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April at Gunflint

Gunflint Lodge - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 1:36pm
Bruce and I were gone for a few days at the beginning of the week. We were both impressed by the amount of snow that has melted in just those few days. Since then it has continued to melt even more. At lunch today, someone told me that the snow has melted a foot in the last few days. Certainly our driveway at Tucker Lake is almost bare. My seven-foot snow banks are down so I can look over the tops of them. Out in the garden I still can't see the outlines of the raised beds but the raspberry canes are now visible. The real day to watch will be tomorrow. The forecast is for 70% chance of snow/rain. Rain would be wonderful but snow is not so welcome. Freezing rain is a terrible forecast so that would be nice to avoid. April is a month when I seem to always be looking forward. We are not very busy and I look forward to getting into the summer season. Reservations are coming in and I look forward to having them come in faster. The ice is getting a little bit dark and I look forward to open water. The snow is still here and I look forward to bare ground. Once the ground is bare then I can look forward to planting my garden in June. Once the garden is planted I look every day to see if any little plant has popped up. But let's get through April first. Some friends on the lake and I are getting ready to start a new project. We want to record all the stories we know about earlier residents of Gunflint Lake. Of course, there are going to be lots of conversations about how we should have asked Justine or Peggy about their stories. It is truly amazing how fast information about people can just get lost. So four of us are going to work on what we know and can find out about those who lived on Gunflint Lake before us. I am betting that we will find some amazing stories to save. At the Tucker Lake house we have two pine martens who seem to have taken us over. Usually just one of them appears but this morning both were here together. Last night they ate the chicken bones Bruce put out. This morning they were cleaning up sunflower seeds that the birds had dropped on the ground. How many sunflower seeds does it take to fill up a pine marten? Now that the Tucker Lake road is down to bare ground, Bruce wants to start walking on it in the morning. We usually do very well at this until Bruce feels that he should be at the lodge at 7:00 a.m. It is a wonderful walk of 1 mile to the Gunflint Trail. He is usually in a race when he does it but I take a more leisurely approach. The nights have been quite warm and we have been able to open our bedroom to fresh, outside air. What a joy it is.
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4/11/14 - The first measurement on the countdown to ice-out on Sawbill Lake was taken yesterday.

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:24am

4/11/14 - The first measurement on the countdown to ice-out on Sawbill Lake was taken yesterday. 33" of ice was the official reading.

Sawbill crew member Leif Gilsvik puts his back into it for the first daily ice measurement leading to the open water season. Photo by Nils John Anderson.

That said, we've lost at least half our snow pack in the last few days. A high sun, warm winds and temps near 50 have all taken a toll. I estimate an average snow depth of about 18", down form nearly 40" at the beginning of the week. - Bill

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Quetico Park Has New Blood

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 8:09pm

New and hopefully improved leadership for the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario.

New leadership for Quetico Park

by Jessica Smith on April 9, 2014

Quetico Park’s new superintendent, Trevor Gibb, hails from London – “Ontario’s banana belt” in his words – but has clocked a few miles around Canada. While most recently he served as assistant superintendent for the Cochrane area cluster of 29 provincial parks, he started out working in the provincial parks system in 2003 at the Killarney wilderness park as a warden, before advancing.

Because “the role was seasonal, I was able to do my education in the winters.” He earned his geography degree at the University of Western Ontario, then completed a teaching degree at Mt. St. Vincent University, Hailfax, in 2009. The next year he spent teaching high school at Iqaluit, on Baffin Island. The community of 5,000 Inuit residents had class sizes similar to Atikokan’s.

“It was an amazing experience. I had the students out on the ice once a week, skiing, traditional fishing and seal hunting. Sometimes I would give my head a shake, and think ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m getting paid to take these kids out and do these traditional activities with them,” said Gibb.

His return to park management in Cochrane was as a replacement to Jennifer Lukacic who came to Quetico in 2011 as an assistant superintendent. (For the past five months, Lukacic has filled in as acting superintendent here, following Jeff Bonnema’s departure.)

“Parks are where my values lie. I love protected areas and getting out in the wilderness,” said Gibb.

He has been on the job for three weeks, and part of his work has been on the public review of the preliminary park management plan. He said he is committed to working with all stakeholders, including Lac La Croix FN, which shares in managing the park’s western area through the 1994 Agreement of Co-Existence. (He and assistant superintendent Blier visited Lac La Croix last week.)

The management plan, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2010, “may be finalized in the next couple of years. We’re not going to rush it; we want to make sure [we] get input from all those who have a local interest,” said Gibb, who will address Council April 14 to introduce himself to the Town and discuss management plans and objectives.

Handling one large park like Quetico is no less complex than the ‘clusters of smaller parks in the northeastern part of the province he said.

“Quetico is such a complex park, that there are a number of pieces to deal with,” he said, adding however, that in the past, he has overseen areas where it was logistically very difficult to get into all of the parks (many, like White Otter, that are non-operating), requiring travel by train, float plane or helicopter. In that respect, “It’s nice to be able to focus on one piece of real estate.”

“I understand Quetico is a special place within Ontario Park’s system, and the importance of maintaining its impact on a provincial, national and global scale, and maintaining its ecological integrity and its value to park users. And also the importance of that continued partnership with Lac La Croix in the management and operation of the park.”

Gibb said he loves the north, snow (he’s already bought a snowmobile and hopes to get involved in curling and cross-country skiing), and the wilderness areas, and as someone who enjoys fishing and canoeing, he is looking forward to hitting the lakes here. Gibb adds that he is going to have to learn the ‘hut stroke,’ as he has observed it seems to be the preferred paddling technique here.

He will be joined here shortly by partner Bridget, a biologist who is studying for her Masters at the University of Manitoba.

Jason Blier

New assistant superintendent Jason Blier (pronounced the French way, Blee-eh) and wife Crystal actually moved here when he began his position last fall. A self-described “northern boy” born and raised in Schreiber, he said Atikokan and Quetico is a great place to put down roots. Like Gibb, his education background isn’t in park management. In fact, he studied physics, math and computer science at Lakehead University and electrical engineering at Confederation College – what he calls a “techy geeky background.”

“I love the mechanics of things like snowmobiles, computers… I love diving into a technical manual. I’m a lot of fun at parties,” he joked. (That passion has come in handy for Gibb however, who relied on Blier’s technical expertise in his snowmobile purchase).

So with a technical background, how has he wound up working in parks?

“My whole life has revolved around parks. I am a child of parks,” said Blier. “My earliest memories were camping in parks with my grandparents and parents, and that helped formed my values system.”

He started out as a maintenance worker in 1996 and held various positions in parks such as Neys and Rainbow Falls, before becoming acting superintendent for a year and a half for the 27 parks in the Nipigon and North Shore area. In fact the park cluster he managed shared a boundary with Gibb’s jurisdiction. Since 2008, he has served as assistant – and most recently acting superintendent – of Kakabeka Falls and its 12 adjacent provincial parks.

Blier will take on the operations, logistics and staffing functions for Quetico, and said he sees “a bright future for the park.”

Since he has already had a little time to settle in here, he said he loves the town, is fascinated by its history (particularly the Steep Rock Mine diversion, both the engineering brilliance, and the environmental quandary left in its wake), and the wilderness here. He enjoys paddling, but his water vessel of choice is a kayak.

“My wife is very happy here too; we plan on making this our home,” he adds. The couple are animal lovers and own horses and three dogs.

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Spring! Fingerstyle Music, Art & More

North Shore Art Scene - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 10:56pm

John Gregor caught this shot of the Middle Falls of the Gooseberry Falls. The spring melt is beginning.

The first weeks of April can be quiet in the Northwoods as snow begins to slowly melt in the rivers and maple sap flows into waiting buckets. But there’s still lots to do on the North Shore this weekend.

This is the last week for  the musical, “Fiddler on the Roof.”  

First up — “Fiddler on the Roof.”

We’re hearing lots of exciting things about this iconic, award-winning musical, a production of  Lake Superior Community Theatre – Great acting, wonderful voices, a powerful production.

The final performances of the play are at the Two Harbors High School Auditorium this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Performances start at 7 p.m.

Call 218-220-0682 to reserve your seat or click here.

A few of the glazed and painted pots by Ginny Sims awaiting firing at the Grand Marais Art Colony.

Ceramic artist Ginny Sims concludes her artist residency at the Grand Marais Colony this week with a Community Engagement Project from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday.

Participants are asked to bring an object that has meaning for them, and Sims will lead them in creating large-scale drawings inspired by the objects as well as discuss her process of creating them for her own work.

Preregistration is required. Call 387-2737 for more information.

Also this weekend the not-to-be-missed Fingerstyle Guitar Masters Weekend will be held at the Bluefin Resort in Tofte. Gordon Thorne performs at the Bluefin Grille on Friday night, a full complement of classes on Saturday, and then an evening concert with Phil Heywood and Eric Lugosch at the Bluefin Grille at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available at the door.

The Saturday workshops are from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 3:30 p.m. and are open to anyone.
To pre-register for for the workshops, email or call 218-353-7308. One session is $30, both sessions are $50 (lunch included).

This is also Mountain Meltdown Weekend at Lutsen Mountains with lots of music on Saturday and Sunday at Papa Charlie’s. Cook County bands are featured on Sunday. Here’s the schedule:

Saturday, April 12:

  • 11:30 a.m. – Carroll
  • 1 p.m. – Bad Bad Hats
  • 2:30 p.m. – Fury Things
  • 4 p.m. – Nathan Miller
  • 9:30 p.m. – TBA

Sunday, April 13:

  • 11:30 a.m. – Whurl (Derek Smith, Erik Lastine, Will Seaton)
  • 1 p.m. – Joe Paulik Band (Joe Paulik, Jessi Nicholson, John Mianowski, Derek Smith, Max Bichel)
  • 2:30 p.m. – Cook County’s Most Wanted (Rod Dockan, Al Oikari, Carah Thomas, Gary Croft, Snuffy Smith, Steve Johnson, Derek Smith)
  • 4 p.m. – Spruce Roots (Eric Frost, Jessa Frost, Bill Hansen, Travis Wickwire, Jim Elverhoy)

Other music opportunities on Saturday include Maria Nickolay, who will play at the Cascade Lodge Pub at 7 p.m. and Cook County’s Most Wanted, who will play for an Ice Out! party at the American Legion., 8 p.m.

Loon totems by Nancy Seaton.

In other art news, fused glass artist Nancy Seaton will be the featured artist on WDSE’s The Playlist, which airs at 9 p.m. on Thursday night. She will talk about the creative process involved in making her fused glass work.

A fused glass wall hanging by Seaton can also be seen at the “Mapping Mystery: Entry Points to the Creative” exhibit at the Johnson Heritage Post. The show concludes on Sunday.

The “Mapping Mystery” exhibit features works in a variety of different media by local artists. The Heritage Post is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.

Art and Ambiance, a fundraiser for the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, featuring a live and silent auction of affordable, original works by more than 40 local and regional artists, is at 7 p.m. (EST) April 11. CBC’s Lisa Laco is the host with Dave Shaw as auctioneer. Jazz musician Robin Ranger will play. For more info, visit

“Spring Has Sprung,” an multi-media exhibit of the Voyageur Artists group, opens at the Waterfront Gallery with a reception from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. Participating artists include Sandi Pillsbury Gredzens, Elsie Cook, John Anderson, Michelle Ronning, Rose Kadera Vastilla, Helen Hartley, Linda Hoffman, Nancy Steinhauser, Dorothy Moe, Sheila Fallon, Shelley Getten, Arlee Wilkes, Marlene Miller and Joyce Gow. The Waterfront Gallery is located at 632 First Ave., in Two Harbors. The exhibit continues through June 7.

And here’s a heads-up to two music events April 19. Jazz singer Prudence Johnson will be a guest artist at a Michael Monroe Log Cabin Concert. For tickets, call 218-387-2919.

The Midnight Ramble, a celebration of Levon Helm’s life, will be held at Cascade Lodge Pub this spring. Stay tuned for details.

Here’s the music schedule for this weekend:

Thursday, April 10:

  • Joe Paulik, Gunflint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 11:

  • Portage Band, American Legion, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Bluefin Grille, Tofte, 8 p.m.
  • Rod Dockan & Friends, Gunflint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 12:

  • Mountain Meltdown, Papa Charlie’s, all day
  • Maria Nickolay, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Eric Lugosch and Phil Heywood, Fingerstyle Masters Weekend, Bluefin Grille, 7:30 p.m.
  • Cook County’s Most Wanted, American Legion, 8 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik Band, Gunflint Tavern, 8:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 13:

  • Mountain Meltdown, Papa Charlie’s, 11:30 to 5 p.m.
  • Pushing Chain, Gunflint Tavern, 7 p.m.

We found an interesting series of photos this week. We’re assuming that people are pretty tired of looking at ice, but we’ve included a few of them anyway. Otherwise, there are some interesting wildlife shots that have popped up.

First up, a joke. Joe Paulik posted this on his Facebook page. Take a look:

“No sand in Minnesota but we’re very adaptable. We find other perfectly good places to stick our heads.”  – Joe Paulik


Here’s a Michael Furtman.

A snowshoe hare shows the chocolate swirls of spring. Photo by Michael Furtman.


Christian Dalbec took this photo of a hawk apparently trying to remove a leaf from its talons.

The hawks are returning. Photo by Christian Dalbec.


Here’s a sweet shot of an eagle parent feeding the youngest of its chicks.  Here’s a link to the cam so you can watch the action (or lack of action) yourself.

A Bald Eagle feeds one of its three chicks that have hatched in a nest monitored by the Minnesota DNR.


Paul Sundberg took this great photo of a pine marten.

Paul Sundberg caught this pine marten as it went to investigate the birdfeeder in his back yard. They like red squirrels who like birdfeeders.


The bears are starting to come out, too.

This bear sat in theis group of trees all day yawning. Photo courtesy of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.


Here’s a reminder of the beauty of the ice caves at the national park. The ice caves are closed for the season.

The ice caves at sunrise by Mike de Witt.


Here’s a wonderful B&W shot of ice by Duluth photographer Brett Grandson

“Light Storm” by Brett Grandson.


Here’s a lovely shot by Travis Novitsky.

“Seventh Sunset of April 2014.” by Travis Novitsky.


And here’s another gorgeous sunset by David Johnson.

“Plate Ice Sunset” by David Johnson.


And here’s a final ice shot. (Probably not the last of the season, although we can hope.)

“Frost on the Window” by Jamie Rabold.

Have a great weekend, everyone!












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Mexico Kayaking Adventure

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 4:26pm

I don’t have time to keep up on everything and somehow I missed the release of 3 more episodes of the Red Bull Mexico Kayaking Adventure.  While it looks like fun I can’t imagine paddling those places. It looks beautiful but scary.  I think I’ll stick to the BWCA for now!

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Family Night in Hovland – April 22nd

Moving Matters - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 9:01am

What does a walkable/bikeable community look like?

Moving Matters Family Night
Tuesday, April 22nd
6:00 PM
Hovland Town Hall

Join us for a family night at Hovland Town Hall, with free dinner and a fun hands-on activity. All families and community members are welcome.

Dinner will be provided, followed by the activity ‘Planning Thru Play.’ Just bring your family and your experiences of walking and biking in Cook County.

Please RSVP for food numbers. You may RSVP on Facebook, email, or call 218-387-2330 x110, by Friday, April 18. Also let us know the # of people that will be attending for your family (so we can plan for dinner).

See you on the 22nd!


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Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting for April 8: Tower Lighting, Kelly Hill's Road, VeteranTransportation

Cook County District 3 (Sue Hakes) - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:11pm
Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk, Garry Gamble, Sue Hakes and Bruce Martinson were all present for today's County Board Meeting.  Also present were County Administrator Jay Kieft, Auditor-Treasurer Braidy Powers, Assistant County Attorney Jeanne Smith, and Administrative Support Bev Wolke.

Public Comment
Representing herself, Deb Benedict came before the County Board to express her concern about the white strobe light planned for the 350' tower north of Grand Marais. Rena Rogers, IS Director, explained that this decision was made by the Communications Committee based on cost, risk mitigation, and impact to the community.  Rogers reported that a low scatter LED light has been specified.  An alternative to the lighting would be to paint the tower in a candystripe fashion with alternating red and white paint. The County Board will consider Benedict's request, but need more information on the pros and cons of both alternatives.

Community Center
Community Center Director, Diane Booth, came before Board with a revision of the Community Center Board of Trustees By-Laws.  The Commissioners had several questions regarding the revisions and will forward them to Jay Kieft for compilation. Booth will incorporate changes as appropriate and re-present to the Board.

Booth presented the Board with the recently updated Community Center Fee Schedule.

Highway Department
The County Board approved the purchase of a Cyclone DP48 Sand Blast Cabinet for $1725 plus freight.  This purchase is in the 2014 Highway Department budget.

The Board authorized the Highway Department to advertise for bids for a) aggregate stockpile, b) liquid calcium chloride, and c) summer road maintenance bids for Evergreen Road, Voyageur's Point Road, Mile O'Pine Road, West Rosebush Lane, and Rosebush Hill.

The Board authorized awarding (2) service contract bids for geotechnical borings and evaluation to Braun Intertec Corporation based on low bid.

The Board authorized the Highway Department to solicit proposals for design of the CR46 Bridge.  It is anticipated that State Local Bridge Replacement Bonds will be used to pay for the bridge replacement.

New Director Information System and Communications
Rena Rogers, recently hired Information Systems and Communications director, came before the Board to share initial observations of her new position.  Rogers shared that she has felt very welcome by the Board and county employees.  She talked about her vision to make County business more effective both internally and externally.

Land Use Guide Plan Steering Committee
Office of Planning and Zoning (OPZ) Director, Tim Nelson presented the Land Use Guide Plan Update Committee recommendations for reviewing the existing Land Use plan, identifying issues, and updating the Land Use Guide Plan.  The county will contract with Consultant John Powers to lead the process which will include opportunities for public input, including (2) public meetings.

Mark Sandbo request
Mark Sandbo came before the Board requesting a letter of support for him to continue serving on the Governor's Council on Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program.  The Board agreed to provide the letter as requested.

Kelly's Hill Road
At the request of the County Attorney's office, Baiers Heeren reviewed correspondence from Kelly's Hill Road Maintenance Association (KHRMA), applicable statutes and real estate record relating to Kelly's Hill Road.  Heeren reported that there is no record evidence that establishes Kelly's Hill Road as a Town Road or subsequently as a county road or highway.  Jeff Wenz of KHRMA expressed surprise and disappointment at this finding and will need some time to review the written opinion provided by Heeren.

National Crime Victim's Rights Week
The Board approved Jeanne Smith's request to create an informational display in the Courthouse lobby during National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

Assessor's Office
County Assessor, Betty Schulz, provided a progress report on the Assessor Office's work in their quintile property review as required by the State.  This past year, 2660 reviews have been completed including north Hovland, Grand Marais, new construction and land.   Commissioners Doo-Kirk, Martinson and Gamble complimented them on their work.

Superior National Golf Course Bonding
The Board discussed pros and cons for creating an abatement of property taxes for certain Lutsen area properties and pledging that revenue for payment of financing a portion of the Superior National Golf Course renovation.  Commissioner Hakes raised multiple concerns, most notably the risk in this proposal.  No action was taken, but Commissioner Doo-Kirk requested that all questions regarding this matter be forwarded to her in writing to be delivered to the EDA.

Veteran's Transportation Services
Commissioner Hakes reported on a meeting she attended with VSO Clarence Everson and VSO Pat Strand to discuss transportation for Veteran's from remote rural areas in northeastern MN to Vet medical facilities in Minneapolis.  Hakes reported that Reggie Worlds, MN DVA Deputy Commissioner, is securing $200,000 in funding to purchase (1) bus and (2) vans.  Subsequent planning meetings will be held to determine routes, schedules, van locations, and other details necessary to provide this service.  This is good news for northeastern MN veterans!  Stay tuned for more information.

Spring 2014 Declarations for Spearing
The Board discussed the 2014 Declaration for Spearing in the 1854 ceded territory. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has worked with the State of MN to develop a list of lakes authorized by the Band for spearing walleye.  Cook County lakes include Ball Club, Caribou, Cascade, Elbow, Fourmile, Pike, Tait and Tom. The Bois Forte and Grand Portage bands will not spear walleyes in the 1854 treaty area.

Road Maintenance Funds for Superior National Forest
The Board passed a motion requesting the USFS properly maintain the roads within its jurisdiction and increase future dollars budgeted for road maintenance within the Superior National Forest.  Well maintained USFS roads are important to tourists, local residents, loggers and firefighters.

Meeting Minutes
Official meeting minutes for today may be accessed by going to the Cook County website or by calling the County Administrator's Office at 218-387-3602.  A video of this meeting may be viewed by going to Boreal.TV.
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4/8/14 - Cindy and I took our first extended vacation over the last couple of weeks.

Sawbill Newsletter - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 5:24pm

4/8/14 - Cindy and I took our first extended vacation over the last couple of weeks. We wisely chose to head far enough south that we missed the last several blasts of this bitter Minnesota winter of 2014.

Here is what we had to put up with while the blizzards were raging at home. That's me in the chair to the far right. I think I was napping at the time. - Bill

Here are some recent Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM, North Shore Community Radio:
West End News: March 20th
West End News: March 27th
West End News: April 3rd

In a few days we'll start the daily Sawbill Lake ice report.

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Another Epic Voyage

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 5:20pm

Three of our past Voyageur Crew members are embarking on a wilderness adventure with three other modern day Voyageurs.  Adam Maxwell, Jake Bendel and Tessa Olson will be spending their summer paddling and camping and I’m so very jealous.  It looks like another wonderful adventure they have planned with 900 miles from Saskatchewan to Nunavut.  I look forward to telling you more about their journey this summer and you can read about it on their website and “like” their Facebook Page.

Modern Day Voyageur

Tessa Olson

Ready to Paddle


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April brings oobleck

Unorganized Territory - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:26pm

Regular readers know that I like winter. I enjoy watching snow falling on the trees and shrubs along my driveway, turning it into a Currier and Ives scene. I like snowshoeing and snowmobiling and watching my grandchildren ski. I admire the frost pictures on my windows and the lovely way snow glistens like glitter in the bright sun.

I like how refreshing it is to step outside on a cold day. And I love how good it feels to come back inside to warm up. I’m proud that I know how to layer appropriately so I don’t get cold when the Polar Vortex passes through.

We seemed to have more than our share of bitterly cold days this year. Although this winter reminds me a lot of winters when I was growing up here on the North Shore. Now, I’m not going to share some sad tale of having to walk to school in a blizzard…up hill, both ways… but I do remember waiting for the school bus on brutally cold days. I remember our elementary school principal, Mr. James, chasing us out of the school entryway into the cold because we were too noisy.

No, winter wasn’t always fun. But it seemed like we always had enough snow to build snowmen and snow forts and to go sledding. I keep telling people this is a good old-fashioned winter.

Maybe that is why I keep thinking about the games we played and the way we passed time in the winter when I was a kid. The giant snowbanks remind me of many games of “King of the Hill.” The open expanse of our septic drain field tempts me to go make a snow angel like we used to do long ago. Of course many recess hours were spent throwing snowballs at one another, even though it was prohibited.

I also remember a really silly game, one that could only happen in our snowy clime. Some childhood friends and I used to pretend we had somehow been transported to a giant’s world. We were trapped in a giant bowl of ice cream— bright, white, vanilla ice cream! We had to make a hiding place so the giant didn’t find us.

I’ve always liked looking at snow that way, trying to see more than just semi-permanent ground cover. The clumps piled up by the snow plow? Like fluffy white clouds in the sky, if you look at them imaginatively you can see polar bears or dragons.

And then there is the oobleck snow. The most recent snowstorm that passed through brought a downfall of heavy, sticky, snowflakes, reminding me of one of my favorite children’s books, Bartholomew and the Oobleck.    

If April snow was green, it would be exactly like oobleck!


The Dr. Seuss story may not be familiar to everyone as it isn’t written in Theodor Geisel’s usual poetic meter. No, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, like its preceding story the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, isn’t written in Dr. Seuss’s usual poetic style. Instead it is simple prose telling the story of King Derwin of Didd who was tired of rain, sun, fog and snow. The king called on his royal magicians to make something new fall from the sky. What falls is oobleck— sticky green globs that wreak havoc on the kingdom.

In the story, young page boy Bartholomew Huggins comes to the rescue by getting King Derwin to say the magic words—not the words the magicians said to create the oobleck, “Shuffle, Duffle, Muzzle Muff”—but simply “I’m sorry.”

Once Bartholomew convinces King Derwin to say the magic words, the sun comes out and the oobleck melts away. It’s a nice story, ending with the King declaring a holiday to celebrate the four things that should come from the sky—rain, sun, fog and snow.

So although heavy, clumpy, sticky snowflakes are white instead of green, they make me think of the Kingdom of Didd getting gooped up with oobleck.

Oobleck-like snow makes me think of the gentle wisdom of Dr. Seuss via Bartholomew Cubbins. Don’t be arrogant. Say you’re sorry when you’ve made a mistake. And appreciate what you have— even if it’s another five inches of snow.

~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~

The people who are successful are those
who are grateful for everything they have.
Alan Cohen

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Monday Funny

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:47pm

Shoveling a tennis court so there can be a High School tennis match this week. That’s what one of my friends did on Saturday in Grand Marais, Minnesota.  Josh and Abby with Baseball and Softball games scheduled for tomorrow? Not on any field in our School’s League. Games have to be postponed until a later date.  Gotta love this video and cartoon that depict how many of us feel about the latest and hopefully last 6 inches of snow that fell on Friday.

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Melting Snow

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 6:35pm

There’s still snow and there’s still ice but today’s high temperature on the Gunflint Trail was 53 degrees, warm enough to melt some snow. According to the map below there’s still a good amount of snow cover in Northeastern Minnesota and I imagine it will be around for awhile longer.

Lake Superior still has a large amount of ice on it and the shipping season is off to a slow start because of it.  According to JOHN PEPIN – Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal,

Dobson said the ice thickness the cutters are encountering was at least three feet in some places, four feet in others. In the middle of Lake Superior, ice rubble fields six feet thick were being encountered…He said the cutters can be moving along decently and then hit a “rock solid” section of ice. In some cases, ships have needed four hours to move one mile.

A few more days of 50 degree temperatures will surely help.




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Horny States

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 4:49pm

The title of an article I found online intrigued me and I just had to read it.


The first thing to know is that horns and antlers are completely different things. For starters antlers are temporary, whereas, like herpes, horns are forever. Therefore it would have been scientifically inaccurate for us to include such antlered animals as deer, caribou and elk. That said, we’re happy to report that we’ll be publishing a follow-up piece, “What Are The Antleriest States?” next week. Please check back for it.

As it turns out, there are only five horned animals native to the U.S. — bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goat, muskox, and bison — and they all reside in either Alaska or the West. It’s a scientific fact that any state east of Texas is not the least bit horny.

Our findings include:

• Not only is Alaska obsessed with smoking porn, but it also happens to be the horniest state in the union. Just under 80,000 wild bighorn sheep, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and muskox call the Last Frontier home.

• Colorado, known not for smoking porn but smoking pot, is the second horniest state. The largest bighorn sheep population calls the Rockies home, along with a growing number of potheads with bongs strapped to their foreheads.

• It’s only fitting that Montana, with its strong ranching roots, comes in at third. The Treasure State is of course home to part of Yellowstone National Park, where the nation’s largest natural bison population resides.

Frankly we had no idea what to expect when we began our research. We assumed all states were equally horny, except perhaps Kansas or Nebraska. But we were blown away by the horny numbers, and we hope you were too. Now back to our study on the adverse effects of caulk blocking.

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Yet Another Snow Day!

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:25pm

This is not funny anymore. Winter can go away and stay away. Another winter snowstorm and another day of school getting cancelled.  It’s got to end sometime…

The ice on Lake Superior is causing problems for the shipping industry. The bright side of it?  It makes some pretty sounds and beautiful scenery. But it too can go away any time now.



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4.3.14 Snowshoe season begins

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 2:28pm






Snowshoe season is here!

We’re wrapping up the ski season on the Central Gunflint Trail System. While it’s true that we still have a great deal of snow (with more in the forecast),  grooming conditions have become quite difficult.  Due to the daily freeze /thaw cycles that we experience now, the skiing may actually be better on ungroomed sections. It’s adventure skiing now!

We will concentrate our grooming efforts on Summerhome, Campground, and Oxcart Ski Trails until snow temps approach 32 degrees, at which time we’re done for the day. We will continue to try to groom those for as long as we get passable results; no promises on how long that will be at this point, as it just doesn’t groom up to our high expectations in these conditions.

The good news: this is the only time each year when we open up our ungroomed trails for snowshoeing.  It’s a great opportunity to get back into the deep woods trails that you can normally only experience on skis.  Snowshoes and trail passes are complimentary for our guests. Stop by the front desk to get them.   If you’re staying elsewhere, trail tickets are half price, and we do rent very nice snowshoes.

Please stop by the front desk  at Bearskin for trail maps, trail advice, and information about the ever-changing spring conditions.   Snowshoeing on this ski trail system only happens once a year, so take advantage of this fun spring opportunity!

We can also advise you about what is still open in the area.  April is the off-season on the Gunflint Trail and in Grand Marais; the majority of resorts and businesses are now closed until sometime in mid-May.  We’ll be happy to help you find the restaurants and lodges that are still open for business during this quiet time.

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Waking up from winter!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Sun, 02/16/2014 - 9:49pm

The bitter temps and short days of January left me feeling a little more closed in this year than in the past.

Today was a sunny beautiful day. Children were sledding, guests were skiing snowmobiling, and fishing and the phone has been ringing off the hook. Perhaps I’m not alone in my feeling of cabin fever! – I had a mind to hang a note on the door and head out for a snowshoe workout

We’ve had such great snowfall recently, nearly 10 inches since Friday. Today was a nice break, but tomorrow’s promise is for 4-8 more inches. The snowbanks are higher than I’ve seen in a long time.

The 2013 Mush for a Cure “fun”d-raiser is just around the corner. The event has changed a bit this year – with the start and end all happening out front on the lake! Starting with a pancake breakfast fundraiser sponsored by Upper Lakes Foods, you can watch the Mushers set up on the lake, start the race and wait for the results.

If you’re in the area or just want to drive up to watch the fun it’s a crazy pink day!!

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Break from the Cold Tomorrow-Friday

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 1:58pm
After many days well below zero, with the temperature hitting -36 last night, we are finally going to see the temp go above zero tomorrow. According to current prediction it could get as warm as 20 above. That will really be a switch.
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Very Large Black Cat Sighted

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 1:58pm
While I have been quite reluctant to post this because people will think I am nuts. However I have since found several other people who have had similar sightings. So here goes! On January 8, I was returning to Poplar Lake from grooming the Banadad Ski trail along the snowmobile ...
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Wound Vets Ski Nordic Trails

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 1:58pm
Combat Wounded Veterans,, visit ski lodges along the Gunflint. Ten veterans, several who had lost their legs while in the military skied from Bearskin to Poplar Creek Guesthouse and the Tall Pines Yurt. While the next day they were scheduled to ski on to the Croft Yurt ...
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Great Early December Snow

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 01/23/2014 - 1:58pm
While we did not have the 40+ inches of snow portions of the North Shore had, we did get enough snow to begin serious work on the Banadad. The Lace Lake and Tall Pines have been cleared and barrel rolled. A few more inches of snow and they will be ...
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