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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 - June 4

Superior National Forest Update is a weekly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Joanna Gilkeson is a Public Affairs Specialist with the Superior National Forest.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 28

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 28, 2021    

The Gunflint Trail is now what residents have been waiting for, a blur of green.  A dose of rain has helped put the final touches on leaf out in upper Trail territory.                                  

This being said, a glance out the window finds it hard to see years of blow down rubble typical of living in the forest, once “Mother Nature” and “old Sol” start stirring Chlorophyll spirit. And the once brown, needle laden earth is being consumed with all things green.            

A couple days ago the Ojibwe, “budding flower” moon cast its’ golden gaze to the spring goings-on, and sure enough, the “Forget me nots” have popped their buds turning the Wildersmith yard sky blue over the past few days. Sprinkled in amongst the petite blue blossoms, I’m seeing wild strawberry flowers as the first fruit of the summer. This place is just magical with the ageless miracles of re-birth. What a creation!                                                      

While the majesty of this northern paradise is awe-inspiring, many folks have been brought back from spring gazing, to the reality there are a few “wild neighborhood” adversaries around, who in order to survive, will make life for us two legged beings very uncomfortable. At this point, I’m talking “Black Flies.” To date they are making the mosquitoes look like choir boys.           

The ornery little nippers have been near un-bearable in the last week. I heard from one gal who counted twenty-one bites on her hands after one outing. And another gal indicated she might be trying a bath in bug dupe. As for yours truly, I have my share of itchy scars after scrounging around in the dirt to repair a water system problem.                                                      
While this nipping nonsense will calm down in favor of the “skeeters”, the presence of our black fly hoards bodes well for blue berry pollination. If rains come in a timely manner, the territory could see a bumper crop of the “blues” come late July and August. You pickers, keep those fingers crossed.                                                                                                                                    
The summer vacation period becomes official with this Memorial Day weekend, and with it, the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is opening its Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center doors to visitors for the eleventh year tomorrow, Saturday. Hours for the Museum remain 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.                                                                                                                   

As COVID-19 restrictions have been eased across the State, visitors are still encouraged to remember cautions necessary when being around others, regardless of vaccination.                  

Chik Wauk is excited to announce two new exhibits in the museum (The Powell family story is the 2021 special collection along with a permanent cultural /wildfire history presentation). The new interpretive cabin, closed in 2020 due to COVID, will now be open for first time viewing, and the Watercraft exhibit is also being enhanced with the addition of another significant historical unit. So make plans to take a trip to end of the trail a 2021 priority!                                                                                                                                         
I’d like to give a big shout out to dozens of folks who have been doing the Trail clean-up over the past few weeks. Thanks a million for your beautification efforts. While their job is now done, this littering problem is on-going. Every user is encouraged to keep their trash in the vehicle and stop whenever possible to pick-up after those who don’t give a hoot.                                           
In closing, I’m announcing this will be my last account of weekly happenings along the Gunflint Trail. As many listeners know, living in the woods can be difficult and challenging. While the Smith’s are presently in good health, the sands of time are sifting away faster than we wish. So we will be moving from this wonderful unorganized territory at the end of June, going back to Iowa where we will be more accessible to our kids.                                                                     

The past twenty-two years of life in the wild land have been an incredible experience. This Gunflint Community has been something to behold, and as an Iowa invasive, we at Wildersmith are so grateful to have been included as a part of so many wonderful happenings.                      

It goes without saying the opportunity to scribe this weekly column for nearly eighteen years has been an unbelievable privilege. I’m indebted to Vicki Biggs-Anderson, then Editor and Jay Anderson, News Director at the Cook County News Herald and Deb Benedict and Matthew Brown at WTIP, and their staffs, for undying support over these years.                                            
All of these people made this very amateur broadcast journalist sound better than I really am. You will never know how much I appreciate your friendly and professional leadership during my news scooping years                                                                                                                   
And speaking more of undying support, the community of readers and listeners has made this chapter of my life rewarding beyond belief.  I cannot thank everyone enough for supportive comments, snippets of life in your Gunflint neighborhood and just being tuned in each week. You are truly amazing!
With that I say farewell, and best wishes to all in this precious place.                                   

For WTIP… this is Wildersmith… along the Gunflint Trail… where every day… has been
Great… and will always… be remembered…  

Happy Gunflint Trails… until we meet again!!!


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - May 28

"Superior National Forest Update" with Steve Robertsen.
May 28, 2021
In this edition, Steve talks about re-opening campgrounds, baby animals, fire conditions, and logging truck traffic in the Superior National Forest.


Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - May 21

Superior National Forest Update  -  May 21, 2021
Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Wilderness, Jon Benson reports on conditions and events in the Superior National Forest.


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Northern Sky: May 22 - June 4

Northern Sky by Deane Morrison
May 22 – June 4, 2021
June has three big events in store for us: the summer solstice, the last of 2021’s three supermoons, and a partial eclipse of the sun.
First up is the solar eclipse, which will be in progress at sunrise on the 10th. Here are the times when the eclipse will be at its maximum in towns in the four corners of Minnesota, along with the percent of the sun’s face that will be covered at that moment: Pipestone, 5:45 a.m., 1.1%; Hallock, 5:31 a.m., 28.5%; Grand Marais, 5:07 a.m., 63%; and Winona, 5:31 a.m., 13.4%. To see it, make sure you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, and even though the sun will be very low, watch it only with proper eye protection.
Second, the summer solstice arrives at 10:32 p.m. on the 20th, when the Northern Hemisphere tilts most sharply toward the sun. At that moment a space traveler would see Earth lighted from the Antarctic Circle to the North Pole and beyond to the Arctic Circle on the dark side of our planet. 
Last comes June’s full moon, which qualifies as a supermoon by virtue of its closeness. It rises the evening of the 24th, near the juncture of the lid and handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius.
Because June’s full moon is unusually close, its new moon, being at the opposite point in the same lunar orbit, is unusually far away. As seen from some far northern regions of the globe, that new moon lines up so well with the sun on the 10th that if it were closer, it would produce a total eclipse. Instead, those areas see a rare annular eclipse, where the dark moon is encircled by a ring of bright sun.
Jupiter and Saturn begin rising before midnight in mid- to late June, and they’re well up in the southeast to south before dawn all month long. Between the 27th and 29th, watch the waning moon pass below the planets in the morning sky. In the evening sky, Venus hovers near the west-northwestern horizon, in the sun’s afterglow.


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 21

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 21, 2021    

This week’s report confirms the last pile of snow along the Mile O Pine has faded into a mash of wet leaves, so all character of winter has now succumbed to the warmth of May at this end of the Trail.                                                                                                                                          

All of Nature’s spring things are popping now. As Hummingbirds made their presence known up this way in the past week, so too are the snowbirds. Our seasonal neighbors are rolling in just as the weather actually took a warmer tick upward from the first weeks of the month.                                                                                                                              

Summer forest camouflage is growing intensity, and the territory should be completely leafed out by the next time we meet. Any skeletal ugliness of winters’ deciduous continuum will be in a state of chlorophyll bliss.                                                                                                   

At this point there are more shades of green than one could ever imagine. One can just take a look at Roget’s Thesaurus for all the tints of green, and we have most of them up here in the woods. I’m also noticing a delicate greenish tinge on Tamaraks, while their coniferous cousins are sprouting buds of the next generation needles.                                                               

While places closer to Grand Marais have long been in bloom, this end of the Trail is finally showing a little color. Marsh Marigolds and Cilia are the first wild flowers doing their warm season rehearsal along back country roadsides. Of course, those “dandy lions,” while they too have a role in this summertime drama, they are of the nuisance category so I don’t count them. And a Sunday cruise down the MOP was also flavored with those “fiddle head” ferns uncoiling skyward for a rendition of a summer time sonnet.                                                                   

Spring is a great show-off time. Of course a good rain would spur things along even more. It is amazing flora are progressing as well as they have with another week of dry crunchy steps and choking back road dust.                                                                                                            

As I keyed this weeks’ scoop last Sunday, there is smoke in the air. Although I was later told the source is many miles away, history of such a scent always puts one on edge. Happily the Wild fire sprinkler system is tuned up. In fact, Gunflint Lake was sharing a little liquid charm on the parched earth around Wildersmith as I scribed this column.                                                             
Many lake side docks are re-appearing after a cold season of in-activity on shore. The Wildersmith boat landing is no exception, thanks to much appreciated assistance from some special friends.                                                                                                                                 

The first time of relaxing on a dock out over any lake is such an enriching experience, and the Smith’s did just that to initiate our dock’s 2021 re-entry. And it only gets better as those Canadian sunsets over border country lakes will charm the soul with heavenly beauty over the next few months.                                                                                                                                               

A neighbor reports bear activity around her place, but none have bothered to stop by this place, at least during daylight hours, however, a calling card was left on the road. Meanwhile, a feline was observed down the road a piece, but observers were unsure as to it being either lynx or bobcat as it made a hurried exit into the forest.                                                      

On a less exciting note, an invasion of the insect world has taken over the north woods. If it isn’t mosquitos, it is black flies, and adding insult to the welt producers, an explosion of several varieties of ants have added to the buggy antagonism. Oh well, this is life in the north woods, guess bugs have to eat too!                                                                                                                 

In closing, a recent online posting from tells of an exciting opportunity for both individuals and families interested in the adventures of canoeing in the BWCA. Gunflint Trail Outfitters will be hosting an hour of free canoe paddling, along with instruction if needed, during the summer from June 14 through July 17th. The event is entitled, “Wet Your Paddle” on the Gunflint Trail. For more information and scheduling, go to                                                                                        

And while you’re out at the end of the Trail for a joyous canoe experience, plan to stop by the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center to make it a complete day of outdoor enjoyment while learning more of Gunflint Trail cultural and natural stories.                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day, is a storied example of Mother Nature at her best!


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 14

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 14, 2021    

Life along the Gunflint continues to whiz by as we reach the mid-point of May. So far, the fifth stanza of 2021 has felt more like late March or April in this neighborhood.                       

As I hit the keyboard for this weeks’ report, my cook-out for the mom is this household required a winter coat. A brisk northwest wind, temps in the high thirties and occasional flurries of snow were a bit un-characteristic of what one would normally expect for Mothers’ Day, even at forty nine degrees north.                                                                                                                           
What’s more, the first ten days have been much the same. A few segments of sunshine have been up-lifting, but did little to ease the chill.  This being said, green-up has been stalled slightly.                                                                                                                                     
Folks out this way are looking for a warm-up by this weekend and hold hope for some draught relief. Another week went by with barely a sniff of precipitation in this locale. Liquid that did fall was mixed with snow at times, and overall, amounted to little more than a dust settling event.                                                                                                                                        
I sound like broken record as the dry story in the upper Trail has not changed, and urging all to not attempt any burning is likely to irritate listeners as much as it agitates me having to constantly harp on the issue. We Gunflinters’ are all in this together, so please keep being careful and also prepared.                                                                                                        

A reminder to all Trail residents, the Arrowhead Electric Cooperative is hosting a question and answer open house today (Friday, May 14) at the Schaap Community Center (Mid-Trail) 10:00 am to 1:00pm.                                                                                    
Representatives from AEC will be addressing a proposed plan to enact vegetation control in the power line Right of Ways with herbicide applications in Gunflint territory during the coming summer. This plan has brought forth a number of questions and many environmental concerns. This is a chance to get answers and to also voice your opinions.               
By the way, AEC will also be hosting a tree give away as incentive to come and learn. So, all are encouraged to attend.                                                                                                                  

With “mud season” in the rear view mirror, warm season fun takes a big step forward this weekend. Angling time for walleyes will open, and we’ll see a huge uptick in wilderness activity. The question is, how warm will it be?                                                                                      

Best of luck to all, as the fishing is always great, while catching fortunes can be un-predictable. While lake water temps remain dangerously cold, the wild land offers a warm welcome to the Gunflint Trail lake waters. Be safe motoring the Trail, during your stay, and please,” leave no trace.”                                                                                                                        

Trail volunteers will be out and about in the coming days picking up litter. If you are traveling the byway, please “give them a break”, slow down, and “give them a thank you thumbs up.”                                                                                                                                                
The “wild neighborhood” around Wildersmith has been quiet in days since we last met. An occasional visit from a curious pine marten, hungry red squirrels begging at my wood shop door and Minnesota “chicken birds” darting in front of me on the daily mail run, make up my only recent animal observations.                                                                                                                       
I am hearing of bear appearances in mid-trail neighborhoods, but no reports of Ursus misconduct. Meanwhile, I’m pleased to announce none of the “Brunos” have self-invited themselves to my deck, as yet.                                                                                                            
And, a neighbor tells of meeting a moose momma and her calf during a recent trip down the Trail. He said the two icons looked like a billboard picture with a forest back-drop as he came upon them.                                                                                                                                          
I’m always interested in hearing of resident/ animal tales. So, if local listeners have something to share, I’d enjoy hearing from you.                                                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, come rain or come shine!


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Northern Sky: May 8-21

“Northern Sky”  -  Deane Morrison
May 8 – 21, 2021
As the winter constellations head into the sunset, Mars struggles to avoid the same fate. 
May Day finds the red planet on course to glide between the bright stars Procyon, in Canis Minor, to the east and Capella, in Auriga, the charioteer, to the west. At the end of the month, Mars will be close to Pollux, the brighter Gemini twin. All the while, the planet is steadily dimming and, despite its relatively fast orbital motion eastward, sinking toward its inevitable exit from the evening sky this summer.
 In the southeast to south, Spica, Virgo’s only bright star, is outshone by brilliant Arcturus, high above it in Bootes, the herdsman. To Spica’s lower right is a misshapen rectangle of stars marking Corvus, the crow. 
To the north, the Big Dipper—part of Ursa Major, the great bear—begins the month upside down, “spilling its water” on Polaris (the North Star) and Ursa Minor, the little bear. To identify Polaris, follow the “pointer stars” at the end of the Big Dipper’s bowl. Bracketing Polaris are two brilliant stars: Capella, in the northwest, and comparably bright Vega, in Lyra, the lyre, in the northeast. During the course of a night, or from night to night, this arrangement changes as the sky rotates counterclockwise around Polaris.
In the predawn sky, look for Jupiter and dimmer Saturn low in the southeast. Thanks to the resurgent sun, we have to get out earlier each morning to see them against a dark sky.
 The night of the 25th-26th, May’s full “supermoon” will be large and luminous as it slips through the Crown of Scorpius, a line of three stars near Antares, the scorpion’s red heart. The moon undergoes a total lunar eclipse on the morning of the 26th, but sets before the moment of perfect fullness and also before the eclipse reaches totality. 
 This will be the year’s closest full moon. It reaches perigee, the moon’s closest approach to Earth in a lunar cycle, only about nine and a half hours before reaching fullness. It edges out the runner-up, April’s supermoon, by a razor-thin margin. According to NASA, May’s full moon will be closer than April’s “by about 98 miles, or about 0.04 percent of the distance from the Earth to the Moon at perigee.”


SNF Update

Superior National Forest Update - May 7

Superior National Forest Update with Steve Robertsen, education and interpretation specialist with the USDA Forest Service.
Campgrounds won't have water or dumpsters available until next weekend.  For this and other SNF info, check out this interview...


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - May 7

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
May 7, 2021    

The Smith’s are back in the woods once again. A swell visit to Iowa found us re-uniting with kids after sixteen months of COVID caused separation. While Zooming is an alternative, there is nothing like the presence of real hugs and face to face conversation.                                           

Here we are a week into month five, and winter is but a memory, except for counting five piles of snow holding out along the Mile O Pine. Ice is history on the Gunflint having made its official exit on April 24.                                                                                                            
Being out of the territory, I do not have reports from the other big lakes, but I presume they became fully liquid near the same date as Gunflint. It’s all about “cool, clear waters” lapping at the granite shore lines during the next six months for folks in this neck of the woods         

Absence of precipitation is haunting the upper Trail again. While away from this neighborhood, a mere one tenth of an inch was the only accumulation in the Wildersmith gauge. And there has been little more than a snippet in this neighborhood, since I commenced with this weeks’ scoop last Sunday evening.                                                                                                    

This being said, danger for forest ignition is at a serious level for a second time since March. We surpassed the fourteenth anniversary of the Ham Lake tragedy a couple days ago, and the nightmares still linger when it gets crunchy dry under foot. Residents and business owners are keeping fingers crossed for both a blessing from the heavens and no unnecessary or careless use of fire by humans.                                                                                                              

In the meantime, everyday has spring becoming more assertive. While the area is still a few weeks away from being fully verdant, progress is being made. I see green tip buds on birch and aspen around the house, chives and rhubarb are discernable and some unknown blue flowers are blooming up next to the house.                                                                                                           

Elsewhere in the wild land, I see hares, with exception of their white socks, have put on their summer camo and squirrels are molting in preparation for sultry days ahead.  It’s also a good bet fox kits, wolf pups and moose calves are coming into the world, and bear cubs are exploring new outdoor surroundings after several weeks of feeling their way around in a dark den.                                                                                                                                                     

Aside from avian, little things that fly are starting to buzz about. Common flies, moths, butterflies, and yes, mosquitos are beginning to occupy air space. On a related note, the loons have returned to their nesting site around the bay at the Chik Wauk Museum Campus.                        

I had one of those reconnaissance “skeeters” annoying me just a few days ago. Further, with creeks still gushing from rains of a several weeks ago, the annual black fly bloodletting spree is soon to be in the offing. So this rite of spring has me scrambling to find the bug dupe and head nets as I hang up the snow scoop and pick-up blown down remnants from the winds of winter.                                                                                                                                                                   
Oh, and on a final wild critter note, plenty of Arachnids have emerged. Spiders are busy at spinning their north woods fiber network, as I discovered while catching some of the silken stuff across the face while out in the yard a couple days ago.                                                                       

A reminder to area lake/ property owner associations and less organized neighborhoods, the annual Trail clean-up takes place this month. The County Highway Department will be picking up collection bags along the Trail on the afternoon of Thursday, May 27th.                                                                                                                                                    

If you haven’t picked a spot and want to help spruce up (no pun intended) the Trail, contact the GT Scenic Byway Committee at 388-2275 to learn of an organizer in your neighborhood/area. Remember, littering begets more littering, so at your convenience, let’s get to picking, up.                                                                                                                               
Wishing all Moms’ a huge thanks and a splendid weekend, this is Wildersmith, along the Gunflint Trail, where the nurturing of “Mother Nature’s” is celebrated every day!