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Break from the Cold Tomorrow-Friday

Poplar Creek Courier - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 12:47pm
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, 11/20/2014 - 12:47pm
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, 11/20/2014 - 12:47pm
Combat Wounded Veterans, http://combatwounded.org/, 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, 11/20/2014 - 12:47pm
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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Barb Gecas on Cover of Minnesota Trails Magazine

Banadad Bulletin - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 9:13am

Hestons Lodge and Banadad Trail Association Board member Barb Gecas is on the front cover of the current Minnesota Trails Magazine. Her daughter is following her in the picture.

Barb Gecas and daughter on Gunflint Nordic Trails

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Some Snow on Trail but Need More

Banadad Bulletin - Sun, 11/16/2014 - 8:03am

Yesterday eleven members of Minnehaha Academy’s Nordic Ski Team lead by their coach, Anne Rykken, worked on clearing the west end of the Banadad.. The kids on the team thought the work was great fun.-

On the westend there is about 1-2″ of snow. Not near enough snow to get onto that end of trail with equipment. However, on the east end the snow measures 3-4 inches. Four inches is almost enough, but not quite enough, to get out onto the trail and start packing. While the snowmobiles are out  packing the packing crew will work on clearing the down trees remaining on the  remote section of the east end just beyond the Logging camp.

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Help Clear the Downed trees on the Banadad

Banadad Bulletin - Sun, 11/09/2014 - 9:24am

GiveMn-Give to the max day -November 13

A wind storm this summer dropped hundreds of trees down across the Banadad within the BWCA. We are working on clearing these trees .

While the Banadad Trail Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the US Forest Service to help pay for this work, we have to match those funds with 35% of that amount in order to access the funds. The Banadad Trail Association needs your help so we can clear the remaining 3-4 miles of Trail and get the Banadad open for skiing this winter.

We are turning to outdoor enthusiasts, skiers, and other who love the Banadad Trail and asking if you can help support this work with a donation.  If you are able,  please donate to the Banadad Trail at Giving to max day – November 13 -  GiveMN.  Thanks

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Happy Halloween!

Gunflint Pines Northwoods News - Fri, 10/31/2014 - 9:28am

Halloween weather can vary so much you’re not quite sure if it’s fall or winter.    I can remember as a child trick or treating. More often than not the costume was covered up by the necessary winter apparel only to be shed and carried along as we raced from house to house.

2014 First snow.

We had an inch of snow last night.  Driving home from town it seemed like the Halloween blizzard of 1991 when 31 inches of snow welcomed Bob and I back to the northwoods after a couple years in Seattle.  The snowfall was so dense last night I literally could not see more than a few feet in front of the car.  I stopped at Trail Center to give my eyes a quick rest.  Even the UPS Driver stopped for a short break stating that he drives the trail every day and this was the worst he had seen.  15 minutes later the visibility had lightened up and we were back on the road traveling slowly.

The total accumulation seemed to be between 1-2.5 inches but this is one of the most dangerous times of the year to be driving the trail.  We’re all used to pavement & good road conditions.  The snow may come down frozen, but can ice up quickly when it meets the warm pavement.  Without snowbanks built up on the sides of the road a little spin or sliding can result in some serious damage or worse injury.  So remember – drive cautiously and pull over in a safe spot to let others pass if they’re pushing you.  Better to arrive a couple minutes late, than not at all!

 

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Autumn Days at Chik-Wauk

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Blog - Sun, 10/05/2014 - 11:47am


Golden tamaracks lining the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center driveway mean autumn is upon us and the 2014 museum season is quickly drawing to a close. Be sure to visit and catch this year’s temporary exhibit on Butterflies, Skippers, and Moths of the Gunflint Trail before we lock up our doors for the winter months at 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 19th. (Until then, we’re open every single day from 10 a. m. -  5 p.m.)

As you drive up to the museum, you might notice large flocks of brown birds along the Gunflint Trail roadside. These are Lapland Longspurs, making their way to their southerly wintering grounds. Soon the longspurs will be replaced by snow buntings and not too long after that, the snow will fly in earnest.  Here’s a nice photo of the Chik-Wauk bay in its autumn colors to distract you from the ever-approaching winter.

While you’re at the museum, get a head start on your holiday shopping with our gift shop sale, offering up to 40% off select items.

Sunday, October 19 is the final day the museum will be open this year. After that, you’ll have to wait until May 23, 2015 to visit and see the 2015 temporary exhibit, “The Gunflint Trail’s Paper Trail” featuring brochures, diaries, correspondence, and other paper items that originated on the Gunflint Trail.

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How do you say THANKS?!

I’m down to my last couple days working here in Grand Marais and on the Gunflint Ranger District………it has been quite a ride here.  For those of you who are wondering, I started in Grand Marais in August of 2001 and I’ll be leaving here in a couple days so that makes it pretty much eleven years on the nose that I’ve been here……and my time here has been pretty much spectacular.

The thing about that is, I can’t take a lot of credit, there have been so many people working with me that have really done the work.  We have some outstanding employees here in our office and they keep charging forward to help us meet our budget commitments.  And then they do more to help us within the community.  

Much of our forest is about 100 years old and you’ve noticed the older trees are dying.  The Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway committee, the biologists from the State and the Tribes, the County Biomass Committee, the timber industry and several local landowners have worked with us to find ways to restore our forests to a healthier state.  One of the facts I learned last Friday is that on the Gunflint District during my time here, we have planted 2.1 million trees, a combination of white, red and jack pine, white spruce, cedar and tamarack will be the next forest we all enjoy. 

Speaking of new forests, we have had around 800 volunteers planting and caring for trees during Gunflint Greenup.  We have had our challenges, but this community doesn’t say quit.  After Ham Lake Fire, there were plenty of reasons for despair, we all could have slumped back to drown our sorrows but another choice was made, a choice to clean up and create a new forest.  The Scenic Byway Committee wrote and received a $250,000 grant for the purposes of forest restoration.  With that we cleaned up some of the dead trees along the Gunflint, prepared some areas for planting, planted seedlings and seeded jack pine.  As you drive up the Gunflint, you can start to see the next generation of forest and it will have a healthy component of pine trees.

Of course Ham Lake was only one of five major fires we had during my time here…..or should I say five major wildfires.  If you look back at the blowdown of 1999, no small event, there have been a number of opportunities for us to get together and find reasons to succeed.  For several years we got together and worked on prescribed fire, I think totaling about 40,000 acres worth.  I’m sure that for many of you it may have seemed like we were coming in heavy handed to get these things done.  However from my point of view we worked with a lot of businesses up the Trail and I got to work with a lot of great people.  Without you, our work would have been a real challenge, but with you, we accomplished quite a bit.

Then the real fires started. Alpine Lake, Cavity Lake, Redeye Lake, Famine Lake………and then Ham Lake, the most destructive fire in our forest’s history.  There were homes, businesses, garages and out building lost, 148 between the US and Canada, but “WE” survived……and through working together have grown stronger because of it.  I mentioned Gunflint Greenup, but there is also the Chik Wauk Museum and Nature Center, and our venture with Becoming a Boundary Waters Family.  Three great partnerships working together for the good of our forest.

Then there was that peculiar change of events.  Toward the end of 2007, we were “as dry as we have seen it up here”…..until September when the rain started.  I remember someone telling me their lake went up 14 inches with one storm.  Who would have thought that next we would have eight inches in two hours on June 6, 2008?  I’m not sure how wide spread that rain was, but it sure was on the slopes above Grand Marais………..and water still flows downhill…….and that much water REALLY flows downhill……really fast….and will move heaven and earth………or at least a lot of earth.

But again, we found a way to work together and I could even find one bright spot in all that.  Some of you know that I bike to work, at least on the nicer days.  Well for much of the rest of the summer, I had a lane on the hill going down the Gunflint pretty much to myself…….or at least that part of the lane that didn’t wash away.  Once it was fixed, I again was sharing the road and waving to friends as they passed me.

Friends……..I’d somehow like to acknowledge all the friends I’ve made up here and all I’ve worked with…….. or maybe I should say all of you who put up with me……….but I know if I tried, I’d forget someone and all of you are important.  So I’ll generalize a bit and hope you all know how special you’ve made my time here.  Before I arrived, I met and was working with Sheriff Dave Wirt and that only got better after I settled in.  When he retired in early 2005 and Sheriff Mark Falk took over, we continued that great working relationship.  I wondered a few times if Sheriff Dave knew what 2005 would bring with Alpine Lake fire and the beginning of our large fires?  Talk about a new Sheriff being baptized by fire……..and the start of a great working relationship!!!  Then there are the rest of the office, the deputies and dispatch people I got to know……it has been great!!

Within the Cook County Board of Commissioners there have been a few changes since I arrived.  I believe Jan Hall is the only commissioner who has been on the board throughout my tenure here.  I have gotten to work with nearly all the commissioners on one project or another and I truly appreciate all that we have done together.

Though maybe not as visible, I have had the pleasure of working with Grand Portage on several issues.  Norman DesChampe has been the Chairman throughout my tenure and with his staff we have struck an outstanding working relationship.  Norman is one of the great leaders within the Minnesota Chippewa Tribes and I can only think how lucky I’ve been to know and work with him.

I’ve mentioned the support and help we’ve gotten from businesses in the County and that has been nothing short of amazing.  There is just no way we could achieve what we do without the support and help from all of you.  As strange as it might seem, much of our wildlife habitat management and our fuels reduction goals are accomplished through the timber industry and logging.  Most everyone knows Hedstroms and we are very lucky to have them in our back yard, but there are also so many others working in the woods to help us do what we think is right for our forests.  As I think about it, the eagle and wolf populations have been successfully restored, and we’re working on the lynx.  Our next challenge is likely moose and we’ll keep working with the tribes and DNR to do what we can for that species.

A special relationship we have is with the outfitters, guides and hospitality businesses who help us manage the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as well as our campgrounds.  Special because we need those people to help us succeed, but sometimes the policies that come from our upper levels can …………well……..add a little stress.  And I am humbled by how patient my business friends can be to find a way to keep going………I think it’s patience…….?  But I do know how much I appreciate what they do for us.

Since the volunteer fire departments are………well………volunteer, I’m pretty much talking about many of the same people who work in businesses or other agencies.  But the relationship is different when you’re working side by side.  Now we meet, train and work together to help all of our friends in Cook County…….as it should be.

The other agencies are many, from the City of Grand Marais to the County, the State, Grand Portage and even Canada.  I’ve said this in different meetings, but the way you have all come together during our natural disasters is a model for the nation.  Several of the people who have come here to help with those disasters have commented on how they are used to having to bring communities together when they come to help.  But in our community ………….well the leaders here pretty much had their acts together and the incoming teams were in awe of what they saw….doesn’t get much better than that!!

There have been a few other adventures that we have worked on together, a snowmobile trail connection with Grand Portage, some other trail reroutes, a county wide ATV plan (which after all the debate, we’ve finally implemented), some work in our campgrounds, a few miles of hiking trail work, biking trails, a few hundred acres of fuels reduction along with a variety of small projects, too many to name, where I’ve had the chance to work with so many citizens of Cook County where I owe you all so much and thank you so much for  your help.

The one disappointment I have is that I have to this point been unable to bring a solution for access to South Fowl Lake.  As I leave I know I have some co-workers back here who’ll help see that through the final steps.  My disappointment extends to the fact that though this really is a fairly small project, I was unable to bring people together for a resolution.  We are cleaning up a few details that will support my decision and the final proposal before it is submitted it to the Court. 

So as I prepare my next adventure, I leave here grateful for all those who’ve chosen to work with me, grateful to be a part of a resilient community, grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.  But mostly grateful for the friends that have welcomed my family and me to be a part of Cook County!

THANK YOU!!

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Babes in the Bay

The Portage Path - Fri, 06/29/2012 - 5:59am

The loon parents are very proud and fairly loud about their new babies.  They’ve been feeding and bragging in the bay over the last few days.  The chicks are pretty big already and can dive on their own so this is not a fresh hatch.

The photo is not very sharp but you get the idea.  We have a pro photographer with a super lens staying here right now so I imagine we’ll get some better shots quickly.

It’s windy and dry but fairly close to another perfect day in a long string of perfect days this summer.

 

D

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Yup, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 6:21pm

Just had some folks arrive from the Twin Cities.  They said they actually made it through Duluth without much difficulty, though on surface streets up the hill a ways.  Hwy 35 is still a mess.

They said the rivers along the shore were spectacular.  That was what slowed them down.

You can get here.

D

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Yes, you can get here…

The Portage Path - Wed, 06/20/2012 - 3:47pm

We’ve had a bunch of rain and so has all of northern Minnesota. Our gauge on HJ lake shows about 4 inches. Notable but not biblical. Duluth was particularly hard hit as was the road system in Duluth. So driving through Duluth is not recommended right now though changing rapidly. There are roads around Duluth via Cloquet and once past Two harbors Hwy 61 is passable. We just got a phone call from a friend driving on 61 just north of Two Harbors and he said things were good.

We’re sending people out and we just had a group come in who said the rain was actually kind of fun.

This too shall pass.

The MN Department of Transportation website has already shown a lag between reality and what they have posted.

Bottom line is you can get here and have fun.

D

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Summer Fun!

Cascade Lodge - Sat, 07/16/2011 - 9:19am

July and August tend to be our most busy months when nightly appearances of the NO VACANCY sign become the norm and the summer sun converts the Boreal forest into a thick greenery that might be mistaken for a rain forest if you did not know any better.

It is a great time to view wildflowers in abundance and also a time when we visit our favorite (secret) berry picking spots. The Strawberries have already come and gone and we enjoyed many of the tasty thimble size morsels. Anyday now, we will start seeing raspberries and blueberries in abundance. This year I think we will try the gunflint trail as I understand the blueberries have been really doing well since the Ham Lake fire.

Hiking, golfing, fishing and simply skipping rocks off the flat surface of Lake Superior are also activities our guests and ourselves enjoy immensely. The other night I walked down to the Lake with Sam and hiked over to the Cascade River where we observed a person casting for Steelhead right off the mouth of the river. The scene was one right out of “A river runs through it” and while we did not see him hook any, he did seem to be enjoying himself in the late afternoon sunshine.

Hopefully, the scorching heat that is crippling the midwest will not hit up here. The Lake tends to be our air conditioning and in the 7+ years we have been here, I can only recall 4-5 nights that were somewhat uncomfortable. The Lake does an excellent job of providing perfect sleeping weather with the added bonus of nature’s sounds over the hum of some air conditioner. Hope to see many more guests this summer as it really does go by quickly!

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