you disagree with them.  They have a very tough job and I know that don't want to do anything that hurts people.  However, they are elected to make decisions on our behalf and we should honor and respect that responsibility.  If you feel very strongly that they aren't representing you, than by all means stand for election the next time around.  Like everything in life, it isn't as easy as it looks from the outside.
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with theWest End News.



Superior National Forest Update

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, administration assistant, with this week’s National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior. Here’s what’s happening for the week of September 21st.

This week marks the official start to fall – the autumnal equinox.  From here on in, days will be shorter than nights.  These days around the equinox are also when day length changes the fastest, so if it seems like today was a lot shorter than yesterday, you are right.  We are losing about three minutes of daylight every day right now.  By the end of the month, our days will be shorter by about half an hour than they are now.

On the plus side, that gives us some really wonderful chances to see the night sky.  People are becoming more interested in dark skies and controlling light pollution.  We are lucky to have some of the darkest skies around up here and some of the clearest air as well.  Those two factors combined allow us to see the Milky Way plainly every clear night, and enjoy the aurora when it happens.  Dark skies and clear air are two things that you can help control.  Minimize yard lighting, and use “on/off” or motion control switches instead of having lights that stay on from sunset to sundown.  Use shades on outdoor lights, and point them down instead of into the air.  If you use lighting on outdoor advertising, point the lamps down at the sign instead of up at the sign.  Clear air of course corresponds to clean air, so any action you can take to reduce pollution will help with our starry skies.  This is a good time of year to check furnaces to make sure they are operating efficiently and not polluting.  If you heat with wood, tend your fire so that it is burning well and with minimal smoke.

While astronomy tells us that it is just the start of fall, the forest tells us that it has been fall for a couple of weeks now.  Fall colors are progressing rapidly across the forest, but may not last long as there is a lot of rain and wind in the forecast.  There are a lot of drivers out right now, so watch out for vehicles and make sure you are driving and parking in a safe and respectful manner.  Grouse season has begun, so whether or not you are hunting, you need to be sporting your orange.  I’ve heard it’s the new black.  If you are hunting, be extra aware of firearm safety and what is down range as there are plenty of other people out in the woods.  Remember, it is against the law to discharge a firearm from a vehicle, across a road, or within 150 yards of a recreation site, building, campsite, or residence.  There are several sets of hunter walking trails on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts where we maintain grouse habitat.  For locations and trail maps, see our website under Hunting, or visit a district office. 

Fall logging continues as well.  On the Gunflint District, look out for trucks on Firebox Road, Blueberry Road, Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Forest Road 1385, the Gunflint Trail, South Brule Road, the Lima Grade, Trestle Pine Road, Ball Club Road, Devil Track Road, Cook County 6 and 7, and Bally Creek Road.  On the Tofte District there will be hauling on Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Pancore Road, the Sawbill Trail, Clara Lake Rd, and the Caribou Trail.

Whether you are hunting for grouse, fall colors, or the Milky Way, fall is a great season to get outside.  Enjoy the Forest, and until next week, this is Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.