I probably say this every year but 20 plus years ago when we first moved up to the end of the Gunflint Trail we never saw wood ticks. Ten years ago we started to see them and now they are pretty common. That isn’t good news because where there are regular ticks there are also the black-legged ticks or deer ticks that cause Lyme Disease.
Climate change is to blame for a number of things and could be the reason for the expansion of ticks. It could also be due to the fires over recent years because they say new growth is better for ticks. They like to live in ground level shrubs and there are usually more mice and deer in the area for them to feed on.
As with other insects protecting yourself from giving a tick a ride is important. It is especially important if it is a disease causing tick. Our county has a low risk compared with elsewhere but there is still a risk so when heading out into the woods take precautions.
Here’s some good information to read about ticks.
Ticks don’t jump, fly, or drop from trees onto your head and back. If you find one attached there, it most likely latched onto your foot or leg and crawled up over your entire body. Ticks are “programmed” to try and attach around your head or ears. On their normal hosts, ticks also usually crawl up; they want to blood feed around the head, neck, and ears of their host, where the skin is thinner and hosts have more trouble grooming.9. All ticks (including deer ticks) come in small, medium and large sizes
Ticks hatch from eggs and develop through three active (and blood-feeding) stages: larvae (small-the size of sand grains); nymphs (medium-the size of poppy seeds); adults (large-the size of apple seeds). If you see them bigger, they’re probably partially-full or full of blood.8. Ticks can be active even in the winter
That’s right! Adult stage deer ticks become active every year after the first frost. They’re not killed by freezing temperatures, and while other ticks enter a feeding diapause as day-lengths get shorter, deer ticks will be active any winter day that the ground is not snow-covered or frozen. This surprises people, especially during a January thaw or early spring day.7. Ticks carry disease-causing microbes
Tick-transmitted infections are more common these days than in past decades. With explosive increases in deer populations, extending even into semi-urban areas in the eastern and western U.S., the trend is for increasing abundance and geographic spread of deer ticks and Lone Star ticks; and scientists are finding an ever-increasing list of disease-causing microbes transmitted by these ticks: Lyme disease bacteria, Babesia protozoa, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and other rickettsia, even encephalitis-causing viruses, and possibly Bartonella bacteria. Back in the day, tick bites were more of an annoyance but now a bite is much more likely to make you sick.6. Only deer ticks transmit Lyme disease bacteria
The only way to get Lyme disease is by being bitten by a deer tick or one of its “cousins” found around the world. Deer ticks also are known as blacklegged ticks in the U.S., sheep ticks in Europe, or Taiga ticks in Asia. Dog ticks, Lone star ticks and other types of ticks just don’t seem to be able to transmit Lyme disease. While that’s good news, it makes saving any tick that you find biting more important so you can identify it. Doing so may save a lot of unnecessary doctor visits and treatments.5. For most tick-borne diseases, you have at least 24 hours to find and remove a feeding tick before it transmits an infection
Even a quick daily tick check at bath or shower time can be helpful in finding and removing attached ticks before they can transmit an infection. You’ll probably want to check even more carefully if you know you’ve likely been exposed. Many of the disease-causing microbes transmitted by ticks need a “re-activation” period in the tick once it begins to feed. The germs eventually make their way into the tick’s salivary glands and the tick spits them into you while feeding. Some infections, especially viruses, move into the tick salivary glands faster than others. Lyme disease bacteria take at least 24 hours to invade the tick’s saliva.4. Deer tick nymphs look like a poppy seed on your skin
And with about 1 out of 4 nymphal deer ticks carrying the Lyme disease spirochete and other nasty germs in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and upper mid-western U.S., it’s important to know what you’re really looking for. They’re easy to miss, their bites are generally painless, and they have a habit of climbing up (under clothing) and biting in hard-to-see places.3. The easiest and safest way to remove a tick is with a pointy tweezer
Think of a tick as a little germ-filled balloon. Squeeze it too hard on its back end, and all the germs get pushed to the front end, which by the way, is attached to you by the tick’s straw-like mouthpart. Using really pointy tweezers, it’s possible to grab even the poppy-seed sized nymphs right down next to the skin. The next step is to simply pull the tick out like a splinter. Don’t worry if the mouthpart stays in your skin as long as you’ve got the rest of the tick by its head. Other tick removal methods, like a hot match, Vaseline, dish soap and cotton, or various little key-like devices don’t work as consistently as pointy tweezers on all types of ticks. Remember to save the tick and try to identify it (see # 6).2. Clothing with built-in tick repellent is best for preventing tick bites
An easy way to avoid tick bites and disease is to wear clothing (shoes, socks, shorts or pants, and shirt) with permethrin tick repellent built-in. This strategy can be especially effective for protecting children. Dressing kids in tick repellent clothes everyday is a safe and easy way to keep ticks from biting and transmitting disease. Commercially-treated tick repellent clothes last through at least 70 washes, while using kits or sprays to treat your current outdoor wardrobe can last through 6 washes. Tick repellent on clothing, not skin is something everyone needs to know about to stay safe outdoors.1. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases are completely preventable
There’s really only one way you get a tick-transmitted disease and that’s from a tick bite. Reducing tick abundance in your yard where you spend a lot of time, wearing tick repellent clothing everyday, treating pets every month with tick repellent spot-on products, getting into a habit of doing a quick body scan for attached poppy-seed sized or larger ticks, and pulling ticks off quickly and safely are all great actions for preventing tick bites. These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life! Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.
I don’t know how many years the eagle’s nest at Trail’s End Campground sat in the treetop but it is no longer there. A friend told me he had visited the campground loop earlier this spring and didn’t see the nest. I thought he was just looking in the wrong place but I had to go see for myself.
I walked to the campground and couldn’t see it from the road. I walked up onto the ridge behind the tree to look and I couldn’t see it from there. I stood at a distance from every angle looking at every branch and still could not see the nest. I was shocked. Where could a nest that size go? According to the web, a typical eagle’s nest is 5-6 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall.
As I got closer to the tree the nest had been in I found the answer to my question. Scattered all over the forest floor were large sticks and branches that had obviously been a part of the nest. The nest was no longer in the tree.
This made me super sad. For years we’ve watched eagles raise eaglets in the tree. For a few years the campsite loop was closed early in the season to protect the privacy of the nesting eagles but they didn’t need privacy. They did just fine with the campsites being open.
I’m not sure what caused the nest to fall from the tree. There is some damage from the Ham Lake Fire in the trees nearby and possibly this allowed wind to get at the nest or maybe some of the lower limbs were compromised. It doesn’t seem possible a nest that size could just fall on its own but I don’t have another explanation, do you?
The other night while out for a walk I watched as the sun dipped deeper and deeper. I saw the tops of the trees on the distant shore as the sun cast the last light of the day onto them. I’ve never seen a green flash on an ocean although I have watched the sunset there many times. I didn’t see the green flash on this night either but I did see a beautiful sight. The sky around the sun changed from orange to red and farther away the clouds turned purple and blue. It was truly beautiful.
It’s easy to see a gorgeous sunset on the Gunflint Trail, not quite as easy to see a green flash. If you’re interested in how to see a green flash you can visit this website, but here’s the quick and simple version.
“You can see green flashes with the eye, when sky conditions are just right, if you are looking toward a very clear and very distant horizon. That’s why those who see green flashes most often see them over a sea horizon. You also must be looking just at sunset, at the last moment before the sun disappears below the horizon. And you have to be careful not to look too soon. Wait until just the thinnest rim of the sun appears above the horizon. If you look too soon, the light of the sunset will dazzle (or damage) your eyes, and you’ll miss your green flash chance that day.”
A nice flash taken from Torrey Pines, CA (about 100m above the sea). This is a classical form seen from seaside cliffs, associated with the “Mock Mirage.”
Wow everything is bustling around Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center these past few weeks.
Split Rock studios came up and did the installation of the new displays in the Nature Center, Bob & Sharon Baker were up putting the second coat of stain on both of the new buildings (when the weather was warm enough). Mjolnir Construction crew have been up putting some finishing touches on the Nature Center, the heating & cooling person was installing the units, along with the electricians finishing up some odds and ends, whew!
The Nature Center and the Administrative Building are getting closer to being completed for the opening on May 28.
The beginning of May we had a great group of students come from Appleton, Wisconsin. Travis Charlow, who is a sophomore at Lawrence University works in his universities volunteer center on environmental issues gathered a group of 5 other students to come up for the weekend and help out at Chik-Wauk. Earlier in the week Bob Baker had the work crew at the Seagull Guard Station come over and cut down the necessary trees to make the space for the 1950 circa style cabin that will be constructed during this season. The wonderful volunteers from Lawrence University carried all those downed trees from up past the Museum all the way down to the main parking lot for Dave Tuttle to clear them away with his excavating equipment. These students worked from 9 am to 2 pm they were so energetic and had such a great attitude. After they were done clearing all the trees they then went on a 2 mile hike to the top of Blueberry Hill. Thank you Travis and the rest of your group!!
More exciting news the nesting pair of loons has returned for another year. Kathy Lande noticed they were sitting on their nest full time starting on May 8; incubation period is roughly around 28 days. The loon camera should be up and running by the end of this week.
Even though the Museum is still not open until May 28 you can still come up and see the progress that has been going on this past year or take a nice hike on one of our many trails we have on property.
When I look around Voyageur Canoe Outfitters I see energy drains everywhere; ceiling fans, computers, cash registers, plugged in appliances, lights left on and more. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is good to save energy, not just for planet earth but for my pocket book too.
Here’s a reminder from the Minnesota Department of Commerce with links for some great resources too.
There are many basic no- and low-cost measures you can take to reduce energy use, cutting your utility bill and putting more money in your pocket. Here are a few energy- and money-saving opportunities:
Use a programmable thermostat to reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the strips off when equipment is not in use.
Turn off lights and fans when nobody’s in the room.
Close your fireplace damper when not in use.
Take short showers and use low-flow showerheads.
Turn your hot water heater down to 120 degrees F.
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes, and air dry both when possible.
Replace incandescent lights with much more efficient lighting such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Look for the ENERGY STAR® label when purchasing new appliances, lighting, and electronics.
Have a home energy assessment to identify ways to make your home more energy efficient (weather-strip doors and windows, seal air leaks, add insulation and more).
Go to work via carpool, use public transportation, or telecommute.
Simple behavior changes such as turning off lights, air drying clothes, and setting your hot water heater at 120 degrees don’t cost you anything. But, taken together, they can shrink your utility bills and grow your bank account over time.
Long-term savings can be achieved when, for instance, you replace an old refrigerator with a new high-efficiency model. The new refrigerator will likely pay for itself in 7-8 years via energy savings, and you will enjoy additional energy savings for the life of your appliance. Likewise, a properly installed and operated programmable thermostat will pay for itself in as little as one year with energy savings.
For more energy-saving tips, check out the Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide (pdf) or the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website.
Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?
Everyone who guessed in the March WHERE ARE WE? was correct. The photo was taken of the historic stone footpath bridges at the Tofte Town Park. We especially enjoyed the note from Beverly Johnson of Schroeder who wrote, “where I played when I was young.” Drawn from the correct entries was Mike Nelson of Tofte. Mike wins a free subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.
Try your luck! Take a look at this photo. If you think you know where this photo was taken, send us your answer. You don’t have to be the first to reply. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers.
Whoever is drawn from the correct entries receives a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $32 value). Good luck!
Answer to this WHERE ARE WE? must be received by May 17, 2016.
In hopes of helping future paddlers better understand their camping options in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we are going to be periodically releasing reviews of the campsites in our vicinity. As with any review some subjectivity comes along with the territory, but there are also some basics that can be easily measured; the number of tent pads, the canoe landing, the fire grate area and the view from...
Nine years ago today the eastern section of the Boundary Waters canoe area was raging with fire. 75,000 acres of pristine land was burning wildly out of control. Houses were lost. Lives were risked. Smoke filled the air all the way down to the Twin Cities.
And that is when Sue and Bob McCloughan signed the purchase agreement to buy Bearskin Lodge, in the midst of a fire that threatened to burn down the business.
We spent our days at school with one eye on our students and the other glued to the internet news about the fire. Eventually I just gave up and said “Kids, let’s go off topic and learn something really interesting about fire, that will also explain why your eyes are watering now.” We all watched the changing fire maps and ravaged pictures.Photo courtesy Gunflint Trail Fire Department
As the fire came closer to Bearskin, Bob & I tried to ascertain what precautions were being taken by Bearskin. The owner wanted the lodge sale to remain a secret from his employees, yet from afar we were wildly concerned that “our” property would burn down and wished we could dare ask the employees what was happening. We called the owner, who said everything is fine, the sprinklers are going, and it’s so little to worry about that we’re flying to the tulip show in Iowa.
We already had enough history with him to think perhaps a second call was in order. I called Bearskin and got Dee, who would later turn out to be a dear friend. I said I was concerned about the Lodge and wondering what they were doing. Dee assumed I was another one of the many concerned members of the Bearskin fan club, and talked about the preparations to leave. “Are the sprinklers on?” I asked. It was evident that homes and businesses with the fire suppression sprinklers were surviving. “Um, no, we, um, won’t be using the sprinklers,” she said. “We don’t think we need them.” She was respectful enough of her current boss that she didn’t say, “No, we won’t be using the sprinklers because the FEMA sprinkler system was never maintained and is now in a thousand broken pieces, and actually we all think our boss believes it is in the best interest of the resort to burn down.” (She saved those truths for later, in the many re-tellings of the story.) Dee said other staff would be leaving for town with trucks and equipment, that the managers had left long ago to get a motel in Silver Bay to house their secret dogs and cats. The owners? Flying to a tulip show in Iowa. (Although we later heard they did show up at the lodge at some point, so good.) As we heard this on the phone, it was all we could do not to drive up ourselves and start pulling together sprinklers and trying to save the place.
Most Bearskin employees went to shelters in Grand Marais. Being low-level employees who ended up totally responsible for the stressful decision- making while the fire advanced towards Bearskin was very traumatic for some of the staffPicture courtesy Mn IncidentCommand
One of them had a seizure outside the shelter, changing his life for years to come. Another just cried and cried. The youngest employee, Adde, rose to the occasion and figured out how to be the adult in the group, a skill she can still muster up regularly in her real life today.
Of course, we only heard these stories after the fact. All we knew was that we just put a lot of money down and signed a pile of papers to buy a resort where no preparations were being made to keep the resort from burning down momentarily.
And luckily, it didn’t. A tongue of the fire made its way towards our area, but was kept under control. The physical beauty of our area remained untouched by fire and the cabins and resorts around us continued to be safe. This time. There’s a long history of fires in these big woods and we understand that our turn could come. We hope not soon.
The Ham Lake fires started because of one camper. Conditions were right to spread a fire very quickly – as they are today. The individual who accidentally started the fire was identified, demonized, persecuted, prosecuted, and basically dragged through hell until he eventually committed suicide. Politicians tell us we live in a Christian nation, but if so, we ought to be able to do forgiveness a little better instead of always focusing on retribution. He made a mistake. Any of us could. There’s a fine retelling of his sad story here.Photo by Sue Prom
The lesson is please, please, please be careful with fires up here. It’s dry and windy today. There are thousands of branches down on the ground from this winter’s bend-down. Keep fires small. Some of you folks —is this a southern thing?—who like their pile of wood to be in a 5 foot tall tipi shape when it gets lit are just asking for trouble with those giant fires. Small, under control, and always watched is the way the pros make a fire. Above all, don’t walk away from the fire. We see this all the time in the campground: raging fire in the pit, nobody around for miles—or even worse, obviously tents full of sleeping people. You can do better than that.
We will have fire on the Gunflint Trail again. We are all a little more prepared for it now, after lessons learned from Ham Lake. Bearskin has invested in an outstanding all – encompassing FEMA fire suppression sprinkler system. We test it regularly, keeping it in perfect shape each year. Bob and Quinn are fire department members, who have been well-trained to assist in a fire or a rescue and best of all, they have fire department radios to be in quick contact in an emergency. And needless to say, if something bad happens Bob, Sue, Quinn & Kate will not be off at a flower show, we will be here every minute to make sure, first of all, that our sweet staff is safe and untraumatized and secondly, to do what we must to preserve all your Bearskin memories here.
But let’s avoid another Gunflint Trail fire if we can. Do your part!Photo by Lee Johnson
The Grand Marais Safe Routes to School group invites all kids and parents to the annual Bike Safety Rodeo on Thursday, May 12th from 3 to 5 pm at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais. Join in the fun, with bike checks and helmet fittings, helmet decorating, ride the course, and food. Bring your bike, helmet, and signed permission slip (limited loaner helmets will be available). For more information, please visit the Facebook event.
For questions or to volunteer, call Maren at 387-2330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Almost everyone who visits Bearskin has high hopes of observing three specific northwoods animals. The number one goal is always to spot a moose, then glimpse a bear (but only the rear end, as it runs away), and maybe, with luck, see or hear a wolf.
So you might be surprised to know that none of those creatures are the animal that Bearskin guests talk about the most during their stay. Foxes are actually the critters that make our guests extra happy. Hundreds of photos of posing and preening foxes are snapped every summer around the Main Lodge. We sell dozens of fox stuffed animals, foxy kids’ purses, fox books, and fox cards.
Bearskin has a long history of having fairly tame red foxes living on the grounds of the resort. When we first arrived at Bearskin almost a decade ago, our employee Adde regularly made meals for a ridiculously tame fox, and even allowed the fox into her apartment occasionally. Foxes have been known to get in canoes, and supposedly a fox can untie a boat from the dock. They peek in windows, pose on deck railings, and occasionally run off with meat intended for the grill. The Shoe Stealing Fox (aka Imelda), was perhaps the most famous Bearskin fox, covertly sneaking flip flops, hiking boots, and tennis shoes off the deck and steps of cabin 7. Many a family combed the woods behind cabin 7, desperately trying to find a missing sneaker so a kid wouldn’t spend the remainder of their vacation limping around with only one shoe.
So here is a story to add to the fox legends: About a week ago, when the ice was still solid, Kate and Quinn observed a fox crossing the bay with something in her mouth. At first they assumed the fox was carrying a rabbit or squirrel, killed for dinner. But as they looked more closely, they realized she was carrying a baby fox kit all the way across the lake. Then she came back for another. And another, and another. By the time she was done ferrying her whole litter across the lake, the fox looked exhausted. It was no small task to move her family. This was peculiar behavior. Quinn and Kate wondered why she would go to that much trouble to abandon a home and move so far away.
Previously, Quinn and Bob had been rebuilding the steps to cabin 7. When they pulled the old steps off, they found chewed boards, broken styrofoam, and multiple signs that animals had been tunneling under cabin 7 for years. So, of course, Quinn and Bob did a top-notch job of resealing every crack and hole, nailing up new boards and filling every possible animal entry point with spray foam. No creature would be getting back under that cabin!
Quinn thought about the fox mother for a few days and then started to wonder if her grueling move might be connected in some way to the rebuilding of the cabin 7 steps. Yesterday Quinn and Bob went back to cabin 7 and pulled off a few of the new boards, attempting to see under the steps.
It was a surprise to discover a sizable fresh tunnel under the steps, circumventing their repairs. At that point it became apparent what must have happened: Bob and Quinn had accidentally entombed the litter of baby foxes. For two days they had worked on the steps, sawing and pounding and probably terrorizing a little fox family. When the job was over and the foxes’ fear subsided, that mother dug an incredibly difficult new tunnel, removed all her babies, and stoically carried all of them as far away from that dreadful Cabin 7 as she possibly could.
We were left with two thoughts:
First, that is an extraordinarily heroic fox mother.
And secondly, deep under cabin 7 there are probably several years’ worth of missing shoes.
Fox photo by Jane Kolarich
On March 23rd, over 120 community members gathered in Grand Marais, Minnesota for “What the Health?! How do we plan for community vitality?”, an evening to explore the relationships between health and community planning. The event kicked off with dinner and discussion about the question: “What makes a community healthy?”
Attendees wrote down their responses and ideas to “What makes a community healthy?” on the tabletops during dinner and discussion. The word cloud above is of the shared ideas or you can read the full list here.
Dinner and discussion were followed by improv comedy with The Theater of Public Policy, and Q&A local panelists: Dr. Paul Terrill, County and Zoning specialist David Demmer, and Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux. A video of the show is available below.
Takeaways from the night were many, but this is just the start of a larger community conversation. As the City of Grand Marais and other local entities work on community planning and visioning, our community will have many opportunities to share their input and shape the future health of our communities. Sign-up for the Moving Matters Newsletter to keep up to date on new opportunities to be involved.Subscribe to our mailing list
An art-history mural, several playgrounds, a colorful wayfinding sign for Grand Marais, an outdoor ping pong table at the library and several similar projects will receive funding from the 2016 Great Place Project, announced Maren Webb of Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and Jim Boyd of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce.
An eight-member evaluation panel met recently to make selections from among the 25 excellent applications. “Unfortunately, we had only $14,000 to distribute,” Boyd said, “and about $26,000 in first-rate requests. Deciding which to fund was difficult.” The panel evaluated each project independently on half a dozen criteria, from visual impact and encouragement of active living, to amount of match and ‘playability.’ The project adopted ‘playability’ as a theme this year and gave additional points to projects that ‘enhance or create a place that welcomes people with a playfulness or whimsy, especially for children.’ Ultimately, the panel decided on funding 15 projects, some with a bit less money than requested in order to make the available funds spread as far as possible.
Major funding for the 2016 Great Place Race came in a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Power Foundation. Additional funding came from the Chamber and may be offset through additional, pending grant applications.
“We are very grateful to the Minnesota Power Foundation,” said Maren Webb of the Clinic’s Moving Matters project, co-sponsor with the Chamber of the Great Place Project. “Without its help, the 2016 program would have been in doubt.”
Projects funded in the 2016 Great Place Project include:
- Grand Marais Art Colony: $1,250. A joint project with Grand Marais Art Colony, Voyageur Brewing, Cook County Higher Ed, Betsy Bowen Gallery and Studios, and First Congregational Church for a colorful wayfinding sign to be erected in front of the brewery on Highway 61.
- Shore Girl Studios/Birchbark Books and Gifts: $1,250. Paint-by-number murals to be created by public during Arts Festival (July 9-10), then installed on north wall of Birchbark Books and Gifts.
- Sivertson Gallery: $1,250. Phase 1 of 3-phase mural by Dave Gilsvik wrapping around two sides of Sivertson Gallery. Mural will depict the history of art in Cook County and Grand Marais.
- Sarah Hamilton and Beaver House: $1,250. Restoration of murals and other elements on Beaver House exterior.
- Cooperation Station Daycare: $1,150. Whimsical figures painted on fence around child care center’s playground.
- Joy & Co.: $1,100. Sound wall and other child-friendly enhancements to playground area behind store.
- Cook County Historical Society: $1,075. Project to beautify northwest corner of Bally Blacksmith Shop lot.
- Cook County Community YMCA: $1,000. Outdoor play space for children ages birth-5 in front of YMCA building.
- Schroeder Township: $930. Refurbish playground and public gathering area around Schroeder Town Hall.
- Putt ‘n Pets: $800: Stand-behind face cutouts of farm scenes to be erected next to Putt ‘n Pets miniature golf.
- Lockport Marketplace & Grill: $750. Creation of a colorful rest area for bicyclists near Highway 61 at Lockport Marketplace & Grill.
- Nordic Wooden Ware: $550. Beautify area behind workshop next to Joy & Co.
- Ann Possis: $500. Installation of outdoor ping pong table on grassy area in front of Grand Marais Library for free use by public.
- Chris and Anne Hegg: $400. Construction and installation of two wooden benches at wildflower sanctuary at intersection of Gunflint Trail and County Road 60, on site of original Hedstrom mill.
- Flybox and Company: $750. Transformation of a gravel parking lot into a retail store, with a deck, plants, and benches.
Projects will be implemented over the coming months. For more information, visit www.becausemovingmatters.org/greatplaceproject.
Published in the Cook County News-Herald, 4/23/16 edition.
Well, the time has come — we are officially calling it the end of the 2015 -2016 ski season. We do still have a considerable amount of snow on the trails and you are welcome to come up to ski or snowshoe. But both resorts decided today that we are now officially done grooming for the season. With 40 – 50 degree temps each day, there’s not much we can do with the groomer to recreate a nice surface. Time to store the equipment away and reflect on our great luck that during a winter when most of Minnesota was snowless, that once again the Central Gunflint Trail System offered great ski conditions all winter.
Golden Eagle did the final wrap up on the numbers for the season. Our total snowfall was 93.46 inches — pretty fantastic for a “no snow” year!
- New Snow Last 24 hours: 0.00”
- New Snow Last 7 days: 2.00”
- Trail Base, Staked: Not measured
- Snow in Woods, Staked: Not measured
- Surface Conditions: Melting snow
- Last grooming day: 3-26-16
- Total snowfall since Nov. 1: 93.46”
Thanks for being such great guests. We love our skiers, both our regular winter guests and our frequent day skiers, and we always miss them over the next seasons. Stop in to say hi!
And don’t forget about our great Fall Work Weekend. For just $99 plus a few hours of fun trail trimming, you can enjoy Bearskin Lodge in another season. Our skiing guests love seeing the trails during another season, plus it’s fun to ski by a location all winter and think, “I certainly did a great job of trimming here!” Find out more by clicking here.
New snow this morning made it possible to groom again, possibly for the last time this season unless we get a significant new snowfall. Skiers seemed quite happy with conditions today, and the trails look beautiful.
A few trails are now out of commission for the season, for various reasons. We are no longer grooming the west end of Logging Camp Trail, the BWCA Logging Camp section, North-South link from upper Beaver Dam to Summer Home Road, and Poplar Creek Trail.
Due to the warm weather prior to last week, we are not grooming any lake-crossing trails for the remainder of the season You can ski on the ice just fine, it’s not unsafe for you; but the heavy grooming machines are another story. We don’t want a repeat of the infamous Dave Tittle story of putting a groomer through the ice! The North-South Link trail across Flour Lake has a single lane classic track set by snowmobile to allow for a connection between the north and south halves of the system.
There have been a number of fun animal sightings on the trails in the past week, which is enjoyable for skiers. The moose are very active right now, and appear to love clomping right down the groomed trail. We’ve also had many reports of foxes and otters along the trail–we like them better because they don’t destroy the grooming quite so much.
So far we’ve received about 92 inches of snow this season, not a record breaking winter by any means, but vastly better than almost anywhere else in the state. We are, indeed, in a magical snow pocket here in the med-Trail area. We still have about 15 inches of snow in the woods and a trail base of around 8 – 10 inches. Temps during the day are getting into the 30’s and even occasionally the 40’s, but our snow doesn’t seem to be disappearing at a very fast rate. Skiing is the best early each day, before the snow gets soft.
Spring conditions can change rapidly. Call us if you’re wondering if it’s a good day to ski.
Add Bear Cub, Campground, and Summer Home Road to the newly groomed list. )xcart, Beaver Dam, and Ridge Run were done yesterday. Poplar Creek will not open for remainder of this March due to water problems.
Bring a camera if you come. The heavy snow stuck to the trees, so we have our Christmas card look back again.
Soup, chili, wine, beer, and of course, hot cocoa in the lodge if you come up for the day to ski. Wish you could stay more than one day? We have a 3 nights for the price of 2 special going on now — ask for it when you call to reserve. We’ve had a lot of “drop everything and drive up to ski” phone calls today. Seems like the novelty of the early spring in the Twin Cities has worn off and people are getting weary of waiting for their grass to turn green!
With heavy heart we must report that we lost Sota early this morning. We will miss her greatly. She was a major part of our life here at the Gunflint Pines Resort. She was the camp greeter and often could be found opening the door to run out and greet the next guest as they arrived.
She often guided guests on hikes to Lonely lake or High cliffs. Many a guest would start off hiking only to find her flushing the path in front of them and waiting at the intersections to be sure they were on the right path. But many a guest would also come back without her, distraught only to have us ask how long they were hiking. We knew that if they had taken a short hike – she found others to hike with before coming home. She was an excellent bird dog, squirrel or chipmunk chaser and mouser. She was smarter than and had more grace than many humans (I swear!) and was nothing but loving to everyone.
Sota was 11 years old and had a good life. She was loved and adored by many children who returned each year only to ask where she was so they could pet her belly.
Sadly we feel we must also tell you that she was killed by Wolves. At 3am this morning, she had to go to the bathroom. Within minutes we heard them, quickly dressed and scared them off. It was too late. This happened within 30 ft of the building. It is a testament to the severity of the Wolf situation. We understand that this was always a possibility, and that the wolves are just trying to survive. We also know there are those out there who will criticize us for even mentioning the wolf situation, but those who do not live here, have no idea how large the population is.
We used to have a deer herd of roughly 100 on the south shore of Gunflint. This year I have seen fewer than 4. Please understand that we also love the wolves and appreciate there need for balance in nature, but our position has and always will remain this: if you are going to manage the Moose, deer, small game etc populations – you must also manage the wolf population. There is no longer a balance in our area. The wolves are beginning to becoming desperate. How long before they begin starving and become aggressive.
Rest in peace Sota – many will miss you!
When we last posted here, the Banadad Trail Association had just hosted the annual trail clearing day and membership meeting. Several volunteers had clipped and sawed their way through miles of alder brush and fallen trees, readying the trail for the winter. More trail-clearing folks followed in the next couple of weeks, and we all had a good feeling about the upcoming ski season.
How quickly that changed! The much-anticipated snow finally came, but not as the fluffly, fat flakes that we prefer. Instead, it fell heavy and wet, cloaking every twig and tree in a thick coat. Mother Nature mixed in a bit of freezing drizzle, and then added more of that same kind of snow. Someone likened it to wet cement. That was an apt description, for when it solidly froze, just like dried cement, it weighted those trees until they were bowing down to the ground. For many miles, the trail was completely impassable. As beautiful as it was, it created miles of havoc, and a boatload of new clearing to be done.
For the last several weeks, many people, both volunteer and paid, have been working hard to clear the trail so that it is usable this winter. The good news is that at this point, the Lace Lake Trail (4K) and the Tall Pines Trail (1.7K) are both opened and groomed. The snow depth is 18″. Snow still covers the trees, making for a uniquely beautiful trail. Come out and ski it!
The eastern end of the Banadad is once again nearly cleared, with about another day or two of work remaining. As soon as we get fresh snow, this section will be groomed and tracked. The trail will extend to the mid-trail junction, near the yurt. A loop will be possible, utilizing the Moose Trail. While not what we would have hoped for back in October when we were working, at least we have something here to ski. The distance for this section is 15.5K.
Unfortunately, it is not expected that the western end of the Banadad will be open this season. Much work remains on the remaining 12K. As time and funding permit, we will chip away at it, and we welcome your help if you so desire. To that end, a sign has been posted in the parking lot, and two saws are hanging for anyone who wants to snowshoe in on the trail and cut a few things away.
We are so grateful to everyone who has stepped in to assist in the herculean effort to re-open the trail. Mother Nature tossed us some lemons, but we didn’t let that stop us. Join us on the Banadad, the Lace Lake Trail and the Tall Pines Trail, and see how pretty this season has turned out to be.
Barbara Young quoted in StarTribune January 9, 2016.
Happy New Year! 2016 looks exciting and welcoming! This past holiday season was the best we’ve had in many years. The temperatures were great, the snow was plentiful, the ski trails were packed and tracked, sleds were sliding, snowmen were being made, quite the happy winter start!
For Christmas my son bought me a Chinese Checker board, favorite game of mine! I found my marbles so I’m ready to go! Stop by if you want to play a game. Remember we’re a pet friendly destination and I love puppies so feel free to share. This little guy (still unnamed) was only 10 weeks old and looked like a stuffed animal! He was adorable. We offered the names of Sasquatch and Yeti – but they were leaning towards Cesar or similar.
Gunflint Lake froze over late this year!!! The west end out front of us only froze over on the 30th of December. The East end finally froze over the morning of the 4th. With the colder temps the past week we are building ice quickly just in time for the Trout Opener this weekend.
This past year we started posting our future availability by means of google calendars in our blog section. While we still do not have online booking capability and I have to update them manually it can give you a good guide as to what might be available for our cabins, camping cabins or our Lakehome. I have also started relying on the google calendars to make updating our snow report and Ski Trail report easier and more up to date. You can always feel free to call us directly for up to date information 218-388-4454.
Summer reservations are starting to book as people seem to be planning further ahead – don’t wait too long to give us a call and start planning your escape up north!
One word describes how I felt as I watched the helicopters soar over Lutsen Mountain – Thrilled! This investment from leadership at Lutsen Mountains only reinforces the energetic growth felt throughout Cook County. In July, I completed my second year working for Visit Cook County. When I started, I thought I knew a lot about this wonderful corner of northeastern Minnesota. I have now come to realize the depth of the partnerships we share in making life here enjoyable and energized. I am delighted.AN INCREDIBLE SUMMER!
As our summer season closes, I want to highlight a few spring, summer and fall highpoints. We are all aware that Cook County offers some of the biggest and best of the midwest: tallest peak, highest waterfall, most groomed cross country ski trails, largest ski resort in the Midwest, most BWCAW entry points – you get the picture. This list is endless, and keeps on growing. Another “best” came across my desk today – Hwy. 61 from Duluth to the Canadian border was included in Mashable’s “7 Scenic Fall Foliage Drives.” And perhaps the most reputable, the title of “Coolest Small Town in America,” awarded in February to Grand Marais. We would love to hear from other business owners regarding the summer experience of 2015. We know World’s Best Donuts sold more donuts than they have since opening in the summer of 1974! We look forward to hearing many more great sucess stories as we enter the last part of 2015.MEASURING SUCCESS
Safe to say – our efforts in marketing and media relations have paid off. I, along with the Visit Cook County team, serve our tourism related economy tirelessly. Thanks to our partnership with Giant Voices and LINPR we have built a successful marketing and PR strategy that is showing results. These partnerships allow us to build upon great outreach opportunities like sharing a booth with WTIP at the MN State Fair (a complete blast) followed by a live media appearance with KARE 11.
The one true measurement of tourism success for Visit Cook County is our lodging tax. This is always a moving target as we have lodging properties that pay monthly, quarterly and annually. We measure our monthly decreases and gains based on prior year figures which actually allow us to be pretty close on the measurement. And of course, we work extra hard to bring people here in our shoulder seasons of April and November. The County collects the lodging tax and prepares all the reporting. You can see all the figures if you look here: http://www.cookcountychamber.org/charts.php?id=15
That said, Visit Cook County’s fiscal year began May 1. If you calculate the success in the first three months of our fiscal year, the statistics are astounding. A quick snapshot of May-July shows growth in Lutsen/Tofte/Schroeder up 15.9% and Grand Marais is up 15.8%. And on an even bigger scale, lodging sales in 2014 totaled $33Million dollars. In a county that records $150million in sales, we need to tip our hats to the lodging property owners – not only as economic tourism drivers but also as employers.
We hope you have saved the date to celebrate with Visit Cook County and the Cook County Chamber on November 3rd at Lutsen Resort. You can look forward to more information about the event in the coming weeks, but until then, make sure you’ve saved the date!