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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!


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - July 03

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
July 3, 2020    
While some people thrive on hot sticky, beach cruising conditions, the moose and I find such miserable. And that’s just what it is, misery in the making as we celebrate Independence Day number 244.                                                                                                                     

“Sunstroke is no joke!” Such can be a distinct possibility in many places across the nation including border country on this holiday weekend as “Sol” gives us a dose of southern heat. With north woods natural air conditioning out of order for fireworks celebrations, the moose and me, declare frost cannot come soon enough! Sure makes winter look not so bad.            

In the meantime, the sun is taking its toll on both land and water. The blistering heat has enhanced drought conditions throughout the upper Trail. June ended with a meager thirty day rain total of slightly over three-fourths of an inch along the south shore of Gunflint Lake. The “lions’ share” of that fell in the first two weeks. At Wildersmith, we’ve counted just six one-hundredths of an inch in the past ten days.                                                                                        

The crunchy forest is a wildfire accident waiting to happen. Those of us living in the woods are thankful the agencies in charge have at long last put a burning ban into effect over the forest. With hundreds, if not thousands, of people out in the wilderness over the next days and weeks, it is just a matter of time until some human would make a bad decision with a campfire. “Smokey the Bear” is likely pretty growly about this arid situation, so let’s not stir him up!                                                                                                                                                   

It is my suggestion residents of the territory start activating their WF sprinkler systems a couple times a week until the spell ends. This is not a cure all, but a good measure to create an umbrella of protective moisture over your property just in case.                                                                 

I don’t get lake level reports from around the area, but I do report levels to the DNR for Gunflint Lake. Since the official gauge went into the lake on June 12th, at the Wildersmith dock, the lake has gone down a good four inches. This is a lot of water, gone in a short time, and worse, since the lake level was diminished even before the snow melt dried up. To say we need rain is an understatement!                                                                                                                                   

On a brighter note, another celebration occurs in concert with the usual Fourth of July explosives. The Ojibwe, “half-way moon” is ushering in part two of 2020. It would be nice if the lunar happening is the only thing lighting the dark sky at this flashing, boom-boom time, for fear igniting a potential disaster.                                                                                                           

Another celebratory occasion of local interest is added to the weekend of events. The Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center marks the tenth anniversary of opening its’ doors to share the romance and saga of the Gunflint Trail, but COVId-19 has spoiled a planned gathering of members and friends.                                                                                                      

However, during the hiatus, the GTHS is inviting all to a virtual party on Saturday. Check it out on Chik-Wauk .org via Facebook for a special program. The party is produced by staff and the summer interns, culminating with a real cake.                                                                                              
In addition to reminiscing the first ten years, a virtual grand opening of the new Interpretive Cabin will feature a sneak preview of what visitors can experience when the Campus does re-open.                                                                                                                                    

Speaking of re-opening, the Chik-Wauk Campus is schedule to re-open next Friday, the tenth, pending any un-expected state-wide health department mandates. Any change in the date will be announced on the CW website.                                                                                  

Visitors should expect restrictions based on CDC recommendations. Bring a mask, sanitized hands and some patience as Chik-Wauk welcomes in visitors.                                                 

In closing, listeners are reminded of the summer membership drive which commences this coming Wednesday, July 7th. While the format has been altered by the Pandemic, the intent remains the same. And the “good times” will be rolling as usual, only from a distance, as we are now getting somewhat used too.                                                                                                             

The WTIP crew will miss your call in voices or in studio visits, so pledges on-line or by mail will fill the void. Until we can meet again more cordially, keep rowing the boat through these turbulent waters! Thanks in advance for continuing to support Northshore Community Radio!                                                                                                                                                              

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is storied, with pioneering mystique!


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 26

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
June 26, 2020
June is in its last days as this Gunflint report is airing. While minutes, days and weeks have not changed in length, the first half of 2020 nevertheless has evaporated amidst turmoil and tragedy the likes of which U.S. history has not recorded.                                                                                      

Although many issues of this COVID mess remain in a raging mode, one can only hope the year’s second half is not a remake. It will only be possible, if WE the people make it happen through continuing safe practices.  The nasty, is not over!   
In the meantime, we’ve reached the pinnacle of “Sol’s ascension into the northern hemisphere. With just under sixteen hours of sunrise to sunset time, and adding an hour plus of twilight time at each end, we are in a border country version of the mid-night sun.                                                

I’ve discovered such conditions of extended daylight find the hummingbirds having started their engines as early as four in the morning, and still landing at our sweetness station going on ten in the evening. That’s a lot of beats per day on those delicate wings, and uncountable slurps of nectar.                                                                                                                       

Another remarkable story from our natural world came my way recently from the west end of Gunflint Lake. It seems a frantic call came out from a resident explaining they had a duck or something down in their cabin chimney. Wondering if a neighbor could help, investigation found it was in fact, a large duck.                                                                                                                           

The animal seemed near the bottom, but was not accessible through the fireplace. Since a duck cannot fly straight up this was a complex dilemma. With a bit of Gunflint ingenuity this man of the hour was suddenly cast in the role of hero or zilch. Sizing things up, he rigged up a snare of plastic conduit and flag pole rope.                                                                                                             

While not sure if this could work and if the creature could even be lassoed, let alone be saved, it seemed the only alternative. The idea was to snare the duck around the neck and pull it up the dark hole. Would the outcome be good?                                                     

Nevertheless, shining a light down while feeding the snare toward the “quacker”, luck was on “ducky’s” side, the rigging fell in place as hoped. With a careful tug, cinching the braided necktie, up the chimney it rose.                                                                                                                           
This Good Samaritan, who is always at beckons call through-out the territory, grabbed the duck not knowing what to expect. Loosening the mini noose, in a blink of an eye the soot covered critter was off into the wild blue yonder, to the cheers of excited observers. What a lucky duck!   
Asked what kind it was, this duck savior replied, it was a “black” duck. How the duck got into this quandary is not known. It could be the duck perched atop the warm chimney on a brisk cold day, perhaps dozed off and fell in. This speaks well for having a screening cap on ones chimney.                                                                                                                                  

Another piece on things that fly has my attention lately. I have never observed such numbers of white admiral butterflies along the Mile O Pine. Only “Mother Nature” knows why.
The Chik-Wauk loons are still on the nest, and perhaps there will be a happy announcement coming around Independence Day.                                                                                         

It is always a thrill to be in the presence of a “wild neighborhood” critter as long as one is not being considered as menu item. My most recent experience was crossing path with a momma bear and her triplet cubs. I don’t know who was startled most, yours truly or the Bruno family.     
Folks will want to keep track of the virtual programming from up at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. Daily snippets ranging from Phrenology on Mondays to night sky on Saturdays can be found via CW social media platforms.  Check them out!                                         

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is celebrated, with the pomp of nature!

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Northern Sky: June 20

Northern Sky - by Deane Morrison

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


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - June 19

Superior National Forest Update - June 19, 2020

Steve Robertsen is an education and interpretation specialist with the USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 19

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
June 19, 2020    

Whereas summer has been edging its way in for several weeks, the season is official as this Gunflint scoop hits the air. Summer Solstice is a happy time for some folks and a bit disconcerting for others at the realization daylight minutes will soon begin diminishing. Whatever the case, there’ll be ninety days of fun and sun.                                                                                                                     

The past few Gunflint days have been quite summer like after a bout of June chill late in week two. While not happening frequently, there have been frosty days in month six. The territory along with most of northern Minnesota experienced a couple mornings of light frost or at least pretty darn close. It was enough to cause serious North Country garden growers to cover up some of their tender sprouts.                                                                                                                                    
As the thermometer has been like a yo-yo, the upper Trail has returned to dust bowl conditions. It sure doesn’t take long for the forest to dry out, and we are choking on dusty back country roads. Early days of the new month looked like we were getting out of the semi-arid rut prior to green-up, but the past week could only muster slightly more than a dampening of the rain collection tube in this neighborhood.                                                                                                                            

“Mother earth” meanwhile, must have held on to snow melt under the canopy as the bloom of summer is in full swing. The ground level rainbow is spirited with both perennial natives and some beautiful, but noxious non-native invasives. Although not yet at the peak, uncountable golden blossoms are lining the byway, interspersed with lupine and occasional wild roses, and just think, there’s more to come.                                                                                                                                                

Although the Chik-Wauk Museum Campus facilities are closed, many visitors are walking in to trek the hiking trails. I received a report from a foursome who recently hiked the Blueberry Trail, sharing a colorful experience. I’m told they counted 122 (pink) moccasin flowers and a great number of golden lady slippers. Their exercise had to be a wonderful way to brighten what have been some gloomy moments for peoples of the world, during the past three plus months.                                                                                                                                                                           
While lamaenting the annoyances of our iconic nipping north woods insects in recent weeks, I’ve also observed some pleasant happenings. In recent days, I happened upon a puddling of butterflies, at one of the few damp spots along the Mile O Pine.                                                                                                                     

One occasion was of the Fritillary family and the other was Canadian Swallow Tails. With uncountable thousands of these delicate creatures on the edge of an “insect apocalypse” it is not only intriguing, but also encouraging to see a congregating of these magic members of our ecosystem.                                                                                                                                                                                   

I was in the lake water this past weekend working with a friend to put in the dock and boat lift. At fifty-four degrees, I must say the water temp was a far cry from the high thirties of May 6th when I set out the wildfire sprinkler system lines. Nevertheless, when waves of the wet stuff splashed over top of my waders, it got my attention.                                                                                                                 

In other matters of water, brief conversations with a couple fishermen, indicate unhappiness with catching of late. I don’t know if it was the same for everyone, but by indications of packed parking lots at lake access points along the Trail, there were a lot of anglers out having a good time. Fishing is always great, but sometimes the catching is not.                        

On a related note about floating craft, it makes me wonder if there is anyone in America who does not own a canoe or kayak. They are uncountable traveling up and down the Trail these days.                                                                                                                                                                                            
 In closing, since the Wildersmith dock is now into the lake, the Smith’s enjoyed the first of many moments last Sunday, mesmerized by the beauty of blue skies, lush green mountain sides and rippling waters. I assume many others in Gunflint territory are doing the same!  Life by the water couldn’t be anymore sparkling! Happy summer!                                                                                                                             

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day seems unrivaled, until the next!


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Pack & Paddle - June 15

In this edition of "Pack & Paddle" with Scott Oeth, Scott recommends methods of keeping food cool when camping whether you're car camping with your Yeti or heading into the BWCAW.


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YMCA - AmeriCorps Collaboration

Jennifer Trowbridge and Sue Hakes were sworn in during a Zoom cremony Monday, June 8 as part of a larger MN AmeriCorps group as AmeriCorps members in service to the Cook County Community YMCA for 10 weeks this summer.
North Shore Morning host Mark Abrahamson talks with Sue Hakes about her work at the Y.


Photo by Rosie Rosenberger via Flickr and Creative Commons (

North Woods Naturalist: Burgeoning of summer

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist. In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, Chel talks about the many happenings in our woods and waters as we head into the summer season.


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YMCA Update - June 11

Cook County Community YMCA Branch Executive Director Emily Marshall explains what services are coming back on line at the "Y".


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - June 12

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
June 12, 2020    
Wrapping up week two of June finds the wildland of border country settling into early summer in a sea of green. The countless shades of green are just amazing. “Mother Nature” must have chlorophyll of all hues in her veins.

Weather in the territory has been pleasantly refreshing with some natural air conditioning. Last Sunday was even more than cool as another load of firewood was consumed by the wood-burning stove taking the chill off forty-degree temps. It has since warmed a bit.

A blessing from the heavens surely lowered wildfire danger on the same day. I don’t have reports from other places along the Byway, but the Wildersmith gauge gulped up over one and six tenth inches.

We haven’t had a rain like this one in ages. The forest had its’ thirst quenched at least for the time being. This is good too as there have been a number of small fires set in the Superior National Forest during the past two weeks, all blamed on ill-advised human decisions with campfires. Some folks will never learn!

This liquid happening not only created mud puddles we haven’t seen since the ice and snowmelt, but likely was critical to blueberry crop development. So it seems 2020 opportunities for the blue gems could be great with both moisture in the ground and those terrorist, black fly pollinators, buzzing at the ready.

It is likely with the big rain renewing depleted streams, running water will bring on another wave of the bloodthirsty critters. While berry augmentation is so important to our sweet tooth, we’d better be careful for that which we wish. There will be an increased surge of bites and annoying itching. And, if they don’t get you, the mosquitoes will surely pick-up any slack in this seasonal insect picnic with humans being the featured entre.

If the word hasn’t reached some listeners yet, the Covid-19 has resulted in the cancelation of the annual fundraisers for support of the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department. Nevertheless, organizers of the Gunflint Trail Canoe Races and the Mid-Trail Property Owners Auction festivities recognize a continuing need to sustain operations and equipment replacements for our Trail Heroes. So things are going to look different in 2020.

It’s “bearly” a day when I don’t see a picture of some north woods “Bruno” posted on line. There must be more than a “sloth” of the ebony critters, or else a few are making widespread travels through the forest for photo ops.

On another note, the Chik-Wauk Campus staff is re-energized at the return of the missing loon pair. The hope is re-nesting will result in the miracle of a new generation which could be expected around 4th of July.

In other news from end of the Trail, after months of winter weather delays and the Pandemic, there is a chance the all-sky camera will be up and running on the Chik-Wauk Campus by next week at this time. Check Chik-Wauk .org for an official announcement.

Finally, in Gunflint Trail Historical Society news, although the usual June, General Membership meeting was cancelled, due to the Pandemic, the Board of Trustees met in Zoom on June 8th.

The Board is pleased to announce results of mail-in balloting for the election of new Trustees. Elected for two year terms were; David Coleman of Clearwater Lake, Lee Hecimovich of Poplar Lake, Bruce Kerfoot, Tucker Lake and LaRaye Osborne of Poplar Lake.

The GTHS welcomes our new leadership, and with deep gratitude, thanks Barbara Bottger, Judy Edlund, Bud Darling and Les Edinger for their dedicated contributions over multiple terms of service.

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is curious, and naturally amazing!