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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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Photo by Gary Siesennop

North Woods Naturalist: Spring so far

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist. In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, Chel talks about all the spring activities she's seen so far in our woods and waters.

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Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 15

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 15, 2020
    
           
Since our last air waves gathering, conditions of weather along the Trail have been less than what we anticipate for month five. Our excitement of fifties and sixties around “May Day” has descended into shivers for the second consecutive weekend along the Mile O Pine.           
 

Since the Gunflint Lake ice-out on the 5th, several early morning low temps have allowed shore line waters to once again glaze granite and nearby flora with winters’ reminders. Even daytime high temps failed to temper the bone chilling northwest currents.                                                              
 

One morning was so cold the hardy blooming Squill and a growth of chives in the Smith yard succumbed to the frostiness, while protected bays and ponds skimmed over. And last Sunday saw a morning snow squall with off and on flurries around the Wildersmith neighborhood through the afternoon. All in all, it’s been late March in May.                                                                      
 

As the angling season got underway last Saturday, I’ve not heard much bragging about  hooking and netting, although a couple nice trout were taken out of Gunflint Lake by Trail Community neighbors. With the weather as it was, it’s a good bet some fish seekers could have caught a cold at the very least.                                                                                                                                        
 

If the brisk air wasn’t aggravating enough, navigating was difficult on our rough inland seas. Strong winds during both days of opening weekend were relentless as white caps dashed area shores. For the throngs of fisher people, the opener looked to be mostly miserable.                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The misery of drought has extended another week throughout northeast Minnesota, further increasing potential for wild fire. Since lake ice is gone, homeowners are urged to get those wild fire sprinkler systems ready and tested. Yours truly spent some time in the cold lake earlier this week to set my systems’ pump hoses. It’s done, but burr, what a frosty wet ritual.                                                     
 

By the way, local residents are reminded of the “Firewise Webinar” this coming Wednesday night May 20, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm.                                                                                                       
 

With exception of a few mini piles of snow, the neighborhood looks brown and barren as it was late last October. I’ve been watching some green tips on the branches of a couple juvenile birch located just off the deck, but the bud unfolding progress has been stymied to the point where they are shivering in their sheaths as I scribe this report.                                                                                                                                     
 

Spring clean-up is under way around the Wildersmith place. Enough winter downfalls have been picked up so far to start the first burn pile for next winter. Speaking of clean-up, a trip along the Trail in either direction shows the manners of mankind have not improved with regard to littering.                                                                                                                                                                                
 

While the COVID Pandemic has turned our world upside down, the annual Trail clean-up has not been on the front burner. For folks locked down up this way, a good excuse to get out of the house/cabin would be to grab a bag, put on a safety vest and pick-up a couple miles section. This will be an easy way to stay socially distanced because the likelihood of anyone stopping to help out is remote, just watch out for flying beverage bottles or cans.                                                                                                                                    
 

Reports are beginning to trickle in with critter sightings in the “wild neighborhood.” A wolf was captured on the trail cam at Chik-Wauk, two different sources have observed momma bears and cub sightings (one with triplets), a couple yearling moose were seen around the Cross River gravel pit, a grey/silver fox entertained some neighbors up along Seagull Lake, a pair of majestic white swans are hanging out on the Moose Pond off county road #81 and the Chik-Wauk loon pair is back on their nest in the Sag Bay.                                                                                           
 

Closer to home, I’ve been hearing a barred owl boom its “who, who cooks for you”, and I’m keeping an eye on a pileated woodpecker who recently perched on the feed tray. It made me wonder if the “woody woodpecker” look alike was inspecting my house siding to maybe hit upon a meal of insect morsels.                                                                                                                                                          
 

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as “Zigwan” (spring) is jumping back on track!
 

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Photo by Dennis Chick.

North Woods Naturalist: Signs of spring

Chel Anderson is a botanist and plant ecologist.  Chel talks about the signs of spring in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.

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Michelle Schroeder_Photo submitted by MS

Backpacking 101 - Michelle Schroeder - May 6

Backpacking 101 - by Michelle Schroeder
May 6, 2020

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John Schloot_photo by JessicaBergColeman.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 8

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 8, 2020     
 
Weather along the Gunflint has been on the fickle side as I hit the keyboard after one week of May. The only constant has been with precipitation up at end of the Trail, and the lack thereof.                                                                                                                                                                 
Conditions looked like spring put a choke hold on an ailing “old man winter.” Temps soared into the fifties and sixties for several days, at least where the sun bore down on the thermometer. Our fair “princess spring” finally had conditions in hand going into last weekend as “Sol” gulped up gobs of snow.                                                                                                                     
 
About all the snow remaining is that heaped during snow removal efforts over the past six months.  The Mile O Pine neighborhood is about ninety percent bare brown earth and mud right now.                                                                                                                                                                       
But in a not to unusual twist, and in what may be a last gasp, the “spirit of the north” blew in with cold northwest winds and a brief snow shower at Wildersmith to end last weekend. Such was happening in spite of lake ice trying to do its disappearing act.                                                                                                                           
 Ice conditions on Gunflint Lake have deteriorated rapidly. The big ice cube looks to be of the liquid sort as this scoop hits the air. Alas, the fishing opener should not be interrupted by ice, as I declared the official ice-out date, May 5.                                                                                                                                                                             
 I’m told by folks further up the Trail, Seagull Lake is now clear of hard water. Other big lakes, like Loon, Poplar and Saganaga are likely the same or in close pursuit of lapping at the shores.                                                                                                                                                                   
Rocks are a way of life around this place on the planet, and anyone who has tried to pierce the earth in these parts will attest to frustrations they present. A rock happening (not of hip-hop character) awhile back has been reported by a couple folks out for a walk on one recent bright spring day.                                                                                                                                                                         
During their trek along what locals call Warren’s Road (running through the Cross River Gravel Pit), the twosome came upon what looked to be an optical illusion of something a distance down the road. As they got closer, it turned out to be no illusion. It was a huge chunk of granite, smack dab in middle of the road.                                                                                            
 
Apt to weigh several tons, it turns out this boulder did not plummet from the heavens, but broke away from a roadside cliff. With dimensions of a small car, this natural road block likely succumbed to ages of freezing and thawing before disconnecting from its glacial placement thousands of years ago.                                                                                                                                                         
The impact was probably a pretty big thud, and maybe shook the earth nearby, but with summer residents living along Warren’s Road not yet back for the season, it’s like a tree falling in the forest, nobody heard or felt an earthly tremor.                                                                                                         
In the meantime, some good neighbors of the Gunflint territory are plotting its removal. Thank goodness this squashing moment didn’t occur during summertime usage!                                                                                                                       

WTIP website readers can see a digital of the temporary monument by scrolling down to the Wildersmith column under Community Voices.                                                                                       

 
First forest babies of spring have been announced by a gal up on Seagull Lake. She spotted a momma cross fox out and about with her kits on a recent sunny day. And with summer camouflage not yet emerging, it’s easy to spot members of the “wild neighborhood.” Trail cams on trails at the Chik-Walk Museum Campus have captured lynx, moose and wolves in the past couple weeks. Check out the Chik-Wauk website as they are often posted.                                                 
One annoying note associated with the big warm-up, is the sudden appearance of creepy things that crawl and winged critters that get in your hair and bite. I’ve been engaged by both over the past few days.                                                                                                                                     
 
On a couple happier notes, those arachnids (creepy as they can be) have already been hard at work running fiber though the forest. The beauty of early morning sunshine has this webl network glistening with dew. So yes, it’s another example of every creature having purpose, even artfulspiders.                                                                                                                                                                           
In another warm season happening, a White Admiral has been meeting me each day in a select location along the Mile O Pine during my mail box run. Not far beyond a Mourning Cloak has been hanging out too. Both butterflies, observances seem early, but apparently guess not!                     
With COVID-19 continuing to ravage thousands, folks along the Trail are still minding the recommendations of science. Hope all listeners are too! It’s masks up, stand away, stay well, and CARE for one another.                                                                                                                  
 
For WTIP, this is WIldersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as we wait for showers and more May flowers!
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Cook County Higher Education.  Photo from northshorecampus.org.

College During COVID-19 CCHE Webinar

Cook County Higher Education's Student Services Coordinator, Lenna Stever talks with North Shore Morning host, Mark Abrahamson about the upcoming webinar for students and parents preparing for college during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Scott Oeth_Photo via Facebook.jpg

Money Matters - Scott Oeth - May 2020

"Money Matters" with Scott Oeth, certified financial planner and Adjunct Professor.
Scott talks about navigating these challenging times and specifically about Roth IRA's in this edition of "Money Matters".

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Project Backstop & Cook Cty Arts Relief Fund

North Shore Morning host Mark Abrahamson talks with EDA Director Mary Somnis about a very generous donation to our local artists, businesses, and food shelves by an anonymous foundation that wanted to help Cook County residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Wildersmith Sign Only.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 1

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 1, 2020
    

After April seemed like two or three months crammed into one, Gunflint territory has made it to May. We all welcome month five with hope for more lives saved and lessening complexities of overwhelming suffering and sadness.                                                                                               

May in the northland is when memories of the past six months fade, and verdant realities are within our sight.                                                                                                                                                    

A confirmation of warmth along the Mile O Pine and all around the area is displayed with about a 50/50 split between bare earth and dingy snow. The power of “Sol” has taken a big bite out of winter remains over the past few days. Although friends out hiking recently raved of bare Trails, they still had to navigate thigh deep snow a time or two during their trek along the border route.                                                                                                                                                                               
Simultaneously the sun has been gnawing at lake ice cover. I’m told the far west end is opening at the Cross River Bridge, but there’s about eighteen inches of frozen stuff at least from mid-lake near Wildersmith, and on to the east sand beach. There was even snowmobile traffic by the place as recent as last weekend.                                                                                                                                                                      

I’ve been thinking, ice-out on the Gunflint might not happen before the May 9 fishing opener. If the recent warmth hangs on, this idea might need re-consideration. I heard one local has predicted the 12th. We’ll see!  In 2019, ice departed Gunflint Lake the day walleye chasing commenced.               
                                                                                                                                                                   
Here in the yard, the gap between the house and the nearest snow bank has expanded to about three feet, allowing the green sprouts of Squill and Rhubarb to take advantage of soaking up warm rays. It’s May for sure and the month of the Ojibwe, “budding flowers” moon will shine down on us before we meet again!                                                                                                                                                                

In contrast, 20 feet away, nearly a foot of snow remains on my shaded woodshop roof. While in another direction, the woodshed has melted off the three foot mass of just three weeks ago. It just goes to show how much strength the gaseous solar ball emits.                                   

Happy days in the woods are here again as numerous moose sightings have been reported. Yours truly had not observed any for several months during the winter, but have observed three in the past weeks. Others have reported seeing a foursome in one location along with more single viewings.                                                                                                                                    

On the smaller side of our “wild animal kingdom”, chippies have emerged from winter quarters, making me wonder if the Bruno population and other hibernators have made any residential stops along the byway. If anyone has a sighting to report, I’d enjoy hearing such.                                                                                        

Another report came to me from a fellow down the road telling of a visit from one of those masked bandits. It’s not the first time a raccoon has been seen along the Trail, but is still somewhat unusual.                                                                                                                                                                   
The presence of one, ring-tail, likely means potential for an invasion over time. They are not the nicest critters to have around, for any number of reasons. While there’s a reason for every being of the forest, I kind of equate their popularity with the equivalence of a skunk, rattlesnake or alligator. How do they get up this far north, I wonder? I’ll bet they are hooking a ride on the trucks of those sweet corn peddlers from down south in the summer.                                                                                                                                                                                         

As the delayed opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center was announced last week, I mentioned planning is underway to create a virtual campus. Funding for developing, online programs, presentations and a virtual museum is needed. All of this programming falls outside of the yearly GTHS/CW budget, and is absent support revenue coming through the gates. The virtual Campus will assist in keeping staff employed and community members/far away visitors connected until Chik-Wauk is open again.                                                            

The COVID-19 battle continues eating away at America, both physically and emotionally. All are encouraged to work harder at being patient and prudent in the push to regain a degree of normalcy. Our behavior to stay safe and at the same time protect others remains critical.                                                                     

In the words of iconic actress, Julie Andrews, try just “standing still a moment” during a time of frustration or disgust, before jumping into endangering situations!  You know, “everybody matters”!                                                                                                                                                       
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, and each always counts, as special!
 

Listen: 

 
Wildersmith_Photo by Fran Smith

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 1

Wildersmith on the Gunflint by Fred Smith

May 1, 2020

After April seemed like two or three months crammed into one, Gunflint territory has made it to May. We all welcome month five with hope for more lives saved and lessening complexities of overwhelming suffering and sadness.

May in the northland is when memories of the past six months fade, and verdant realities are within our sight.

A confirmation of warmth along the Mile O Pine and all around the area is displayed with about a 50/50 split between bare earth and dingy snow. The power of “Sol” has taken a big bite out of winter remains over the past few days. Although friends out hiking recently raved of bare Trails, they still had to navigate thigh deep snow a time or two during their trek along the border route.

Simultaneously the sun has been gnawing at lake ice cover. I’m told the far west end is opening at the Cross River Bridge, but there’s about eighteen inches of frozen stuff at least from mid-lake near Wildersmith, and on to the east sand beach. There was even snowmobile traffic by the place as recent as last weekend.

I’ve been thinking, ice-out on the Gunflint might not happen before the May 9th fishing opener. If the recent warmth hangs on, this idea might need re-consideration. I heard one local has predicted the twelfth. We’ll see! In 2019, ice departed Gunflint Lake the day walleye chasing commenced.

Here in the yard, the gap between the house and the nearest snow bank has expanded to about three feet, allowing the green sprouts of Squill and Rhubarb to take advantage of soaking up warm rays. It’s May for sure and the month of the Ojibwe, “budding flowers” moon will shine down on us before we meet again!

In contrast, twenty feet away, nearly a foot of snow remains on my shaded woodshop roof. While in another direction, the woodshed has melted off the three foot mass of just three weeks ago. It just goes to show how much strength the gaseous solar ball emits.

Happy days in the woods are here again as numerous moose sightings have been reported. Yours truly had not observed any for several months during the winter, but have observed three in the past weeks. Others have reported seeing a foursome in one location along with more single viewings.

On the smaller side of our “wild animal kingdom”, chippies have emerged from winter quarters, making me wonder if the Bruno population and other hibernators have made any residential stops along the byway. If anyone has a sighting to report, I’d enjoy hearing such.

Another report came to me from a fellow down the road telling of a visit from one of those masked bandits. It’s not the first time a raccoon has been seen along the Trail, but is still somewhat unusual.

The presence of one, ring-tail, likely means potential for an invasion over time. They are not the nicest critters to have around, for any number of reasons. While there’s a reason for every being of the forest, I kind of equate their popularity with the equivalence of a skunk, rattlesnake or alligator. How do they get up this far north, I wonder? I’ll bet they are hooking a ride on the trucks of those sweet corn peddlers from down south in the summer.

As the delayed opening of the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center was announced last week, I mentioned planning is underway to create a virtual Campus.

Funding for developing, on-line programs, presentations and a virtual museum is needed. All of this programming falls outside of the yearly GTHS/CW budget, and is absent support revenue coming through the gates. The virtual Campus will assist in keeping staff employed and community members/far away visitors connected until Chik-Wauk is open again. Any contributions to help would be greatly appreciated. To offer underwriting assistance, go to… gunflinttrailhistoricalsociety.org/join.php, or send a contribution to GTHS, 28 Moose Pond Drive, Grand Marais, MN 55604.

The COVID-19 battle continues eating away at America, both physically and emotionally. All are encouraged to work harder at being patient and prudent in the push to regain a degree of normalcy. Our behavior to stay safe and at the same time protect others remains critical.

In the words of iconic actress, Julie Andrews, try just “standing still a moment” during a time of frustration or disgust, before jumping into endangering situations! You know, “everybody matters”!

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, and each always counts, as special!

Listen: