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North Shore Weekend

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  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
Host CJ Heithoff brings you this Saturday morning show, created at the request of WTIP listeners.  North Shore Weekend features three hours of community information, features, interviews, and music. It's truly a great way to start your weekend on the North Shore. Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP’s North Shore Weekend are made possible with funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

 

 


What's On:
Short-tailed shrew

North Woods Naturalist: Shrews

They’re our second smallest mammal, but they’re common, though secretive. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about shrews.

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Lilacs are blooming in some areas, but not the Wildersmith yard yet.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 16

It’s hard to imagine June is half gone, and by the next time we meet on the radio the Summer Solstice will have passed us by. With this universal turning point, it seems unthinkable the slow trickle down of day light minutes begins.                                                                               
With seasonal vacation times barely underway, and so many things to do in Gunflint territory, it’s hard reckoning how one will be able to explore all the opportunities before fall slows things down.                                                                                                                                                  
Speaking of things to do in the coming weeks, historical site leaders throughout the county have been meeting over the past winter exchanging ideas and coordinating plans to enhance guest attendance and better meet visitor needs.                                                                              
One such plan is what they are calling a “Passport into the Past." Designed to encourage visitors to seek out each of the Arrowhead historic facilities, each organization will be establishing key program offerings and events between July 26 and September 4. On one’s first trek to a paticipating county historical site the visitor will get their “Passport” and a subsequent stamp confirming that visit. The PP document will then be stamped at each site with the idea to get a stamp from each society by summer's end. Just think how much Cook County history can be soaked up during the summer trek.                                                                                                                                                        
The key event for the Gunflint Trail Historical Society will be its annual pie and ice cream social on September 3.

For additional Cook County historical venue activities one will want to make a contact with each of the other five around the county. I feel confident information will be forthcoming on WTIP and also be available on the Cook County Visitors Bureau website. Stay tuned!                                                                                                                                                                               
A look at atmospheric conditions finds Gunflint weather pretty spectacular since we last met. Comfortably cool nights and warm days have been the order. However, deliveries from the skies have been on the lean side in this neighborhood and on up the Trail, so all growing things could use a good rain. On a somewhat related outdoor note, the lake water temp is up into the high 50s at the Wildersmith dock.                                                                                                         

Speaking further of environmental things, this territory has many cases of micro climates. A sampling finds lilacs in full bloom in obviously warmer inland locales while a similar shrub has barely unfurled leaves, and flowering buds have yet to show signs of purplish tint here in the colder Wildersmith yard. If they don’t hurry up the frost might get them!                                                                                                                     
Since our last discussion about the loons at the Chik-Wauk site abandoning the nesting platform, it is reported mom, pop and chick have returned and hang out in the bay waters.  Another report from the museum staff tells of hikers finding prized Lady Slippers in bloom along the Moccasin and Blueberry Trails. They won’t last long so a trip up that way to Chik-Wauk has some degree of urgency.                                                                                                                                               
A big weekend for outdoor adventurers is on tap this weekend (Saturday and Sunday). The third annual Boundary Waters Canoe Expo is being held once again at the Seagull Lake public landing. Many exhibitors and organizations will be on hand under the big-top displaying the latest in wilderness gear and living techniques. So why not make this a comprehensive trip with a stop at Expo and the Chik Wauk Museum & Nature Center. All are invited!                                                                  

The big shrimp boil fest up at end of the Trail last weekend was a tremendous success. From all appearances, it seemed the event drew a record crowd, although I have no accounting of the fund raising effort. With many folks hitting the buffet line multiple times, if anyone went away hungry, they had nobody to blame but themselves.                                                                                                                              

Leadership of the Gunflint Trail Historical Society extends huge thanks to all the organizing volunteers and of course, the hungry north woods folks savoring not only great cuisine, but also, just the joy of Gunflint community. Another thank you goes out to dozens of baked goods donors. What an array of sweet treats, heaven on earth for those with a sweet tooth.                                                                                                                                          
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, for which we’re all grateful.

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West End News: June 15

Clare Shirley's West End News is a weekly feature on WTIP. Clare is a fifth-generation local, and third-generation canoe outfitter from Cook County's West End.

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North Shore Health - Wellness

WTIP Volunteer Tina Krauz covers the progress on the renovations at the North Shore Hospital and Care Center. In this installment she talks with Amy James about well-being and wellness.

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Jupiter and its four moons

Northern Sky: June 10 - 23

Deane Morrison is a science writer at the University of Minnesota, where she authors the Minnesota Starwatch column.

The moon is waning which is good for starwatchers. Jupiter shows up in the southwest just after nightfall, and Spica can be seen southeast of Jupiter. Saturn will be at its brightest for the year in the southeast with the giant red star Antares to the west. Venus and a waning crescent moon can be seen in the east very early in the morning on June 20.

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The loon egg that did not successfully hatch is being sent to Cornell University.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 9

With official summer only 12 days away, the territory got a warm preview last weekend. Wilderness stickiness had some folks grinning while the moose and I were cringing.                                                                                                                                                                             
In concert with the early warmth, predicted rain turned out wimpy in this neighborhood, barely enough to the Mile O' Pine dust. Meanwhile, other places along the Trail received some short, but heavy downpours.                                                                                   

Mother Nature's gardening projects are just about done.  Our verdant forest spectacle is one to behold as the sugar maple leaf foliage closes the deal. On the ground, those forget-me-nots have remembered us once again, making for blue on earth as it is in the heavens. And the delectable pie plant is being harvested without a “rhubarb,' ummm!                                                                        
As we celebrate the Ojibwe, full “strawberry moon” tonight and the next couple days, outdoor life is tough. The annual black fly invasion has folks swatting like mad-people. A good bug net is somewhat comforting, but the mean critters are quite cunning in their ability to ride inside on one’s clothing and then torment when unprotected. In my opinion, they’re the worst they’ve been in several years.

Sad to say, but the situation will multiply in intensity as the mosquitoes are just coming on. So if it seems as though I’m a bit snarly, I probably am, due to building heat/humidity and the attack of the swarm.

If you were a WTIP website reader of last week's column, you missed my on-air “breaking news” about the loon at the Chik-Wauk site. As an update, a young’un was hatched a week ago this past Wednesday with the partnering mate still AWOL. All went well and by afternoon the little chick was into the water with mom and one egg still in the nest.                                                                                                                                                       

The same afternoon, who should appear but the apparent, missing partner.  After some quiet loon conversation, the slacker dad climbed onto the nest. There was a lot of prideful cooing as mom and baby floated about for the rest of the day.                                                     

Next morning the museum staff announced with dismay that the family had departed the nesting site which seemed unusual. Later in the day, it was discovered the abandoned nest still housed an egg, still no return of the family. Hearing of the plight, an interested fisherman made a trip by the nesting platform and retrieved the egg. Finding a small escape hole had been opened, the tiny pecking effort was all the un-hatched could muster, thus perishing.                                                                                                                                     

People with experience and knowledge of what might have occurred, surmise the black flies probably drove the parents away from the last incubation. Through field glasses, observers had noticed the infestation swarming momma's head just days before the first hatching.  Evidence indicates we humans are not the only ones being tortured by these nasties, although the species of flies bothering the loons and other water birds is different than the one nipping people. We have to feel for all critters of the “wild neighborhood” during this biting onslaught.

By the way, the egg is being shipped to where researchers at the Cornell University Ornithological Institute will analyze the egg in loon studies.                                                                                                                                                                                 

A bear with quadruplet cubs has found its way to the south shore of Gunflint Lake. Then again, there might be more than one momma bear with four mouths to feed as I reported hearing of one up in end of the Trail places a couple weeks ago.                                                                          
Regardless, this Bruno family caused quite a stir at a residence down along South Gunflint Lake Road (County Rd. 20) one day and night last week. I’m told a noisy attempt to dispatch the gang from the yard spooked two of the cubs into exploring their tree climbing techniques. The sequence of events sent the duo climbing a tall pine to nearly the top.  Once up there, climbing down was discovered to be a scary option, so there they remained for hours. Meanwhile momma and the others made their way into the woods out of sight.                                           

Needless to say the residents were not about to interfere with a rescue attempt. As darkness overtook the scene, I’m told the little ones were still aloft.                                                                                                        

It’s amazing how moms have a way, because some time during the night she must have talked them down. By morning, the homeowner's trail cam revealed the foursome was reunited and while still hanging around, had to be issued another loud “get out’a here” notice, which sent them off  not to be seen again.                                                                                                                                        
Area folk are reminded of the annual shrimp boil feast this coming Sunday (the 11th). Sponsored by the Gunflint Trail Historical Society, the event takes place at the Seagull Creek Community Center beginning at 4 p.m.                                                                                                                  
A bake sale is also being held in conjunction with the meal. If any Trail residents wish to contribute a baking confectionary, it’s not too late, but a call to coordinator Judy Edlund in confirmation would be appreciated at 388-4400.                                                                                                             
This event is an important fundraiser for the society with a per plate donation suggested.                                                                                                                                                                      

Reminder is also given to GTHS members about the first membership meeting of the summer. It will be held this coming Monday, the 12th at the Schaap (Mid-Trail Community Center) beginning at 1:30 p.m.  A history of the Blankenbergs will be presented by Bill Douglas and Bruce Kerfoot. Members who also might have stories about the territory's legendary landowners are urged to share during the program.  Treats and conversation will follow.          
                                                        
For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great with expected, border country adventures.
 
 

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Loren Acton

West End News: June 8

Meeting new people is one of my favorite parts of the summer visitor season. With a wide array of things to do and see in the most popular Wilderness area right in our backyard, people from all walks of life are drawn to Cook County. You just never know who is going to walk through the door, and I love it.

This week a nice fellow stopped by my office to inquire whether I, or someone I knew, would like to buy is his old Kevlar canoe. Now, he is not the first person to ask me this, nor is it really something I usually do. I have plenty of my own canoes to deal with. This man was so nice, however, that I thought I’d at least take a shot at finding a new home for his canoe. He and his wife were hitting the road for Montana the next morning. Fellow Sawbillian Jessica Hemmer sent out a few texts and lo and behold, Adrian Hess of Lutsen was in the market for a new-to-him canoe. The next morning, the gentleman came back to our store and while Jessica was helping him get the canoe off his car he casually mentioned “well, something kind of interesting you can tell your friend, he just bought this canoe from an astronaut.”

Sure enough, our kind visitor turned out to be none other than Loren Acton, a physicist who specializes in solar physics. Loren flew on STS-51-F/Spacelab-2 Challenger in 1985. It took seven years of training to prepare and at the end of the mission he had spent just over a week in space, and traveled over 2.8 million miles in 126 Earth orbits. Currently, he is a research professor of physics at Montana State University. Loren and his wife Evelyn are two of the nicest people I’ve met, which would’ve been great in and of itself, but it’s not everyday that an astronaut strolls into your office - that’s for sure!

The much anticipated Lutsen 99er bike race is coming up on June 24 this year. While registration for the race itself is closed, there are still volunteer opportunities to be had. If you are interested, you can get a hold of Signe Larson by emailing her at signesummer@gmail.com. There are pre-race jobs on Thursday and Friday as well as places to help during the race itself. The race is quite the event, and something well worth checking out. The big start is at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday at Lutsen Mountain near Rosie’s Chalet and spectators are welcome. After the race there will be live music at Papa Charlie's.

Speaking of biking, the sun is shining and it’s time for me to hit the trail.

For WTIP, I’m Clare Shirley with the West End News.

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Dr. Seth Moore

Dr. Seth Moore: Engaging tribal youth in an environmental career path

Dr. Seth Moore is Director of Biology and Environment with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. 

The Grand Portage Reservation is located in the extreme northeast corner of Minnesota, on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Cook County. Bordered on the north by Canada, on the south and east by Lake Superior and on the west by Grand Portage State Forest, the reservation encompasses an historic fur trade site on scenic Grand Portage Bay.

The band engages in fisheries and wildlife research projects throughout the year, working with moose, wolves, fish, deer, grouse, and environmental issues. Dr. Moore appears regularly on WTIP North Shore Community Radio, talking about the band's current and ongoing natural resource projects, as well as other environmental and health related issues. 

In this segment, Dr. Moore talks about a project that hopes to engage Grand Portage tribal youth in environmental education and careers.

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Ovenbird

North Woods Naturalist: The ovenbird

There’s a small, camouflaged warbler with one very familiar song and a second song that few people recognize. WTIP’s Jay Andersen talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the ovenbird.

(Photo courtesy of Kent McFarland on Flickr)

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Chik Wauk has been enjoying watching loons like this one.

Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 2

The last hurrah of winter has now evaporated from this neighborhood. It took the better part of five months, but alas the season of cold, ice and snow is sent off into history.                                           

Conditions still remain on the cool side as I key the Gunflint scoop over Memorial Day weekend. Showers measuring in the few tenths range have kept the dust down, and forest duff damp during the past seven.                                                                                                                                          
Forest green-up is making headway, but seems to remain a week or so from completion in my estimation. “Mother Nature” operates in strange ways it would seem. Many quaking aspen tokens have reached fullness, while others right alongside have barely broken the green tip bud stage. Same is true for many other deciduous floras. It’s difficult to understand, but the “old gal” in charge of all things natural obviously has a plan.

I was in the lake this past weekend with a friend putting the dock out. In spite of donning the wet suit, the H2O got my immediate attention. Dipping the thermometer after the last pallet was in place, I found the temp at a depth of four feet to be only 44 degrees, burr!            

Many great residents along the Trail having been showing their Gunflint pride this past week doing the road side clean-up. Big thanks to everyone who pitched in with the pick-up. A good friend and yours truly did our two-mile stretch and came up with a sundry of debris in the amount of six garbage bags full, plus any number of items not a fit for the bags.  

What a shame that a segment of byway users would be so irresponsibly careless and inconsiderate of this precious place.  As I walked along climbing in and out of ditches, a few observations came to mind:      

No. 1, as the Trail is a one way in and the same way back out, I found I was picking up far less on the north (inbound) side than my friend on the south going (outbound). Clearly, the littering folks are pitching their garbage on the way out rather than taking it home and/or disposing of it properly.                                                               

No. 2, another conclusion is there is great wonder why more fires aren’t started in the dry ditch cover with all the cigarette butts cast out vehicle windows.                                                                                

No. 3, the most obvious view confirmed an un-countable number of visitors cannot go anywhere, or do anything without an alcoholic beverage in their hands (and what’s more, while behind the wheel). This fact is borne out by the beer cans, bottles and booze containers collected during our pick-up mission.

It seems unimaginable a number of Trail users, who to give lip service to this territory being such a cherished environment, are so thoughtless to not “walk the talk” by “leaving no trace.”                            

One more item, though not related to the clean-up, is based on the vehicles passing us during the walk. It is fairly obvious the 50/55 mph speed limit is being interpreted as 65 to 70, and more. Cook County financial woes could surely be tempered if these speed demons were corralled more frequently and had their wallets lightened.                              

Stepping down from my soap box to happier wildland tidings, my commentary goes beyond garbage collection. No matter if one has seen just one, or perhaps dozens of “wild neighborhood” critter situations, every new sighting remains energizing. Such happened to the Smith’s in our travels during the past week.                                                                           

Our first encounter found a momma moose and her calf interrupting our travel down the Trail. This little brown tag-along could not have been very old as it gamely attempted galloping to keep up with mom in order to get out of our way. Then a few days later, we came upon a young bull munching in a pond along the Trail. This handsome fellow was in sleek summer attire with lush black velvet on his rack, what an iconic dude!    

Bears have made it to the Wildersmith neighborhood. Sure enough a clamoring on the deck one evening after dark found one snooping around. Turning on the outdoor light spooked it, and Bruno panicked forgetting how it got up there. After stumbling around, it decided to slide under an opening in the deck rail. The last I saw of it to this point, the bear was clinging to the deck by its claws, not aware it was about ten foot to ground level.  By then I was out the door with my trusty blank starting pistol, firing wild-west fashion. Turns out, there was a little companion below the deck and the last I saw of them, they were sprinting off into the darkness.                                                                                                                   

A day later, during a trip to the village a wolf crossed our way. This was a highly unusual scene where the stately Canid seemed curious of us as we were with it, not skittish in the slightest. We spent the better part of ten minutes watching the animal investigate us in our vehicle only to have it lay down in the ditch a short distance away, eyes in deep fixation on this strange happening in its world. Fumbling with a camera, we never did get a good photo op, and as we departed, the north woods hunter remained at the scene eerily watching as we rolled away.

In addition to these animal meanderings, we’ve also had a nocturnal visit from two fishers. One came in the evening and the other, a larger version, in the wee morning hours, each causing a ruckus. Both were in search of sunflower seed nutrition that was no longer available.                                             

A final note comes from the nesting platform at the Chik-Wauk Museum site. Tragedy has occurred as one of the loon pair has disappeared. Not knowing what may have become of the missing partner, a single parent is now sitting on the nest 24-7. With only brief times off the nest, to get in a little fishing, the scene is being watched with care to see if hatching and early nurturing becomes a reality.  

For WTIP, this is Fred Smith, on the Trail at Wildersmith, where every day is great, with Mother Nature's caring ways looking after the menagerie.

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