MPR news printed an article about climate change and weather that I thought was very interesting and disturbing. While our winter weather was much colder than normal last year the climate is changing and our winters are 7 degrees warmer now than in the 1970′s. That’s bad for people who love winter and the recreational opportunities it presents.
There’s a big group of people who are very concerned with the warming trend. Protect our Winters is an organization made up of the global winter sports community. They hope to reduce the climate’s effect on snow sports and the economies they support. Their mission is “to engage and mobilize the winter sports community to lead the fight against climate change. Our focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and the support of community-based projects.” You can find out more about them by visiting their website.
Let’s hope they can do something.
Everyone is eager for the 2014-2015 ski season to start. Many trails have been packed and rolled, but the fresh snow on Monday gave us a good base to start genuinely grooming a few trails. Summer Home Road and Campground Loop groomed up quite nicely on Tuesday morning. Very good early season skiing. We will continue to pack and roll other trails this week and may have enough snow to start grooming another area. To be determined as the week goes on. Call Bearskin Lodge or Golden Eagle Lodge for current updates on the status of grooming.
Season tickets and daily trail tickets for the Central Gunflint Trail Ski System are for sale now at both Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. We share the proceeds of trail tickets equally, so it doesn’t really matter which place you purchase your tickets. Ticket prices for 2014-2015 will be:
- Day pass $18
- Child day pass (ages 7-13) $8
- Late day pass (after 1 PM) $12
- Child late day pass $6
- 3-day pass $36
- 3-day child pass $18
- Season pass $100
- Child season pass $40
- Cook County High School ski team members ski free, but please check in at a lodge
- Gunflint Volunteer Fire Department members season pass $50
All registered guests at Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge receive trail tickets included in the cost of their stay, so they need not buy tickets.
We don’t accept Minnesota Ski Passes for this trail system, as this these trails do not receive any funds from the state. The Central Gunflint Trail System is privately operated and maintained by Bearskin Lodge and Golden Eagle Lodge. Because of its large size and hilly terrain through the deep woods, this is a very expensive system to groom and maintain; 100% of your trail ticket fees go towards trail costs. The memorable experience of skiing in this beautiful woods would not be possible without our extensive trail work, so the cost of your ski pass is well worth it.
We’re looking forward to a great ski season. See you on the ski trail!
Day three of Sivertson Gallery’s 12 Days of Christmas is an ode to our favorite North Shore tree, the birch!
Since we love birch SO MUCH here in the Northwoods, perhaps it is time to take a cue from our friends in Northern Europe. In this region of the world, as well as Russia & China, birch sap is sometimes used in the manufacture of wine and beer.
However, if you’re feeling less ambitious and would rather simply sip out … read more
It’s just another one of Lake Superior’s unique attributes. It’s ever changing beauty intrigues all who see it. I haven’t seen any steam devils yet this winter but I’m keeping my eyes open in hopes of spotting some.
Question of the week from the MN DNR
Q: What causes arctic smoke along the North Shore?
A: Arctic smoke occurs when the air is colder than Lake Superior’s water temperature. Lake Superior surface water is about 40 degrees at this time, but the air above the lake often plummets to well below zero. On most winter mornings, you can see steam from the warmer water rising and quickly cooling, creating the effect of smoke hanging above the water.
A rarer sight is spiraling columns known as steam devils, which occur when there is a large difference between the air temperature and the lake temperature. As the air coming off the lake cools rapidly, it creates updrafts that cause the spirals to form. You need very cold air temperatures and a slight wind to see them, but as we commonly have minus 20-degree days, you can usually catch them a couple times each winter.
Kelsey Olson, Gooseberry Falls State Park naturalist
The good news is we received some snow, very sticky wet snow. The trees look beautiful and everything is coated in white. The bad news is the temperature is supposed to get up into the 40′s later this week and what little snow we do have will quickly disappear.
There are some people who would like to see the snow stick around. I love summer and I love winter but I don’t love the in-between seasons time when I can’t spend time outdoors doing what I love. The hiking trails have too much snow and/or ice on them to walk on but not enough snow to ski or snowshoe on. While most of the lakes are frozen and you can now ice fish there isn’t enough snow to snowmobile on and the bigger lakes on the Gunflint Trail aren’t frozen solid enough yet.
Josh is ready for the ice rink in Grand Marais to be flooded but Mother Nature isn’t. Our shovels are out, we have ice scrapers in the vehicles and we’re ready for the snow to stick around. Now if someone can let Mother Nature know we’re ready that would be greatly appreciated.
There are few displays of color that affect me the same was as staring at the big open water of Superior early in the morning, but a beautiful gemstone that sparkles and shines is right up there! There is something absolutely memorizing about a rich piece of Opal. Similar to a cleansing dip in the big lake, the opal is said to bring its water energy to enhance self-esteem and sense of self-worth to the wearer. And don’t even get me started on Monica’s choice in Labradorite, with its purples, greys and … read more
Welcome to Day ONE of Sivertson Gallery’s 12 Days of Christmas!
We could not have kicked off this journey with anyone other than the one who started it all, our painter in the bright red suspenders – Howard Sivertson! Howard’s work has captivated the joy & beauty of the North Shore for many, many years. Through watercolor, oil and his unparalleled storytelling, Howard is able to transport you to a world long ago. Whether it be to the home of an early pioneer on the North Shore, the canoe … read more
All the way from Marks Equipment in Vancouver, Washington, our new brewhouse will arrive in Grand Marais tomorrow morning. In case you are wondering what is coming off the truck, it’s a 20-barrel steam jacketed mash/lauter tun with mixer, a 20-barrel steam jacketed brew kettle, and a 40-barrel steam jacketed hot liquor tank. We are grateful to the fine people at Marks working with us to fill this order, and can’t wait to brew.
It’s the beginning of December and zero degrees. What do I do in such conditions? I get out and look for more snow, that’s what I do. I am so excited to get back on my Altai Hok skis that I may appear desperate.
I can’t wait for the workout of traversing hither and yon through the woods wth the traction of snowshoes and the glide of skis! Exploring by Hok is my favorite winter activity now. (My complete list of winter activities includes alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and simply sitting in snow banks, so that’s a long list to choose from.)
The universal binding of the Hok allows me to use whatever footwear is best for the conditions on any day, whether that be my backpacking boots, or my mukluks, or even a big honking Baffin pack boot. The skis are wonderfully maneuverable because of their short length. And the metal edge helps with grip on icy terrain. The integrated climbing skin allows me to go up and the glide on the down side is controlled and so much more efficient than snowshoes!
I am getting so caught up in the wonder of my Hok skis that I almost forgot to mention they make wonderful Christmas gifts! I recommend including a few accessories so the happy recipient can immediately put these beauties to use. First of all, add some trekking poles. I don’t always use poles, so my trekking poles can easily be collapsed and put in a pack. Then they are available if terrain dictates their need. Secondly, I like to use skin wax–it prevents the snow from slushing up and freezing on the bottom. Lastly, I use glide wax on the tip and tails to maintain that glorious glide on the down side. As long as your recipient has warm winter clothing and boota, that’s all that is needed for exploring by Hok.
Once we get more snow, I am getting out on my own Hok skis. Until then, you can find me looking skyward in hopeful anticipation. Let it snow!
12/4/14 - Our phones and internet were down all day yesterday, thanks to a fiber optic cable break in Tofte. It's the price we pay for living in paradise!
Amy and Dave Freeman have finished their epic canoe trip from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C. For more information on what they are up to, you can listen to this week's edition of the Cook County West End News or go to the Paddle to DC website.
Amy and Dave just hours after arriving in D.C. I can't remember the last time I've seen them wearing something other than their paddling clothes. Photo by Caitlyn Ward.
Here is last week's edition of the Cook County West End News. - Bill
You know the old song, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas?” Those lyrics certainly ring true on the Gunflint Trail. Something about already having snow on the ground for nearly a month makes things feel festive, regardless of which holiday you celebrate this time of year. Christmas lights are starting to pop up on Gunflint Trail homes and businesses and as the lakes continue to make more and more ice, our thoughts turn increasingly to the fun winter activities ahead.
If you need a little help getting in the holiday spirit, all are invited to the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department holiday party/open house at the Schaap Community Center on Saturday, December 6, from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. The community center is located next to Poplar Lake Fire Hall #1, 7401 Gunflint Trail. Enjoy appetizers and desserts provided by GTVFD members and pizzas from Big Bear Lodge. No need to RSVP, just show up! While there’s no guarantee that there will be Santa hats or carol singing, there will most definitely be good food, good company, and lots of laughter.
You’re also invited to visit the Cook County Visitors Bureau and Grand Marais Information Center’s new digs on Wednesday, December 10. The open house will be held at the new office, located on the lake side of Highway 61 in downtown Grand Marais, right across from the history Gunflint Trail entrance signs.
And while we’re busy planning your social life, why not mark your calendars for June 12-14, 2015 too? That’s when the first ever Boundary Waters Expo will be held on the Gunflint Trail. The event will feature speakers, demos, hands on activities, and should be a great place for expert paddlers and novices alike to learn more about paddling the Gunflint Trail and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. You won’t want to miss it.
12/3/14 - Adam West, former Sawbill crew member, brought this cool video to our attention. It was filmed in August, 2011 on South Temperance Lake, which is a day's paddle from Sawbill. - Bill
For our members with Interruptible Heat:
A DUAL FUEL Control will happen today, December 1, 2014 starting at 4:30pm until 9:30pm.
You can check out load control schedules at http://lmguide.grenergy.com.
Kratt Chat – Being Thankful
A post from a friend on a Facebook reminded me of my first “on my own” turkey roasting event. It seems growing up I had been in the kitchen cooking turkeys FOREVER. Mom always got the pressure cooker out and cooked the giblets. They were my favorite. She pulled that little bag out of the turkey’s tail, chopped the entire contents very fine and added it to the stuffing along with the sautéed celery and onion. I swear the sound of the pressure cooker was my Thanksgiving Day alarm for years. The pressure cooker frightened me as I figured as some point it had to blow-up. Nonetheless, mom’s stuffing was simply the best ever and I was stuffed long before the turkey every saw the stuffing.
Well, my first turkey roasting experience had a few highlights. Certain memories surrounding this event are vivid. We lived in our tiny house on 38th Avenue West in Duluth. After unveiling the roaster I am sure we received for a wedding present and numerous calls to mom, the turkey came out of the oven looking like the front cover of Bon Appetite’. We set to work carving (something I never seem to master) and had the best dinner ever! Now I am a soup maker and I’ll take the liberty of bragging this up. My soup is good – really good. I boil the turkey carcass and meat for a loooooong time. As I cleaned up the carcass and prepared to put everything in the stock pot, I found a familiar bag. The GIBLETS; tucked ever so tightly under the turkey tail. I’m sure this bag of goodies attributed to the fine turkey flavor.
As the holiday season begins, I want to remind you all to appreciate your families and the good food we share. I am cooking three turkeys this year as my three kids want a lot of leftovers and their own soup.
If you are in town on Friday evening, join me and other community members at the Oh Ole Night Christmas Parade and tree lighting ceremony in Grand Marais. Sing carols, wear festive sweaters, and share in the holiday spirit with your friends and neighbors. The parade is open to anyone who wants to participate, meet at the senior center parking lot at 4:45pm SHARP! The parade will begin promptly at 5pm.
And to really kick your holiday spirit into high gear, join us at Lutsen Mountains for the New Standards Holiday Show. Now in its 8th year, this show has become a beloved yuletide institution in the Twin Cities and beyond. The show combines playful renditions of classic holiday tunes with a smattering of irreverence and a healthy sprinkling of spectacle. As an added bonus, all the special guests that join the trio with poems, stories, dancing, and comedy. It is an absolutely wonderful way to kick off the holiday season!
Looking for dining options for Thanksgiving? Check out our list of what is open for dining in Cook County MN. And don’t forget to do a little holiday shopping with our locally owned small businesses. Northwoods art, homemade edibles, norwegian sweaters, hardy outerwear and more!
Also, we are happy to announce that Ada Igoe is back writing the Gunflint Trail blog for the season. Check out her news from up the trail here.
One last thing, Grand Marais has been nominated for Budget Travel’s “Coolest Small Town” crowd sourced contest. A contest that our neighbor Ely has won a few years in a row. Our numbers are looking pretty good but I know we can do better!This weekend, between skiing, welcoming guests, and eating loads of good food – please help us to grow in number by sharing on your social media fans to be sure to vote, and vote again every 24-hrs. We have until December 2nd to get the most votes, so get the word out! VOTE for Grand Marais, MN “Coolest Small Town”!Happy Thanksgivings to all and cook those giblets!
There are some special people that I would like to thank as we come into the Thanksgiving season and as we have finished up our 5th summer in Grand Marais. Hardly a day goes by that someone does not come into the store and tell me how great it looks and how much they like the design and the way it is merchandised. So let’s start at the beginning.
When I decided to buy the property and remodel the store the first people I needed to track down were an architect and a designer. Tom Barbeau was the original architect of the store along with a local designer, Richard Olson, that he has worked with for years, so that is where I started. We pulled out the original plans of the store and added some area and finished off the back areas and third floor. They made some changes to the floor plan and we were on our way.
Next we needed a general contractor and Tom got me in touch with Arno Kahn of Builder’s Commonwealth of Duluth since they too worked on the building when it first went up. I was reluctant to use out of Cook County contractors for the work and came to an agreement that we would use Cook County labor in almost all instances. Our local labor force is as good as it gets and if I was going to live here and have a store here, it was imperative that we had “locals” doing the majority of the work.
While we were putting the store up we needed to put together a staff that was knowledgeable about the outdoors and the area and had a feel for what the consumer needed to enjoy our area. We quickly put together a staff that did a fabulous job of getting the store up and ready for our grand opening. Some of those same people are still here today. Others have moved on but we have always been able to find great people to take their place.
Social media was next. Kristin Walters set up our web site and Facebook originally and set the stage for what we have today. When Kristin left us we were so fortunate to bring in Ann Papenfuss of Apirlaät who picked up where Kristin left off and has made our web site and Facebook what it is today.
Next I looked around and even though I was extremely pleased with the talents of the staff in terms of merchandising, I felt we needed an outside touch so I brought in Colleen Kleve and Tracey Lundhagen of Double Vision to help put a professional touch on our displays and it too has paid off.
I mention all of this so that next time you come in the store you will know where the talent comes from. We go form the architect, designer, builders all the way to the staff, which of course is the most important asset I have. And on a personal note, two people who were most instrumental in the whole initial planning and implementation of the concept were Kristin Walters, my daughter and Eric Stone, my son who was my initial CFO.
So, if you are ever looking for help with your projects, do not hesitate to contact any of those I have mentioned above. Most of my local contractors do not have web sites or Facebooks but do not hesitate to call me when looking for recommendations.
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to hear international speaker, Gil Penalosa, speak in Duluth. Gil Penalosa is the executive director of the Toronto-based organization “8-80 Cities,” and is passionate about cities for all people. Throughout his compelling hour-long presentation, Penalosa spoke of a simple concept: cities and communities that work for our children (8 year olds) and our seniors (80 year olds).
So what does Penalosa’s “8 to 80 Rule” tell us about Highway 61 in Grand Marais? The 8 to 80 rule is simple:
- Think of an older adult.
- Think of a child.
- Would you send them out together for a walk to the park?
If you would, it is safe enough. If you wouldn’t, it needs to be improved. Let’s apply this to Highway 61 in Grand Marais. Would you send your loved one, an older adult or a child, across Highway 61?
This week I explored this question with elders and children in our community. I shared lunch with a group of eight 5th-7th graders at Great Expectations School. When asked about any problems they have encountered on 61 in Grand Marais, the group yelled out a cacophony:
Cars don’t stop!
One young woman followed up:
You pretty much have to make a gesture like stepping out in the road before you try to cross. Even in the crosswalks, cars don’t stop.
The group consensus was that many families have the rule that children have to be 11 years old before they can cross 61 alone, and children are encouraged to cross only at certain locations. So in regards to the 8 to 80 Rule, something needs to improve for safe crossing of 61.
Frankie Jarchow, a representative of the elderly on the Active Living Steering Committee, met with fellow bridge players to gather feedback about the unique concerns and ideas of active seniors. Frankie shared comments from 9 seniors in their 60-80’s. Several comments addressed issues facing the Highway 61 corridor for seniors or the disabled:
Not shoveled sidewalks, crossing the busy highway, very difficult and dangerous to cross the road, crossing the street at Highway 61 can be dangerous either by car or foot.
It turns out that the children and seniors we spoke with this week agree that the 8 to 8o Rule tells us we need to make improvements for safe crossing of Highway 61 in Grand Marais. Does this surprise anyone? I don’t think so. Safe crossings have been one of the most agreed upon concerns in the Highway 61 redesign process. As we dream and plan about a redesign of Highway 61, or any new projects within our communities, let’s make sure that the proposed solutions create a space that works for our 8 to 80 year olds.