4/26/15 - Another beautiful day here at sunny Sawbill. The ice is now down to 8 7/16", to be exact. -Jessica
We were able to paddle around the ice to Mouse Island to snap this picture facing the canoe landing.
Honorary ice technician for today, Carla Hill, drills the test hole.
Yes we still have ice. After the previous week of warm temperatures and sunshine, last week was cloudy and cold. Actually this area of the Trail received 4 inches of new snow on the 21st. So the ice melting has been less than stellar. Round Lake’s ice has pulled well away from the shore, enough for a certain pup to dabble her paws and grab a drink. Paddling season is coming soon, just not quite yet Keep watching for updates. We will let you know when we are ice free!
Bruce and I were sitting around talking after dinner. The question came up about how old the lodge was. We tend to start counting the age of Gunflint from when Grandma Spunner and Justine bought it in 1929. But, of course, that is not correct. It is actually 90 years old.
Gunflint Lodge was started in 1925 by Dora Blankenburg and her son, Russell. The Blankenburgs bought a small resort called Lighthouse Lodge in Three Lakes, Wisconsin in 1920. They catered to wealth fishermen from the Chicago area. As one of their guests was checking out, the guest said that even though they had been happy at the lodge, the next summer they would be checking out a new fishing area in Minnesota called Gunflint.
Russell came up to investigate the Gunflint area. In 1925 he bought some land on Gunflint Lake for the family to build a resort on. They built Gunflint Lodge, a small lodge with three rental units. Running a second resort so far away from the first was more difficult than they had expected. After a few years, Mrs. Blankenburg decided to sell the new resort.
The Blankenburgs also owned property on Lake Zurich in Illinois. One of their neighbors and friends were the Spunner family from Barrington, Illinois. Mr. Spunner was a lawyer who had helped with the purchase of the land for Gunflint Lodge. After a visit to Gunflint Lodge, Mrs. Spunner and her daughter, Justine, decided to buy Gunflint Lodge. They sold two farms to come up with the money for the down payment. The purchase happened in August of 1929. It was not the best time to invest in a new resort but no one knew that at the time.
While Mrs. Blankenburg returned to run Lighthouse Lodge, Russell Blankenburg stayed in the Gunflint Trail. He took money out of the stock market and bought property on Loon, Gunflint, Seagull and Saganaga Lakes. Over the years he would build resorts, run canoe outfitters and sell land for summer homes on this property. Russell’s story will be told in another blog.
Meanwhile, as this picture shows, Bruce has finished his fireplace for #18. Right now it is a big mess to get cleaned up and ready for guests. Bruce’s body is quite happy the job is finished.
The ice on Gunflint Lake is quickly going out. Right now the entire bay in front of Cross River Lodge is out. We are due to have warm temperatures and wind during the next week. That will probably take the ice out pretty quickly.
Not everyone is happy to see the ice go out as we discovered during lunch today. We were looking out at the lake and what should appear but an otter. The animal was running across the lake for about 6 steps and then doing a belly flop and sliding on the ice. We all stood watching until it reached our shore and disappeared among the rocks. It was perfectly obvious that the otter was enjoying every minute of his play time. We were tempted.
4/25/15 - Today Brian and I took a running start with our trusty Grumman and measured 11" of highly degraded ice.
4/25/15 - Today Brian and I took a running start with our trusty Grumman and measured 11" of highly degraded ice. Each day the ice has receded further and further from shore. Before you know it the ice measuring crew will be able to make a sightseeing paddle along the open shore after taking the measurements. We did have to break through a thin layer of skim ice, but the forecast is looking promising with nothing but blue skies today, and temperatures predicted in the mid to high 50s the rest of the week. - Jessica
Brian holding the canoe steady as I drill the hole.
There is a real technique to to drilling the test holes. I would say it's an art-form really.
The Trapper’s Daughter & The…..
The day we have all been waiting for is finally here!!!
It is my great pleasure today, on April 25th 2015, to present to you for the first time,
Wow, isn’t she a beauty??
After their long sail along the Lake Superior coast, the Trapper’s Daughter, Bear & Raccoon are finally able to relax on the shore near a big campfire. With beautiful bright embers floating toward the starlit sky, this print … read more
The Ham Run Half-Marathon and 5k Fun Run is coming up soon. It’s just a week from tomorrow on Saturday, May 2nd. It’s hard to believe it’s almost May.
If you need a place to stay then give us a call. This is a great time to visit the Gunflint Trail. It’s so quiet unless you go where the ice is tinkling on the shore. It’s a sound I love to hear. We take a boat ride up to the narrows and listen to the waves and the music they make with the floating ice. I haven’t been out to hear it yet but a boat ride is in the near future.
Just like the Ham Run. There’s still time to sign up to run and/or walk. Hope to see you on the Trail Less Traveled.
We thought our March WHERE ARE WE? location would be tough, as the building pictured has a historic sign on the back reading “Borderland Lodge.” However, observant News-Herald readers were not fooled. The March WHERE ARE WE? was Trail Center Lodge, as seen from Poplar Lake.
We had only one incorrect guess of Mink Lake Bible Camp. Drawn from all the other correct guesses was Jolene Beddow of Brownsdale, Minnesota.
Jolene said she has many happy memories of snowmobiling to Trail Center with her late husband. She enjoys keeping in touch with this area through the News-Herald, so she will be happy to learn that she wins a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.
Try your luck! Take a look at the April photo. If you think you know where we were when we took this picture, send us your answer.
You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers.
Whoever is drawn will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!
Answer to the March WHERE ARE WE? must be received by May 11, 2015.
Send your entry to:
Cook County News-Herald
PO Box 757
Grand Marais MN 55604
Drop it by our office at:
15 First Avenue West
Last week I hopefully made it clear that I am both a motorhead and a tree hugger. This week, I’m following up on that theme, encouraging my friends of both ilk to pay attention to the current Superior National Forest roads study.
The U.S. Forest Service is seeking input from the forest loving public to “determine a sustainable road system that provides both safe travel for visitors and protects forest resources, such as water quality.”
The primary reason for the roads study is that federal funding for road maintenance has steadily been shrinking. According to the U.S. Forest Service, it has a growing $8.4 billion national maintenance and reconstruction backlog. The Forest Service just doesn’t have the money to replace culverts, grade, and clear brush on all of its roads— across the United States or here in the Superior National Forest.
At this point it doesn’t appear that changes will be too dramatic. In a brief summary, the Superior National Forest states that phase one of the roads study recommends that 16 miles of road are “likely not needed.” The first round of the study identified 85 miles of roads that will likely see a change in road maintenance level. The plan calls for changing four miles of road to be re-designated as trails. Another 10 miles may become “special use permit” roads. And finally the initial recommendations call for a change of jurisdiction for 43 miles.
What does that mean? I’m not sure. I need to take a few hours and delve into the maps on the website. According to the Forest Service, there are 2,500 miles of road within the Superior National Forest.
So the potential changes—158 miles—don’t seem to be too drastic. For instance, the Forest Service states that the 16 miles “likely not needed” are primarily “scattered, short, dead end spur roads.” But if one of those dead end roads goes to your favorite fishing hole or berry patch, you may not be pleased to drive up one day to find it blocked with boulders.
My “tree hugger” side says, “No big deal, I can walk in.” Until I remember how fast our wonderful forest regenerates. A path like that, into a remote spot, gets overgrown really quickly if it never sees vehicle traffic.
If you don’t believe me, take a hike on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Hunter Walking Trails off of the Meridian Road in Grand Marais and The Grade near Two Island Lake. Those trails created by a bulldozer get overgrown and have to occasionally be bulldozed again to keep them open. Foot traffic, especially during grouse season, is enjoyable, but it doesn’t keep the path clear.
A bit more concerning are the 85 miles that may see a change in maintenance level. I need to do some digging to see which roads are being changed and whether they are being downgraded. Because frequently, a reduction in maintenance level is a de facto road closure.
My friends and family have already discovered this in our backcountry travels. There are many favorite drives that are disappearing as tall grass grows up in the road bed and trees and shrubs encroach in the driving path. We’ve seen culverts wash out, never to be replaced, cutting off a nice loop through the woods.
Again, this impacts me whether I’m riding in a pickup, on my all-terrain vehicle or walking. I’m not a mountain biker—I prefer the solid surface of pavement when I’m pedaling— but I don’t imagine that cross country bikers enjoy mowing through shoulder high grass either.
So I encourage you to take some time before the second comment period ends on May 22, 2015 to look at the first phase recommendations. Send in your thoughts.
And then get out and enjoy the forest in whatever manner you like. See you in the woods!
The road that leads to
nowhere for others might
just be the road that leads
to somewhere for you!
Mehmet Murat ildan
Day 5! Day 5! Day 5!
Today is the last day of our countdown before we reveal the NEW Trapper’s Daughter print for 2015!!
We kick off today’s countdown with a truly incredible print from 2013,
“The Trapper’s Daughter Crosses the Height of the Land as Winter Fades From the Woods & Waters.”
“The Trapper’s Daughter and the Spring Moose” came into the gallery like a hurricane. We could hardly keep this image on the walls and in the bins after … read more
4/23/15 - No change in the lake ice for the last few days. The temperatures are still colder than usual and the sun is struggling just to melt the new snow.
Meanwhile, signs of spring are popping up here and there. - Bill
A fresh load of Wenonah canoes is a sure sign of spring, in spite of arriving in the middle of a mini-blizzard.
Frozen tie-down straps, sub-freezing temperatures and high winds made unloading the topmost canoes a challenge.
The Gunflint Trail is hosting a Boundary Waters Expo June 12-14th at Seagull Lake Public Landing right in our backyard. There will be exhibitors, speakers, demonstrations and much more. Come listen to Cliff Jacobsen, enjoy a Shrimp Boil and spend some time on the Gunflint Trail. Call us today to book your stay(1-888-CANOET) and find details about the event online.
Day 4 of Our Trapper’s Daughter Adventure!
Day 4 of our Trapper’s Daughter adventure beings with the winner of our 2014 Summer Solstice Trapper’s Daughter Bracket Competition….
In 2010, Rick Allen decided to try something new. With 26 different wood blocks, and 26 individual passes through the press, Rick and his famous helper Janelle, the Warrior Printress, worked their tails off on this one!!!
But wait…. there’s MORE!
The Kenspeckles decided to add a beautiful moon to the Long … read more
It’s another busy weekend on the North Shore, with art openings, plays, a book signing, lots of music and, not to forget, Duluth’s 25th annual Art for Earth Day Gallery Hop.
First up, Norwegian mystery writer Vidar Sundstol’s final book in his Minnesota trilogy has been released, and he will be at the Cross River Heritage Center at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 24, for a book signing.
A bus tour from the Twin Cities is visiting the North Shore and the places where Sundstol’s stories were set, and a stop at the Heritage Center has been arranged where he will sign “The Ravens,” the last book in the series. The earlier books include “Only the Dead, and “Land of Dreams.” The public is invited. Refreshments will be served.
The Heritage Center will close again until it opens for the season over the Memorial Day weekend. There will be a new exhibit this year developed by the staff and volunteers entitled “Last Resorts.” It will feature a detailed look at the 50 or 60 cabin resorts that could be found between the Caribou and Cascade Rivers along the shore. The exhibit will identify them and look at the history of these historic rental cabins.
Also on Friday, this year’s “Art ‘Round Town” fundraiser for public art will open at the Johnson Heritage Post with a reception from 5-7 p.m.
Jazz musicians Mike DeBevec and Eric Hahn will play and refreshments will be served. The public is invited.
The exhibit features a great selection of artwork donated by local artists — much of it in a 12-inch by 12-inch format, including mosaics, paintings and fiber art.
There is also a great selection of other work by local artists. The exhibit continues through Monday.
The Heritage Post will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Also on Friday night, “James and the Giant Peach,” a play based on Roald Dahl’s popular children’s book, continues at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts with performances at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
The play, directed by Sue Hennessy, is a production of the Grand Marais Playhouse and includes a cast of 27 young actors. Rebecca Thompson will have special treats in the lobby before and after the show. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students and can be purchased at the door.
In Thunder Bay, the Broadway musical Godspell opens on Thursday at the Paramount Theatre with performances at 7:30 p.m. (EST) April 24-25 and April 20, May 1-2.
Tickets can be reserved at email@example.com.
Also, the Chaban Ukrainian Dance Group (including local dancer, Olya Wright) will hold its annual spring performance, entitled “Mosaic,” at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium at 7 p.m. (EST) on Saturday.
This year’s dance performance celebrates the 35th year of keeping Ukrainian dance traditions alive and includes dances by all age groups.
For more info, visit www.chabandance.com.
A new exhibit has opened at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Entitled “Tradition & Transformation: Works from the Permanent Collection.” It continues through May 24.
The Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School Art Exhibition continues through April 26 and
Kim Adams‘ exhibit, “One for the Road,” concludes on May 24.
The gallery is open from noon to 8 p.m. (EST) Tuesday through Thursday and noon to 5 p.m.(EST) Friday to Sunday.
Participating galleries in Duluth include the Art Dock, Siiviis and Waters of Superior, all in Canal Park, the Duluth Art Institute in the Depot, Lizzard’s Gallery, 11 W. Superior St., Lake Superior Art Glass, 202 E. Superior St., and the Tweed Museum of Art on the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus. Receptions will be held at all the galleries during the Gallery Hop.
In Superior, Wis., a number of storefronts will be featuring artworks on Tower Ave.,too, and the North End Arts Gallery in the Red Mug building will be exhibiting as well.
One of the highlights of the Gallery Hop will be the unveiling of a new Trapper’s Daughter print by Rick Allen.
“The Trapper’s Daughter and the Unwritten Story” will be revealed at Siiviis on Saturday. It will be Allen’s 18th.
All 17 of his earlier prints will be on view at the gallery. An artist’s reception will be held from 1-4 p.m. to welcome in the new work. All invited.
Abby Tofte has been writing some wonderful blogs leading up to this show. Check them out here.
If you plan on going to Duluth for the Gallery Hop, stop by Kah Nee Tah Gallery in Lutsen where there will be a needle felting demo from noon to 4 p.m.
Also, on Saturday night, the SplinterTones will play at the Grand Marais Art Colony for a family dance as a fundraiser for the Explorer’s Club Summer Youth Outdoor Program. The music starts at 6 p.m. There’s also a silent auction. All invited.
The Garage and Threads have officially become one business: Joy & Company.
The change in name reflects an expanded focus for the business, said owner Jill Terrill. “Our main focus is selling products locally made,” she said. “And our big push is to make it possible for artisans to make product here.”
The transition started with woodturner Cooper Ternes, who is in the process of setting up a studio as well as a shop in the back of the store. Terrill has made a space for herself to work on jewelry and woodworking, and she is developing a sewing space with domestic and industrial machines so that people can rent time on them. She hopes this process “will expand as people will want to start their own little businesses over time.”
Changes are also happening at What’s Upstairs?
Betsy Bowen writes:
“What’s Upstairs? is rearranging! Watch for more cozy, eclectic seating for events, a nice big dance floor, and art shows.
“Beginning May 22, Ron Piercy will have his jewelry studio open and rolling for the season, as Ron’s World Rocks.” Bowen writes. “The kickoff concerts will be The Splintertones on May 23rd, and Chris Gillis & Friends for the jazzy annual Spring Fling on Sunday May 24.”
She continues: “What’s Downstairs? (Betsy Bowen’s Studio) re-opens May 22 with Betsy Bowen Studio & Printshop, and the new Stephan Hoglund Borderlands Gallery. Also, a collection of local pottery and other handmade treasures. Open daily 11-5.”
And finally, expect to see some wonderful changes as the 2015 Great Place projects get underway in the county. Funded by the Cook County Chamber of Commerce and Moving Matters of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, 13 projects were selected this year to create inviting, beautiful places for people to enjoy.
“We know that people will be active where they have pleasant and safe places to do so. The Great Place Project has been an incredible opportunity to invest in community spaces and the health of our community,” said Kristin DeArruda Wharton, Moving Matters coordinator .
Here’s what we can look forward to:
- Arrowhead Pharmacy: Mural paintings by Betsy Bowen, complemented by seating and landscaping.
- Birchbark Books and Gifts: Locally themed mural paintings with hidden books by local artist Tim Young.
- Border Designs: Rustic park bench and plantings by walking path in Lutsen.
- Cook County Higher Education: Welcoming entrance with plantings, enhanced walking path, and picnic table.
- Cook County Historical Society: Gathering place with plantings, seating, and enhanced bike parking at museum.
- Grand Portage Wellness Committee: Community Park gathering table and grill in Grand Portage.
- Java Moose: Chair seating by the Grand Marais Harbor, at both café locations.
- Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery: Log bench seating area with plantings.
- Last Chance Studio: Moose sculpture created by local artist Tom Christianson.
- Oddz and Endz: Resting spot with benches, tables, and planters using repurposed and recycled materials.
- Schroeder Area Historical Society: ADA accessible viewfinder at Taconite Harbor.
- Tofte Historical Society: Planters to enhance the plaza at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum.
- Visit Cook County: Enhancement of Grand Marais Visitor Center common area with benches and planters.
And last, but not least, our beloved donut shop, The World’s Best Donuts, is really one of the best donut shops in America– it was recently chosen as one of the 19 Bucket-List of Doughnut Shops to Visit Before You Die, in a FirstWeFeast.com contest.
The World’s Best Donuts was nominated by Andrew Zimmern, writer and TV host of Bizarre Foods, who was here several years ago doing a story. Turns out that he’s never forgotten the skizzles at the World’s Best Donuts. They’re the best in America, he said. Check out the story here.
And now, for the music this week:
Thursday, April 23:
- Eric Frost & Bill Hanson, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
Friday, April 24:
- Lake Effect, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
- Rich Mattson and the Northstars, Gun Flint Taverbn, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 25:
- SplinterTones Family Dance, Grand Marais Art Colony, 6 p.m.
- Joe Paulik, Voyageur Brewing Co., 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 26-May 6:
- Duluth’s Homegrown Music Festival, eight days of 200 bands. See the schedule here. For a preview, watch The Playlist in WDSE. A special hour-long broadcast that was recorded at the Homegrown Music Festival last year with Charlie Parr, Black-Eyed Snakes, Southwire and Actual Wolf will be aired twice on Thursday night and over the weekend. To see the schedule, click here.
Tuesday, April 28:
- Boyd Blomberg, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
Wednesday April 29:
- Open Mic Night, Gun Flint Tavern, 5 p.m.
We found some interesting photos this week. Take a look:
David Grinstead caught this incredible shot of the northern lights as they exploded above his head.
Sandra Updyke calls this beauty, “Water Abstract.”
Here’s something we found in our archives: Gooseberry exploding at ice-out last year. Andrew Krueger of the Duluth News-Tribune timed it perfectly — he arrived at Gooseberry Falls just before ice-out and was ready when the river let go.
He shot a video, too. Check this out.
Here’s a much calmer moment.
And here is spring taking its own sweet time arriving on the inland lakes. Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux took this wonderful photo of Whale Lake beginning to soften up with Eagle Mountain in the background.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
I hope you are able to get outside to enjoy Earth Day. Take a hike, picnic in a park or go for a short paddle to celebrate the day. Do something nice for our earth today. The Minnesota DNR recommends trying to cut down on your water use.
DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 20, 2015
Minnesotans encouraged to conserve water for Earth Day
Everyone can act locally to protect the planet by taking simple steps to conserve water resources. The 45th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, is a reminder of the many ways to make a difference.
“In the land of 10,000 lakes, we need to appreciate our great water resources and increase our concern for how we use water,” said Carmelita Nelson, Department of Natural Resources water conservation consultant. “Earth Day started because of dissatisfaction with how the environment was being treated. Although some aspects of our environment have improved since the 1970s, today we all need to focus energy on preserving water quality for future generations.”
As a first step, Nelson suggests that every family try to find ways to conserve water. Check home faucets, toilets, and pipes for leaks; even small drips can waste 20 gallons of water per day. Take shorter showers, turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving, and find ways to save water in the kitchen or laundry room.
“Toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water use,” Nelson said. Older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. Replacing them with new WaterSense labeled toilets will save water and reduce home water bills. This simpler, greener choice can save 4,000 gallons of water per person every year.
The second largest water user in most homes is the washing machine, with the average wash using 41 gallons per load. High efficiency, water-saving washing machines use nearly half that amount and have the added bonus of using 50 percent less energy per load. On store labels, the lower the water factor, the more efficient the washer is.
“As we Minnesotans start to get enthusiastic about spring, we should also think about ways to reduce water use outdoors this year,” added Nelson.
Water use peaks during the summer, putting increased demand on city water systems and individual wells. When picking out landscaping for a yard, select species that are drought-tolerant and well adapted to the soil. Consider reducing the amount of turf grass in some areas of the yard by planting butterfly or pollinator gardens, native prairie gardens, or rain gardens where appropriate. Consider putting up an easy and efficient rain barrel beneath a downspout.
“While it is not safe to be out on most lakes or rivers on April 22, get outside and splash in a puddle, walk along a shoreline or just enjoy a nice glass of water,” Nelson said. “We all need to become more aware of what a precious resource we have.”
For more information on water conservation in Minnesota, got to http://tinyurl.com/8chlpfj or to the new Metropolitan Council Water Conservation Toolbox at http://tinyurl.com/k94oqtu.
For more information on Earth Day, visit www.earthday.org/takeaction/index.html.
Day 3 of our Trapper’s Daughter Voyage!
We commence day 3 of our Trapper’s Daughter voyage with the eighth image in Rick Allen’s series….
Back in 2009, you could hear all of our jaws collectively drop, “KER PLUNK,” as we viewed “The Trapper’s Daughter Takes the Otter Slide” for the first time. What a beauty! Rick Allen really went to town with this gem.
One of my favorite parts about Rick’s prints is that so often they spark a wonderful, rich memory. … read more
4/21/15 - For the second day in a row, we didn't drill a hole in the ice on Sawbill Lake and here is why:
This was the scene when the sun came up this morning. We got another couple of inches during the day. The temperature stayed below freezing and the predicted low tonight is 19 degrees. - Bill
The deadline for Operation Round Up Grant Applications has been extended to 4pm on Thursday, April 30th.
Funds are available for non-profit groups and organization in the Arrowhead Cooperative service area. Organizations may apply for a grant for a specific project or event. Awards will not exceed $5,000. Projects should fit in one or more of the following categories:
- Community Service
- Economic Development
- Education & Youth
- Disaster Relief
For more information and to download an application and guidelines click HERE.
Thanks to our summer neighbor Monica and some other key people Governor Mark Dayton is stepping in to put a halt to the collaring and killing of moose calves in Minnesota.
According to a Star Tribune Article yesterday, his office said that, “if humans are now the second-leading cause of death for collared calves, the additional risks to them aren’t worth the potential scientific gains. He has told the DNR that this spring’s calf collaring with be the last. And researchers say that even this next round will be cut short if calf deaths are too high.”
This is good news but it could be better news. We want the collaring of calves to be over now, we don’t want to wait until after this year after more calves have died due to collaring. If you feel the same way then please voice your opinion to the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources which is the appointed group of legislators and scientists who are controlling the funding for this project. Susan Thornton is the chair.
I want to know what is killing our moose but I don’t feel we need to collar calves in order to do so.