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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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Wildersmith on the Gunflint - August 31, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint    by     Fred Smith         August 31, 2018    
Many aspects of warm season life along the Trail are waning. As I scanned the territory for news this week, the blueberry moon has faded to its final quartile, to welcome September. With the long Labor Day weekend ahead of us, summer is on the ebb for family vacationers with school days now but hours away. Add this to the diminishing chlorophyll production in the forest and one would think visitors and residents along the Byway might be down in the dumps.                                                                                                                                           

Quite the contraire however, the color of a new season is creeping evermore over the northern horizon, recharging everyone’s batteries as autumn fever hits the Trail. The usual fall changes are exploding rapidly, and the area should be near full-color bloom in a couple weeks.                                                                                                                                                                                      

I’ve been tracking the transition of a couple sugar maples in the upper Trail reaches. They are sending a scarlet letter of invitation to leaf peepers. Simultaneously the granite hillsides are lit up brighter with each passing day. A couple friends down the road hiked the Magnetic Rock Trail a few days ago and expressed surprise at the early color spectacle in advance of official “Tagwaagin”(fall, in Ojibwe) on September 24th.                                                                                                    

Our part of the universe is truly a magical place this time of year. For backcountry adventurers, the hottest of days are in the rearview mirror and frosty nights will soon invigorate late season paddlers and campers with bounteous enthusiasm. For yours truly, it’s a season for unique anticipation of all verses in an autumn serenade.                                                                   

The only complication with what’s going on around us is the upper Gunflint area went yet another week with little significant rain. While neighborhoods in the mid-Trail received a couple shower downpours, at the keying of this report last Sunday evening, the Wildersmith rain gauge had captured less than one-half inch. The wildfire danger needle remains at the top of its range from Gunflint Lake to Saganaga at Trails End.                                                                                                      

Meanwhile, there have been no stressful extremes on the thermometer, but the lake water temps have waned into the low sixties.                                                                                                                                 

If listeners haven’t filled the holiday weekend calendar, a reminder for your Sunday is the “sweet treat” social up at Chik-Wauk.  Serving of Trail-made pies and ice cream runs from noon to 4:00 pm. As mentioned last week, there’ll be a lot of things to see, hear and do around the Campus. The Gunflint Trail Historical Society invites one and all to come and enjoy a day of north woods enchantment!  Who knows, it might be a lucky moose viewing day!                                                            

Just when residents seemed to have had an uneventful summer with bear activity, I’m told there were some property invasions in the mid-Trail/Poplar Lake neighborhood. I don’t have any particulars other than the Momma and cubs were not invited, but gained entry by coming through window screens and un-secured doors. It’s that time of year, so we might expect more of such vandalizing acts.                                                                                                                                                  
Another couple down the road mentioned hearing some unusual meowing around their yard a few days ago. They knew of no one in the neighborhood with a feline pet, so it was perplexing as to what was going on.                                                                                                                                                              

After a period of investigation and listening, the only critter observed was a blue jay. When the jaybird finally left its perch, it did so spewing the same cat-like sound they’d been hearing.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Very interesting, I’ve heard of ravens and crows mimicking other animal sounds, but never a blue jay. Maybe this one had a case of laryngitis?                                                                                               

Being the Wildersmith air traffic controller and re-fueling agent, I’m observing a noticeable decline in arrivals and departures from our sweet nectar station. Guess our ruby throat “Hummers” must be in pre-flight staging to head south.                                                                                                            

A few neighbors report they are observing only females and young ones, so where have all the papas gone?  Humm, it looks like another northland mystery?                                                            

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith on the Gunflint, where every day is great, and one better is always, yet to come!



Superior National Forest Update - August 31, 2018

National Forest Update – August 30, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Jasmine Ingersoll, recreation technician on the Tofte District, with the National Forest Update.  I help maintain and care for recreation sites on the Forest, and with miles of trail and dozens of sites, I’m a very busy person!  If your plan this weekend is to visit the State Fair, I’m not much help, but if your plan is to get away from the hordes of people on the Midway and enjoy some peace and quiet, our National Forest is for you.

It is the end of summer and the beginning of fall, and this transition time is great for people looking to get away.  We actually do have fewer visitors during the state fair, and as yet, there is no one here coming to look for fall colors.  That makes late summer/early fall a peaceful time on the Forest.  Plus, we also have fewer bugs right now and that alone makes it a perfect time to visit!

We’ve had plenty of rain recently, so right now fire danger is low.  As the forest dries out and prepares for winter though, fire danger can rise rapidly even after a good soaking rain.  Whether fire danger is high or low, you should always control campfires and put fires dead out when you are done.  It’s a big part of leave no trace outdoor ethics.

Fall migration is happening in a big way.  Hard to identify fall warblers are hopping around the trees frustrating birders, but other, easy to identify birds are migrating as well.  Large flocks of hundreds of nighthawks, an insect eater related to whippoorwills, are moving down the shore.  Loons are rafting up in lakes, ready to head south, as are other waterfowl.

Deer are preparing for fall too.  They may not migrate, but antlers are growing, and soon bucks will be rubbing the velvet off so they can both fight and show off a bit.  Bears have been active, and have gotten into dumpsters at some campgrounds.  Make sure to secure the dumpster with the bear bars when you’re camping – the bears are really looking for anything to fatten up on for winter and leftover beans and hamburger buns look pretty good to them.

If you are planning on using an OHV or ATV, make sure you have the current version of the Motor Vehicle Use Map, available for download on our website or for purchase at a ranger station.  The digital version is a georeferenced pdf file, so you can use a phone app such as Avenza to locate yourself on the map.  This can be really handy, but we suggest you have a hard copy as well in case your battery dies.  Riding on a road or trail which is not open to ATVs is a ticketable offense, so make sure you know where to ride.

Bigger things than ATVs are on the roads too.  There is some logging traffic on the Forest.  On Gunflint roads, you can find trucks using the Caribou Trail, the Pike Lake Road, and Cook County 7.  On the Tofte side, trucks will be using the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Trappers Lake or Sawbill Landing Road, the 4 Mile Grade, and Lake County Road 7. 

Enjoy the next week in the woods; this is truly one of the best times of the year.  Until next time, this has been Jasmine Ingersoll with the National Forest Update.



Wildersmith on the Gunflint - August 24, 2018

Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith           August 24,  2018   
Heading into August’s final stanza, Miinike Giizis, the Blueberry Moon, will cast its’ splendor on the northland this weekend. Although the season of blue gems has pretty much been picked over by both man and beast or withered on the vine, the memory of such sweetness resonates in this lunar magic.                                                                                                                                                                                       
In a related heavenly note, the stars aligned for some human enchantment up at end of the Trail last weekend. As the Dark Sky Caravan from the University of Minnesota Duluth pulled into the Seagull Community Center on its final stop up the North Shore, the sky blue yonder couldn’t have been more dazzling.                                                                                                                                                                                  

Nearly 250 visitors got a spectacular tour of the nighttime universe in the GeoDome Theater planetarium.  Then they experienced a hands-on opportunity in high-tech telescopic viewing of Mars, Saturn and the like. With help and narrative from the Dark Sky student delegation, the two-night celestial celebration was a twinkling sensation!                                         

The Gunflint Trail Historical Society facilitated the Dark Sky event in cooperation with the Trail Fire Dept., and thanks to the UMD staff along with many volunteers who helped make the event one to excite and remember.                                                                                                                                                 
Since we last met on the radio, atmospheric conditions have been seasonally warm and even sticky on a couple days. While on the moisture side of the weather ledger, precipitation deliveries have avoided this part of the world like we have the plague.                                                                           

While there are no known fires burning in the County, as of this keying exercise, our drought situation should be affirmed in capital letters. Prospects for wildfire in the upper Trail territory are worrisome with no burning bans in place and countless opportunities for bad decisions with fire throughout the wilderness.                                                                                                  

Meanwhile, over sixty fires are burning across the border in Ontario. Such being the case smoky skies have been coming and going for several days over this area. A little rain dancing should not be out of reason.                                                                                                                           
Over the past week, with several trips up to end of the Trail, I notice daily changes as the forest continues slipping into its’ autumn cloak. Birch gold is becoming more pronounced and there are a couple Tamaracks who’ve begun their autumn transition almost a month early. Could this be a sign of something atypical to come?                                                                                                                      

The Smith’s had an unusual threesome of gnawing critters in the yard recently. The munching trifecta was unique because one might never think of them together in close proximity. By closeness, I mean they were within two feet of each other.                                                                                              

Whereas red squirrels seldom tolerate the company of chipmunks in their dining area, the two were seemingly unconcerned they were in joint company with a woodchuck. Yes, a woodchuck, chipmunk, and squirrel “brunching” within a bite of each other. Is this a sign of coming together or what? Maybe we humans could take a lesson from this!                                                                
A note from the Chik-Wauk Nature Center reminds all moose lovers, the big icons are the subject of this Sunday’s programming. This is another in the Chik-Wauk, Sunday summer nature series. Renowned researcher, Dr. Seth Moore, from Grand Portage will be speaking on the plight and progress of moose survival in northeastern Minnesota, beginning at 2:00 pm.                            

A final shout out from the GTHS is given for pie donations to the annual social on September 2nd. Pie orders are still being accepted by event coordinator, Judy Edlund at 388-4400. With the sweet social growing every year, upwards of fifty pies are needed, don’t miss this chance to show off your pastry delights.                                                                                                                       

In addition to the P & IC, the Museum gift shop is holding a sidewalk (driveway sale); author, Cary Griffith, will be signing his book GUNFLINT BURNING; there will even be used cookbooks on sale; the sound of music will again echo up the Sag Lake Corridor and of course, more Gunflint stories to be learned in the Museum. You won’t want to miss it, noon to 4:00 pm, one week from Sunday!   
For WTIP, this Wildersmith, on the Gunflint Trail, where every day is great, as Nature’s bountiful beauty begins taking a turn!



Superior National Forest Update - August 24, 2018

National Forest Update – August 23, 2018.
Hi.  I’m Tom McCann, resource information specialist on the Gunflint District, with the National Forest Update.  ‘Resource information specialist’ means I’m the person who creates maps and does analysis of spatial data in this part of the Superior.  The Superior is moving in new directions for visitor maps and in the coming year, you’ll see more of our maps available online for use with GPS enabled phones.  But, a paper map is still a great addition to any trip into the Forest.  They never run out of batteries, they don’t need a signal, and you can pick one up at either the Gunflint or Tofte office.  As you head out into the Forest, map in hand, here’s some other information for you.

The Minnesota DNR is replacing boat ramps at some sites in the Forest.  Last week, the ramp at Four Mile was closed for replacement, surprising some fishermen.  This week, the ramp at Caribou Lake will be closed while it is replaced.  These are DNR, not Forest Service, facilities, so for other information about boat ramps, check the DNR website.

We are moving into the start of hunting seasons.  While bear season does not start until September, bear hunters can now begin to set up bait stations.  Bait stations need to be clearly marked, and if you run into one while you are out exploring, please leave it alone.  Be careful as well because if the bait is working, there may be bears in the area.  Bait is required to be distant from trails, campgrounds, and other developed sites, so it is rare that you would run into one of these unless you are traveling off the beaten trail.

Sometimes in the late summer and early fall, people will take extended camping trips.  As a reminder, you are not allowed to occupy any campsite for more than 14 days, with the exception of designated long-term sites at Little Isabella River and McDougal Lake Campgrounds.  The definition of ‘campsite’ includes not only campsites in campgrounds, but anywhere on the Forest where you set up a tent.  After 14 days, you have to move.  The ‘nine-person’ rule of a maximum group size of nine is also one which applies to all campsites, with the exception of designated group sites.

If your plans included traveling on The 600 Road between the Sawbill Trail and the Cramer Road, be aware that culverts on that road are being replaced.  There can be delays of up to half an hour while this is going on.  Gravel trucks will be hauling loads for the project on the Two Island River Road, the 600 Road, and the Sawbill Trail.  The plan is to have the work completed before the fall color season as the 600 Road is popular fall color route.

Logging trucks will be hauling in a few places as well.  On the Tofte end, trucks will be using the Dumbell River Road, Wanless Road, Trappers Lake or Sawbill Landing Road, the 4 Mile Grade, and Lake County Road 7.  On Gunflint, expect trucks on the Springdale Road, the Caribou Trail, the Lima Grade, and the South Brule River Road.

Although there is rain predicted for this weekend, campers and picnickers who plan on building campfires need to be aware that the Forest is pretty dry right now.  The layer of duff on the ground will stay dry and can support a smoldering fire until we get a really good soaking rain.  Be very careful with fires this season; we’ve already had several small wildfires which started as campfires, and we don’t want any more.  Campfires need to be dead out when you leave them, and any wood you are burning needs to be completely within the fire ring or fire grate.

I hope that you will be able to fit a camping or other trip into the Forest in our remaining summer days.  It’s a good way to relax before school and fall projects begin. 

Until next time, enjoy the Forest, and this has been Tom McCann with the National Forest Update.