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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
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:

A Year in the Wilderness: February 4 - Slush

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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West End News: February 4

Last week I mentioned a university study that is looking at what economic and social changes are coming to the North Shore due to climate change.  The two-year study is ready to report its initial findings at a meeting in Lutsen on Tuesday, March 15th.  You must RSVP to attend.  Contact Karen Katz at katzx096@umn.edu or 651-246-0974.  You can find Karen’s contact information on the WTIP website, or by calling WTIP.
 
I know that many people in Cook County are very concerned about the impact of climate change on our economy and life style, so the study results should be very interesting. 
 
By the way, there is a Cook County Chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  You can sign up to be a local member by searching for Citizen’s Climate Lobby online.
 
The next West End visit of the Bloodmobile is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1st at Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte from 2:30 through 6 pm.  Call Carla at 663-0179 to schedule your appointment to donate blood.  All blood types are needed, but they are particularly interested in type O negative.  If you haven’t donated blood before, it is easy, almost pain-free and a fun social event. 
 
The Finland area 2016 Community Conversation was held on January 9th at the Clair Nelson Community Center with a contra-dance afterward.
 
More than 50 people attended the Conversation and enjoyed a lasagna dinner with ice cream dessert and a lively discussion on topics ranging from food and farming to housing, the economy and the arts. Each table recorded their discussion on paper and shared their findings with the larger group. Afterwards, everyone present marked community priorities with sticky dots.
 
Some of the priorities identified included the Finland Community Mural, which is currently in the works, a coffee/tea cafe, a wild rice processing facility, a community barter book and better onsite camping at the Clair Nelson Center.
 
Many other topics were raised and will continue to be worked on by those that are interested.  You can find the details by searching for “Friends of Finland” online.
 
Now that the Iowa caucuses are in the record book, it’s time to start thinking about our own Minnesota precinct caucuses. Here in Cook County the Republican and Democratic, Farmer, Labor Party precinct caucuses will all be on Tuesday, March 1st, starting at 7 pm. 
 
The Republicans will hold all of their precinct caucuses at the same time at the Log 4H Building at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais. 
 
The DFL precinct caucuses will be held in four locations this year.  Schroeder, Tofte and Lutsen will be at the Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte, while the Grand Marais area precincts will meet at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais.  Hovland and Grand Portage will meet at the Hovland Town Hall and the Gunflint Trail precinct will meet at Trail Center.
 
You can go to the Minnesota Secretary of State website to discover which precinct you live in, if you aren’t sure.  You can also call the always-helpful Cook County Auditor’s office and they can tell you too.
 
Both parties will be conducting straw polls on presidential candidate preference. With lively contests for president in both parties, the caucuses should be a lot of fun.  You can throw your hat in the ring to become a delegate to the county-wide party conventions and on up the line to a state senate district conventions, congressional district conventions, state conventions and even the national conventions.  Participation can be very meaningful, especially in a big election year like this one.
 
You can also present resolutions at your caucus, requesting that your party take a certain position on an issue that is important to you.  The resolutions flow through the process right up to the state and federal level where, if they have enough grassroots support they become the official goals of the party.
 
I started participating in my precinct caucus when I was in high school.  I’ve been a delegate to the state convention many times.  It has given me the honor of meeting many of Minnesota’s most famous and well-loved political figures.  It was my participation that caused Senator Paul Wellstone to ask me to run for the legislature in 2002.  Although I never made it to the legislature, having the Senator’s trust and support is still one of the highlights of my life.
 
It’s truly a case of doing as much, or as little, as you like so the process is very user friendly.  It’s also the basis of our democracy so, you know…, important.
 
For WTIP, this is Bill Hansen with the West End News.
 

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North Woods Naturalist: Snow crystals

There are billions of them and no two are alike.  WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the amazing diversity of snow crystals.

(Photo by Jason Hollinger on Flickr)
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: January 27 - Dogs and otters

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: January 29

              
Weather in Gunflint Territory mellowed since week three of the month. Bitter cold was swept away by another El Nino moment of warmer Pacific air. Meanwhile, additional snow has avoided this area like the plague as we head toward February. It seems as though this snow loving region is snake bit in terms of powdery deliveries. Furthermore other places in the country are dealt the stuff when they have no desire for such.                                                                                                                                                
The snow in place right now is hanging on, and will provide the key ingredient for the beginning of the annual John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon late Sunday morning. With the race making its round trip run from Two Harbors to Grand Portage and back, the race comes into these parts from its Sawbill checkpoint to reach our mid-Trail checkpoint at Trail Center in the estimated pre-dawn time of Monday morning.                                                                                                           
On the return chase, mushers should be coming back through the Trail Center area in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. In both stops along the Trail, there’s a mandatory lay-over. So in spite of the not too convenient arrival times for viewing, the time lapse for teams before departing in either direction can allow for getting out to show some Gunflint cheers of support.                                                                                                                                                          
One Cook County Musher is entered in the Marathon while three other locals are in the mid-distance race, which by the way, finishes at Trail Center, midday on Monday. Tracking the races can be followed at www.beargrease.com. Good Luck to all!                                                                             
More winter fun takes place in Gunflint land next weekend with the seventh annual Cook County Ridge Riders fun run. The power sledders’ trek to collect their cards for the long distance poker game will start along the South Shore drive on Devil Track Lake on February seventh beginning at 9:00 am.                                                                                                                                           
Stops to get cards and participation stamps include, Hungry Jack Lodge, Trail Center Lodge, Windigo Lodge, Gunflint Lodge and Gunflint Pines Resort. All riders must be back at the CCRR clubhouse by 5:30 pm to turn in their playing hands. Food, fun and a raffle follow the days sledding.                                                                                                                                                                              
I don’t know who to thank for the neat temporary signs posted in select locations along the Trail, warning drivers to slow down in those moose zones. For whoever’s responsible, it’s a great idea and hopefully will save a precious moose life. Moreover, it could well save even serious injury or possible death to vehicular passengers, and perhaps totaling one’s vehicle. All Trail users should be thankful for the insight into these alert postings.                                                                                 
The beauty of our flocked forest continues un-abated. After many weeks, periods of brisk wind have failed to dis-lodge the uncountable frozen, fleecy puffs. Such is true for the Smith’s favorite conifer along the Mile O Pine as well.                                                                                                                                                   
This magnificent back woods being caught our eye when first observed some seventeen years ago. The affair with this stately pine might seem strange, but I’m betting there might be others in border country that might also have a wild item of particular Gunflint area significance.  Whatever the case, we Smiths’ have been keeping a watchful eye on this prime piece of timber since it was a just little shaver, barely head high.                                                                                                                                                                                
At the time we embraced this symmetrical sapling, it was small enough to survive the horrendous blowdown in 1999 and then luckily endured the wildfire scare of 2007 when flames charred its cousins just over a mile or so across the lake.                                                                                     
During the years, the “mother” in charge of all things has nurtured it well. “Our tree” as we call it now, has grown tall, nearing twenty-five feet. Over the time, it has maintained unique pomp in the Mile O Pine parade of needled elements. While bending and twisting in the winds; enduring the cold and hot; dodging the lightning and baring tons of snow for going on two decades, this verdant subject has not succumbed.                                                                                                                                                                             
This season’s hefty decorations are no exception in testing its fibrous vitality. “Our forest starlet” has simply flexed its muscles and stands lofty, beaming at the beckon of our head lights on many a cold winter night. While in daylight hours, winds in the woods help this comely adolescent tremble with a gentle wave as I go by on my daily mail box run.                                                                                                                                                         
Dazzled by the glistening grace of shapely frosted bows, we are overwhelmed at the elegance, and inspired by enduring evergreen charm. “Our tree,” silently enriching life in the Gunflint Forest                                                                                                                                            
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith!  Come on out the Trail and savor the winter bounty!

(photo: Winter Blues, Michel Bernier via Flickr)
 

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West End News: January 28

Save the date for March 15 in Lutsen to hear the results of a two-year study by the North Shore Community Climate Readiness project.  Three universities cooperated on a variety of research methods to examine how the changing climate will affect tourism on the North Shore. 
 
For example, they looked at how lake ice thickness and summer heat waves may change.  Will there be a greater risk of hotter and larger forest fires?  They also asked both locals and visitors what they thought about climate change and how it may or may not affect their behavior.
 
The interactive workshop will be from 5 until 8 pm on March 15 in Lutsen with a second workshop being held in Two Harbors on the 16th.  Location has not been set yet, but the details will be well advertised as the date draws nearer.
 
Climate change is a big issue for Cook County and it’s past time to start planning for a future with a different climate.  It would have been good to start this effort about 20 years ago, but we play with the cards we are dealt, I guess. The campaign to cloud climate science in the public mind was pretty good at delaying any policy action on climate change for a long time.  Nowadays, anyone who doesn’t realize that climate change is upon us is either willfully ignorant, or clinging to a political position that has no foothold in reality.
 
Sugarloaf Cove Nature Center in Schroeder is offering its fine Master Naturalist training again this year.
 
The course will run from 9 am to 5 pm every other Saturday for six sessions beginning February 20 and ending May 7, 2016.  Field trips will be incorporated into the scheduled class days. A capstone project is expected from participants, as well as the commitment to volunteer for 40 hours during the year.
 
The real payoff though is the deep knowledge that students of all ages gain about the world around them.  While you can easily spend a lifetime studying the natural world, the Master Naturalist course is a great way to increase your appreciation for the complex web of life that surrounds us here in the West End.
 
There is a cost associated with the course, although scholarships are available. Registration is through the Minnesota Master Naturalist web page, that’s minnesotamasternaturalist.org.  Or, call WTIP to get the contact information.
 
There is an interesting twist to the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon this year.  A song-cycle titled “Crazy Cold Beautiful” will have its world premiere at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Grand Marais at 7 pm on Friday, February 5. 
 
The song-cycle was composed by Robin Eschner and will be performed by the Borealis Chorale and Orchestra, the Stonebridge Singers Drum and the Sawtooth Elementary Choir, under the direction of Bill Beckstrand.  The composer’s own musical group, “Take Jack” will also join in the fun. 
 
This will not only will be an amazing show, but it is open to all with only a freewill offering requested in return.
 
The same basic show goes on the road to Duluth the next day, appearing at the Sacred Heart Music Center at 4 pm.
 
If jazz is more to your liking than chorale music, I recommend catching my friend Willie Waldman on that same day, Friday, February 5.  Willie is a well-known fusion jazz trumpeter who travels the nation playing with a changing kaleidoscope of inventive and skilled musicians.  The music is completely improvised, so each performance is a composing session, jam session and – for sure in Willie’s case – a virtuoso performance.
 
Willie discovered Cook County when he arrived each summer for a canoe trip in the BWCA Wilderness.  He and some of his regular band-mates are working their way through virtually every canoe route in the wilderness by taking a different 50-mile route each summer for the last 13 years and counting.
 
Willie will be at the Voyageur Brewery in Grand Marais from 4 until 7 pm, so you could catch that show before heading up to the church for Cold Crazy Beautiful.  Willie reconvenes a larger group, including some members of the Big Wu, that same night at 9:30 at Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen. 
 
Full disclosure, Willie has invited me to sit in with him while he’s in the county, but don’t let that discourage you from coming.  Willie’s prodigious musical skills and generous personality make all his shows a delightful experience.
 
 
(Photo courtesy of Willie Waldman)

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The Lake Superior Project/Logo by Lauryl Loberg

LSProject: The John Beargrease Sled Dog Race

The 2016 John Beargrease Sled Dog Race will start on January 31. Born in 1858, John Beargrease, was the son of an Anishinaabe chief. He delivered mail between Two Harbors and Grand Marais, following a challenging route that paralleled Lake Superior. In this edition of The Lake Superior Project, Curtis Gagnon and Doug Seim talk about the beginnings of the sled dog race that commemorates John Beargrease.

Photos courtesy of Curtis Gagnon.
 

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A Year in the Wilderness: January 20 - Enjoy winter

Cook County adventurers Dave and Amy Freeman are spending a year in the wilderness. On a regular basis they’ll be sharing some of their experiences traveling the BWCAW.

(Photo courtesy of Dave and Amy's Facebook page)

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Moments in Time: The Grand Portage Passage sled dog race

The Grand Portage Passage was a long-distance sled dog race that was held from 1999 through 2003. In this edition of Moments in Time, WTIP’s ongoing series, Doug Seim, Curtis Gagnon and Matthew Brown reflect on the meaning of the name and why the race was special…..

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Pink snow at dawn (Tracy Rosen via Wikimedia Commons)

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: January 15

The upper Trail winter has taken positive steps forward since our last meeting. A bleak seasonal character, by usual north-country norms, has shaped up lately with freshening of the snow cover and serious ice making.                                                                                                                                          
Snow accumulations have not been extreme, but nevertheless cleaned things up so that new critter tracks are more easily distinguished. Meanwhile, enough January subzero settled over the area to really get the old “Zamboni” cranked up.                                                                                       
With frigid temps in the forecast, enhancing ice development for the coming trout season opener couldn’t have come at a better time. It would appear safe ice for pedestrian traffic could be secure here on the Gunflint and most all area lakes by Saturday’s opener. Further it seems a reliable surface for snowmobiles and ATV’s might be questionable on a few lakes where icy acquisition occurred only recently.                                                                                                                   
To preface this next story, I share with you the final freezing of Gunflint Lake favored the smoothest ice I’ve seen in my seventeen winters here. The glass like surface could allow uninterrupted skating for miles, and the lake remained free of insulating snow cover for three days of clear ice observation.                                                                                      
The charm of a Gunflint winter was never more evident than it was for yours truly on one pre-dawn day last week. Out early, as “old Sol” was making its daily debut, I was up on the Mile O Pine looking over the two day old lake ice.                                                                                                                 
The sunrise was on fire once again as it begun to lite up our lives in this northern paradise. To compliment the celestial infinity, wispy clouds were floating aloft drawing on the awesome fiery rays. This heavenly interaction rendered a spectacle of pink cotton candy vapor. In turn, the vaporous veil was picked up in reflection by the mirror perfect hard water surface.                                       
There are not adequate descriptors to pictorially celebrate the magic of this rosy dawn in concert with “pink” Gunflint ice. Such radiance probably has happened before on countless water bodies in this great land, but for me, winter elegance of this magnitude has never been so visually consuming. This wilderness panorama was a breath-taking work of un-matched art.                                                                                                                
Additions of snow over the miracle glaze, minus something temps and north-northwest winds have since, put the Gunflint Gal in a grumpy state. As I key this weeks’ report, she is murmuring tones of un-easiness. I’m not sure if her new coat isn’t a good fit, or she is shivering in the frigid air. Regardless, of the curmudgeonly attitude, her solemn dialogue is entertaining.                                                                                                  
More north woods enchantment took place at Wildersmith recently when a moose tromped through the yard. Although such occurred during darkness hours, tracks in the fresh fallen snow, and broken branches along its path, confirm it was, what it was.                                                                        
With so few moose remaining throughout the territory, coupled with the fact it’s been years since one has been seen around our place, this nocturnal visit re-energizes hope for this iconic herd to re-gain a healthy population status. The thought of a visit from one of the herd more often than once every few years would be welcomed at Wildersmith.                                                                                                                                                          
The sudden turn to real winter character was equally appropriate this past weekend for the Gunflint Mail Run sled dog races. Racing conditions last Saturday morning were excellent. Enthusiasm was at a high pitch. Ten entries started the twelve dog (long race) while thirteen teams made up the eight dog (shorter race) field, all finishing up on a sunny, but bitter cold, Sunday afternoon.                                                                                     
 To stage such an awesome event has to be a ton of work! Organization of the happening was top drawer. It seemed all phases went off without a hitch. Hats off to planners, sponsors, volunteers, mushing teams and Trail Center Restaurant personnel on a job well done! The Gunflint community looks forward to seeing the GMR become a premier post-holiday occasion in years to come.                                                                                                     
Winners of the two races were Ward Wallin of Two Harbors in the 110 mile section, and Dusty Klaven of Togo, MN in the 70 mile chase. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the teams for making this a great weekend. A tabulation of all race finishers can be found on our WTIP website.                                                                                                                                                             
This is Fred Smith, on the Trail, at Wildersmith!  Trout season is open, happy angling!
 

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