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1.12.2017 MLK weekend snow conditions

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 4:52pm


We’ve been in the deep freeze for a few days this week, with several days of below zero temps, but the forecast for the long weekend is for comfortably warm temps.  Everything is newly groomed after our last big snowstorm.

Quinn will be out in the groomer when needed over the long weekend to keep the trails fresh.  Plus, he needs to give the winner of our Facebook “Win a Groomer Ride” contest the trip around the trails.  If you’re out there skiing and see two little kids go by in the groomer, wave to them — they’re taking the winning ride!

Our musher, Erik Simula, does have dog sled trips available for the weekend. Check here for more information.

Soup and chili will be available in the Lodge all day Saturday and Sunday, as well as hot chocolate,wine by the glass or bottle, and a variety of local beers. Warm up by the fire and enjoy a treat.

The latest snow numbers from Golden Eagle’s measuring crew:

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  1.0”
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  6.15”
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 12”
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 20”
  • Groomed with classic track:  70 km
  • Groomed with skate lane:  58 km
  • Surface Conditions:  Groomed fresh snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-11-17
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  46.50”

Comments:  Freshly groomed trails once again! The Central Gunflint Ski Trail system received 6.15 inches of snow over the last 3 days. Followed up by a cold day yesterday and today, after being groomed, the new snow firmed up fantastically into the trail base. Comfortable skiing temperatures in the 20’s are predicted for this weekend. All trails are in fantastic shape; trail base is averaging 12 inches with 20 inches of standing snow in the woods.

Snow Totals

November Total 2016 – 15.0 inches

December 2016

  • Dec 1 – 4:  0.0 inches
  • Dec 5 – 11:  7.75 inches
  • Dec 12 – 18:  1.0 inches
  • Dec 19 – 25:  3.75 inches
  • Dec 26 – 31:  8.6 inches

December Total 2016 – 21.10 inches

 January 2017

  • Jan 1 – 8:  4.25 inches
  • Jan 09:  0.75 inches
  • Jan 10:  4.4 inches
  • Jan 11:  1.0 inches

January Total 2017 – 10.40 inches

Total Snowfall 2016-2017 – 46.50 inches

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<p>1/12/16 - Sawbill is hiring! </p>

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 4:36pm

1/12/16 - Sawbill is hiring!

For the past 60 years, Sawbill Canoe Outfitters has provided its customers with high quality outfitting services. Our success, in large part, is due to the wonderful crew members we have had over the years.

We are looking to round out our crew for the 2017 season, which runs from May 1 - October 31. We will work around your school schedule, but we are busiest during July and August and we need some people who can work the early and late season, so your availability is a strong consideration for us.

You are not hired for a particular job. We reschedule all the jobs on a weekly basis and you are generally able to choose the actual work you do. Inherent to our unique "work credit" system is a strong commitment to trust and cooperation.

Sound like something you are interested in? Fill out this form online, or request an application by emailing

As always, feel free to give us a call if you have any questions,

Clare & Dan Shirley

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Free Ice Fishing during Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 3:20pm

Here’s a great opportunity to get a line wet this weekend!

Minnesotans age 16 or older fish free with kids Jan. 14-16

Just about anywhere in Minnesota, chances are there are fishing opportunities nearby, and it’s a good time to fish during Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend, Saturday, Jan. 14, through Monday, Jan. 16.

During this weekend, Minnesotans age 16 or older can fish or dark-house spear without purchasing an angling or spearing license if they take a child younger than 16 fishing or spearing.

“Ice fishing is a do-able way to try fishing, even for those who have never fished before,” said Jeff Ledermann, angler recruitment and retention supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Young people who take up fishing tend to be introduced to the pastime by someone else and then get support along the way. This weekend makes beginning that process a bit easier.”

Before heading out, anglers should check ice conditions locally. Visit for ice thickness guidelines and more information about taking kids fishing.

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No Winter Blahs Here

North Shore Arts Scene - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 6:05am


“Winter Buddies” by David Johnson.

You’d think that the sub-zero temps we’ve been having lately would make everybody in Cook County hunker down in front of a warm fire. Granted, there are plenty of people who do that, but, more often than not, it’s after a day of playing in the snow or being out and about, sampling all the experiences Cook County has to offer. This coming week is no exception — there are lots of things to do and see.

We begin the weekend with a presentation about the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius by cellist Yvonne Caruthers at North House Folk School at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. Entitled “Finlandia: The story of composer Jean Sibelius,” Caruthers, who has lectured about Sibelius for the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center and performed most of his orchestral compositions, will share her love of his music using photos and recordings.

Jean Sibelius.

The composer, who lived from 1865-1957,  is a Finnish national hero; there are monuments, schools, competitions, and even coins honoring him. His piece, “Finlandia” was at one time one of the most recognizable musical works in America and Europe. Sibelius’ life has strong parallels with life along the North Shore; he retreated to a home in the Finnish forest as a young man, and lived there the rest of his life. The presentation is part of North House’s series: Making It Through Winter. Free. All invited.

North House continues in the news on Friday, when it will launch the beginning of a year-long celebration of its 20th birthday with an open house and wooden tile exhibit from 4-6 p.m. The Community Craft Project, a group installation of 6″ x 6″ wooden tiles representing the work of more than 100 instructors and intern alumni at the Folk School, starts on Friday. The piece will be on permanent display in the North Classroom, located in the Folk School’s new 501 building on the north side of campus. All invited.

Tile by Mike Loefflers, one of the tiles to be installed at North House Folk School. The opening reception is from 4-6 p.m. Friday.

At 6 p.m., the Grand Marais Public Library continues its Friday Night Reels series with the screening of “Money Monster.” The film is an American thriller directed by Jodie Foster.

“Money Monster” will be screened at the Grand Marais Public Library on Friday.

Money Monster stars George Clooney (who also co-produced) as Lee Gates, a TV personality who advises his audience on commerce and Wall Street, and who is forcefully interrogated by Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell), a grief-stricken bankrupt viewer who lost his money after a previous tip; the film also stars Julia Roberts, Giancarlo Esposito, Dominic West and Caitriona Balfe. Free.

On Saturday, the North Shore Music Association presents the 4th annual Grand Marais Ole Opry, a classic country and old-time music showcase emceed by WTIP’s “Classic Country host, Carl Solander. The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.

This year’s lineup features two Twin Cities groups, The Saddle Sores and Cherry Dirt, and local luminaries Gordon Thorne and Rose & Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux.

The Saddle Sores will be one of the groups performing at the Grand Marais Ole Opry on Saturday.

Tickets are $20 adults, $5 youth, 18 and under. They are for sale in advance (no fees) at and at door if available.

And classical music fans will be happy to hear that the annual Sunday night Classical Music series at Bluefin Grille begins on Sunday night at 6 p.m. with pianist Sam Black.

Pianist Sam Black will play at the Bluefin Grille at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Bluefin Grille offers the classical music sessions throughout the winter. Free.

And, for a completely different style of music, check out Dave Simonett of the wildly popular band, Trampled by Turtles, who will play at Papa Charlie’s at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Dave Simonett (Trampled by Turtles) plays at Papa Charlie’s on Monday night.

The performance is part of Papa Charlie’s Singer/Songwriter series. Free.

On Tuesday, put on your creative hat and find out about the 100-day Project at the Grand Marais Art Colony. The 100-day Project, which was launched in Marquette, Mich., and has spread throughout the Midwest and beyond,  invites participants to commit to an artistic practice for a period of time every day for 100 days. Last year, 45 people in Cook County registered for the project. The Kick-off Information Session will be held in the Founders Hall at the Art Colony at noon on Tuesday. Register for free by Thursday, Jan. 19, at Registrants who complete 21 days are eligible to participate in the virtual gallery.

Then on Wednesday, the Grand Marais Art Colony will hold Community Conversations with tilemaker Melissa Wickwire. She will give a presentation entitled “Large-Scale Functional Installations.”

Melissa Wickwire’s bath tile surround.

Wickwire, who owns and operates Wickwire Clay Works, is based in Besty Bowen’s Studio & Galleries and creates ceramic tile for art lovers. The presentation is free and is held from noon to 1 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch, if they wish. Discussion to follow the presentation. Free.

And, for sky lovers, Rachel Enwright, the mentor naturalist from Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center will present “Echoes of the Ancient Skies” at the Grand Marais Public Library at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Enwright’s presentation takes the audience back in time and across the world to learn how people have used the night skies as a tool for navigation, telling time, tracking the changing seasons, and more. The audience will learn how different groups of people have invented their own stories about the pictures they saw in the sky and how these stories express differing values and beliefs about the world. Particular attention is paid to Navajo, Ojibwe, Greek, and Mayan stories.

Art exhibits continue on the North Shore, too.

The Betsy Bowen Gallery will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday this winter, featuring works by a wide variety of local and regional artists.

“Wisdom of the Dragon,” oil, Tom McCann, is at Betsy Bowen’s Studio.

Woodcut prints, ceramics, paintings, fiber art, jewelry and more are featured at the gallery.

In Thunder Bay, the Thunder Bay Art Gallery opens a new exhibit on Friday, Jan. 13, entitled “Stories of Contentment and Other Fables: Recent Drawings by Amanda Burk.

“Full Circle-Unrest,” detail, by Amanda Burk.

Burk will give an artist talk at the opening reception at 7:30 p.m. EST.  Burk is also scheduled to give a drawing workshop on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (EST). For details, click here.


 Applications for the the 27th annual Grand Marais Arts Festival are now available. The deadline to apply is March 12. The Arts Festival will be July 8-9 this year.

Applications for the Grand Marais Arts Festival are now open.

In Other Art News

Jewelry maker Ron Piercy will be opening a store front in downtown Grand Marais sometime in February, and he is looking for original work to put on the walls. For more info, contact him at

Pastel artist Lisa Stauffer is exhibiting her work in a number of shows, including Bonnie And Friends II, at the Ames Center in Burnsville. She will be one of the artists participating in the Winter Plein Air event at Menogyn at the end of the month.

“Morning Has Broken,” pastel, by Lisa Stauffer.

The Winter Plein Air artists will have a pop-up exhibit of their work at the Johnson Heritage Post on Friday, Jan. 27. Stay tuned.

Jim Sannerud’s installation, “At the Table,” which was exhibited at the Grand Marais Art Colony recently, has been installed at the Groot Gallery at St. Olaf College.


A close-up of the place settings of “At the Table.”

The installation will be up through Jan. 16. It then goes to The Galleri at Norway House in Minneapolis. The opening reception is Jan.21. The show there runs through Feb. 14.

Here’s the music for this weekend:

Thursday, Jan. 12:

  • Joe Paulik, Mogul’s Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Boyd Blomberg, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.
  • Gordon Thorne, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • DJ Beavstar, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 13:

  • Pushing Chain, Voyageur Brewing Co., 4 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Mogul’s Grille, 4 p.m.
  • Portage, Grandma Ray’s, 6 p.m.
  • Michael Monroe, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 14:

  • Dat Dere Jazz, North Shore Winery, 3 p.m.
  • Plucked Up String Band, Voyageur Brewing, 4 p.m.
  • Jim & Michelle Miller, Cascade Lodge Pub, 7 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • Grand Marais Ole Opry, Arrowhead Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m.
  • Timmy Haus, Papa Charlie’s, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 15:

  • Briand Morrison, Scandinavian Jazz Brunch, Moguls Grille, 10 a.m. t o noon
  • Dusty Heart, Lutsen Resort Lobby, 7 p.m.
  • Sam Black, Bluefin Grille, 7 p.m.
  • Joe Paulik, Gun Flint Tavern, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 16:

  • Boyd Blomberg, Bluefin Grille, 8 p.m.
  • Dave Simonett, Monday Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 17:

  • Jim & Michelle Miller, Poplar River Pub, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 18:

  • Rich Mattson & Germaine Gemberling, Wednesday Night Songwriter Series, Papa Charlie’s, 8 p.m.



So we found some beautiful … and fun … photos this week. Here’s a selection:

Let’s start with people in winter …

Karla Sundberg and a friendly Gray Jay. Photo by David Brislance.


A swing in winter. Photo courtesy of Bearskin Lodge.

Waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks and American Robins were out in force this week, feasting on the abundant crop of Mountain Ash berries. Here are a few photos of that invasion.

“A waxwing with a discerning taste for a particular berry” by Angela Botner.


“The action is fast — birds going in all directions” by David Johnson.


“Cedar Waxwings by Michael Furtman.”


Pine Grosbeak by David Brislance.

Just to change the subject a little bit, here’s an interesting radar image of Lake Superior: notice how the clouds mimic the shape of the Big Lake.

“Isn’t it odd that the weather over Lake Superior looks like Lake Superior?” by Jamey Penney-Ritter.

We’ve had some very gray–– but beautiful –– days

“My Backyard” by Christian Dalbec.


On My Way to Work by MaryJane Van Den Heuvel.


A Ring Around the Sun & a Flock of Birds by Yvonne Caruthers.


Snowed In by Kelley Marquart.

But the skies are beginning to clear …

This Morning on the Beach by Thomas Spence.


Another beautiful morning by Jamie Rabold.


The Blue is Finally Moving In by Sandra Updyke.


“Dark Skies in Cook County” by Chad Sullens.


Full Moon at Split Rock by David Barthel.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

P.S. Putting this blog together every week is a joy and is my contribution to the arts on the North Shore.  If you enjoy seeing this post every week, please consider making a donation to help support it. Thank you!

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For the Birds

Boundary Waters Blog - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 9:54pm

This man is such an amazing photographer! Thank you David for always taking wonderful photos.Pine Grosbeak

Bohemian Waxwings


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Skylarkin&#8217; I was hanging on a

The Lamprey - Wed, 01/11/2017 - 7:50am

I was hanging on a beach near Arawak Cay, passing my life away,
All the time my mouth was full of words I thought I had to say.


A lady passed by selling peas and rice, macaroni and guava duff,
She looked at me, she shook her head, and when she had enough she said:
“All you’re doing is skylarkin’, you’re full of words and that’s a fact,
But don’t let your mouth carry you where your feet can’t bring you back”.

I was down on Bay Street the very next night, drinking at Buddy’s Place.
I was shooting pool, I guess I’d had a few, when Buddy looked me in the face.
He said: “How’re you gonna know where you belong if you party all the time like that?
You’re never gonna know if you are coming or going if you’re drinking all the time like that.
All you’re doing is skylarkin’, you’re full of words and that’s a fact,
But don’t let your mouth carry you where your feet can’t bring you back”.

I was hanging on the porch the other day, I was reading the Tao Te Ching,
Now I’m paraphrasing what Lau-tzu said, but it’s basically the same thing.
The more you know, the less you talk, words are cheap and that’s a fact,
So don’t let your mouth carry you where your feet can’t bring you back,
No, don’t let your silly mouth carry you where your feet can’t bring you back.

(Recorded by SplinterTones, 2016.

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Snowfall, Shovel, Repeat

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 9:42pm

It’s almost like the Groundhog’s Day movie around here. We wake up to snowflakes falling from the sky, we shovel the snow and then the next day we do it again. It’s more snow than I’ve seen in a long time and it’s early in the season. It makes me wonder where we are going to put the rest of the snow that falls this winter?

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Duplicate True North Bills Mailed

Arrowhead Electric - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 1:56pm

The cooperative that prints and mails our True North bills mistakenly sent the bills out twice this month. It was a processing error in their system. Subscribers’ billing records here in our office are not affected; you are not being charged twice and automatic payments will only be processed once. It is simply a duplicate printing.

If you have any questions, please email ( or call us (218-663-9030).

If you’d like to stop receiving paper bills at all please go to and sign up to have your bill emailed to you each month.

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Brewing for Adventure

Voyageur Brewing - Tue, 01/10/2017 - 11:47am

Lonnie Dupre

Voyageur proudly supports local explorer Lonnie Dupre on his current adventure.

We like any type of adventure at Voyageur and we love to hear about adventures in our Grand Marais taproom. A frequent visitor and neighbor of  Voyageur Brewing Company is famous adventurer,  Lonnie Dupre. Lonnie has an impressive list of adventures under his belt including a non-motorized circumnavigation of Greenland by dogsled and kayak, a 3000 mile winter crossing of Canada’s Northwest Passage by dog team, an ascent of 20,295 Kyago Ri in Nepal, two treks to the North Pole on skis and the solo ascent of Denali, at 20,310 feet, in January 2015.

This winter he is on another adventure and Voyageur Brewing Company is along for the ride.  He’s attempting the first solo winter ascent of Mount Hunter, a 14,573 foot technical peak in Denali National Park. He will travel on skis, pulling a sled for some distance, then stash his skis and continue on foot, pulling his sled. Once he begins the actual climb, he will be carrying about 55 to 60 pounds of gear and food in his backpack.

As a proud sponsor of this adventure we wish him a safe and successful adventure and eagerly await his return to Voyageur and Grand Marais.

The post Brewing for Adventure appeared first on Voyageur Brewing Company.

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Looking Good Mr. Moose

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 5:30pm

Thanks for sharing your awesome photos David Johnson!

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New Kitchen Passes Inspection – Open for Business

The Minnesota Department of Health inspected the new hallway and kitchen and were certified for occupancy. With the new hallway open, crews quickly started demolition of the old 300 wing. Signs are appearing around the hallways, routing people to the new hallway. The Chamber of Commerce went on a tour Friday, January 6 of the new areas.

Pass throughs being installed in the new hospital’s patient rooms.

Curved radius behind the temporary construction wall.

Josh and Scott with Boldt removing the caution tape so we could officially open the new hallway.

Gloria Martineau was the first resident to walk down the new hallway. Gloria is a former CCNSHCC employee.

Directions routing people to the new hallway.

Demo of the old 300 wing hallway.

In the back you can see a brick wall. That is the old kitchen, soon to be the new ER.

The new kitchen is open for business. In the picture is Wendy Ford, Peggy Brisson, and Kayla Bronikowski.

New screen in multipurpose room.

Exterior tie-in work between the old building and the new care center 200 wing.

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1.7.2017 Central Gunflint Trail Ski Coitions

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Sat, 01/07/2017 - 10:29am

It’s chilly out there, but the snow is beautiful.  Latest snow measurements from Golden Eagle on 1/5/2017:

  • New Snow Last 24 hours:  Trace
  • New Snow Last 7 days:  7.5”
  • Trail Base, Staked:  Average 9 – 10.5”
  • Snow in Woods, Staked:  Average 17 – 19”
  • Groomed with classic track:  70 km
  • Groomed with skate lane:  58 km
  • Surface Conditions:  Groomed fresh snow
  • Last grooming day:  1-4-16
  • Total snowfall since Nov. 1:  40.35”


Comments:  We have seen several days with new snowfall this week, 7.5 inches over the last 7 days. Frequent grooming has continued to fine tune each trail; rougher trails have leveled out beautifully. With just over 40 inches of snowfall on the year now, we are only a half inch shy of where we were last year on this date. All ski trails are open and are in great to excellent shape. Lake ice is now over 12 inches in thickness so the North-South Link trail across Aspen and Flour Lakes is now being groomed with the Kassbohrer groomers. Temperatures are forecasted to be cooler until Sunday (1/8), so plan your wax and dress wear accordingly. Looking forward to winter 2017; it’s another ski season with plenty of snow!


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Kitchen equipment move in and patient rooms get casework

The past few days have seen some exciting progress as more equipment is being placed in the new kitchen. Also, in the hospital addition, the crews are installing the wood casework in the patient rooms. You’ll see one picture featuring a patient headwall that sits behind the patient beds that will receive hook ups for med gases, vacuum, nurse call, lights, etc.

Equipment is being put in place in the kitchen area.

The cafeteria is taking shape.

Hospital bed headwalls will have hook ups for patient needs.


Patient rooms are getting wood casework installed

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1.3.2017 So much snow!

Bearskin Lodge Ski Trail Reports - Tue, 01/03/2017 - 10:58pm

It just snows and snows here.  We never seem to get the 12 inches of snow that the weather service repeatedly predicts — thank goodness! — but almost every day the trails need to be groomed again due to a dump of fresh fluffy snow.  For those of you who are looking out your window at wimpy snow-cover in other parts of Minnesota or Wisconsin, it helps to remember that it’s not like that on the Central Gunflint Trail System.  Man,do we have snow!

We’re entering the season now of groom/snow/groom/snow/groom …..repeat, repeat. We’ll post on the blog whenever something novel happens, or when there’s some change in the routine; but we will probably not post every time we groom. Our new Pisten Bully runs so well and is so efficient that we take it out on the trails almost every day.  You can trust that the Central Gunflint Trail System will have some of the best grooming and best snow in Minnesota, whenever you decide to come.

Call either resort if you have questions about specific trails.  Unless something dramatic happens, such as melting temperatures or a sleet storm, we will just roll through the winter on our snow/groom/snow/repeat cycle and you can count on consistent, good regular grooming many times each week on this trail system.

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Happy New Year !

Happy New Year to all and hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday. This year’s Chinese New Year is the year of the rooster, being the sign of dawn and awakening, triumph and success can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience in 2017.  We are looking forward to a year of success in completing the new additions and remodeling.  Crews are close to finishing up the new kitchen and turning over to the CCNSHCC staff.  Progress continues on the new hospital addition.  The crews are painting the metal doorways and rooms.

New kitchen being cleaned for inspection

Progress photo – new hallway

New hospital wing door frames being painted

New hospital wing – future nursing team care area

New hospital wing nursing care team area

Progress photo – new hallway

Care Center Wing new ductwork, plumbing and electrical

Progress photo transition between Care Center Wings

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<p>1/2/17 - We rang in 2017 with a

Sawbill Newsletter - Mon, 01/02/2017 - 5:10pm

1/2/17 - We rang in 2017 with a whole host of visitors this year. Sawbill crew members Alissa, Owen, Britta, Claire, Kevin, Megan, Brian, Betsy and crew by association Amy, all came up to visit Dan, Clare, Jessica and Kit! Huckleberry was arguably the most delighted to see everyone.

With splendid blue skies and temperatures in the 20's we spent the daylight hours skiing and snowshoeing, saving the feasting and saunaing for the evenings. The lake ice is measuring at a very solid 15 inches of clear strong ice. There is about a foot of snow on top of that, and some large pockets of slush on Sawbill. A good set of snowshoes will keep you on top of it, though. -Clare

Welcome to Wilderness, in the winter!

Brian Henry captured the glorious last day of 2016.

Kit loves to nap while snowshoeing (she has warm water bottles to snuggle in there).

Claire, Megan, and Kevin winter camping on Sawbill.

Happy New Year from (l-r) Clare, Kevin, Owen, Dan, Jessica, Britta, Claire, Alissa, Megan, and baby Kit. Thanks Brian for the photo!

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How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest

Visit Cook County - Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:32am
How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest Have you ever harvested your own Christmas tree from the forest? If you are someone who likes to choose your own adventure and drink hot chocolate from a thermos while wearing a festive flannel – Christmas tree hunting is for you! For as little as $5 you can embark on a memory filled adventure out into the forest to find the perfect Balsam fir tree.

What you’ll need to make your outing successful:

  1. Permit. You’ll need to obtain a Christmas tree permit from the US Forest Service. It is $5 and can be picked up from any forest service office. Pro tip: pick up a map of the Superior National Forest. It can be purchased at the same time as your permit or from a local outfitter. Not only will it guide you through the backroads and identify the US Forest Service boundaries but is also a handy companion for year round navigation.
  2. Balsam Fir Forest. The Superior National Forest is filled with perfect trees dreaming of brightening up your home this holiday but you’ll need to know what you are looking for. Only certain types of trees can be harvested for Christmas. Balsam fir trees are the preferred species because they smell wonderful, are ideal for displaying ornaments and grow back rapidly so it keeps the forest healthy. Pro tip: bring a tape measure. You cannot return the tree to the forest if it is too big for your living space so it is important to know what you can accommodate.
  3. Saw. A folding handsaw or a chainsaw are the ideal tools for the job but any kind of cutting device or axe will be sufficient.  Pro tip: look for tree of six inches or less in diameter and cut near the base of the tree at a slight angle. This will help determine the direction that the tree will fall.
  4. Rope. You’ll need something to secure your prized tree to the roof of your car. Similar to tying a canoe to the roof of your vehicle, you’ll need rope or locking straps to attach. Pro tip: bringing a blanket or tarp wrap the tree to protect it during travel will ensure the majority of needles stay intact as well as keep the roof of your vehicle scratch free.
  5. Winter clothing. It is not allowed to harvest a tree within 200 feet of a road or trail so you will have to venture into the woods to get your tree. Therefore, wearing appropriate winter clothing is a must. Besides you would never want to miss an opportunity for an impromptu snowball fight with your loved ones, would you?  Pro tip: bringing a sled along to help pull the carefully selected tree out of the woods.

Learn more about the types of trees you can harvest and the nitty gritty details from these resources:

Permit locations in Cook County MN: 

  • Gunflint Ranger District -

    2020 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604 |  PHONE:

    (218) 387-1750  |


  • Tofte Ranger District - 7355 West Hwy 61, Tofte, MN 55615 | PHONE: (218) 663-8060 | Email:

Happy hunting!

The post How to harvest the perfect Christmas tree in the Superior National Forest appeared first on Cook County Minnesota.

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Talking helps

Unorganized Territory - Wed, 09/21/2016 - 8:23pm

I recently received a heartbreaking news release from the Minnesota Department of Health. The email was full of statistics about suicide deaths in Minnesota in 2015.

It’s painful to read. The Department of Health reports that there were 726 suicide deaths in Minnesota in 2015, up from 686 in 2014. That equals 13 deaths per 100,000 Minnesotans.

And that means that all of us have likely been touched by the tragedy of suicide.

As Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said, “Let us never forget that this is not about statistics; each and every one of these 726 deaths is someone’s friend, relative and neighbor. We need to work together by focusing on prevention.”

I’m extremely fortunate that I have never been that low. I had a bit of postpartum depression when I had my first child, but I went for counseling. Talking to a caring professional helped me figure out that my sadness could be attributed to exhaustion and the loneliness of living far away from friends and family. Talking helped.

But I have been an observer of the challenges a person with mental illness faces. I’ve watched family and friends struggle with social situations and normal day-to-day living. I’ve seen people I care about become so depressed that they have considered suicide as a way to escape their emotional pain.

I’ve also seen the difference that community support, medication and counseling can make. Talking helps.

The Department of Health news seems to bear that out. There is a bit of good in the report. The number of suicides went down for Minnesota residents under 25 (from 119 in 2014 to 114 in 2015). Most prevention efforts have focused on this age group in recent years.

So it appears that the old belief that talking about suicide will cause someone to harm him or herself is not true. The state and national efforts reaching out to teens and young people—talking and listening— to them is working.

We need to expand those efforts, which Minnesota Department of Health officials have pledged to do. The 2015 Legislature invested $47 million in new spending for mental health services. This additional funding is the largest investment in state history, which is great, but we as individuals need to do our part.

It’s not just up to mental health care practitioners and law enforcement. All of us can help those who face mental illness by being there, by talking and listening. By asking, “Are you okay today?” and really listening for the answer.

And for those that face the challenge of mental health issues, if you reach the point of wanting to hurt yourself, please reach out for help.

A loved one, a suicide survivor, received some excellent advice during treatment and counseling. A behavioral health practitioner gave some tips on what to do if my friend reached that critical point again.

She said to make a list. Write down the names and phone numbers of trusted friends or family members. Not just one person, make it a list of 10 or a dozen. Before contemplating taking your life, call the first person on the list. If you get voice mail, call the next. If you text the next person and they are unable to reply right away, contact the next person… and the next and the next until you find someone to talk to.

I love this advice. It is gut wrenching to receive such a call. But it is horrifying to think that you may not be available to answer that call or text. So as part of a support network, it is reassuring to me to know that there are other options.

The tattered list remains in my friend’s billfold. Thankfully, because of medication and counseling, it hasn’t been needed. But it is a lifeline that needs to be there.

If you face depression that could lead to death by suicide, please make a list. Please, please, please talk to someone.


Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your
perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in
everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

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2016 Banadad Trail Association Annual Meeting and Trail Clearing Weekend

Banadad Bulletin - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 5:09pm

Banadad Ski Trail, BWCA’s Longest Tracked Ski Trail will hold their annual Trail Clearing Event and Annual Meeting/Dinner.

The annual meeting of the Banadad Trail Association (BTA) will be Friday, October 21, 2016 at the Schaap Community Center on the Gunflint Trail. (Next to the Fire Department, close to the Lima Grade intersection). The meeting will be at 5:30 and will follow with a Potluck Dinner; all are welcome.

The volunteer Trail Clearing Event will be Saturday, October 22, 2016 beginning at 9 a.m.; Meet at Boundary Country Trekking/Poplar Creek B&B at 8:30 a.m. for tools and instructions.

The purpose of the BTA is to maintain and enhance the Banadad Ski Trails, preserve the history of the forest and the trail and promote appreciation and care of the BWCA wilderness. The BTA is a volunteer organization open to all who share these goals.

Subscribe to the Banadad Bulletin, our free quarterly e-mail newsletter.

Questions contact:

Andy Jenks,
Banadad Trail Association

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The Trapper’s Daughter & the…..

Sivertson Gallery - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 2:06am

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 post The Trapper’s Daughter & the….. appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

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