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North Shore Morning

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News & Information

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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Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - May 22

Superior National Forest Update with Steve Robertsen, Education and Interpretation specialist with the USDA Forest Service-Superior National Forest.
May 22, 2020


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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!

Star Map - May 2020

Northern Sky: April 25 - May 8

NORTHERN SKI – Deane Morrison
April 25-May 8 2020

In late April and early May, we get to watch Venus sink into the sun’s afterglow. To see our sister planet at its best and brightest, we have to wait for a dark sky, and this time of year the sun is going down later each night. And the longer we wait, the lower Venus gets. 

On Saturday, April 25, a waxing crescent moon appears below Venus and next to Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, the bull. The next night, Sunday, April 26, a fatter moon appears at about the same level as Venus. Both these solar system objects will be between Betelgeuse, the gigantic red star in Orion, to the lower left, and Capella, the brightest star in Auriga, the charioteer, to the upper right. On the 27th and 28th, the moon moves through the stars of Gemini. On May 1st, the moon is just past first quarter, and it appears above Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, the lion. The moon will also be part of the backward question mark of stars known as the Sickle, which outlines Leo’s head. The moon may wash out the stars of the Sickle, but they’ll be easier to find in several days, after the moon has moved on. Between the 4th and 5th of May, the moon passes over Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, the maiden. 

May’s full moon arrives at 5:45 a.m. on the 7th. It’ll be big and bright, another supermoon. You might want to look for it the night before or the night after, even though it’ll be somewhere around half a day before or past full. If you go out the morning of the 7th to see it at its roundest, be advised that from Grand Marais the moon sets, in the west, at 5:59 a.m. 

The morning sky continues to brighten earlier and earlier, turning into some kind of insomniac’s wonderland. These days you really have to get out by 5 a.m. to see Jupiter, that’s the big bright light in the southeast, and especially Saturn and Mars, before sunlight starts extinguishing them. If you haven’t been following them, Saturn is not far to the left, that is, east, of Jupiter, and Mars is even farther away to the east, and lower. You may notice Mars getting higher from day to day, but the more noticeable change is Saturn and Jupiter moving westward. As the month progresses, the gap between Mars and Saturn gets really wide. 

The Summer Triangle of bright stars is also up in the predawn sky. Above Jupiter and Saturn is Altair, in Aquila, the eagle. Moving up from Altair, we have the brightest star in the Triangle, Vega, in the constellation Lyra, the lyre of Orpheus. And moving down from Vega and a bit east, there’s Deneb, in Cygnus the swan. Also, the Milky Way forms a ribbon stretching from south to northeast. 

The end of April and beginning of May have some good dates for spotting the International Space Station in the morning sky. The sightings run from April 26 to May 1. The most spectacular will probably be the last one, on May 1, when the ISS makes its appearance at 4:32 a.m.,18 degrees above the southwest horizon. It’ll be bright and visible for four minutes, and it gets as high as 60 degrees, or two-thirds of the way to overhead. For a list of the exact dates and times near Grand Marais, search for “spot the station,” click on “sighting opportunities,” go to the map of Minnesota and click on the Grand Portage National Monument icon. 



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 24

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith
April 24, 2020     
Views of spring continue, far different than the majority of Americans have ever experienced. At the same time, the natural world in Gunflint territory is moving on uninterrupted.                                                                                                                                                   
Seasonal rituals of the manmade sort are taking place at Wildersmith, indicating I’ve conceded winter is over. Vehicle wheels and tires have been removed in lieu of the summer version, bird feeders have been removed in consideration of bear vandalism and the snow scoop is stored ‘til next November.                                                                                                                                                                 
On the natural scene, snow melt continues to trickle from hills through the woods to streams and on into lakes still under the ice cover. Growing pot-holes are the character of back country roads and coniferous needles are brightening from the cold weather drab.                                               
In the “wild neighborhood,” I recently observed a moose momma and her yearling son along the Trail. They too were in a ritual of shedding winter apparel and looking pretty ragged. And a flock of common grackles had been harassing the neighborhood jaybirds, causing much unrest until I terminated feeding facilities.                                                                                         
Minding the “stay at home order” often gives one time to reflect on a variety of people goings-on. During my tethered time lately, I’ve been thinking about the countless complications COVID has put upon us. This evil virus has us reeling to the point of not knowing where to turn in many situations.                                                                                                                                 
It is certainly a wake-up call with regard to what is really important. Whereas a glut of Americans live beyond their means, this crisis might be a golden opportunity to begin sorting out legitimate needs from wants. These words are two with which many would have difficulty distinguishing a difference, particularly during this viral intrusion.                                                                                                                       
Needs are in the eyes of the beholder, but the basics of clean water, clean air, and nutritional sustenance coupled with love of family, caring others and a legitimate livelihood far outweigh any of the material items we are told we need by the marketing world.                                                                                   


It’s time to stop jabbing each other, and recognize the genuine need to do things right, in order to get through these tumultuous times.                                                                                                         
As I step down from my soapbox, it is so disheartening that countless Americans are facing hard realities. In the days/weeks ahead, we NEED to stop for a moment reflecting on those 40 to 50,000 American people no longer having the miracle of taking another breath. The sacrifices we NEED to make in getting beyond this world wide catastrophe are pretty small compared to the suffering hundreds of thousands. We can do this, keep on hangin’ on!                                                             


Living in one of the great green places on the planet, the fiftieth birthday of “Earth Day” this past Wednesday renews the real meaning of environmentalism. We Gunflinter’s live it every day! Caring about not only our own wild land back yard, but the entire global ecosystem, is a matter of “justice, security and political economy, let alone being essential for survival of civilization. We should show sympathy for everything that lives.” (Britton-Purdy, Sierra). For all of creation, every day should be an “Earth Day.”                                                                                                           


As fire tragedy struck the village on April 13th, mourning for the loss to those business owners extends far beyond the town limits. Residents in Gunflint territory know about terror of wind and fire. We are mindful of the devastating effects on people lives, and share the sadness not only for the owners but for the entire Grand Marais Business Community.                                                 


Solidarity of the entire County is behind each owner family and their employees. Everyone wants to see these businesses rise from the ashes to again be a part of the “coolest town in America.”                                                                                                                                                                     
In a closing, THE Gunflint Trail Historical Society has had to make some difficult decisions as they relate to the unknowns of COVID-19. The season of 2020 at the Chik-Waik Museum and Nature Center is going to be much different.                                                                                                   


Risks of exposure to the virus have everyone in a new mode with personal distancing, disinfecting and group congregating limits influencing the order of living.  For these reasons, in order to be protective of staff, volunteers and thousands of visitors, the 2020 opening of Chik-Wauk is postponed until July 10 with the possibility of this date being extended if necessary.                                                       


Campus hiking trails will be open, but parking is limited to outside the Campus entry gate. The GTHS requests trail users follow CDC guidelines regarding social distancing. Trail maps are available at the gate.                                                                                                                               
All May and June events for the Society and Chik-Wauk Campus are cancelled, and the July 4th tenth Anniversary celebration is postponed. GTHS members can look forward to the annual Newsletter arriving in the mail box soon, including information on the 2020 Board of Trustees election and a return mail voting ballot procedure.                                                                                     


The GTHS is working on a plan to create a virtual Campus during this time of delay. Check the Chik-Wauk website to keep up on these happenings and more.  I’ll have more information in the coming week/s as to how members and friends from around the world can help in sustaining this historical gem at end of the Trail in these uncertain days.                                                                                                                                                     
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, with the Gunflint Community, distancing, together! 

Superior National Forest Update

Superior National Forest Update - April 10

Superior National Forest Update with Information and Education Specialist, Steve Robertsen.
April 10, 2020


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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - April 3

Wildersmith on the Gunflint - by Fred Smith

April 3, 2020

Americans welcome month four with a somber greeting. Somehow when intensity of the Pandemic during March couldn’t seem to be much worse, the battle is raging with even more dramatic intensity as we meet on the radio this weekend.                                                                                                                                                      
My weekly report of Gunflint Trail happenings brings three items of concern for WTIP listeners and cyber readers. One is that you are paying attention to the guiding principles of the medical community; two that you are well to this point; and three, if you’ve been infected, are you on the mend.                                                                                                                                             
While this time of year is always quiet along the Trail, it is eerily quieter than usual knowing so many of our brothers and sisters around the planet are hurting and feeling so hopeless. The Smith’s like most everyone I know in border country are taking the distancing recommendation to heart. We’ve been under wraps here for over three weeks, and I’ve observed only two other humans along the Mile O Pine on one occasion during the last week.                                                                                                                                      
Close Gunflint neighbors keep track of each other by telephone on a somewhat regular basis and all indicate wellness to date. Living some distance from the village, most have a cache of survival items on hand with regularity.                                                                                                                          
For any un-foreseen needs or a sudden empty cupboard, kudos goes to grocery people in Grand Marais for accommodating a system where orders can be placed for pick-up without being exposed to instore congregating. Big thanks is also extended to our great Community activist, Sarah Hamilton who has laid in food supplies in her Trail Center Store, these items too are available on a systematic plan of ordering from afar and outside pick-up
In the meantime, spring like weather has really taken hold out this way. Temps have held in the melting range for several days as I scribe this report last Sunday evening. In fact last Saturday night was the first since I don’t know when, the mercury at Wildersmith stayed above the freezing mark. 

The hovering warmness is putting a dent in the snow pack, but piles and drifts remain a plenty. The onset of “mud season” is making candid appearances along back country roads. Where the sun gets through the canopy and the plow driver has kept surfaces scraped thin, places are taking on the look of a Dalmatian canine. The Mile O Pine is no exception as spots of bare gravel have begun to interrupt this magic ribbon of white.
On a related conveyance, I am comforted to announce the “spotted dog look” has emerged on my driveway. I can now navigate the vehicle down the once icy sheet without white knuckles. However, I have not relinquished my ice grippers for a pedestrian trek just yet, and snow removal tools are still hung by the door with care.                                                                                                                

While cheeriness of mankind has been muted during this great America tragedy, energy has not been tempered in the “wild neighborhood.” It’s survival business as usual for critters around the yard. In fact, activity around our wild being food trough is humanly energizing in the midst of the discouraging tone of current times. 
It’s near birthing time for fox and wolves of the territory, and nesting occasion for some of our winged visitors, and the first robin has made it part way up the Trail. If one is betting person, it would be a good bet bears and other cold season slumbering folk are stirring about denning quarters, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. 
I’m watching a youthful birch tree just off the deck at Wildersmith that catches a good bit of sun each day. Buds look to be bulging with anticipation of a new generation. If “princess spring” continues, another week might have fuzzies of pussy willows popping out. You can just tell many beings of “Mother Nature’s realm” are on the verge of “busting out all over.”   
For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, do what the “Doctor Orders” and stay well!


School District 166 Middle School Student of the Month, Hattie C.  - Photo courtesy of ISD 166

School District 166 announces student and educators of the month

School District 166 Principal Megan Myers stopped by WTIP Community Radio to give an update on happenings at the school. Her report included the announcement of the December “Students of the Month” and the “Educator of the Month.”
WTIP is pleased to share this information. Each month two students are selected in both the high school and middle school. 
For the ISD 166 Middle School, Hattie C. and Cooper W. were chosen for December. 
In high school, the “Students of the Month” are Greg P. and Malin A. 
“Educator of the Month” for December is April Wahlstrom. It was noted that Mrs. Wahlstrom is a dedicated science teacher who has taken on many responsibilities at the school She is a dedicated cross-country and track coach, a great coach for Knowledge Bowl and Envirothon teams, and does a great job helping plan the Middle School Exploratory Days. She supports the student academically to help them meet their goals and provides positive support in the community. 

WTIP volunteer Mark Abrahamson speaks with School District 166 Principal Megan Myers about Viking sports, the school forest, Ruby's Pantry and about the "Students of the Month" and "Educator of the Month" for December 2019. 

Click on the photo to see a slideshow of all of the December 2019 honorees. Photos courtesy of School District 166. 


Grand Marais Public Library. Photo by Ben Cedarberg.

Grand Marais Public Library becomes "Fine Free"

North Shore Morning host, Shawna Willis talks with Grand Marais Public Library Assistant Director, Amanda St.John about the Summer Reading Program and becoming a "Fine Free" Library.


Book. Photo by Daniel Wehner via Flickr.

Talking Books - with Gwen Danfelt, May 29

"Talking Books" is a monthly feature on WTIP's North Shore Morning.
Host Mark Abrahamson talks with Gwen is this May 29th edition.


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Canoe Poling - Scott Oeth

North Shore Morning host, Mark Abrahamson talks with Scott Oeth from Bull Moose Patrol about Canoe Poling.

Scott is an Eagle Scout, a Minnesota Master Naturalist, Wilderness First Responder, and a Registered Maine Guide.