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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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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 8, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       March 8, 2019    

What a difference a week can make. Early March in the Gunflint wild was calm compared to a couple weekends ago? There’s been no new snow in this neighborhood, as if we needed more, but this weeks’ report begins with the temperature cold as if it were January.                                                                                                                                                                    
So with month three being meteorologically touted as the first of the spring season, the deep white on the landscape and mercury buried below zero doesn’t match up in this part of the world.                                                                                                                                                                               
Speaking more of March character, this is the month of the Ojibwe, “crust on the snow full moon.” And crusty it is, since the white stuff was packed nearly hard as concrete during the recent blizzard.                                                                                                                                                                          
In trekking around the neighborhood, I found it not supportive enough (without snowshoes) to keep me from sinking to the waist in most places. While struggling to free myself for the next step however, I had plenty of time to examine faint tracks of small to medium size animal prints easily staying top side of the crystal surface. I’m guessing this will be a tough winter for white tails and others heavy enough to sink more than belly deep in the stuff of which winters are known.                                                                                                                                                                             
Nevertheless, as we Americans push the issue on most everything, spring is being advanced in spite of our atmospheric conditions with the onset of daylight savings time. Yep, it’s that time of year when we spring the clock ahead. It seems like we just fell back into the state of being real. Where have all the minutes, days and months gone?                                                                                       

First suggested by Ben Franklin in 1784 as a joke, this frivolous act of playing games with the sun happens early this coming Sunday morning, so don’t forget to adjust those clocks before retiring Saturday evening.                                                                                                                                 

Before we turn the clock ahead though, one can get in some great cross country skiing in real time by heading up to Gunflint Lodge tonight and Saturday for some candlelight swooshing on these marvelous trails. Beginning at 4:00 pm, it should be beautiful as the sun gives way to darkness over the quiet white landscape.                                                                                      

With some residents suffering from cabin fever during these “dog days of winter”, there’s a chance to get out for a little fun and maybe some sun, in the mid-trail area come Sunday. Appropriately named, the “dog days” are being celebrated with “man’s best friend” on Poplar Lake at Trail Center Lodge.

There’ll be three classes of mushing derbies with four dog (3.5 miles), six dog (12 miles) and eight dog (23 miles) courses, open for all levels of musher skill. These begin at 11:00 am with the eight dog class. Registration is from 8:00 to 10:00.                                                                                                                                            

Then at 2:00 pm, skijoring races will commence. There will be both two and five mile courses with a maximum of two dogs per skier, both open to skate skiing or classic. Skijoring registration runs from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.                                                                                                        
The days’ activities are very kid and spectator friendly, and as always, the extraordinary mid-trail organizer/hostess, Sarah Hamilton will have a bonfire, hot dogs, marsh-mellows, s’mores, cocoa and maple snow cones, adding to the festivities.                                                                                                           

All the Gunflint Community is invited out to enjoy the fun however organizers ask that pets be left at home unless they are competitors.                                                                                                                                                       

Reflecting on last Saturdays’ trout fishing derby, the event on West Bearskin Lake was a big success once again with several trout pulled through the ice. The winning catch was somewhere over eleven pounds. With the top three places all exceeding ten pounds. Seventy-five entered the competition, and it was a fun day under sunny skies in spite of a biting cold wind. Many thanks to the Ridge Riders Snow Mobile Club for their organization and to those who plowed out lake ice roads for access.                                                                                                                      

On a closing note, members both old and new stepped up since last we met to complete another successful funding drive. The little Community Radio station that could did it again with great support from our dedicated listeners.                                                                                                            
The Board of Directors, hardworking staff and ever present volunteers are sincerely grateful for the never-ending love extended during these important sustaining events. The “Wide World WTIP” goal was met, hurrah, and kudos to all involved!                                                                                                                                                                 

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we celebrate the fifth consecutive month of winter ambiance!



Superior National Forest Update - March 8, 2019

National Forest Update – March 7, 2019.

Hi, this is Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the Superior National Forest, with the National Forest Update, information for you if you’re headed out the road and into the woods.
With eight foot piles of snow by the curb, it may seem strange to start planning for canoe trips, but if you’ve got a date and lake in mind, now’s the time to reserve an entry permit for the Boundary Waters this summer.  The online reservation system is up and running for permit reservations.  We are asked sometimes why there is a permit system and limited numbers of permits available.  The answer is that we have around a quarter of a million visitors to the Wilderness every year, and the permit system helps to spread those visitors through time and space.  That is key to giving people the best Wilderness experience possible, as well as limiting the stress on the resource itself.  Imagine if all 200,000 people decided to go in on the same lake over the same weekend…it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.  The online reservation system allows you to see in real time the number of permits available at entry points.  We recommend you plan ahead by having several back up dates and entry points for your trip, just in case your first choice has no available permits.  Be open to exploring new places in the BW, and consider boldly going where you haven’t been before.

While thoughts of summer and canoeing are great, the reality is that it is still winter here.  Rather than sit around the house grumbling about it, get outside and take advantage of what has turned out to be one of the best snow seasons we’ve seen in a while.  Ski trails are in excellent shape, and we now have digital georeferenced pdf maps available for Pincushion, Bally Creek, Sugarbush, and Flathorn Gegoka Ski Areas.  These downloadable maps with a geolocating app will put you right on the map on your phone, so you’ll never be lost… until your battery wears out.  A word of caution – always bring a paper map as well; a GPS of any sort should never be your primary source of navigation.  The Minnesota DNR has similar geoPDFs of the trails in all the area state parks, so you can ski for miles!  The DNR site also includes snowmobile trails, so if skiing isn’t your way to get outside, jump on a sled and take off.

Unplowed roads in the Forest can be used by snowmobiles during the winter.  Plowed roads, on the other hand, are not open to snowmobiles, except for certain designated dual use roads.  If you are considering plowing a road, you need to stop by a Forest Service office for a permit.  Restrictions on motorized vehicle use on the Forest are shown on our Motor Vehicle Use Maps, which are also available as georeferenced pdfs on our website, or as hard copies at our offices.

While you are out in the woods, keep an eye on our resident birds such as ravens, owls, and eagles.  These non-migratory species start setting up housekeeping early.  Owls may be on eggs already, and people are observing eagle flights where they lock talons and spiral downwards.  That may look like fighting, but it is actually love and the re-establishment of pair bonds.  The deep snow has forced many animals to use roads for travel, which has created some great opportunities for critter watching.  In the past few weeks, we’ve had reports of people seeing bobcat, coyotes, wolves, marten, lynx, snowshoe hare, and of course, hundreds of deer.  Seeing the animals is great, unless you are going 55 miles per hour and the animal is five feet in front of your car.  Be careful driving, and remember that if you see a deer in the road, it probably has four friends just off the side waiting to run out in front of you. 

As usual, there are also some logging vehicles to watch for as well.  This time of year, be very cautious if you pull off the road.  Ditches are full of snow, and may be plowed level with the roadway.  What appears to be a nice level shoulder may be a pit filled with snow.  You may need to back up to find a safe spot to pull off and let the truck go by.

Trucks will be using the Wanless Road, Lake County 7, Lake County 8, and Cook County 1.  They will also be on the Greenwood Road and Pike Lake Road.  Be especially careful on the Firebox Road and Blueberry Road where the trucks share the road with snowmobiles on the Grand Portage –Gunflint Snowmobile Trail. 

So, while you may be wishing for sun and warm temperatures and green grass, take advantage of our snowy winter while you can.  Honest, spring will come, and sulking in the house won’t speed its arrival. 

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


ATWH_Cover image submitted

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury - Karen Babine

Superior Reviews by Lin Salisbury

Lin Salisbury is a bibliophile and commentator on WTIP.  In this edition, Lin reviews author, Karen Babine’s (Bay-bine) book, “All the Wild Hungers”


Christina MacGillivray - submitted

Christina MacGillivray - March 4, 2019

Christina MacGillivray is the creator of "To Minnesota with Love", the audio postcard that she produces exclusively for WTIP.

Christina is a Minnesota native who currently lives and works in New Delhi, India.

WTIP's CJ Heithoff got the chance to talk with Christina about her work and love of the North Shore of Minnesota.


Vixen licking her chops - photo by TambakoTheJaguar via Flickr.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - March 1, 2019

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith     March 1, 2019    
March is welcomed to the Gunflint Trail after a harrowing blizzard to end the last weekend of month two. This neighborhood hasn’t had one of those in sometime. The snow was snowing, and wind was blowing, but we weathered the storm.                                                                          

Folks out this way can be thankful the brunt of the real heavy snow missed us to the south. Further, with the wind howling as it was, thanks are also given for the temperature not being below zero during the onslaught.                                                                                                                                                                

At Wildersmith, new snow measured only an inch or two. But as day broke Sunday, coupled with the two to three feet already on the ground, morning winds made it look like a ton had fallen based on drifting around the house. It would be a good guess most of the snow from here to Winnipeg has blown across Gunflint Lake and onto the Mile O Pine.                                               

By nightfall last Sunday, the wind was still at full bore, continuing to build on some terrific snow sculptures. And, with temps falling through the day to near zero, guess I’ll be back at toting in more firewood after a few days of letting the wood burning stove sit cold.                                  

I was about to get at raking snow off the roof, but it looks like I’ll have to be shoveling out the back yard first just to get close enough to set up a ladder enabling such. With a little luck, perhaps the “great wind bag of the north” might have blown some of the roof covering south to Loon Lake.                                                                                                                                                    

That exercise was put on hold as it was inevitable, Monday would be spent scooping and snow blowing my way out to MOP. So it was, and after four and one-half hours, Wildersmith was open to the outside world again.                                                                                                           

Aside from the atmospheric conditions, I remind listeners we at WTIP are into another full day of the winter membership drive. This important, “on air canvas” merits your attention and strategies for continuing quality Community Radio in the northland and around the cyber world makes supporter backing a must!                                                                                                                      

It’s “Wide World WTIP”! The voice of the north-country is counting on you! Dial us up or click on the web now.                                                                                                                                                      
Those numbers to remember are 387-1070 locally, or 1-800-473-9847 toll free, or click at Should you happen to be out and about, stop up at the studios, 1712 West highway sixty-one, make your pledge in person and enjoy a little comfort and conversation, you’re always invited!                                                                                                                                                                                             
If ice fishing is your bag, another big event sponsored by the Ridge Riders Snow Mobile Club happens Saturday, March the 2nd. The annual Trout Derby takes place over on West Bearskin Lake.                                                                                                                                                                       

Activity begins with registration from nine to eleven am and angling ASAP thereafter. Catches of the day must be recorded and on the display board by two in the afternoon when results will be tallied and place winners announced.                                                                                              

Winner of the largest trout will catch $300, with $200 for second and $100 for third. A raffle for other prizes will be held in conjunction with the usual food and refreshments. This event is always a fun family day!                                                                                                                              

In closing, a late day visit from the friendly fox just missed last weeks’ news deadline. This time the foxy Ms .or Mr. caught me by surprise while I was out on the deck grilling. The fluffy tailed critter came around the corner of the house, and down the deck toward me suggesting what I interpreted as an, “I’m hungry” look. Of course I proceeded to my cache of turkey nuggets and offered some treats.                                                                                                                                                   
Going back to my cooking, it was not long before the animal was back. The cagy creature meandered around and sat down near me, obviously not totally satisfied.                                                
 However, the grilling task was completed, and my time to eat. So I went inside thinking “red” would be gone.                                                                                                                                       

This was not to be the case. It remained deck side through our dinner time, and when I looked out later, there it remained.                                                                                                                 

Now my cooking exercise involved a black skillet too and grease. So my decision was made to set, the now solid grease remains, down for a tasting. This turned out to be a real mystery for this wild beast. It would come up and sniff the oily goody, but every attempt for a lick moved the skillet, spooking my curious friend. After several tries, it gave up.                                                       

Feeling a bit of compassion about the difficult situation I had created, I stepped out and offered a slice of peanut butter bread, tossing it in the skillet. This added element renewed the foxes’ attention.                                                                                                                                                                  

We observers got a big kick out of attempts to retrieve the peanut treat without moving the skillet. After a few nips at the slice and dropping it back in the pan, foxy accidently flipped the bread sticky side down in the grease. This became a more serious dilemma, with the degree of difficulty increased considerably.                                                                                                                                                
It was not to be deterred though, and following a few more snaps, the open face peanut butter treat was secured, and it trotted off into the night. I’ll bet it never spent more time catching a rodent in a snow bank than it did making this sticky grab.                                                         

Further, one would wonder if it might have experienced annoying frustration ridding this human delight from the roof of its mouth. This was likely a sticky state of affairs.                                                                                                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with natural adventures by the moment!


ISD 166 photo by CJHeithoff

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News February 28, 2019

Sawtooth Mountain Elementary - School News with Ayden and Kajsa.
February 28, 2019


Sea Smoke Photo by Lorie Shaull via Flickr.jpg

Magnetic North by Vicki Biggs-Anderson February 13, 2019

Magnetic North 2/4, 2019
Phantoms in the Mist
Welcome back to Magnetic North, where the big lake is releasing her captive droplets of water in spectral tendrils of mist on these below zero days. Their eerie beauty is a reminder of the past, one in which only the First Nations’ people were witness to the spectacle on the horizon.

For, according to Minnesota Sea Grant data on the big lake, the average drop of water entered Lake Superior 191 years ago. And that’s just the average droplet. Much of the vast water we admire today is made up of rains and snows and rivulets flowing long before the first immigrants from Norway, Sweden and Finland came. 

The enchantment of the mist dancers on the lake is one of many things that more than make up for the rigors of deep winter, for this modern day resident. Like what? Well, my front storm door was snatched in the teeth of the big wind that came roaring in after New Year’s, leaving me with a leaky sieve of a wooden door covered with a quilt for over a month. Frost formed on the inside of the door as we went into double digit minus temps, a reminder that money poured out as cold poured in.

Other than that, Polar Vortex, aka the Mommy Dearest side of Mother Nature, sucked the life out of my car battery three times in four days. The last deadening rendered my shift useless and, being nose into the garage, my friend Jay Messenbring from Superior Auto Service, had to tow it out to jump start it. But first we had to consult the owner’s manual to see how to disable the shift lock when there is no power. 

Unfortunately, the manual was frozen to the floor of the back seat, having been tossed there next to a glass jar of water which burst in the cold.

It took a good four minutes on high in the microwave to thaw out the manual. Jay said he’d had many odd experiences in his line of work but this one was a first. I told him that it’s stuff like this and folks like him that make living here year ‘round so rich. Plus, it gives me stuff to write about besides goats and chickens.

Many folks have asked me how said critters faired in the week of the Polar Vortex. “Fine, thanks to me,” I usually answer, but on that one truly terrible day, when the winds whipped up swirling snow tornados across the meadow and the temps plunged into the minus 40 below NOT counting windchill, I couldn’t have been so sure.

The five goats did not come out for their hay that day, even as I bleated in my best “goatspeak,” Bunny! Bosco! Biscuit! Poppy! Bitsie” Not a sign or sound of them. And so I went to bed and woke up worried. The wind had covered up their hay ration from the day before, so I hauled a full bale out and over the fence just after first light, all the while calling to them as I walked back to the house. I dared not look around until inside and out of my coat and mittens. but there they were All Five! “Yes! Cheated death again!” I called to them through a crack in the door and  was rewarded with a full throated goat chorus - each one does have a distinctive voice - as if to say, “You got that right maaaaaaamaaaaaa.”

With all of these challenges in winter, it’s small wonder we have so many so-called “snowbirds” here, folks who stay as long as the living is easy, then take off for second homes, campers, or freebie squats down south or out west.
That’s not for me, if for no other reason than a love for my dogs, cats, goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits and -Lord help me- geese.

My daughter, Gretchen says there is an even larger reason why I had no wish to leave, even in the face of the worst winter throws at me. She says, “This is where your heart is, where you and Paul lived. It’s who you are, Mom.”
How lucky am I to have such a child.

As for the snowbirds, I wish them well wherever they choose to perch. And for the rest of us - often referred to in popular culture as the 98 percent - thanks for sticking around, for staying here, even when your doors blow off and you batteries die and your water pipes freeze for a time.

And yes, even when you, like me, go to bed and wake up worried about what the weather is doing to someone or something you love. You are not crazy. You are community. And I for one am in your debt.

Thoughts like these drift though my mind as I park down at the now inaccessible turnout to Paradise Beach, watching those writhing phantoms of mist forming a ghostly danceline on the horizon.

Finally, after possibly centuries of gestation within their mother, Superior, the time traveling, shape shifting droplets float upwards reentering a far different world than the one they left. 
And as they do, I look east and west on Highway 61 to see not one other driver stopped to watch and wonder. And I am both grateful to be an audience of one, and sad that so many are missing what to me, at that moment, is the greatest show on earth.

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


Ice on Sawbill Lake by Carl Hansen

North Woods Naturalist: Life beneath the ice

Life is still flourishing underneath the winter ice despite the bitterly cold temperatures we've experienced this season. 

WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about the wonders of life below the ice in this edition of North Woods Naturalist


Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder townships meet monthly - Photo by Rhonda Silence

February news from West End townships

The West End townships of Lutsen, Tofte and Schroeder hold at least monthly meetings. There are sometimes additional meetings to prepare for upcoming events, such as the March 12 township annual meetings. All of Minnesota’s counties hold annual meetings and elections on the second Tuesday of March.

WTIP checked in with representatives of each of the townships after their latest meetings.

If you are interested in attending a regular meeting of the town boards, here is their meeting information:
The township of Tofte meets the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Tofte Town Hall, 7240 Tofte Park Road. More information available at

The township of Lutsen meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Lutsen Town Hall located at 116 Caribou Trail. See for agenda and minutes.
The township of Schroeder meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Schroeder Town Hall, 124 Cramer Road, Schroeder. More information about the township is available at

Election and annual meetings
All of the townships are holding elections on March 12, with polls open from 5 to 8 p.m. The annual meeting follows at 8 p.m.
The Lutsen and Schroeder township elections and meetings are at their respective town halls. Tofte elections and annual meeting is at the Birch Grove Community Center at 9 Good Neighbor Hill Road.

To hear the township reports, click one of the files below! 

Nipigon Ice Fest - image via Facebook

Nipigon Ice Fest

North Shore Morning host, Shawna Willis talks with Aric Fishman about the Nipigon Ice Fest - Canada's longest-running, premiere ice climbing event.