Listen Now
Pledge Now


 
 

North Shore Weekend

800px-Lake_Superior_North_Shore.jpg

  • Saturday 7-10am
Genre: 
Variety
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:
The Liberty in the Grand Marais Harbor, with lighthouse in the background

Shipwrecks in the Grand Marais Harbor?

Lake Superior is well known as a graveyard for many shipwrecks, but some people might be surprised to learn that at least two ships have the Grand Marais Harbor as their final resting place. Producer Martha Marnocha finds out more from diver and local shipwreck historian, Stephen Daniel.

This feature was produced by the Cook County Historical Society in collaboration with WTIP and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Fund.
 
(Photo of the schooner Elgin courtesy of Great Lakes Marine Collection, Milwaukee Public Library/Wisconsin Marine Historical Society; photo of the steamer Liberty courtesy of the C. Patrick Labadie Collection, Superior, Wisconsin)
 

Listen: 

 

Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Superior National Forest Update - December 14, 2018

Hi, this is Renee Frahm, Visitor Information Specialist, with this week’s National Forest Update.

At the moment, we’ve had a week of temperatures around the freezing mark and some lovely freezing drizzle and clouds.  That kind of weather has really cut into our snow cover and changed our thinking from checking that we have gas for the snowblower to crossing our fingers that there will be a white Christmas.  This is northern Minnesota, where we brag to our friends that we survive and enjoy being outdoors when it is twenty below – we shouldn’t have to be worrying about whether there should be snow for Christmas.  We should be worrying about whether we can shovel the driveway out in order to get to work – so we should all be thinking snow!

With snow cover dwindling, we need to remind snowmobilers that there need to be at least 4 inches of snow on the ground for cross country travel.  It also can be difficult to tell which roads are plowed and which are not.  As a general rule, snowmobiles are not allowed on plowed roads but are welcome to use roads which are not plowed in the winter.  Be careful because the low snow cover may result in cars and trucks using what is normally an unplowed road.  If you are driving a car or truck, beware.  What appears to be a clear road at the beginning may be full of snow at the other end – you may be better off sticking to the plowed roads.  Low snow cover is tempting people to extend the ATV season.  If you are going out on an ATV, be sure to have one of our motor vehicle use maps, available online and free at our offices.  The map will tell you where it is legal to operate your ATV, including seasonal designations for some routes.  The map is also available as a georeferenced PDF file you can use with the Avenza app on your phone.  You don’t need to be online once you’ve downloaded the map, and the app will give you your exact location on the map as you travel.  Or when you’ve stopped – don’t stare at your phone while driving!

Our ATV trail partners have helped make some routes clearer by putting up small reddish brown signs on designated ATV routes.  Unfortunately, some of these signs were removed by vandals, a senseless act which only adds to the confusion over vehicle use.  Remember when you are planning your trip that these and other signs on the ground are only guidance – the motor vehicle use map is the final word on what use is allowed where.

Watch for logging trucks on the Dumbbell River Road, the Wanless Road, Perent Lake Road, The Grade, Ball Club Road, North Devil Track Road, Carlton Pit Road, and the Schroeder-Tote Road.  On the Gunflint District, log trucks will be hauling on the Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, Otter Trail, and the Caribou Trail.  The Schroeder-Tote, Firebox, South Brule, and Lima Grade roads are all shared with snowmobile trails, so be cautious in those areas.  Watch for posted signs showing when the dual designation stops and snowmobiles aren’t allowed further. 

As we hopefully get more snow, winter recreation will become more fun.  If you are looking for conditions of ski trails or snowmobile trails, our website provides links to our trail partners who groom the trails or, in the case of snowmobiles, the Minnesota DNR website which keeps a table of trail conditions. 

We’re getting to the last minute for holiday greenery!  If you still don’t have a tree, you can purchase a permit at one of our offices to harvest your own.  Make sure you follow the rules on where and what you can harvest.  If you have a fourth grader in the family, they can join the Every Kid In A Park program and qualify for a free tree permit.  That program will also give you free admittance to national parks and forests across the country.  One of our neighbors with a fourth grader completed a family tour of all the famous western national parks this summer.  The fourth grader was proud that she was able to get her family into all those parks for free or reduced admission.

The Superior National Forest wants to wish all of you a happy holiday season, and here’s hoping for more of that white stuff! 

Until next time, this has been Renee Frahm with this week’s National Forest Update.
 
 

Listen: 

 
Pine Marten

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 14, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith    December 14, 2018    
 
Since our last WTIP gathering, Gunflint country has experience days of calm and peace. These Halcyon segments have found this territory in partial winter mode, absent one half of our winter character.                                                                                                                                                           
 
The upper Trail endured a good dose of cold for several days, but we’ve been devoid of snow. Don’t take me wrong, we have snow however barely a few flurries have been added.                   
 
To expand upon the cold feature of our atmospheric goings-on, some nights of well below zero in this neighborhood prompted real ice making on the Gunflint. After a sputtering try at freezing a week ago, she got right after it on the night/morning of December 6 & 7.                       
 
There was no messing around this time. By morning on the 7th, I could see from the house water was still by the shore, but had no idea hard water would consume the entire surface in just a few hours.                                                                                                                                                                                 

This “ice on” date is somewhat early as the average over the time we’ve lived here is nearer mid-month. My records go as far back as 1982 and the earliest freeze of Gunflint Lake since then was on November 26, 1996. So 2018 is some two weeks off any contemporary record.                                                                                                                                                                                          

By the way, a Gunflint Lake cousin, Seagull Lake froze on November 20th according to folks along those shores. It is funny how conditions and locale can vary so much in just ten or twelve miles.                                                                                                                                                                                      

The next night was about equally as cold around here, and the “old gal” uttered her first commentary of the season. It was a screech like always, but one has no way of knowing whether her outcry was in delight of a new coat or pain from an ill fit. Whatever the case, we can now start building depth for those ice anglers come January.                                                                                 

A day in the winter woods seems never to be without an animal adventure of some sort. A few days ago the Smith’s spotted one of our many “Pineys” (martens that is) bounding over the snow toward our place. We watched it making its way up on to our deck, and heading for the snack shack.                                                                                                                                                                      

As it was about to stick its head in the little box for a treasure, something up in the trees was spotted, spooking the furry critter. Checking skyward carefully for a few moments, one could see the martens’ “wheels a turning” when a decision was made to grab a bite and make a run for it. While grabbing the poultry part, another alarm from above startled the furry one. This caused a Nano-second memory lapse where it let go of its treat.                                                                                                                                                                                       

The first of two oddities popped right before our eyes. The morsel of fowl dropped barely centimeters from the jaws, and quick as lightning, the critter caught it, mid-air, mind you. Oh, it was so nimble and quick.                                                                                                                                                                              

In awe, wonder number two captured us. In a flash, Mr. Marten shot across the deck, took a leap to a nearby tree and literally flew down to the ground at what looked to be supersonic speed. On the ground, it screamed over the crusty snow into a brushy thicket and out of view.                                                                                                                                                                                         

This riveting scene then took on another twist. During this ground level sprint, we observed a flight of blue jays zooming not far above the martens’ pathway to cover, and they too were soon lost from view.                                                                                                                                                 
 
One can only surmise these jaybirds were the one’s kindling the marten’s first treetop alert. After all, how did it know this was not a hungry eagle or a craving owl overhead.                                                      

Thereon, thinking about all this commotion, I assumed the blues’ were following “Piney” in case this ration of fast food was dropped, whereby they might get a crack at it. They are pretty cagey about laying claim to possessions of others, the big bullies.                                                                                   

With exception of disappearing into the woods, this chapter of our natural world novel knows no end. The beat goes on, predator/prey, survival of the fittest, fastest and craftiest!                                                                          

For WTIP, this Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with a shout out for let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!   
 

Listen: 

 

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - December 7, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith       
December 7, 2018    

Back at the keyboard again, I’m contemplating a week into month twelve with the lights of year 2018 beginning to dim. It seems we’ve rounded the corner into December way too soon. In spite of the year heading off into oblivion, the Gunflint Trail has a radiance extending our “Biboon” (winter) landscape brightly toward the New Year.                                                                                          

A couple of light snow droppings over the past week have magnified spirits for us lovers of wintertime. The forest is decked out in its’ seasonal best, so incredibly beautiful, it’s a gift beyond words.                                                                                                                                                                               

The accumulation of snow, to date, is not heaped too deep but is just enough to encourage area cross country ski operations. I’m told most all ski trails in the Gunflint system are packed and even a couple have done a little tracking where the base allows. Another six to twelve inches will have things in prime swooshing condition.                                                                                 

As of this scribing, my early season snow measurements for this neighborhood total sixteen inches, although some of the total has come and gone while “old man winter” was getting his cold act together over the last couple weeks.                                                                                                      

Meanwhile, temps early last week gave our Gunflint Lake gal the idea she might get under her winter cover. It looked as though we might have an early ice on. Winds were calm and the old gal skimmed about a third of a mile across.                                                                          
Then, as things often happen, the “great spirit of the north” exhaled with a huffy bluster, and a day or so later the first crinkling of hard water disappeared. So our icy waters are dashing shores once again.                                                                                                                                                                              

From what I can find out, Gunflint Lake and Saganaga are the only lakes with open water at the moment. All others are locked up for the next several months. However, it should be expected, safe ice is still in question.                                                                                                                                

I’m hearing a few gripes about the gloomy skies of the last couple of months. In fact, I overheard one longtime local say he was getting out of the wilderness to see if he could find sunshine somewhere.                                                                                                                                                                     

Then another fellow mentioned he’s never seen it so dark, seems like he’s driving off into a dark hole at night. Guess we folks at forty-eight degrees north take for granted our dark sky nights when all those heavenly bodies are beaming down upon us. They’ve been pretty much undercover since about October.                                                                                                                                          

It is interesting here at Wildersmith, with our location below the north side of a high elevation, on these cloudy days, when the sun does appear, it takes until about ten am to shine down on us. Then in the afternoon, old “Sol” begins fading below our horizon between two-thirty and three o’clock, so daylight is scant for now. Soon to be changing though, the Solstice will be turning things around once again in two weeks.                                                                                                    

A bonus happening pairs with the Solstice this year, as the Ojibwe, “little spirit full moon” fulfills its last yearly cycle just hours after, so there will be a real enlightening of the north woods just before the “biggest of birthdays.”                                                                                                                                                        

In the meantime, night travelers headed out this way will need to look for twinkling enjoyment from our annual sentinel of lights along Birch Lake. Yes, once again our good Trail neighbors on the Birch have enhanced our holiday spirit by lighting that big spruce along the byway. It may not be like the one in Rockefeller Center or at the White House, but its significance to light the way is nonetheless, magnificent.  Thanks to the Birch Lake crew that makes this happen.                                                                                                                                                                                             

In closing, I hear of a new trend coming in Christmas trees. Apparently, among millennials and urban “yuppies,” “black” is now in, for holiday trees of the future. This seems alarmingly artificial when we live amongst uncountable trillions of trees that are forever green, and symbolic of life itself, on the planet. It seems as though the purveyors of this somber notion are missing something.                                                                                                                                                                   

Giving this trendy idea a little deeper thought, I believe this ebony inclination is really nothing new. Our marvelous north woods territory has had black trees in the forest since the beginning of everything. We see them recurring every day, and we call it night time!                                                                                                                                           

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with life warm and simple and not too complicated. “Black” Christmas trees, really, “humbug”, what is the world coming to?
 

Listen: 

 
Ice on Lake Superior

North Woods Naturalist: Ice

WTIP's CJ Heithoff talks with naturalist Chel Anderson about how ice is formed on our lakes and rivers in this edition of North Woods Naturalist.

Listen: 

 
Snowshoe Hare_by_Dan Newcomb.jpg

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - November 30, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith          November 30, 2018    

A week away from the keyboard finds me back at it last Sunday evening. The Smith’s had a delightful time in Iowa with our daughter, celebrating “turkey day.” The weather down in Iowa was far from frightful. In fact, barely a skiff of snow muted their tawny landscape. So travel situations made for a stressless jaunt in both directions.                                                                             

With yours truly already into the winter mood, the best part of the return was climbing up the Trail to our winter wonderland. Adding to the white patina, “Mother Nature” was in the process of a little touch-up work. Thus, the last fifty miles to Wildersmith through this byway tunnel of evergreen was not only spectacular but also energizing for our pre-holiday spirit.                                                                            

The Smith’s hope your Thanksgiving was pleasant! Thinking of the past weekend’s trek into Holiday madness, I trust “Black Friday” ventures did not have you seeing “red” much less put you into the “red.”                                                                                                                            
Speaking of this seasonal essence, Gunflint Trail residents are reminded of the Open House Christmas Party as we kick-off this first weekend of December. The event will be held at the Schaap Community Center (mid-Trail fire hall) this Saturday, the 1st.                                                        

The gala put on by the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews is to recognize and thank Trail residents for their continuing support of the department. Doors open at 4:00 pm and good times will run until 7:00. Food and refreshments will be provided, and in the interest of this giving season, attendees are asked to bring an item for donation to the local food shelf.     
 
I just have to share with you an unusual critter happening, as our trip started south along the Trail last week. Some distance down the byway, we rounded a curve to find a USFS vehicle blocking traffic in the opposite lane. The circumstance was perplexing as to what was going on with no apparent human activity observed.  
                                                                                                      
As we slowed, checking out the surroundings we found the reason for this traffic stoppage. On the road shoulder to our right, a race for life was in the unfolding, and it had the attention of this forest ranger too.                                                                                                                           

A snowshoe hare came bounding along the snowy ditch right at us with a pine marten in hot pursuit. There was maybe a dozen feet separating the two, and it was hard to tell how the race was going.  Knowing who might have been declared the winner is undetermined as they eventually dipped into the forest beyond our view.      
                                                                                                        
One thing for certain is they are sprinters, not distance runners. It was all a matter of who could last the longest. We’ll never know whether a rabbit dinner was had, or there was angst of a martin finishing second? In either case, this small animal chapter of predator/prey activity provided yet another episode of wildland drama.                                                                                              

On down the road, a “king of the north woods carnivores” crossed our path, so this was a bonus observation, to say the least.                                                                                                                                                

And on another carnivorous note, a fellow living in the mid-Trail neighborhood experienced an eerie meeting with a six pack of gray wolves, just days before the Thanksgiving week. I’m told he set out in his canoe on Poplar Lake (before the ice came on) paddling to check out an eagle nest he’d been watching. Reaching the location, he put ashore and commenced into the woods a short distance.                                                                                                                                                                       

Not far on his journey, he had an uncomfortable feeling he was in the company of something or somebody, causing him to stop, listen and look around. To his surprise he’d come upon the pack, lounging in a sunny opening of the forest canopy not twenty feet away.                                               

Of course, they saw him too. He stood silently and watched them for several minutes. Then one stood up and looked him over, and the rest followed suit before meandering off out of sight. Although there seemed to be no aggressiveness, his trip was terminated.                                        

While he made his way safely back to his watercraft, another wolf crossed his path. It is unknown if this was a pack member. In any event, this wolf went on without causing further concern. I’m betting there was a lot of glancing back over his shoulder in-route to getting in that canoe.                                                                                                                                                                                             
It might be thought that the wolves, though curious, had less concern with this human in close proximity than he had of the wolf presence, but one can never be sure. It is well known they prefer venison, so he probably didn’t make their mouths’ water. The Gunflint Community is happy this adventure ended free from harm.                                                                                                                                                              
In closing, during the recent Mile O Pine absence, my foxy friend was left to fend for itself. However, a good neighbor down the road picked up the slack, accommodating the oft hungry critter. Along with his grandson Merrick, the two of them had an enjoyable time treating this bushy red “buddy” of the neighborhood.                                                                                                                                                            

The two have since departed back to metropolis, breaking the short term act of kindness. I’m guessing “Braer Fox” will find its way back to Wildersmith because the food service has re-opened with Turkey parts on the menu. I hope the “moccasin telegraph” is getting the word out.                                                                                                                                                           

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with adventures behind every tree or around every curve.
 

Listen: 

 

Superior National Forest Update - November 30, 2018

National Forest Update – November 29, 2018.

Hi, this is Jon Benson, Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Wilderness, with this week’s National Forest Update.
To start with, I would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season.  As the weather turns cold the types of recreation opportunities on the Superior National Forest transition from warm weather activities to cold weather activities.  Whether you are waxing up your skis, checking the bindings on your snowshoes, or just digging your mukluks and choppers out of storage; winter is here and it is our hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time recreating on your National Forest.

One type of recreation that is common this time of year is the collection of boughs and Christmas trees from National Forest System land.  Please remember that you must have a permit prior to participating in any activities that involve removal of boughs or trees.  These permits are available at any Forest Service office between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

In terms of conditions on the Superior National Forest, snow and ice continue to make roads slippery.  Give yourself and your fellow travelers a little extra space to avoid any undesirable experiences.  If you are someone who lives along a Forest Service Road and hopes to plow that road, please make sure you have checked with the local Ranger District Office to ensure that you have a road use agreement in place.  Unauthorized plowing can create unsafe situations and it is not legal.

Some of the area ski trails are starting to have some snow and a few folks have been out with their skis.  Keep an eye on the Superior National Forest website or the Visit Cook County website for links to ski conditions.  If you are a fat tire biker, please make sure you are aware of trails that are open to fat-tire riding.  If the snow conditions aren’t right then you shouldn’t be on the trail.  Always “Think, before you sink”.

Lake ice isn’t ready yet.  Many of the lakes are starting to freeze over, but the ice is not thick enough to trust.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recommends to stay off all ice under 4 inches thick, and that no ice is 100% safe.  It may be time to clean the tackle box or put new line on the reel, but it isn’t time to get out on the ice just yet.

Muzzleloader deer season is still going through December 9 and there also could still be grouse hunters out there, so make yourself visible.

If you’re headed out the road, you'll run into truck traffic on the Tofte District on the Trappers Lake Road, Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Lake County 7, the 4 Mile Grade, the Perent Lake Road, Ball Club Road, North Devil Track Road, and The Grade. The Gunflint District will have hauling on the Caribou Trail, the Murmur Creek Road, Greenwood Road, Firebox Road, South Brule Road, Lima Grade, and the Otter Trail. A good rule of thumb is if a back road is plowed in the winter, there is probably going to be log hauling on it.

This has been Jon Benson with the Superior National Forest Update wishing all of you a happy and safe holiday season.
 

Listen: 

 
Snow-filled Tree

North Woods Naturalist: Snow

Some of the wildlife in our area is more visible after the first snowfall of the winter season.  Naturalist Chel Anderson speaks with WTIP's CJ Heithoff about some of the activity she has seen in our woods and waters over the last couple of weeks.

Listen: 

 
December 2018 black map.jpg

Northern Sky: November 24 - December 7 2018

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison
November 24 - December 7, 2018

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.
 
Deane's column “Minnesota Starwatch” can be
found on the University of Minnesota website at astro.umn.edu. 
 

Listen: 

 

Wildwoods Wildlife Rehab Center - Tara Smith

North Shore Morning host, Marnie McMillan talks with Tara Smith, care coordinator at Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Duluth, MN.

Wildwoods Wildlife Rehab Center is located at 4009 W Arrowhead Rd, Duluth, MN.
www. wildwoodsrehab.org    218-491-3604

Listen to the November 15th  interview below.

Listen: