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News & Information

News and information, interviews, weather, upcoming events, music, school news, and many special features. North Shore Morning includes our popular trivia question - Pop Quiz! The North Shore Morning program is the place to connect with the people, culture and events of our region!


What's On:
Lin Salisbury

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury - Paula McLain

In this edition of Superior Reviews, Lin Salisbury reviews Paula McLain's book, "Love and Ruin".



MN Dept of Health - Syphilis & HIV

There has been a resurgence in the number of cases of syphilis nation-wide.
WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with Krissie Guerard from the Minnesota Department of Health about the importance of getting tested.

More information is available at



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 29, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       June 29, 2018 
June in wild country is fading into history as the full “Strawberry Moon” beams down on the north woods. Here come July and another American birthday celebration, number two hundred forty-two to be exact.                                                                                                                                     

As June gives way to month seven, July is “busting out all over.” It’s just a “bloomin’ paradise along the Byway. If it isn’t yellow, it’s white; if it isn’t white, it’s pink; if it isn’t pink, it’s orange; if it isn’t orange, it’s purple; it’s a Technicolor eruption. What’s more, this is just the beginning.  Summer is barely a week old.                                                                                                                  

A weekend shower ushered us into this last week of month six, with more good fortune for a wildland that can dry out unbelievably fast. The rain although spotty came with a good bit of pre-Independence day fireworks in this neighborhood. While the Mid-Trail area saw sprinkles to a trace, thunder boomers at the end of the Trail dropped over an inch in some locations. In between, the Gunflint/Loon Lake locale caught nearly a half inch.                                                                      
Connecting with the “wild neighborhood,” we’ve often heard the literary expression of “wolves at the door.” In fact a recent program at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center was even entitled the same.                                                                                                                                                                      
A recent encounter in the mid-Trail neighborhood has a similar resonance. In this case, however, I would call it, how about “moose at the window.”  Two of the iconic critters made a surprise visit to a residence and actually enabled a photo shoot through the glass. Don’t know if this was a just by chance passing through or a couple of peeping “toms.” Whatever the ungulate rationale for being there, a digital is shared for all to see on the WTIP website posting of Wildersmith under the Community Voices column.                                                                                      

After weeks of “hummer” activity at area nectar stations, take-offs and departures have come to a near standstill. It’s obviously nesting time and since the mommas are saddled with all phases of nesting/nurturing duties, they don’t get too far away from those thimble sized incubators. Question is what are all the papas doing during this time, don’t they need fueling refills?                                                                                                                                                                 

A wonder of nature in the backcountry is, why do potholes in the road continue to appear in the same location? Having lived nearly three-fourths of my life in suburbia, I have yet to fully adjust to driving on washboard roads with sometimes cavernous “chuck holes.”                                         

No matter how hard our County Road crews work to maintain them, the seemingly natural speed bumps continue to reappear without fail. Sometimes those jaw-jarring spots happen at the top of a hill, while other times at the bottom and sometimes in between on most every secondary path through the forest.                                                                                                                                                                                        
I suppose it could have to do with the type of vehicles, speed, and usage volume. Then again, weather conditions certainly play a role, especially with regard to precipitation. Knowing the intensity of falling, running and accumulating water can show no mercy, these no doubt takes a toll too.                                                                                                                                                                                          
All told, the rough ride scene is probably a combination of many factors. Regardless, the subject remains an un-curable fact of life in unorganized territory. In the final analysis, the annoying cavities, are what they are, be patient, be attentive, slow down and be good at playing “dodge hole,” as the maintainer will get here and there soon...                                                                                                                                      
With July in our sights, it’s that time when the Gunflint Community starts gearing up for the Canoe Races. Planning is full speed ahead as the big day is little more than two weeks away. Calendars should be marked for Wednesday, the 18th with activities beginning at 4:00 pm and races at 6:00.                                                                                                                                                            
Volunteers are needed beginning next weekend (July 6/7) to help sell kayak raffle tickets during the days leading up to the event, please (call Sally Valentini @ 388-0900 to sign-up), and servers will be needed in the food tent on Race night(call Cindy Ceo @ 388-0305 to assist with this phase).                                                                                                                                                                              
This is the forty-first annual fundraiser in support of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer FD & Rescue crews. Plan to be there for food and fun as WTIP broadcasts the happenings, in concert with the stations’ kick-off of the summer membership drive.                                                                                     

This coming Sunday, July 1st, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is holding an open house on the Chik-Wauk Campus to officially un-vale its Water Craft Exhibit Building. The celebration of timber framing by 19 GTHS volunteers will run from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm. Visitors are invited up to inspect, hear stories of the crafting/raising adventure, and learn of what’s to come. Cake and lite beverages will be served.                                                                                                      

Closing for this week, the annual Northshore Health Care Foundation barbeque fundraiser was held last Sunday at Gunflint Lodge. Over seventy generous folks trekked out the Byway on a splendid day, to enjoy swell dining overlooking the ambiance of sparkling Gunflint waters. Thanks to Foundation organizers and the Lodge staff for a delightful event.                                                                                                                                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every moment is great, under both bright days and dark sky nights!                                                                                                      



Superior National Forest Update - June 29, 2018

National Forest Update – June 28, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Bradley Mills, seasonal naturalist, 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.  This is the start of one of our busiest weeks in the Forest, the Fourth of July.  In addition to fireworks, there are a lot of people who celebrate the Fourth with a family camping trip, a picnic, or a fishing trip…or all three!  However you celebrate, the Forest and the Fourth just sort of go together.

As you travel, you’ll find that our roads are in pretty good shape.  There are a few places where gravel from recent grading has not packed down yet.  These areas can have less traction than expected when you go around corners or when you brake.  The roads are nice and smooth now, so on the straight areas, you might be tempted to gain more speed than is wise for braking or cornering.  It’s a good idea to test your braking once in a while, just to get an idea of what the road surface is really like, and to expect that even on straight roads, an animal could jump out at any time.  You could also be braking for logging traffic along a few roads.  On the Gunflint District, you could find haul trucks on Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Cook County 39, and Ward Lake Road.  On the Tofte side, expect trucks on the Trapper’s Lake and Dumbell Roads.

There’s been several small incidents this past week with falls and broken bones.  Forest trails are not maintained to the same sort of standards as trails in city parks, and you will find rough footing in places along almost any of our trails.  Watch your step:  a twisted ankle can wreck a vacation just as much as a more major event, and we hate seeing people having to cut short their visit to go to the doctor.  Be particularly careful along waterways.  As little as six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person off their feet.

Since it is the Fourth, a lot of people will be looking for fireworks.  Grand Marais, Tofte, and Silver Bay all have great municipal fireworks displays.  There are parades in Grand Marais and Tofte and celebrations during the day in all three communities.  But, there are no fireworks allowed anywhere on the National Forest.  This includes fireworks that are legal elsewhere in Minnesota.  Despite recent rains, we are always concerned about the potential of fires and the Fourth is no reason to start a wildfire.  Fire balloons, where a small candle is used to inflate a plastic garbage bag like hot air balloon, are of particular concern as they not only are carrying a source of ignition, they are also littering.

I’ve had a lot of fun as a forest interpreter with the first two weeks of naturalist programs this summer.  Please come join us at one of the many campfire or other programs going on at area resorts and at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground, Sawbill Campground, and Hedstrom’s Lumber Mill.  A full schedule can be found on the Superior’s website, Visit Cook County’s website, or in a brochure at many brochure racks around the area.  We’d love to see you.

Whether you are hiking, fishing, camping, or eating s’mores with us at a campfire, have a great Fourth of July and a great time out in the Forest. 

Until next time, this has been Bradley Mills with the National Forest Update.



Talking Books - June 25, 2018

"Talking Books" is a monthly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Gwen Danfelt shares what she is reading and what's new in the literary world.


Lake Superior waves. Photo by Joe Friedrichs.JPG

North Woods Naturalist: Spring turnover

When lakes turnover in the spring, it’s an important event for some microscopic single-cell plants. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson in part one of a two-part series about diatoms.


Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 22, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint      by     Fred Smith       June 22, 2018    
After tinkering around in the northland for several weeks, the Solstice of June has declared this summer official. Although its’ been more than summer-like in many areas of the state already, the Gunflint Territory has pretty much been spared the tropical nasties so far. The moose and I hope this temperate spell can be extended into September, and then cool off.                                                          
During the past weekend, our wilderness world received a much-needed blessing from the heavens. Luckily, not falling as a huge deluge, this neighborhood received over an inch during three days of clouds and showers.                                                                                                                          
The moisture was hopefully enough to squelch a recent fire discovered a dozen or so miles northwest of Lake Saganaga in the Quetico. At last report, the ignition had consumed about forty acres and was being monitored while allowed to burn an area apparently in need of fuel reduction.                                                                                                                                                  
Trekking in the forest is a major recreational activity throughout the BWCA and Superior National Forest. While accidents and emergencies do occur on area Trails, such incidents are continually being addressed through advancing technology to assist search and rescue responders in their often difficult emergency missions.                                                                                                                                                    
Local trail users are starting to see new signage on some County trail systems. If listener/readers have not seen them yet, the blue and white signs have a series numbers and letters at the top and bottom. These “Emergency Location Markers” identify wilderness locations using the US National Grid (USNG). USNG use of rescue signs is relatively new and Cook County is beginning to pilot the plan.  USNG signing has been in use on Lake County snowmobile, ski and hiking trails for a few years. Cook County has installed some USNG signs on snowmobile trails, Pincushion Trail, Honeymoon Bluff Trail, some Chik-Wauk Trails and bike trails.
The great thing about the USNG application is even without cell coverage, if a user opens their phone and keeps the browser open, it will work without cell service as it is a satellite-based system allowing 911 Dispatch the ability to pick-up at least some accurate location information.                                                                                                                                                                             
“In an Emergency, call 911”, provide Dispatch with the two larger sets of 4-digit numbers on the sign bottom to accurately describe the location of the caller. The two sets of 4-digit numbers provide location info up to within 10-meter accuracy. As this signage project evolves Cook County will have some 240 locations marked. For more information, one might want to contact the Office of Emergency Management.                                                                                                
Residents along the Trail are reporting more and more moose sightings, any number of which have come in from up on the Sag Lake Trail and around Moose Pond Drive. One fellow has counted five recently, including a handsome set of twin calves. More observations have come from the Iron Lake campground and a few from Mid-Trail neighborhoods. Hurray for Moose!                                                                                                                                                 
Meanwhile, bear mommas are making candid appearances with their cubs in any number of locations. If they are causing trouble with us human invaders, I have not been informed of any, other than the tackle box incident a couple weeks ago.                                                             

 A couple Gunflint Lake residents did a double-take in reporting an unusual summer sighting of a great snowy owl. The observation came just a few days ago in an area of the lower Trail. It was determined to be a male and appeared in healthy condition. This winged predator might have a GPS problem though because it’s not supposed to be around these parts this time of the year. Usual migration takes them to northernmost Canada for breeding season by now.                                                                                                                                                
Special programming at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center continues with two events this weekend. Saturday the 23rd, The International Wolf Center will be presenting a program on none other than “Wolves”, beginning at 11:30 AM.                                                                                               
Then on Sunday the 24th, bird expert, Kate Kelnberger will be talking about “Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Hummingbirds and Sapsuckers”, beginning at 2:00 PM.                                                      
Both programs are free to the public with support donations being appreciated.                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint, where every day is great, as the planet begins is slow trek the back other direction!


Baby Peregrines-banding

Superior National Forest Update - June 22, 2018

National Forest Update – June 22, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, 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.  With the solstice this week and the official start to summer, we are looking at days that are almost 16 hours long and they are plenty full of summer activities.

To start with, this Saturday is the Lutsen 99er mountain bike races.  That means that several of the roads in the Forest from Tofte to Grand Marais are being used as race routes.  Information on good spots to be a spectator are on the Lutsen 99er website, as well as race route information for planning your travels in the same area.  Please respect cyclists, follow posted information, and be ready to cheer the racers on.

The cyclists will probably be going much faster than traffic on some parts of Highway 61.  There isn’t a lot of construction right here near the Forest, but south on the highway, there is plenty, so expect to encounter some frustrated drivers even up here.  That means to be extra aware of people passing when they shouldn’t and going faster than they should as they try to make up for lost time in order to ‘hurry up and relax’.  It’s time to remember that Minnesota Nice thing and just realize that it may take longer than you think to get places.

Our Forest Roads are actually in pretty good shape right now.  We’ve had enough rain to allow some grading in rough areas, but not so much as to cause major washouts or road damage.   Logging activity can be expected in Tofte on the Trappers Lake Road and the Dumbell River Road.  On the Gunflint District, trucks are using the Greenwood, Firebox, and the Old Greenwood Road (Forest Road 144).  While our roads are in good shape, all the rain in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan reminds us that it is a good time to remember what to do when you encounter a flooded roadway.  Even shallow water on a road can cause a vehicle to hydroplane and lose control, so it is best to slow down and even stop to evaluate the depth and the condition of the road beneath the water.  Over half of all drownings during flash flood events happen to people in vehicles, so the advice is always “Turn Around, Don’t Drown”.

This week also marks the start of our summer series of Naturalist Programs.  In cooperation with area resorts and Visit Cook County, Superior National Forest has produced naturalist programs, campfires, activities, and hikes since the mid-1980’s.  This year, we have presentations on moose, wolves, bats, voyageurs, and more, so pick up a flyer at a Forest Service office, the Visit Cook County information center in Grand Marais, or online at our website, then come to one of our campfire programs.  We hope to see you there!

All these activities are for people, but there has been a lot of animal activity this past week.  We’ve seen moose with calves, grouse with chicks, and deer with fawns.  Peregrine falcons have chicks in their nests along the cliffs on Lake Superior as well.  As part of a long-term study on peregrines, the chicks are being banded.  This involves people rappelling down the cliff to the nest, putting the chicks in an ‘elevator’ to take them up to the banders on the top of the cliff, then putting the chicks safely back home.  Of course, the parents don’t appreciate this, and the climbers may get hit 50 or 60 times by the parent falcons.  Luckily, chicks, parent birds, and climbers all recover pretty quickly from this experience.  Don’t do this yourself though.  It does stress the birds, so if you come into an area where falcons, goshawks, or other birds are screaming at you – heed their warning and move away from their nest site.

Bears have also been active in the woods.  We’ve had to post alerts at several Boundary Waters entry points due to bear activity.  When you are going camping or entering the BWCAW, make sure to take the time to read the bulletin board or kiosk for information like bear alerts or fire restrictions.  If there is a bear alert, this doesn’t mean the end of your trip.  Just make sure to follow what should be standard procedure anyway on keeping food safe from bears, and be aware that you may have a bear encounter.  Detailed information on handling food in bear country, and what to do if a bear is in your space can be found on our website.
So, between bears, birds, and bicyclists, it is pretty busy in the woods.  Join the activity and get out to explore!  Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.



Magnetic North - June 20, 2018

Magnetic North 6/11/18
Barking dog navigation; Isle Royale Part 1
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where visitors now stream up the narrow highway from Duluth, braving detours and cavalcades of RVs, rubbernecking drivers, and excruciating miles in-between rest stops to get to Cook County. Once here, they crowd the restaurants and shops, take pictures of the Beaver House walleye and soak up the history and beauty of our little piece of heaven. 
But there is another breed of visitor whose primary reasons for coming to the county, specifically the town of Grand Marais, revolve around three fairly mundane pursuits: finding ice, a laundromat, and groceries and pumping out the effluent they carry onboard. These seekers come - and go -by water. And having spent a fortune on their mode of travel are less interested in land than in riding the waves of the big lake and taking home tales of having “cheated death again,” to their friends and families. 
I know this because I was such a one in the late 1970’s. For seven years I sailed the waters of Superior and for most of those years only spied the town where I live now. When I crossed the big lake from the Apostle Islands off Bayfield, Wisconsin, the homeport of my sailboat, Amazing Grace.
Looking back I realize now that, just as I had longed to be on the shore instead of slogging through the BWCAW years earlier, I was just as hungry to stay ashore whenever I tied Grace up at Grand Marais. Not because I dislike sailing - although there are about a hundred things I’d rather do -but because my inner compass always pulled me to the land where I live now. And, like many who have sailed in the troughs of high waves on Superior, I have seen her teeth close-up and respect them and her enough to keep my distance.
It was July of1976, our bicentennial year, when first I crouched on the bow of our sailboat as my then-husband, Jack pointed her towards land; at least the map and compass said there was land off our bow. Fog completely shrouded the harbor of Grand Marais. Nothing, not a building or tree or light could be seen.
But we were in luck. Friends who made the harbor before the fog moved in were on the break wall with an air horn, providing audible navigation in lieu of the usual sighting of lights at the harbor entrance or the radio tower on the hill above town. Sailors call this “barking dog navigation.” As in, you know you are about to go aground if you can hear a dog bark. Although, usually it was hearing waves lapping on rocks.
That foggy day we couldn’t have been more than 20 yards off the breakwall, following the compass and the blaring of the air horn, when we could actually see the wall, then the town... As usual, but not always, fog meant no wind, so we entered the harbor “flying the Atomic four,” the name of our diesel engine, -then tied up alongside the Coast Guard building at the foot of Artist’s Point.
As with my previous visits to Grand Marais, two arduous backpacking trips to the BWCAW, I longed to explore the town, to just lallygag on the shore and stare out at the lake for no good reason. And who knows, maybe even find a cove where the water temperature didn’t make my bones ache before I’d even dived in all the way.
But again, this was not to be. This was a quest, just as the backpacking trips were forced marches. The object of our adventure was Isle Royale. Washington Harbor, to be exact; the famed graveyard of sailing vessels like the America off Rock of Ages lighthouse.  Sure, why not go there on vacation? 
We divvied up tasks with our friends - they got the blocks of ice for our perishable food lockers and we got the grub. We didn’t need a laundromat or pompous yet. 
Our crew numbered three and a half, not counting the dog. A young intern who worked with Jack was along for the ride. She was tall, strong, brilliant and keen to experience sailing. Good, I thought. More naps and fewer dishes to wash for me! Our daughter Gretchen, just seven years old, had our Pug, Spanky, to entertain her, plus she was learning to knit. Jack, of course, was captain and I was navigator/cook/and chief complainer.
I think we saw only one square block of the town. So different then, except for the Blue Water Cafe and Ben Franklin. Mostly, we stayed aboard our boats - our friends had a 33 footer and we had a Pearson 30. - cozy spots on a chilly July night in fog. I remember that we sat up comparing notes on the crossing from the Apostle Islands; coming way too close to an ore boat, and hearing their chugga-chugga engines as we prayed that they were watching their radar. 
Little did we know that the day ahead would be the real test of our mettle. That the sunny day’s wind would whip up twenty-foot troughs between waves and threaten to send one or both of our boats to rest beside the America at the hungry mouth of Washington Harbor.
But I’ll save that tale for next time.
For WTIP, this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North


Olive-sided Flycatcher (Eric Gropp/Flickr)

North Woods Naturalist: Olive-sided Flycatchers

They’ve been dubbed the “peregrine of flycatchers.” WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about olive-sided flycatchers.