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North Shore Weekend

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



What's On:
Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - September 16

Superior National Forest Update with Steve Robertsen.
September 16, 2020


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 15

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 16, 2020    

Surpassing the half way mark of month ten, finds autumn activities are slowly grinding to a halt. Even though fall, by the calendar, is not quite a month old, “leaf peepers”, hikers, fisher people and back country paddlers are coming to grip with the idea favorite warm season ventures are about done.  Here at Wildersmith, with barely a hand full of golden tokens hanging on, I’m watching two Birch trees outside my window for the last leaf of summer.                                                                                                                                               

Yes, hunters are still out in the woods, but for all practical purposes, this complicated 2020 summer is history. A few summer businesses have closed and others will be following suit real soon. Getting close to the shoulder season, those with winter operations will be pausing to catch their breath and gear up for activity in the season of white.                                                                             

The county will be alive one more time this weekend as the annual “Moose Madness” events will capture the attention of visitors from around the state. While most activities take place in Grand Marais, traffic along the Gunflint By-Way will likely be busy in hope live moose will come out of the forest for some photo ops. For a complete schedule of events, check out the website at Cook County Visitors Bureau (CCVB).                                                                                                       

In case the “real McCoy’s” don’t show along the Trail or back country roads, folks can come on up to the Nature Center at Chik Wauk and get an up close look at the new moose exhibit. The moose recently donated by a generous Gunflint Lake family is a handsome dude and very photogenic. The donors called him “Mickey Moose”                                                                                                                                                
Speaking of Chik Wauk, the Campus facilities will be closing the doors for the season after Sunday. Museum hours are 10:00 ‘til 5:00 while the Watercraft Exhibit Building and Nature Center are open this Saturday only, 11:00 ‘til 4:00.                                                                                             
Atmospheric happenings in the territory have been of little consequence since our last gathering around the radio. A positive rain fall in this neighborhood during the past few days dampened the landscape and likely enhanced the essence of the season. Meanwhile, temps were neither too warm nor too cold, but several gusty days made a sweater or sweatshirt feel comfy.                                                                                                                                                             

WTIP members are reminded of the annual organizational meeting this coming Monday, October 19 at 7:00pm. The meeting will be “Virtual” as a Zoom or telephone Webinar. Go to for link information on connecting ID numbers.                                                                

The annual report will be given, and members will vote for 2020-21 Board of Director candidates. This is an important meeting in light of the COVID-19 situations affecting your community radio station over the past nine months, so please join in!                                                   

Notice is also given in regard to the Fall Membership drive. The five and one-half day event commences this coming Wednesday, October 21, and continues until noon on Monday the 26th. As nearly every aspect of our daily lives has been altered since last February/March, the same is true of life at WTIP, thus making this campaign for member support even more critical than past solicitations.                                                                                                                                            

While millions have been infected by this tragic virus, there are few Americans who have not been linked into related economic strains. The WTIP Board of Directors, staff and your fellow members hope all will be able to step up in some way----- either as a new member or with a renewal of your patronage.                                                                                                                             

The theme of this fall endeavor is “Phone a Friend.” Since mutual friends help friends, please give us a call when the drive opens next Wednesday or sooner, if you would like.          

As studios remain closed to the public due to this Pandemic, operators will be waiting for your call at 218-387-1070 or 1-800-473-9847. Of course pledges are also accepted on line at and click on the pledge now button.                                                                                                              

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as the awe of nature favors solace and inspiration!


Fall Colors on the Honeymoon Trail by Travis Novitsky

North Woods Naturalist: Beautiful fall

The fall colors were fantastic this year, and there is still a hint of color out there yet.  In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, botanist and plant ecologist Chel Anderson talks about the perfect storm that led to the jaw-dropping fall colors as well as the latest autumn observations she's had in our woods and waters.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 09

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 9, 2020
Autumn along the Gunflint has been a mixed bag in recent days. Some days have been sparkling and others clotted with leaden clouds. At the moment, early October doesn’t seem to know which way it’s headed.                                                                                                                               

Chilly temps brought on the scent of wood smoke from stoves and fireplaces last weekend, but since then things have moderated somewhat. Before this current mercury up-tick, parts of the territory got a brief preview of winter precipitation with flurries, snow squalls and a little sleet on a couple occasions. While white evidence did not last long on the warm earth, the volume was so minimal it did little to alleviate the continuing dry spell.                                                                     
Testimony to the on-going dryness is noted in streams and rivers. A trip up Round Lake Road toward Tuscarora finds the Cross River flowing barely a trickle. Further up the Trail, the mini waterfalls on Larch Creek above the Seagull Guard Station is bone dry, and Seagull Creek looks also to be only on an over the shoe level.                                                                                          

Most lakes are on the same low level list too. I recently noticed the bay of Saganaga Lake at the Chik Wauk Museum Campus is so shallow a small squadron of ducks was able to dive and collect morsels off the bottom without getting their tail feathers wet. This is all so sad, but what are you going to do? Prayers for wet relief are not being answered.                                

Meanwhile, the tinted spirits of fall have peaked. Along the Mile O Pine, there are now more leaves on the ground than on our trees. The final component of our color show, the Tamarak conifers, is into the final autumnal chapter. The delicate needles are taking on their usual October golden tone. This happening is so awesome as these trees have such contrast with the evergreen surroundings. And as winds have churned from all directions on the compass lately, coniferous cousins have pretty much released all old growth needles.                                                                                          

So “Mother Nature” has just about completed her “getting ready for winter” job. She will soon be turning over reigns to “Jack Frost” and that “old Man winter” for the freezing aspect of life in the north woods.                                                                                    

Speaking of “getting ready” yours truly is whittling away at my list. I can count on one hand the chores remaining which will include a snow blower check, mounting of the snow blade and polishing up the shovel.                                                                                                                      

A report came to me just days ago of an unusual game bird observation. The scene might happen often, but is seldom seen. A couple discovered a covey of grouse in a tree near their lakeshore. There were ten, of the seemingly simple minded birds, apparently harvesting munchies. I’m calling this gathering “a covey, in a birch tree” which could be substituted in the lyrics of a holiday song favorite. A digital is shared that can be found on the WTIP website with the Wildersmith Column under Community Voices drop down.                                    

Sadness hangs over the Gunflint Community like November clouds as another of our dear neighbors has passed from our midst. Word was received last Saturday on the death of Julie Henricksson. Julie and renowned/author husband John were mainstays on the south shore of Gunflint Lake for many years until difficult health issues forced a move away from their beloved wild land summer home, to assisted living in Lake Elmo, MN. Gunflint Community condolences are extended to John and her daughters, along with uncountable friends and neighbors.                                                                                                                                                        
A reminder to area residents, while the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic flu shots drive through at Gunflint Lodge had to be canceled last Tuesday, the process is to be re-scheduled for another date. Please keep an ear to the ground for the new time. Get those flu shots!                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as natural magic engulfs each day.


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - Oct 02

Superior National Forest Update for the week of Oct 1-8, 2020 with Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist for the USDA Forest Service - Superior National Forest.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - October 02

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
October 2, 2020    
The gate is open, and here is October. We’d better pay attention or this segment will pass us by quickly as did the month nine cousin.                                                                        

It is noteworthy the Ojibwe, “falling leaves” full moon peaked when the calendar turned over, and if that lunar occasion wasn’t enough astronomical radiance, we’ll be catching a “blue moon” before November flips the page.                                                            

October winds will be puffing a harsher theme, sunrise will be getting later, shadows will be getting longer, dark skies will come earlier and silence of the forest will become deeper. It is also likely the landscape could be white in time for the “blue moon” arising on the thirty-first day.                                                                                                                            

Since the last time we met on the radio, and before month ten squeezed in, the upper Gunflint reached the summit of our 2020 “Technicolor” spectacle. You’ve heard me say this before, but the show this year looked to be the best ever during my twenty-one observations. When “Sol” has been on high beam, the collage of hues is nearly blinding.                                           

Quickly as the colorful glow of fall grew, the majesty is beginning to take some final bows. Maples are dripping scarlet flakes and the slightest breath of wind has birch and aspen in squalls of golden tokens. All of which are blanketing back country roads with an endless tribute to summer memories. By the time this report hits the air many bare branch skeletons will be lurking over-head, and sighting through the woods will be visibly improved.                                                   

Sometimes it seems like all one has to do is to speak up or whine a bit, and good things trickle forth. Such is the case with my comment last week about missing aromas of the season. The essence of autumn was soon after enhanced when this neighborhood got a nice soaking rain. Eight tenths were recorded over a couple days. The much needed moisture seems to have nourished an on-set of fall fragrances. Guess pungency may have been waiting for the official first day of the changing season.                                                                                           
On a recent trip to the Village, some nature reflections were captured on several Trail side lakes. Especially provocative was a perfect likeness of the gold and green shore line forest reflected off the mirror smooth Swamper Lake.                                                          

The past couple of weeks have been a “shutterbugs” delight. So too for “leaf peepers’ as visitors are keeping the black top busy. It must also be an art lovers’ joy, driving the Trail through this natural exhibit and opting a stop at the annual GM Art Colony Studio Tour over at Hungry Jack Outfitters.                                                                                                                                                   

While “wild neighborhood” critter reports have been minimal, we know they are out there somewhere. Recent trail cam shots at the Chik Wauk Campus have recorded wolves, bear and lynx confirming their existence with a candid photo op.                                                     

The Smith’s verified there are still moose to be found after not having observed one for months. A handsome dude in full regalia greeted us along the Trail between Birch and Mayhew Lakes during the same trip mentioned earlier.                                                                          

The big fellow startled us a bit and then decided to run alongside the vehicle for a short distance before heading off into woodsy obscurity. I can only guess this iconic guy was looking for a girl-friend. Seeing a moose was an added North woods treat to the colorful excursion.          

The melodic chirping of small avian has slacked off to mostly that of chickadees and red breasted nuthatches. Meanwhile, the ranting and raving chorus of crows/ravens and blue jays along with a percussive pileated woodpecker are catering accompaniment for enjoyment of the days to come in our October verse. The Gunflint Trail, a gift for the senses!                                 
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is magical, marvelous and miraculous!


Fall on the Gunflint Trail by Bryan Hansel

North Woods Naturalist: Fall equinox

This week marked the official start of autumn with the fall equinox.  In this edition of North Woods Naturalist, botanist and plant ecologist Chel Anderson talks about what she's observing in our woods and waters during the transition from summer for fall.


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Superior National Forest Update - September 25

North Shore Morning host Mark Abrahamson talks with Education and Interpretation Specialist, Steve Robertsen in this Superior National Forest update.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - September 25

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
September 25, 2020    

Here we are once again; September engine 2020 has roared past Gunflint station with the old caboose a few lengths from heading off into oblivion. It’s hard to imagine we are humming the final stanza of a September song.                                                                                       

Recent days in the upper Gunflint have been splendid. Temps have bounced back from last weeks’ frostiness to more normal expectations…under smoke filtered sunshine. The warmth has even aroused some members of the insect population.                                                          

Meanwhile the smoke from those west coast infernos is caught in the jet stream and is high aloft, dimming “Sol’s beam. Luckily, to date, the usual noxious smell and ensuing air quality difficulties seem to be minimal around Wildersmith.                                                              

Like a broken record there is no good new with regard to rain since our last meeting. A few drops last Saturday morning is all we have been able to muster along the Mile O Pine, barely dampening the dust.                                                                                                                        

This in mind, a component of autumn is missing. Although color aspects are full speed ahead, the aromatics of dank earth and decaying leaves is not yet wafting through the forest. So woods users are kicking up dust and crunching a very dry landscape until “Mother Nature” opens the spigot to allow the delight of seasonal pungency.                                                                                                                                                         

While parts of the upper Trail are in varying stages of fall intensity, the Mile O Pine is beyond vivid. There is little to say that was good about the 1999 Derecho but the big blow down did allow sunshine to enable a sparse advancement of maples in places of the upper Trail.                                                     

Twenty plus years later, we are beyond the spoils of the tragedy as scarlet beauties are on fire. The crimson is mingled with oranges and golds against the evergreen back drop in a breath taking mosaic. Every day seems to get a little brighter and in the words of distinguished… Phenologist and educator Larry Weber they are “tree---mendous!                        

All who live along similar pristine pathways are enjoying gift while it lasts’. Knowing this awesome happening is short lived, unfortunately, a melancholy end to this spectacle is in the cards.                                                                                                                                                    

Some tokens of gold and rust have already started to descend from their summer connection, and are being windrowed by the few passing neighborhood vehicles. The array of golden rows along the roadway brings to mind that our back country pathways will be outlined in white after a few more weeks are recorded.                                                                                                                                                            
Earlier in our week, stiff breezes created a mini blizzard of coniferous needles. These elder generation needles are adding another layer of landscape carpeting to the “duff” accumulation of thousands of years. Talk about plush!                                                                                                                                            

The rut is on in “moosedom.” Over in the Iron lake area, some grouse hunters reported a first sign setting the stage for establishing territory and attracting attention of a member of the fairer gender. They came upon an area of tree bark scrapes and a lot of hoof prints crushing the surrounding brush. Ungulate romance is in the air!                                                    

Speaking of grouse, good reports are coming in from hunters on their first weekend, and DNR information tells of many successes for bear chasers as well.                                                                                      

The Gunflint Community is saying good bye to a family of historical renown. Bruce Kerfoot, son of the iconic Justine, and wife Sue are departing the North woods next week. Bruce who has lived on the Gunflint Trail since birth, and Sue will be moving south into Missouri, establishing new residency near son Robert and his family.                                                   

Legends of the Kerfoot family date back to the 1920’s, and Bruce has observed Gunflint Trail history unfold on a daily basis for all of his eight decades living around and operating Gunflint Lodge.                                                                                                                                               
Both Bruce and Sue are living chapters of Gunflint Trail history. And, their contributions to the Gunflint Community are uncountable.                                                                                                                                                                     

While they plan to winter in their new digs to the south, I’m told they plan on summers back on the Trail. So they will continue ties with many old friends and neighbors.                                                  

The Gunflint Community wishes them the best in their new life endeavors and always welcomes them back to their place of many memories!                                                                             

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as “Mother Nature” whispers “can do” with confidence.


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - September 18

Superior National Forest Update with Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the USDA Forest Service, Superior National Forest.
September 18, 2020