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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:

Northern Sky: July 21 - Aug 3, 2018

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.
Deane's column can be found on the University of Minnesota website at


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Superior National Forest Update - July 20, 2018

National Forest Update – July 20, 2018.

Hi.  I’m Steve Robertsen, interpretive and education specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update, information on things happening around the east end of the Superior that might affect your visit.  We are getting into the warmest days of the year and some of the busiest days in the Forest as well.

I spent a day with some Girl Scouts this past week helping them earn a badge by learning about Leave No Trace.  In my humble opinion, Leave No Trace is badge we all should try to earn before we head out into the Forest, Scouts or not.  It is a national system of outdoor ethics and while the basic idea is really really simple – that you should leave no trace of yourself behind after you visit an area – the application can be difficult.  The concept is broken into seven principles, which the Scouts got to act out in charades.  Radio is a bad medium for charades though, so I’ll just tell you what they are.  The seven principles are Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors.  These are all important ideas, but as we head into our busiest season, I’d like people to take some time to think about that last one in particular:  Be Considerate of Other Visitors. 

Being considerate means that if you are camping at a developed campground, keep your noise level down and respect quiet hours.  Don’t park in ways that block campground roads.  Remember that those roads are often used by kids on bikes, so drive slowly and cautiously in campgrounds.  At boat ramps, prepare your boat for launch away from the ramp, and clean weeds from the trailer in a place that doesn’t block the ramp.  If there are people doing inspections for aquatic invasives, cooperate with them.  They are there to help you protect our lakes.

In the Boundary Waters, keeping noise levels down is even more important.  Most people’s vision of the wilderness does not include people yelling in the background.  Remember that the “four boat, nine person” limit is for anywhere in the Wilderness, so you may have to patiently wait in your canoe for portages to clear if adding your boat to the mix would exceed the limit.  If, on the other hand, your group is the one on the portage and people are waiting, find another area to have lunch.  Choosing campsites early may be good plan since there are many campers right now, but be gracious in claiming a spot. 

Sharing the road is part of being considerate as well, and in some places that means sharing it with truck traffic.  There is a fair amount of log hauling going on right now.  Watch for trucks on the Gunflint District using the Greenwood Road, Shoe Lake Road, Old Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, Ward Lake Road, Cook County 39, Cook County 60, and the Springdale Road.  On Tofte, look for trucks on Dumbbell River Road, Trappers Lake Road, the Wanless Road, Lake County 705, Carlton Pit Road, Springdale Road, the Sawbill Trail, and the Caribou Trail.

While we’re talking Leave No Trace, I’ll mention the fifth principle too:  Minimize Campfire Impacts.  There’s been some rain the past two weeks which has moderated our fire danger, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with your fires.  Part of our fire team traveled to Ontario to help with fires in that province because wildfires don’t pay a lot of attention to national borders.  People will remember that during the Ham Lake Fire in 2007, Ontario fire fighters were there to help us.

Lastly, just remember that the most important part of Leave No Trace is summed up in the name.  Before you leave an area, scan it and ask, “Did I leave no trace of myself?”  Pick up litter, fluff up the grass that was under the tent, demolish your sand castle, and let the next person experience the joy of discovering a new place where no one has been before.

Until next week, this has been Steve Robertsen with the National Forest Update.


Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 20, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

 Three weeks into July and summer is spinning out of control in the upper Gunflint. The end of week two found the Byway weather outside, frightful. “Old Sol” was a beast, with muggy conditions for a few days. Relief oozed in last Sunday afternoon, with hope for clear skies and cool temps as the Gunflint Community headed into last Wednesday’s canoe races. 
For the first time in several Sundays,’ the area missed a substantial rain. That being said, rushing rivers and rising lake levels throughout the territory have likely steadied. Whereas Gunflint Lake had been quite low following the meager spring snowmelt and minimal rainfall, it has risen nearly a foot over the past month. 
Although we are but a month into official summer, it seems there some interesting changes going on.  Maybe it’s just me, but it appears the blueberries have come on a couple weeks earlier than usual, and fireweed is in bloom a bit prematurely. Meanwhile, if folks are looking as they travel along the Trail, one can see Spreading Dogbane turning golden, which is perhaps the earliest indication of autumn.
Reporting on critters of the “wild neighborhood”, a gal in the mid-Trail area tells of a seldom observed natural happening. She was in the right place at the right time to see what turned out to be a Luna Moth emerging from its chrysalis.                                                                                                     
She says, as the “coming out” commenced, the head was an ugly looking glob, but as things progressed things got better and better. When all was done, the amazing pale green nocturnal lepidopteran insect was a spectacle to behold. 
Another mid-trail episode was shared by a lady on a recent Leo Lake kayak expedition.  In this case, she was just into her journey when distracted by something moving around her feet. Able to glance down into the bow area, a slithering passenger was discovered. Being not too fond of snakes, this screaming gal never paddled so fast in finding a place to land, nor did it take her long to “de-kayak”.    
Apparently, the north woods serpent was equally uncomfortable with the situation as it escaped simultaneously during the onshore confusion. Somehow it got out without being seen as it could not be found in a subsequent craft inspection. Neither relaxed or refreshed from the usual aquatic experience, she got back in and paddled home in record time, proving her cardio system must be in great shape during such a stressful time. By the way, she can outrun a bear too!                                                                                                                                                                                   
An amusing situation occurred a few days ago around out hummingbird feeder. I was casually walking by the nectar jar when I observed a bumble bee sipping at one of the florets. While the bee was enjoying the sweetness, a hummer buzzed in for a drink as well. As the scene unfolded, the bee would not allow the tiny bird to land. I watched for several moments as the bee kept the bird in a holding pattern, launching strafing attacks each time the bird tried to land. In the end, the bird gave up and darted off. The bee continued guzzling for some time before departing on an apparent sugar high.                                                                                                                                                                                     
In a programming note from the Chik-Wauk Nature Center, a class on Lichens is being offered to interested folks. The class will be held on August 24th in the Nature Center. Pre-registration is necessary as class size is limited.  Find out more by checking on the Chik-Wauk website. 
For immediate consideration though, this weekend will provide more learning experiences up at the end of the Trail Museum site. Saturday is the first phase of an experience in learning about invasive plants of the area, and the need to eradicate them for the sake of native flora. Events get underway at 10:00 o’clock and continue through the day. Then on the next Saturday, July 28, the second phase of the program will involve a planned pulling of the nasty invaders around the Chik-Wauk Campus. In the context of what “Smokey the Bear” might say, “Only we can prevent invasive plant expansion.”                                                                                       
Then on this Sunday, don’t forget the “The Man Behind the Mystery” in the Nature Center at 2 p.m. as David Battistel presents more research on the historic Paulson Mine. 
In the midst of all these activities, “the” community radio station of the North Shore is seeking new and continued member support in their summer funding drive. Heading off into the third decade of broadcasting, toward “20 more years” of community service and audio excellence, WTIP needs you! 
Please don’t be bashful about stepping up with whatever resources you can share to keep radio alive and well here in the Northland and around the globe. Stop by and pledge in person at the studios; click and join at; or give our operators a call now…at 218-388-1070 or toll-free 1-800-473-9847.  
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, in “zippity, do dah style!


Care Partners is raffling this beautiful quilt made by Carol Harris

Care Partners works with community caregivers

Care Partners of Cook County provides support and services to help clients and their families  address the transitions of aging, serious illness and end of life with safety, dignity, and confidence.

Care Partners offers services such as Chore Partners and Caregiver Coffees. The organization also helped create the Dementia Friendly Cook County program. 

To help fund the work of Care Partners, a beautiful 89-by-89 inch quilt by Carol Harris is being raffled. The quilt is on display at Drury Lane Books. Tickets are on sale at Drury Lane Books, Java Moose, Buck's Hardware and Trail Center.

WTIP volunteer Marnie McMillan learns more about Care Partners, its services and some fun upcoming activities in this interview. 



Remembering David Brislance - Cross River Heritage Ctr

CJ Heithoff talks with Mary Brislance about the "Remembering David Brislance" event at the Cross River Heritage Center on Saturday, July 21st. 


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - July 13, 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. We’ve had a lot of warm weather recently, and with that people are headed out to the water more than usual. Living on and visiting the North Shore, we are all familiar with life at the lake. So, it’s a good time of year to review the basics. We want your summer and your vacation to be stress-free.

The first basic rule for boating or canoeing is to wear your life jacket. Life jackets do you no good if they are just sitting in the boat. The best time to put on your life jacket is before you need it. I know a lot of us have had the experience of being in a canoe or boat in wind or waves thinking, “I probably should have my life jacket on.” And, you were right. You probably should have had it on. Whenever you have children around water, always make sure they have a life vest on that fits them properly. I saw a very small child fall off a dock last week and luckily he had a vest on and his family was close enough to fish him out of the water within a minute or so. It was scary. Dogs can also knock children into the water from a dock or from the shore if they get excited to see a duck or an otter swim by. At least I know my dog would. Always keep an eye on those little ones around water.

The second basic rule is if your canoe does tip over, stay with it. It will float even with water in it and it is your ticket home. Don’t worry about finding your gear. Packs will generally float, and you can search for them later along the shore. Your life is more valuable than what you had in that pack. Your main task is to get to shore so you can dry off. Even in midsummer, our lakes are cold enough to cause hypothermia after exposure. Find your paddles if they are visible, but you can actually hand paddle a partly submerged canoe. This is actually a pretty fun activity to try ahead of time – teaching your family how to swamp a canoe and how to get back in it or right it in the water. You can even make it a game and have ‘no paddle canoe races’ for learning how to deal with canoes that tip over.

Another part of life at the lake and boating is dealing with aquatic invasive species. The rule is ‘Clean, Drain, and Dry’. Following that rule should become as automatic as putting on the life jacket. The idea is to not spread harmful organisms from one lake to another, and we can do that by cleaning our boats and trailers after taking them from the lake, draining bilges, your bait buckets, and live wells, and drying off your boat and trailer. The recommendation is to let equipment dry for five days, or as best you can.
Many Minnesotans are familiar with this when fishing with a trailered motorboat, but don’t realize the rules apply equally to canoes and kayaks. Flip your canoe or kayak over when you exit the lake and dump all the water out of it. Dry it as best you can before putting it on your roof racks or heading down the portage trail. Dump leftover bait, except worms, where they will die – it is tempting to be nice to minnows and release them into the lake, but don’t do that unless you caught them in that lake. Worms are not an aquatic invasive, however, they are non-native and have been shown to have major negative effects on our forests. We are lucky that our forests don’t have a large worm population and we’d like to keep it that way. The state and counties take invasives very seriously with inspectors stationed at random boat landings through the summer to help educate boaters. There is also the possibility of fines for people who are not taking it seriously enough.

All this being said about being at the lake, you’ll have to drive to get to a boat landing. Forest roads are in pretty decent shape this week. Watch for trucks hauling on the Dumbell River Road, Trappers Lake Road, Carlton Pit Road, Greenwood and Old Greenwood, Shoe Lake, Firebox, and Ward Lake Roads, Cook County 39, Cook County 60, and the Springdale Road. Have fun at the lake, whichever lake that is, and until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.


Moose cow and twins on the Gunflint - Photo by Colin Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: July 13, 2018

A few days reprieve from summer misery was punctuated by another sticky one last Saturday. Then intense rain sent the last of Independence Day visitors scurrying out of the woods, back to metropolis on Sunday. So it’s damp and somewhat quiet as I begin this week’s Gunflint Scoop.                                                                                                                                                     
The frenzy of summer activities starts peaking next week. A good part of this report is about event reminders for both residents and listening visitors heading this way. A double feature kicks-off this next Wednesday, the 18th.                                                                                                                                                  
The 41st floating of the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races hits the waterfront at Gunflint Lodge beginning at 4:30 pm with food service. Paddling fun will run from 6:00 until about 8:30, concluding with the drawing for the grand prize, a kayak.  
Then during the same Canoe extravaganza, our North Shore air waves’ sensation will be embarking on their next 20 years of community radio, with the WTIP summer membership drive, direct from the shores of Gunflint Lake.
Back in broadcast studios on Thursday, this important event will conclude at noon on Tuesday, July 24.   
Proceeds from both of these fundraising endeavors go to support great community causes. Everyone’s participation is vital!      
A week from this Saturday, on July 21, a week of regional invasive plant education, investigation and eradication begins up at the Chik-Wauk Nature Center. Collaborative efforts between the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway Committee, the Chik-Wauk Museum & Nature Center and Cook County Invasive professionals, will start with classroom presentations at 10:00 a.m

This phase will be followed by outdoor investigative/ identification hikes around the Chik-Wauk campus extending through the afternoon. All are welcome, with no pre-registration necessary.                                                                                     
On Sunday, July 22, Chik-Wauk Nature Center programming continues with David Battistel presenting more research on The Man Behind the Mystery, John Paulson, and saga surrounding the rise and fall of the historic Paulson Iron Mine. The event starts at 2:00 p.m.    
Whether one is a first time Trail visitor or an age-old resident, there is nothing more exciting than getting to see a moose. In fact thousands come out his way just for such an experience, only to find the critters just don’t show up for humans on cue. This in mind, one has to be in the right place at the right time.  
As many moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas reside out this way, little does more to bond wilderness family memories than hitting the moose-sighting lottery.    This was the case at Wildersmith last weekend as our grandson and his gal friend happened upon a momma moose and her twin kids up toward end of the Trail.

In the excitement, digital confirmation shows the better part of the iconic threesome with my column on the web at     
In a startling, but amusing bear encounter, a Trail gal reports she recently bumped into a bear while June and blueberry picking. Surprised to say the least, the lady found the bear was also shocked at her sudden presence and not real happy with the blues picking interruption.   
Now everyone knows you’re not likely to out run a bear. In a state of panic however, she turned and took off running, as did the bear. During the escape mode madness, and falling down once, she eventually felt compelled to glance around to see if Bruno was nipping at her heels. Fate favored her, gasping from fear and near oxygen debt, it was discovered, she had easily out distanced the ebony critter.      
Hmmm… A miracle, yes! Come to find out, in a rather amusing conclusion to this bear tale, while she ran down the hill, the bear went in an opposite direction up a hill. One can never be assured a bear or for that matter, any wild predator will run the opposite direction. This was her lucky day!

Perhaps she should have headed in to Grand Marais and bought a Powerball ticket.                                                                                                                                                                 
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with one Gunflint chapter after another, revealing unexpected mysteries of our natural world.


Vicki Biggs-Anderson

Magnetic North - July 6, 2018

Magnetic North 7/1/18
Isle Royale Saga Part 2
Welcome back to Magnetic North and the follow-up to my sailing saga of forty years ago. As I said before, time spent tied up to the wall by the Coast Guard Station in Grand Marais was all too short. My husband, our daughter, Gretchen and our young medical intern and friend, Pam, were on a quest, not a looky-loo sightseeing excursion. We’d crossed Lake Superior from the Apostle Islands in a dense cloud of fog, motoring most of the way until we made land and slipped through the narrow slot into the town harbor. It was merely a pit stop - ice, grub, and shuteye - before the Big Push to Isle Royale’s Washington Harbor. And the July morning brought the clearest skies of the summer, a gift from a major high-pressure system tied in a bow with 30-plus mile per hour winds.

And that was just at 8 o’clock in the morning.

Landlubbers will look out at the big lake dancing to the music of winds like that and crow, “What a great day for a sail, eh?” 
But anyone who has ever hoisted a sail in such conditions might well differ. Sure, you wouldn’t have to touch the motor, but you also would have to seriously consider attaching your lifejacket to the rigging during the voyage. Sailboats keel to one side under much lesser wind power, and that day, we would be sailing parallel to the waves which were growing taller with every passing hour.

After a brief, too brief for this kid, conference with our sailing friends in a 33-footer, we opted to set out well before noon for the island, sticking as close together as possible. And so we did.

I am guessing that before we’d even passed Five Mile Rock, our friend, Pam, Gretchen and I had consumed the maximum dose of Dramamine, as much to settle our nerves as our stomachs.

That sideways wind was the kind we had that day going to Isle Royale; One side rail of the boat just about even with the water and stomach lurching drops from the top of wave thoughts to their bottoms... Up. Down. Up. Down. And never a letup in the wind.
Not that it was boring. Anything but.

At one point, I looked up at the cabin door to see Gretchen holding her knitting needles in one little hand -they were of course aimed at her eyeballs. Soon after that, I looked across at our sailing friends in their much bigger boat, only to see their mast disappear in the troughs of the waves separating our crafts.

I will say this. There were no biting flies that day.

Thanks to the ferocious wind, we made Isle Royale just a bit after noon, coming up alongside Rock of Ages Lighthouse, still in huge waves. I was instructed to keep my eye on the depth finder and report if we were about to see the wreck of the America closer than planned. 

“Ten feet,” I croaked as the famed lighthouse loomed off our bow. That’s ten feet from the tip of the keel, mind you.
“Eight feet....five!” I squawked, “Will you for the love of Pete put he blasted sails DOWN?!” It was less a question than a command. I tend to get bossy when death nears.

“Well, cheated death again,” my husband cried over the roar of the motor, as we tied up to the dock. 

A gaggle of teenage campers stood ogling our two sailboats, oblivious to the conditions beyond the harbor mouth…“Wow, what a great day for a sail,” one yelled enthusiastically.  My reply was -mercifully - muffled by the shouts of my husband and our young physician friend who had just seen Gretchen and the pug fall off the bow into the lake.

Both dog and child wore life jackets. It was not the first - or last - time for such drama.

It was three more years before I refused to sail on Superior ever again and another 14 before I got my heart’s desire and moved to the North Shore, at long last, happily aground at the end of a gravel road. Aside from a few humbling experiences with goats and geese and assorted critters, I have not once since ended my days here with the phrase, “Well, cheated death again,”
As for the young woman who gamely made the trip with us to the Isle, her experience seemed to have forced her to question where her life was going, at least now that it was not ending on the rocks of Superior. Within months of returning to the cities, she quit medicine and became a Buddhist monk. I kid you not.

It is ironic that having endured forced marches into the BWCA and near death experiences on the big lake, I still felt drawn to this place. And over the years I’ve come to find enough to fill my cup in just being here. Not covering kilometers in the wilderness. Not circling the lake on the highway or crossing it on water. Just being in a place where I can look out the window and see a doe licking her newborn fawn clean, or ride a kicksled at midnight down my snowy driveway under Northern Lights, or know who is related to who and where to find help when a newcomer needs a plumber, electrician or even get a skunk out from under one’s porch.

It’s not high adventure - nothing Robert W. Service would have written poems about. But for me and for Paul, it was and is more, much, much, more than enough.

For WTIP this is Vicki Biggs-Anderson with Magnetic North.


Star Watch - Late July

Northern Sky: July 7 - 20, 2018

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.
Deane's column can be found on the University of Minnesota website at


Fran & Fred Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 6, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by    Fred Smith     July 6, 2018    

Remarkably, this weeks’ upper Trail scoop finds us filing away week one of July. It’s unconscionable how time escapes us so rapidly. In case you didn’t notice, we passed the half-way point of year ’18. Seems like just yesterday, we were embracing its’ arrival.  

The big hoopla of Independence Day has faded into obscurity as we set off into another week of invigorating summer time activities along the Trail. From the looks of things, based on the amount of traffic and clogged business parking facilities, hospitality operations, and area outfitters must be busy; busy; busy.                                                                                                                          
With miserably hot and humid weather conditions gripping most all places south, it’s no wonder this area is inundated with folks trying to escape to a cool spot up north. It has been obviously cooler than civilization south of Cook County, but real cool is somewhat questionable among those of us residents who were experiencing our own bit of tropical conditions for a few days.                                                                                                                                                                              
While in the high seventies to around eighty degrees in this neighborhood, and there’s been some minor whining from yours truly. Remember, I’m the one who has great admiration for warmth not to exceed fifty-five to sixty during any portion of the warm season.                                                                 
Looking back on my fifty-seven years in Iowa and those uncountable stifling summer days, I feel for all folks who’ve been sweating out the hundred degrees stuff. So I’m thankful, the conditions we Gunflinters’ have endured are not as bad as they might be.                                                                              
Speaking more about our version of northland hotness, I can only imagine how irritating the past several days have been for those in our “wild neighborhood” who wear a fur coat year around. From tiny rodents to massive moose, I could see they too might be a little ouchy when they cannot peel off a garment or find a little cool comfort.                                                                                                         
Meanwhile, the other character of weather in this territory found us better blessed as June faded into July. Although amounts of rain can be variable throughout the near sixty-mile Gunflint corridor, all got some much-needed moisture. While dodging a bullet from some violent storms in regions west and south, the upper Trail saw creeks and rivers gushing into area lakes and ponds with a vengeance during the big rain last Sunday. For the weekend past, the Wildersmith gauge collected nearly two inches of the “wet/cooling” stuff.

Being out of doors at various times in the past days, I find the biting bug situation to be increasingly annoying. The black flies are not too engaging now unless one is disturbing the earth, whereas mosquitoes have been fully committed to relieving me of a little blood. Last Sunday they were particularly nasty prior to the rainstorm. So it’s definitely time to be looking at this part of the world through a bug net and slathering other body parts with “deet.”  

Speaking of bugs, as opposed to the incorrigibles just mentioned, The Chik-Wauk Nature Center program for this week features, Pat Thomas who will be sharing her expertise on Pollinators and other “beneficial” insects in your yard. This should be an interesting topic of discussion with so many of the ecosystems arthropods in a state of decline and at risk of expiration. The presentation begins at 2:00 pm, Sunday afternoon.                                                                                                                 
The Gunflint Trail Canoe Races are but eleven days away from this weekend. If listeners haven’t bought into the event grand prize drawing yet, tickets are on sale in the Mid-Trail area at Trail Center Restaurant, and also at Gunflint Lodge, Cross River Lodge, Seagull Outfitters, Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and Chik-Wauk Museum. The prize is another fantastic kayak from the good folks at, Winona Canoe works.                                                                                                                           

In addition to this giveaway, there’ll be a silent raffle for many Trail crafted items and a live auction of other big prizes. Of particular note is a beautiful, locally stitched Gunflint T-shirt quilt, featuring representation from all contributing Trail businesses and organizations.                                                         
Don’t forget, on top of all the fun, this event is our way of supporting the fire and rescue men and women. Pitch in with your resources and volunteerism!                                                                       

In a correction from last week, activities commence on the 18th with food service at 4:30 pm (not 4:00), and races at 6:00.                                                                                                                                            
A reminder is given to all Gunflint Trail Historical Society members of the meeting this coming Monday, the 9th. The gathering will be held at the Schaap Community Center (mid-Trail) beginning at 1:30 pm. Our time will reflect on friends and neighbors who have passed from our midst in the past year, through “Gunflint Trail, Resident Remembrances.” Treats will be served following the recognitions.                                                                                                                                                               
For WTIP, where we’re “going for 20 more” years of quality radio, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day of life in this wild land is special!