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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:
Ringless Honey Mushrooms. Photo by Matthew Beziat via Flickr and Creative Commons (

North Woods Naturalist: Humongous fungus

Honey mushrooms and other fungi have been found in abundance this year.  WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the world of fungi in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - September 13

National Forest Update – September 12, 2019

Hi.  This is Steve Robertsen, interpretation and education specialist with the Superior National Forest with the National Forest Update – information for people visiting the Forest, or just wondering what’s going on out there.

What’s going on is fall.  It varies a lot over the Forest.  While driving the 600 Road on Wednesday, I passed through areas where it was very close to peak colors, and areas where it still looked like July.  Climbing to a scenic viewpoint, I’d say that the Forest overall is around 25% of fall color, but you can see how there are bands of color here and there throughout the woods.  It’s a good time to go out and look because of the contrasts between areas, but then, I’m partial to fall and think it’s a good time to go out the entire season. 

I was headed out the road because I was going to visit the site of the town of Forest Center near Isabella Lake.  On September 11th and 12th in 2011, the Pagami Creek Fire tore through that area on its way toward a spectacular run resulting in over 90,000 acres burned.  Every year on the anniversary of that event, I’ve been taking photos of the regeneration at Forest Center.  It is always amazing to see how quickly the forest grows after a fire.  That area was a jack pine forest, a species of tree that is built to live with fire.  Jack pine cones are sealed shut and only open with heat.  They can survive intense heat – in lab settings, seeds still germinate after being roasted at 900 degrees.  Seeds can also mature after a fire has killed the parent tree, and can remain viable for 5 to 10 years after.  As a result, the area at Forest Center which was burned to the ground 8 years ago now looks like a Christmas tree forest.  It is covered with 6 to 8 foot tall jack pines and looks great.

With all our recent rain, fire isn’t much of problem right now.  In fact, fire crews would like a little drier weather so they can burn some piles created during thinning and fuel reduction operations.  If they do get a chance, be aware that there may be some smoke in the air from the pile burning.

Forest roads are in good shape.  Many of them have been recently graded, and the culvert work which had blocked the 600 Road is now complete.  I encountered some log trucks on my drive, and you may too.  Hauling on the Gunflint District is happening on the Lima Grade, South Brule Road, Cascade River Road, Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, Greenwood Road, and the Hall Road in Lutsen.  In Tofte, trucks are on the Dumbbell River Road, the Trappers Lake Road, and the Caribou Trail. 

Of course the main thing you will encounter on the roads in the fall are people looking at fall.  We have signs out now marking some of the best fall color routes, so we encourage you to get out and enjoy the leaves.  As always, drive, park, and walk on roads putting safety first.  This is also the opening weekend for the fall bow deer hunt as well as the grouse, squirrel, and hare season.  Plus, there is bear hunting going on.  With all that going on, it means that hunters and non-hunters alike need to be wearing their orange.  We even have an orange vest for our dog.  Respect hunters and stay away from bear bait stations and tree stands.  We do have several sets of hunter walking trails in the Forest, and this time of year it is best to leave them to people who are hunting and find other trails if you are just interested in hiking.

Whether hunting, hiking, or just driving, I hope you take the time to get out in the Forest this week.  I’m reminded every time I go out in the fall that whether it is raining or not, fall is my favorite season, and it is always worth it to get out there. 

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


Wildersmith_Photo by Fran Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 13

Wildersmith on the Gunflint    by    Fred Smith
September 13, 2019    
The Ojibwe, “wild rice” moon will illuminate the northland this weekend as we close down week two of the month. Fall has taken a big step forward along the byway over the past seven.                                                                                                                                                                               
Serious colors are poppin’ like corn in a kettle. With steady changes by the day, it’s a good bet there’ll be plenty of gold in “them thar” Gunflint hills as this scoop hits the air waves. Taking this autumnal advance forward a little more, golden flakes are beginning to descend along the Mile O Pine. Other items of note include some striking scarlet maples in isolated locations and a progression of golden seed cone clusters on the white cedar population.                              

While our seasonal occurrences’ continue to unfold, border country weather has been mostly dismal. Patches of sun and blue have been minimal, giving way to gray heavens and several shower opportunities. Couple the wetness with daytime temps in the fifties to sixty range and we’ve had days to encourage jackets, hats, even gloves and a hint of wood stove smoke.                                                                                                                                                                                    

The cool days of late are not to be taken with too much dismay. Conditions of wildfire danger are holding in the moderate to low levels. As this has not always been the case at this time in recent years, I’m not winterizing the wild fire sprinkler system just yet.  A dry spell could still be in the cards. While every day in the woods is great something positive can still be said for cold gray skies and dark lake waters.                                                                                                                                                                            
Speaking of lake waters, temps are falling to the point where any human entry will take one’s breath away. At our Wildersmith dock the mercury was in the mid-fifties as of last weekend. It’s not too early to caution boaters and paddlers of hypothermic dangers as temps continue the spiral toward hard water. Be safe and take no chances that might endanger yourself or those who would have to rescue.                                                                                     

Stacking firewood is the current chore on my “getting ready for winter” list. The supply of un-split is now done and into the shed while another pile of previously split is awaiting placement, all of which is for winter 2020 and 21. So I will be many times warmed by the time this is put away and before it’s turned into ashes next heating season.                                                                                

Whereas family vacation activity along the Trail has diminished, it’s a swell time of year for the last paddle of the season. There must be many such folks still out in the wilderness based on traffic parked in the various outfitter parking lots. We can look for more visitors in the next few weeks as “leaf peepers” join in a trek up the Trail for a glimpse of our north woods tapestry. It’s a bounty beyond description!                                                                                                                  

Another prize in this magical forest remains open for viewing at end of the Trail. While there was some misinformation floating about, the Chik-Wauk Museum Campus is serenely spectacular and inviting through October 19th, MEA weekend.                                                                               

Nature Center programming has a couple more interesting events on the calendar. This Saturday, the 14th, Peg Robertson will be enlightening attendees on “Bats”, and I don’t mean those used by the Twins. The presentation will begin at 2:00pm.                                                                      

On a closing note, it’s with sadness the Gunflint Community mourns the loss of a good friend and neighbor. Alice Weck, age 82, passed from our midst recently after a courageous battle with difficult health issues. Alice was born in Kansas City, Mo and lived in Ohio before moving to Minnesota and retiring in paradise, with her dear friend Biz at Voyageur Point on Polar Lake in 1998. Alice was active in mid-Trail activities and will be remembered for her ever present and welcoming smile.                                                                                                                                              

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, full of charm and adventure!


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - September 6

Superior National Forest Update
September 6, 2019
Steve Robertsen


Larry Wooding Photo by Mona Hanson (338x450).jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 6

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
September 6, 2019   
It’s not too surprising the way days fly by, a week of month nine is into the books. It seems like a long long time from May to September, but folks are suddenly humming an Equinox tune. Although official autumn is a couple weeks down the road, yours truly believes it’s fair to say, the Gunflint is really into this fall thing.                                                                                                      

Fall is a time for heavy thinking as one can reflect on the mystery of our earthly presence over decades as compared with times for uncountable wild things in our natural world whose span of life endures about four months. The next few weeks spell the end for a good many wild growing things we humans often take for granted. Guess we should pay homage to these beautiful beings one more time by getting out and enjoying them as they pass from our midst with flying colors.                                                                                                                                                            
Yep, we’re mellowing into September. We have thoughts of bear and grouse hunting, peeping at a different rainbow of colors, all the while, waiting for frost covered ditches and a crinkling of ice on the bird bathing dish. It seems month nine couldn’t have come at a better time.                                                                                                                                                                                                

If there was ever a time of peace on earth, it was never more evident for yours truly than during a quiet time on my volunteer day at Chik-Wauk last week.  Looking across the Sag Lake Bay, east of the campus, a whisper of air abruptly sent a patch of reeds and cat tails a swaying gently. Simultaneously the glass like surface was disturbed with a subtle applique’ of ripples. A mini paddling of ducks hidden in the long green stems were spooked into a smattering of splashes only to quiet as the greenery swung back in opposition. An eagle soared on a thermal while the sun pierced thin puffs of heavenly moisture.            

Then the universe around me was captured in a rapture of quiet as “Mother Nature” held her breathe to calm the scene. It was such a simple happening, but so exhilarating at a time when human turmoil torments our every waking hour.                                                                                                                                                                        

Speaking of sweet times, the ninth annual Pie & Ice Cream social at Chik-Wauk last weekend was so extraordinary that some late comers missed the pastry part of the Trail bake-off. At eight slices per pie, nearly fifty pies were not enough to fill every plate for an estimated four hundred visitors.  Nevertheless, ice cream filled the void for several.                                                              

The weatherman smiled on end of the Trail while lively visiting and reminiscing happened to the accompaniment of the North Shore community Swing Band. It was a glorious day in the wilderness. To view a sampling of pie eating satisfaction, see the face of a happy pie eating expert, scroll down to Wildersmith under the Community Voices column on the web at                                                                                                                                                                               

Thanks to Gunflint Lodge for the ice cream donation, all the pie bakers, our consummate GTHS event organizer, many volunteers, the Band, the Campus staff and of course all the attendees for a splendid day at end of the Trail.  There’ll have to be more pies next year!                                   

A reminder to GTHS members and area visitors, the last membership meeting of the season will be held this coming Monday, September 9th. The gathering is at the Schaap Community Center (mid-Trail fire hall # 1), beginning at 1:30pm. The usual business meeting will be followed by Dan Helmerson, who will be sharing a pictorial of “Canoeing through the Superior National Forest…along the Gunflint Trail… 1917.”  Coffee and conversation will follow as we bid farewell to a great summer of historical Gunflint reflections.                                                                                                                                                  

See you all at “Radio Waves” this weekend!                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, in the cooling northland!


Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. WTIP file photo

Sawtooth Mt Clinic - Topic of the Month - September

Sawtooth Mountain Clinic's "Topic of the Month" for September is "How to Fail Well".
North Shore Morning host Bob Padzieski talks with clinic Outreach Coordinator, Hartley Acero.


Dragonfly_Michael Beattie on unsplash.jpg


North Shore Morning host, Brian Neil talks Dragonflies with Naturalist and Author, Kurt Mead.

Click below to listen to both parts 1 and 2 of this interview.



Monarch Butterfly Photo by David Clode on Unsplash (1).jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - August 23

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     August 23, 2019    
Gunflint territory heads into this last August segment having experienced a mixed bag of weather since our last visit. A touch of summer heat last Saturday was quickly doused with heavy rain and blustery northwesters on Sunday, bringing on an autumn chill. It was cool enough to require moving the vehicle HVAC from AC to heat in less than twenty four hours.                                                                                                                                                           
In regard to the precip’ mentioned, the rain was in the form of a gully washer, this neighborhood had not seen for most of the summer. It amounted to slightly over one and one-third of an inch.  After only puny rainfall efforts over the past few weeks, it was welcomed by the thirsty earth, in spite of doing a washout out job in places on back country roads and driveways.                                                                                                                                                                     
It’s anyone’s guess as to what conditions will be like by the time we roll into September next weekend.                                                                                                                                                           
After a hectic weekend of Trail activities, the area looks to be somewhat calmer this time around. Guess it might be the quiet before the storm as August week four closes down summer ushering in excitement of all things connected with a change of seasons.                           

A wrap up of efforts to support the GTVFD, finds the Canoe Races, the Mid-Trail extravaganza and the Classical Music Concert of last Sunday having amassed over $42,000. What a great Gunflint Community effort, of which all should be proud.                                                                                             

A couple weeks ago, the Labor Day celebration seemed remotely in the distance. In the blink of an eye, it’s time to plan the last summer holiday hurrah.                                                                                           

The Gunflint Trail Historical Society hopes residents and visitors alike will set aside a little time for some end of the Trail hospitality and sweetness. As mentioned in recent Wildersmith columns, the annual Pie & Ice Cream Social is scheduled for September’s first Sunday, of course the 1st  day. Listeners should mark their calendars as the event is always a big day at the Chik-Wauk Museum Campus.                                                                                                                                                                        

Beginning at 11:00 am and running until 4:00, there’ll be live music, a gift shop sale, a book signing, Historical exhibits, re-connecting with friends and neighbors and of course, ice cream and pie. A trip up the Trail for a little pre-fall color will enhance an always special day in the wild country.  Another reminder to Gunflint bakers, Judy Edlund is waiting for your pastry contribution call, 388-4400.                                                                                                                                                                                    

n the meantime, as we herald an end to bug season, a Sunday program at Chik-Walk Nature Center seems appropriate as David Etnier, an acclaimed entomologist will talk about tiny critters in and above our north woods lake waters. The program will begin at 2:00 pm, and will not “bug” you.                                                                                                                                                      

Proclaiming the end of bug season, I do so somewhat with tongue in cheek. Mosquitos have been considerably ornery at sundown as many can attest having been out for the Dark Sky observances last week. Nevertheless, apart from bites and itches, the event was illuminating under the light of the “blueberry moon.” Big thanks to the crew from UMD and GTHS volunteers who made it all possible.                                                                                                                              

With another note on things that fly, activity at the Wildersmith nectar bottle has suddenly diminished to almost zero arrivals in the last week. One would suppose the little hummers might be south bound?                                                                                                                      
Then a fellow asked a recent question in regard to Loons being quite active in late daylight hours at couple locations. I’m thinking the Loon parents might be in the gathering mode, laying out plans for departure in the same direction?  In the case of either avian, it could be another early sign of the season ahead.                                                                                                                                                       
The county’s “biggest blueberry contest” has concluded its seasonal run with confirmation that the harvest was not like last year’s boomer. The blue ribbon winner for 2019 was less than one-half the size/weight of 2018’s champ, though random picker reports still find an occasional prolific patch. Guess it’s kind of like fishing, sometimes you hit ’em and other times you don’t.                                                                                                                                                                                

One berry species having a really good year are those on the Mountain Ash trees. They are just coming on in this neighborhood while I’ve heard report of the Cedar Wax Wings already feasting at other places along the Trail.                                                                                                                        
In closing, excitement was intense last weekend end as more Monarch Butterflies emerged from their cozy chrysalises at the Nature Center. A number of fortunate young people and their parents were on hand to share the opportunity to observe, and then got to tag the orange and black beauties. Most poignant for all in attendance came when they were released into the wild in advance of the ritual migration to Mexico!  A total of seventeen were released with another batch yet to enter the natural world.                                                                                                                                           

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, and as the color mosaic intensifies, some, are even better!


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - August 23

National Forest Update – August 22, 2019

Hi.  I’m Renee Frahm, visitor information specialist with the Superior National Forest.  It is already August 23rd, and time for the National Forest Update with information for people traveling, hiking, camping, or otherwise visiting the Superior National Forest.
Summer is winding to a close and thoughts of mini donuts and Pronto Pups at the Minnesota State Fair are replacing those of s’mores and campfires.  There is actually a lot of good outdoor time though before the snow flies.  This is one of the best times of year to get out in the woods as the biting insect numbers are decreasing and the trees are full of southward migrating birds.  There are even a few berries left to pick out there.  You’ll also see a lot of mushrooms right now.  Our sporadic rain has made conditions great for mushrooms and there are lots of them popping up.  The mushroom you see is just the tip of the iceberg.  It is the fruiting body of a much larger organism consisting of thin fungal strands weaving their way through the soil or fallen tree.  If you are interesting in harvesting wild mushrooms to eat, don’t do it unless you are, or are with, an expert.  Our woods is home to several kinds of mushrooms that will make you very sick.  Don’t end the summer with the trip to the ER.

If you get out to pick anything, a few bears may be picking out there with you.  In the past few forest updates, we’ve talked about bears a lot, so this time we are just going have a gentle reminder:  bears like your food and garbage; please keep them locked up when you are camping.  It’s not hard to do, and if we all do it, we won’t have any bear problems.

Some of our crew out in the woods had an experience from which we can all learn.  Let’s just say – you should remember to check your spare tire before you head out into the less visited parts of the Forest.  Don’t just check to see if it is there, check that you have a jack and lug nut wrench and that you know how to use them.  On a pickup truck and some SUVs, make sure you can actually lower the spare down from its position under the vehicle.  The mechanism that lowers the spare is generally very prone to rusting up.  While you are checking things, it’s a good time of year too to check the tread on the rest of your tires.  It doesn’t pay to head into fall and winter with bad tires, plus bad tires are that much easier to puncture.  Some newer cars don’t even come with a spare anymore; they just have spray can of ‘stop leak’.  This may work for a nail or screw in your tire, but the hole left by the three inch sharp rock you ran over isn’t going to go away with a spray can.  It’s not a bad idea to get a spare to throw in the back if you are headed off on lesser used roads, especially if you travel gravel roads often.  You might wait awhile until help comes along.
Before you head out, you should also know that Forest Road 166, known as The 600 Road, will be closed to through traffic at Two Island River, just east of the intersection with the Two Island River Road.  The closure will start today, Friday August 23rd, and it will last for approximately one week during culvert replacement.

Other than that, roads on the Tofte District are in good shape.  We’re between logging sales right now, so there isn’t any anticipated log hauling on Tofte this week.  Gunflint, however, will have trucks on the Lima Grade, South Brule Road, Cascade River Road, Pike Lake Road, Cook County 7, Cook County 6, and Forest Road 1319.

Have some fun out there before Labor Day and the start of school!  Go fishing or boating, get in that last camping trip you have talked about all summer or take a hike and have a picnic.  This is it!  Older students are heading back to college next week and regular school starts soon, so get out there and do something fun with the family that you have been meaning to do all summer.  Until next week, this has been Renee Frahm with the National Forest Update.


Cook County Higher Education.  Photo from

Cindy Nelson talks skiing career, upcoming Higher Ed event

Cook County Higher Education is hosting a North Shore Royalty Special Presentation by Local Legend and Olympian Cindy Nelson at Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet on Wednesday, September 4. You can learn more about the event on the Higher Ed Facebook page.

WTIP volunteer Gary Latz spoke with Cindy about the upcoming event and about her skiing career.