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North Shore Morning

AM Community Calendar/photo by masochismtango on Flickr

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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!

 


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Birch Grove Elementary - School News - January 03

Birch Grove Elementary - School News - January 3, 2018
with Jack, Nataliya and Isabel.

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Photo from Superior National Forest/Flickr

North Woods Naturalist: Tamaracks

Typically tamaracks drop their needles in winter much the same as deciduous trees…but sometimes they don’t. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with North Woods Naturalist Chel Anderson about something different: tamaracks.
 

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West End News - December 28

West End News 12/28/17

Not to state the obvious, but it’s been cold this week in the West End. One benefit of the sub-zero temps is the opening of the Tofte ice rink at the Birch Grove Community center. The ice rink is open all day every day, and even has lights that stay on until 10pm each night. There is also a warming hut which comes in especially handy in this weather. The warming hut has shelves full of skates that are free to borrow. Please return them to their spot neatly when you’re finished, and if you have some skates gathering dust you can donate them by simply adding them to the shelf. The rink and skates are free, but donations are much appreciated. The rink takes a lot of time and skill to maintain so donations and respectful use are much appreciated.

A week or so ago we got an email from someone asking if they could charge their camera batteries at our house while they were up filming an event called the 2018 Minnesota Frozen Butt Hang. Having no idea what he was talking about I let him know that he probably had the wrong outfitter. A quick google search later, however, I discovered that, yes, in fact, the Frozen Butt Hang will be taking place at the Sawbill Campground the weekend of January 18th. Being that the Sawbill Campground is more or less my backyard, I commenced a much more thorough google search to find out what the heck this event was all about. Was it a polar plunge? A nudist winter camping gathering?
It turns out the hang is referring to hammock enthusiasts. Specifically, cold weather hammock enthusiasts. The colder the better it seems for these hardy hangers. Then event began with a small group of enthusiasts getting together for a winter camp in 2011. Since then it’s been growing, and this year over 60 people are signed up to attend. It’s organized and run on a completely volunteer basis, and they even have over a dozen sponsors, many of which are sending sample gear along for folks to test out.

It seems the event draws people from all over the world. Many come from the Midwest, but there are some brave southerners headed up from the US also. I even heard a rumor that someone is coming all the way from Germany to experience our west end winter. There’s nothing like enduring a weekend of below zero weather in a hammock to bring people together, I guess. It’s amazing how far the advancement of outdoor gear has come.

The end of the year is creeping up on us. We plan to celebrate out on the ice of Sawbill Lake, as tradition dictates.  Cheers to 2018 from the West End!
 
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley, with the West End News.
 
 

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SuperMoon.jpg

Northern Sky: Dec 23 - Jan 5

Northern Sky - December 23 to January 5 - by Deane Morrison.

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota.
 
She authors the Minnesota Starwatch column, and in this feature
she shares what there is to see in the night sky in our region.

Her column “Minnesota Starwatch” can be
found on the University of Minnesota website at
 astro.umn.edu 
 

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Wildersmith on the Gunflint December 22, 2017

Wildersmith on the Gunflint  -  December 22, 2017          by     Fred Smith

Although the north land has been tinkering with it for several weeks, the winter quartile is now official. The celestial bodies have aligned themselves for the semi-annual solstice signaling the first day of a new season. It’s a time of unmatched beauty in the purest sense regardless of seeming heartless at times.                                                                                                    

Darkness can be an un-nerving thing to many as daylight shows little sense of a warming obligation. Long shadows are casting chill out over the Gunflint gal right now with the sun having reached the end of its’ annual southerly swing.                                                                                                 
Due to our locale near the base of a granite range to our south, at this time of year the sun barely makes a peek over the ridge. With daylight minutes so precious, the AM sun doesn’t rise above the stone rim until nearly ten o’clock, and on cloudy days at Wildersmith, darkness starts closing in about 2:30 in the afternoon.  On some occasions it seems like all day is twilight time. Even on cloudless days “old Sol” just skips along the rocky edge scarcely giving us but sporadic glimpses of his presence.                                                                                                                                                                                                

Such grayness isn’t bothersome to yours truly, but for folks in despair over these oft short gloomy days, better moments are never-ending. It hardly seems imaginable that with one tick of the solstice clock, daylight minutes will be counting up again although barely noticeable for the next couple weeks. Please keep on Hangin’ on and focus on the beauty of this frosty paradise. Sol is creeping back our way.                                                                                                                                                             

Perhaps with “Biboon” (winter in Ojibwe) confirmed on the calendar, the “great spirit of the north” will get more serious about seasonal obligations. Cold forces have been on the downward swing over the past several days, but in spite of clouds hanging heavy with a belly full of snow, the area remains on the short side of the much needed stuff to really jump start the business of our winter customs.                                                                                                                                                  

Whereas the “Zamboni” got cranked up for several days of ice thickening, we could only muster about five to six inches of fluff in this neighborhood since our last meeting. This is hardly enough to strap on the snowshoes or skis or to make a good snow angel. Nevertheless, this meager dropping from the heavens has “re-decked the halls” along back country roads.                     

One doesn’t need a Hallmark card as a reminder of winter elegance. We border country folk just step out the door. In the words of nature photographer, Jacques Dupont, “we see so many ugly man-made things going on in the world, but the splendor of nature is the counter balance,” especially during our time of this frosty magic. All of mankind should be so lucky as to have an appreciation of that for which we have been blessed, but so often take for granted.                                                                                                                                                  
The coming days and nights are of great significance for human kind, celebrating relevant reverent rituals. As folks gather with friends and family, it would be my hope there be a time of reflection on what a mess we continue making for each other. Furthermore, to make a commitment to be less greedy, less self-indulgent and a lot less “selfie” while doing for others, as you would have them do for you.” Do some good, to just be doing some good in a world seemingly going mad!                                                                                                                                                                     

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with all of us “wild neighborhood” critters, wishing that all your Christmas’ may be white!”                                                                                                                                                                        
Safe travels if you must, and see you next year on the radio, WTIP of course!
 

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Superior National Forest Update December 22, 2017

National Forest Update – December 21, 2017.

Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist, with a late December edition of the National Forest Update - information on conditions affecting travel and recreation on the east end of the Superior.  Here’s what’s up around the Forest for the end of 2017.

This is the astronomical turning point of the season, the winter solstice.  December 21st was our shortest day and longest night of the year, with a day length of only 8 hours and 32 minutes in Duluth.  That gives you only 16 minutes of day on either side of your eight hour working day, so if it seems like you can’t get anything done, you are probably right.  The winter solstice day is somewhere around six and a half hours shorter than the longest day of the year in June.  But, from here on, we start adding minutes to the day, slowly at first, with the rate peaking at the spring equinox.  It may not seem like it, but spring is on its way.

Spring may be ahead, but winter actually caused our roads to improve this last week.  Ice was covered by a good layer of snow which provides some traction.  Be wary though, people have gotten stuck in parking lots where the snow layer was plowed back down to the ice.  There’s now enough snow that unplowed roads are mostly impassable, and are being used by snowmobiles.  Snowmobiles are allowed on unplowed roads, as well as in the general forest if there is over four inches of snow cover.  Other than snowmobiles, there isn’t much activity out there on the roadways.  There are no active timber operations on the Tofte District, and on Gunflint there will be trucks only on the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, and Cook County 14. 

Of course, there’s a lot of opportunity for other activities off the roads.  Ski trails are being groomed in most areas, though under heavy tree cover, there still are some patches with only light snow.  We are designating a few trails for fat tire bikes this year; check at our office or on the web for exact locations. 

While driving to a trail, keep an eye peeled for owls.  This year has seen a large irruption of owls where they move south out of Canada during the winter.  Particularly visible are snowy and great gray owls.  Snowy owls are possibly the owl most likely to be seen hunting during the day.  They spend summers in the arctic where there isn’t a lot of night, so they have to be good daylight hunters.  These beautiful white birds are often spotted near open areas, so look for them where there is a field or wet meadow.  Great gray owls are, as the name implies, very large and gray.  They have a hunting technique of swooping low over openings, which unfortunately brings them into contact with cars as they swoop over the road.  A visitor recently brought in a great gray who was found on the road, apparently unable to fly.  Our district offices are not equipped for animal care, and we usually refer people to licensed wildlife rehab people and facilities in the area.  This time, however, one of our biologists was on hand to examine the bird.  He is a bird bander, and knows how to handle owls in a way that is both safe for the bird and the person.  A great gray has talons that are over an inch long, with plenty of strength to drive them right into your hand, so they are a bird that must be treated with respect.  This particular bird was not happy at being in a box, but calmed down quickly once it was taken out.  It turned out that the bird was uninjured and probably had just been stunned and confused after being caught in the slipstream of a truck.  She was released back into the woods, away from the highway, gliding away on silent wings.

Enjoy your holiday season and our Minnesota winter.  Until next time, actually next year, this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.
 

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West End News - December 21

West End News 12/21/17
Ski Trails
Merry Christmas from the West End! It is easy to get into the spirit here this year as we have a cold and sparkly landscape that is quite evocative of Santa’s North Pole. When you turn inland from the Shore you have the increasing sense that you are driving deeper and deeper into a snowglobe. Fresh snow on the roads help to reveal our winter neighbors, wolf and fox tracks mingle with moose prints and the ever-present snowshoe hares are abundant as ever.

The heavy snow combined with high winds have created great travel conditions, especially on the lakes. The coming week promises some very cold temperatures too, which will only improve the hard packed snow cover out there. There’s nothing quite like skiing into the Wilderness on a crisp winter day. The snow muffles the sounds of the forest it can be so quiet you can hear your heartbeat louder than ever. Don’t quote me on this, but I’ve heard that the Boundary Waters is one of only a handful of places left in this world where you can go for 15 minutes, or more, without hearing a single human made sound. That is especially true in the winter when you are often the only human for miles.

With a busy holiday season upon us, it’s nice to know that there is a place of cold quiet just out the back door.
Closer to the Shore, the Sugarbush Trail Association has been busy grooming and tracking the vast cross country ski trail system. With somewhere around 400 kilometers of trails, Cook County boasts some of the best cross country skiing in the state. In the West End, word on the trail is that the Onion River Road is the best skiing right now, for both skate and classic. The groomers spend long grueling hours, often overnight, out on the trails keeping the conditions in tip top shape. It’s often thankless work so I’d like to take a moment right now to send out a big grateful THANK YOU! to those folks.

You may have heard that the West End has a new representative on the ISD 166 school board. Tofte’s own Dan Shirley was appointed to fulfill the remainder of Jeanne Anderson’s term. Dan grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico before making his way to Minnesota via Oregon and Montana. He is the co-owner of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, and full disclosure, if you hadn’t already guessed, he is also married to me. Tune in to the WTIP news hour to hear more from Dan about his new position.
 
For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley, with the West End News.
 

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Eero Moody

Local youth demonstrates holiday spirit by returning lost cash

Need a story to brighten your day?  Rhonda Silence talks with a very special young man.

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Sawtooth Elementary - School News Dec 19

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News - December 19, 2017
with Waylan, Bea and Carter. 

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GES group in studio 12-15-17 (2).jpg

GES Kindergarten students sing Christmas Carols

Fifteen members of the kindergarten class at Great Expectations School recently came to WTIP to record Christmas Carols.  Thank you to teacher Ann Mundell for arranging this delightful afternoon!
Here is the line up - 

Jingle Bells singers: Ezme, Thea, Corra, Everlee, Audrey, Bii

Must Be Santa:  Penelope, Everlee, Reuben, Audrey, Thea

Feliz Navidad:  Beo, Arlo, Emmalyn, Rube, Parker

Enjoy!

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