Listen Now
Pledge Now



 
 

North Shore Weekend

  • 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:
Winter on the Temperance by Travis Novitsky

North Woods Natuaralist: Wintering

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Listen: 

 
Scott Oeth-photo by Mike Patterson

Pack & Paddle - Winter Super Shelter

In this edition of "Pack & Paddle", Scott Oeth talks about the "Winter Super Shelter".  According to Scott, "A legendary Canadian survival instructor, Mors Kochanski, developed signigicant improvements on the classic lean-to shelter.  He added a covering of a thin piece of clear plastic sheeting to create a protective bubble, added a mylar space blanket to the interior sloped wall to reflect heat back down onto the occupant, and, it is ideally combined with a raised bed structure to allow warm air from the external fire to circulate up under the occupant.  The basic component of this shelter take up little more space than a water bottle, yet it can be an absolute life saver in an emergency!  The 'Kochanski Super Shelter' can also be used for cold weather camping, or simply to make a fun outside hangout on a cold day".
Listen to Scott's coversation with North Shore Morning host, Mark Abrahamson below. 

Listen: 

 
GFMailrun_Photo by Donald O'Brien (480x360).jpg

Trail Time - Life on the Gunflint Trail

Trail time 1-14-2022
By Marcia Roepke

 
Well, we are really into winter now. We’ve had some very cold weather and lots of snow the last two weeks. When it warmed up to above zero, Lars and I and small group went on a snowshoe and ski outing in deep snow along a narrow lake. It was a sunny day, the snow was sparkling and we didn’t have to deal with too much wind or slush. I got as much energy from the beautiful day as I did from the expressions of happiness and joy from friends that were new to a winter adventure on the Gunflint Trail. It reminded me how lucky we are to be surrounded every day by the beauty of this special place.
 
One of my favorite sights is a black raven flying overhead in a blue sky. In the winter, that color combination of jet black against deep blue is rounded out by the sparkling white of the snowy landscape. Winter beauty is tempered, of course, by the reality of 20 degrees below zero with a wind chill of minus 40. It’s still beautiful, but it has to be respected and endured as much as enjoyed. The proper gear and the proper attitude are both essential for enjoying the cold season. I try to remember both when I’m out wandering in winter.
 
Cold weather brings clear skies and star-filled nights. As I headed out for firewood last night, I paused to gaze at moonlight shining on snow, a well-stocked woodshed and my sweet black dog wagging her tail as she stared into the woods. One morning I saw tracks in the snow along the shore that brought to mind a little mink from last summer – the beautiful little animal silently moved like liquid over one rock and then around another, pausing on top of the next to look around, staring at me briefly and then, when it had determined I was of no significance in this, his daily search for food, continuing down the shoreline. Could these winter tracks be from the summer mink? In my mind, the tracks of the winter mink lay over the memory of that summer mink, so I am seeing one but remembering the other, experiencing both at the same time.
 
The winter solstice has come and gone and we have gained almost 30 minutes of daylight since then, mostly at sunset. I don’t know why it stays light later at the end of the day while sunrise changes by only two minutes. It seems to me that there should be more symmetry to the thing. I’ve recently met a certain meteorologist on the Trail that I plan on asking about this, among other questions. I here give him fair warning.
 
The Gunflint Mail Run sled dog race was held last week. It was cancelled last year because of the pandemic. Thanks to Sarah Hamilton and all the Gunflint Mail Run volunteers for creating such a great homegrown event. We were so happy be there once again, cheering on the sled dogs and mushers. It was an exciting scene on Poplar Lake at Trail Center. There were 12-dog teams and 8-dog teams and all the humans it takes to care, train and run them. Harnessed dogs were jumping in place, yipping and howling and raring to go! Spectators gathered around a bonfire by the lake and milled around, admiring the sled dogs, getting coffee and food from the restaurant.
 
When it was time to start the race, there was a countdown and then the suddenly silent dogs took off and in seconds were gliding down the lake as big fat snowflakes fell. At least one bystander was moved to tears at the beauty of it. Later that day, at dusk, teams headed out on the second leg of the course. As Lars and I drove home, we spotted a sled dog team running through the woods, parallel to us for a while. We got home, parked and then walked a half mile to where a small quiet road intersected with the sled dog trail. Stop signs had been placed there earlier and we stood by one, listening, waiting, watching. We were alone in the quiet dark woods. After a while, I saw a flicker of light, and saw that yes, it was the headlamp of the musher illuminating the trees beside the trail. Then the dogs glided past, a red light blinking on the lead dog’s collar. We heard the musher murmur a quiet “On by,” urging the team on past these two figures in the night. And then they disappeared around a curve in the trail, the light from the headlamp growing faint against the trees until it we saw it no more. The wind in the pines and the crunch of our boots on the snow were the only sounds accompanying us on our walk home – toward light and warmth and dinner. The dogs would keep going until their work was done.
 
This is Marcia Roepke on the Gunflint trail

*Photo: Musher Vern Schroeder & 12-dog team - Gunflint Mail Run - 2022.  Photo by Donald O'Brien. 
 

Listen: 

 
Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS via Flickr

North Woods Naturalist: Birds catching food

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

In this edition, Chel describes how different birds find and cache food to survive the winter.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Listen: 

 
Moose_photo by Marcia Roepke.jpeg

Trail Time - Life on the Gunflint Trail

“Trail Time” by Marcia Roepke
12-31-2021
 

It’s a winter wonderland on the Gunflint Trail this week. There’s about a foot of new snow making a great base for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing… and dog-sledding! Many years have passed since I first careened down a snow-covered logging road in Hovland behind a friend’s team. And I remember a wonderful time dog-sledding in the Boundary Waters on a winter camping trip years ago with a terrific group of people that included one of my best friends and my future husband, Lars. Dog-sledding is a lot of fun to do and it’s almost as fun to watch. The sled dogs are so full of energy and joy. They love to run! Next week there’s a great opportunity to watch some excellent dog sledding: The Gunflint Mail Run Dogsled Race will be held Saturday, January 8. Some good places to watch the action are at Trail Center Lodge, Big Bear Lodge or Rockwood Lodge. There’s also a spectator area at the Old Blankenburg Pit, where the twelve teams will be turning around. NOTE: It is very important that spectators do not bring their dogs to the races. And keep a tight hold on young children. Things get lively and move fast. You can find lots of information, as well as safety and etiquette tips, on the web site at gunflintmailrun.com
 
The new deep snow promises good cross-country skiing conditions all along the Trail. Closer to town there’s the Pincushion Trail system and the trails at the George Washington Pines. Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge together groom over 40 miles of trails known as the Central Gunflint Ski Trail system. Further up the Trail there is almost 30 miles of trails known as the Upper Gunflint Trail. Both the mid-and upper trails require passes that can be purchased at the lodges that maintain them. There’s also the Banadad Trail further up that is maintained by the Banadad Trail Association. Passes are available at the east and west trailheads. There’s also snowshoe trails at the Washington Pines or you can bushwhack away from the skiers. Pincushion, Golden Eagle and the Gunflint Lodge have snowshoe trails too. Some of the lodges rent equipment for snowshoeing and skiing. And Bearskin Lodge will be offering dogsledding rides again this year. Call first to get dates and to make reservations.
 
The energy level picks up with the Mail Run Race. And the start of the winter sport season means there’s more cars driving on the Trail. Slow down for the big trucks plowing and spreading salt and sand to make driving safer, and be extra careful of the moose traffic. Moose love to kneel down and lick the salt off the road. The roads can be icy enough that extra time is required to stop when you come around a corner to see a moose in the middle of the road. The nighttime darkness only adds to the danger. We saw a moose one dark November night and were able to stop in time. It is astonishing how quickly they appear out of the darkness even with your high beams on.
 

I was gone for few days around Christmas, and I’ve been listening for the songs of winter since I’ve been back. The lake ice has quieted, but I hear the wind soughing through the white pines and the sound wind-borne snow makes as it shushes over the snowy ground. The chickadee-dee-dee, the snarky call of the nuthatches, the quiet coo of the gray jays, the singing of redpolls and grosbeaks, the chatter of red squirrels, the racket of blue jays and the croaking of ravens are some of my favorite winter songs. Snowmobiles aren’t in my top ten favorite list – I admit I am biased toward the quieter sports – but when I hear them I think, “Someone’s having a lot of fun!” The sound of chainsaws means someone is working getting firewood and that is a good sound to me.
 
 
Yesterday afternoon the winter quiet was disrupted by my dog barking at the sky, toward the top of some nearby birch trees. Two chicken-sized birds were sitting up in those slender branches swaying in the wind. Daylight was fading fast and the birds appeared as dark silhouettes against the lighter sky. It was two grouse eating the birch catkins high up in the birch trees. I am used to seeing their little snow caves where they last out a storm, but grouse high up in a tree is an unexpected sight and it makes me smile. They just look so big up there – too heavy for the thin branches. They make me think of an illustration for “a partridge in a pear tree” in that twelve days of Christmas song. I’ve always understood that the “true love” in the song was a person, but I was thinking today about what my love of the woods gives me on each of these twelve days. My true love of the woods – that is, my devotion to the beauty of the natural world – sends me out to see the wonders of the boreal forest in all seasons. Winter offers unique gifts, more than one a day I bet, if I were to keep track. Which would be a good way to start out the New Year, recognizing each daily gift. Happy New Year to everyone!
 

Listen: 

 
Balsam Fir cones_Photo by Wallace Howe (480x320).jpg

North Woods Naturalist - Chel Anderson talks about Winter Solstice and Balsam Fir

North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson talks about the recent dramatic swings in temperatures and precipitation, Winter Solstice, and what may happen if you choose a balsam fir for your Christmas tree.

Listen: 

 
Scott Oeth_photo by Scott Oeth.jpg

Pack & Paddle - Spruce Uses

Scott Oeth talk with North Shore Morning host Mark Abrahamson about the many traditional and modern uses of spruce trees in this edition of "Pack & Paddle".

Listen: 

 
EveningGrosbeak_photo by Teresa Marrone.jpeg

Trail Time - Life on the Gunflint Trail

Trail Time by Marcia Roepke
12/17/2021
 
We had quite a snowfall last week on the Gunflint Trail. Loon Lake had about 12-15 inches on the ground by the time the snow stopped blowing. The temperature clocked in 15 below zero the day following the storm. The gusting wind created drifts in some places and windswept bare spots in others. I usually notice deeper snow mid-trail around Poplar Lake and this storm was no different. I imagine the Laurentian Divide has something to do with the differing snowfalls along the Trail, but I have zero science about that to share today. I’ll get back to you on that topic.
 
It’s been steadily warming up since the latest storm. Yesterday the thermometer hit 36 degrees above zero and today it might reach 48 degrees! It’s drippy and misty; the far shore of the lake is obscured by fog. I love the mystery of it – it feels like the beginning of a Sherlock Holmes story, but I am not looking forward to the ice that will certainly cover every surface when the weather turns cold again in a few days. God bless the inventor of micro-spikes! With them strapped onto our boots, we can conquer most icy patches without fear of falling.

In between our winter snowstorms I am seeing a lot of birch seeds scattered over the snow. The little brown fleur-de-lis and the winged nutlets make a delicate pattern across the white micro landscape between my snow boots. Whenever I notice seed showers throughout the winter it makes me think about what a marvelously designed delivery system of moisture, nutrients and seeds layered over the earth. When the snow melts, the water moistens the soil as it releases nitrogen and other minerals to feed these tiny seeds. 
 
I heard from neighbors up and down the Trail this week about ice status on a few lakes. Loon Lake still has open water, and as we’re heading into colder weather this weekend, there might be some fine wild ice for skating next week if a snowfall doesn’t gum it up. Shar from Gunflint Lake tells me that she can see just a little bit of shore ice right now. As it is such a big lake, it is one of the last to freeze over. The east bay of Poplar Lake had over 7 inches of solid ice under 8 inches of snow, soft ice and slush – at least it did before this latest warmup. Tucker Lake Annie reports that they had some lovely skating on Poplar Lake during the first week of December. They were skating over 6-8 inches of ice and heard “gentle mumbling and rumbling as the sheet thickened.” Ann of Little Iron reported the same. Dave at Clearwater Lake said that it froze “in a snap” last week. By December 6, Rene observed that Seagull Lake had iced over with two to three inches of snow covering slush lines. Sadly, no black ice this year for Seagull. (And what a wonderful few days of skating we had last year on Seagull! There was such a happy crowd of skaters taking off from Blankenburg Beach; the sun was shining, and in those pre-vaccination days, it was one of the jolliest social events of the year.)
 
We don’t have any skaters flocking to our lake this year, and a good thing, too, because the ice is not safe yet. But we do have winter birds flocking to our feeders. We see the usual crowd of Nuthatches, Chickadees, and Blue and Canada jays. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are enjoying the suet cakes, too.
 
We received several visits from some Evening Grosbeaks this week. Their colors appear tropical compared to the other winter birds. The males sport a beautiful combination of mustard yellow, jet black and the whitest of whites. The females wear a more sedate wardrobe, but it is all understated elegance. Unlike the Pine Grosbeaks, they are very wary birds, constantly checking their surroundings and flitting off quickly at the smallest disturbance. Their huge bills look so oversized they must make very efficient seed- and nut-crackers. When they fly in a flock they are happiness on wings.  
 
Yesterday a loud sound stopped me in my tracks. There was a black and white woodpecker flitting between a fir and a birch tree making an unusually strident call. For a moment I thought it might be a Black-backed Woodpecker but a quick trip indoors to check my bird books and bird app stilled my enthusiastic rush. Apparently Black-backed Woodpeckers are common here, in the southernmost part of their territory, but, alas, the markings and the song of the bird by my cabin were wrong for that species. It was most likely a female Hairy Woodpecker. I am convinced I saw and heard the black-backed variety on a Boundary Waters trip with Lars years ago. We had just paddled into a small, enclosed bay, and the “Pik!” of the call sounded nearly electronic as it echoed off the water and the steep wooded hills around us. We spotted the distinctive bird right in front of us, midway up a tree beside the bay. The evening was still, the water smooth and the bird’s call filled the air.  I think it filled me that day, too, because a little of that song is in me still; a song from summer that plays on inside me while outside is the silence of winter.

This is Marcia Roepke on the Gunflint Trail, where simply living is a winter sport.
 

Listen: 

 
Winter on the Cascade by Travis Novitsky

North Woods Naturalist: Snow Subnivean

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist and she joins us periodically to report on what she’s seeing in our woods and waters right now.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Listen: 

 
SNF Update

Superior National Forest Update

Education and Interpretation Specialist, Steve Robertsen gives us the Superior National Forest Update for early December.

Listen: