We all know how enjoyable a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail is but did you know it is just as fun, if not more in the winter? Why don’t you find out for yourself by taking a guided hike with the SHT crew this winter?
The next one is coming up on February 13th, a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!
February 13 Snowshoe Hike 10:00 Sucker River Trailhead to Fox Farm Pond Campsite and Back
2.4 miles total. Snowshoe through spruce-balsam forest and over the Sucker River Bridge on a gradual climb to maple forest and the Fox Farm Pond Campsite. Meet at Sucker River Trailhead. At Hwy 61 milepost 14.9, turn north (inland) on Homestead Rd (Co. Rd. 42) and go 5.75 mi. Turn left on W. Knife River Rd. and go 0.5 mi. Turn right on App Rd and go 1.5 mi to intersection with Two Harbors Rd. App Rd. changes to Fox Farm Rd (Co. Rd. 266) here. Continue straight on Fox Farm Rd. 5.3 mi to parking lot on left.
And if you love the Superior Hiking Trail then why not consider joining their board? They are looking for members so fill out an application if you’re interested and hope to see you on the Trail!
SHTA Seeking Four New Board Members
SHTA Board elections will be held in May at the Hike Fest. We are currently seeking applications of people interested in serving on the board.
We are looking for a variety of candidates with a variety of backgrounds. Some of our identified needs include:
someone with experience with integrated accounting/database/fulfillment systems to help SHTA transition to a new system;
civil engineering or bridge design background;
someone from Cook County and someone from the Duluth area.
But all applications are welcome.
How does the board do its work?
The 15 member board meets on the North Shore six times a year, each board member serves on a committee that meets prior to the regular board meeting, and board members serve three-year terms.
Please contact the SHTA office for questions and for the position description and application or download the information from our website. The application deadline is Friday, February 26th.
The Groundhog predicted 6 more weeks of winter this Groundhog’s Day and that is fine by me. There are lots of ski trails I want to ski, I need to get my snowshoes on the snow and I would really love to wet a fishing line through the ice. Besides, with the warm and mild temperatures we’ve had it doesn’t seem like we’ve had winter at all.
Well, we’re halfway thru winter and depending on what time you came outside this morning, you may or may not have seen your shadow. To be on the safe side, we should all plan on at least six more weeks of winter and hope for the best ! Inside the south Care Center addition, the sheetmetal crews are busy installing duct work and the electricians are running their receptacles and light switches.
-Property Issues (what to do prior to development)
-Next Steps (Timelines, proposals, decision points)
There was another item though, and that was a discussion of the Council Priority Timeline, which carries a lot of significance for the work that is planned for 2016 and beyond. It was brought up by Councilor Benson that we should discuss these things in a timeline focused manner so that we can start making plans for the many projects that have been brought to the Council's attention and that have been planned. Here is a short list of the projects that fit that description:
-PU Facility (2016)
-HWY 61 Reconstruction (2018)
-Municipal Parking Lot (2016?)
-Public Bathrooms (????)
-Liquor Store Renovation (????)
-DNR Boat Launch (????)
-City Hall (????)
-Dark Skies Certification (2016-2017)
-Workforce Housing Development (2016-2017)
-Ordinance Re-Codifying (????)
-Community Solar Farm (????)
-1st St. Reconstruction (????)
*I want to be very clear that I put estimated dates on these projects and did not assign a date to other projects because they are estimates or simply have not been spec-ed out and accepted by the City yet and thus do not have a viable timeframe to mention. These are all simply projects that have been discussed by the City and that got our specific attention at this particular meeting.
Taking that one step further, these timelines were being discussed in the wider scope of Comprehensive Planning, which the Council is committed to taking on this year (2016). As a result of this commitment, the Council will have a "Comprehensive Planning 101" meeting in February to get the process started and to create some specific expectations concerning what we would like to accomplish through the process. This is very exciting for me because I believe that we have a lot that we can do to create a Comprehensive Plan that reflects the desires of the residents of Grand Marais and the type of City we want to be and can be.
So that conversation mainly resulted in the Council agreeing to set a date in February specifically for Comprehensive Planning conversation and that we would begin to pull in the expertise and resources of the Moving Matters group to assist the City in this process. It was stressed a number of times, however, that Moving Matters will be supporting the City in putting together public meetings and other information gathering events, but the City Council will be driving the process at all times. With that said, now would be a good time to start thinking about what Grand Marais means to you and how you would like to participate in the Comprehensive Planning process. The more people that participate, the stronger the plan will be.
Ok, moving on to the Public Works Facility:
We started the conversation by asking what we should do with the property before we begin construction on it. There are currently a number of buildings on the property in widely varying levels of repair that the City needs to figure out what it is going to do with.
It was clear that the buildings on the South side of the property, where the construction of the facility will mainly occur, will need to be removed. There has also been interest coming in to City Hall about the buildings on the North side of the property. The Council spoke generally in favor of having a sale/silent auction in the spring (April or May) to find new homes for many of those buildings if there are community members who would be interested in moving them. This has not been finalized, but it seemed that there was strong sentiment that this would be a good way of getting rid of some of those buildings.
Another consideration was the overall appearance of the property and the fact that it is now in City control. Should we invest any staff time and resources into performing any site maintenance? This could mean taking down various unsightly landscaping elements, it could mean adding landscaping to improve the appearance from the street, etc. The Council thought that there are a few things that could be removed to improve the appearance, but largely leaned toward keeping the lawn mowed and the trimming done, but not really investing much more time into it... this is because there isn't a strong feeling as to what should happen with that front piece of the land and thus we should hold our hand on it so we don't unnecessarily spend money doing something that needs to be undone later.
That was another conversation that we had: What DO we want to do with the extra land up there? The conversation really didn't bring up any solid ideas that were unanimous, so we left that conversation in the "brainstorming" status and will return to it when we have a better idea of what we will be using of the land.
Moving on to the NEXT STEPS!
The City's architecture firm, LHB, has been contacted and gave us an estimate for about $3000 to provide us with detailed drawings of how the facility would fit on that property. This piggy-backs on the plans that LHB drew up for a previous Council that was considering building this project in the Cedar Grove Business Park. That original design came back with a $3.5 million price tag, which included almost a million dollars of "grade and fill" due to the landscape of the lots identified. It is assumed that the estimates for the new property will be significantly less than that. The Council also charged LHB with giving us options. The primary estimate they will provide us will have the full buildout of the facility, which would allow the City to store and house all of its Public Utility equipment and offices in one facility. The estimate will then offer suggestions of different items that could be removed from the plan and how much money that would save the project and its consequences. We viewed this as an ideal organization as it gives us flexibility to customize the project and keep our costs down as much as possible.
That gets us to the timeline. When can we expect these plans? When are we going to start seeing something happen up there? There is a tentative schedule for these events and although it is ambitious, I believe that it is completely do-able. Here is the tentative schedule for this project:
February - March: LHB will prepare the estimates and site design/assessment
*Decision Point #1: Council will have to choose what the facility will include and total project scope
March - April: LHB will work up a full facility design for the new site which will include architectural drawings and material lists... In essence these are the building plans for the project.
*Decision Point #2: Council will have to approve the design for the project and the building plans
May: The City will have to put together a financing plan for the project that will include monies from the capital reserve accounts of the PUC and the City as well as some borrowed money. Once this is complete the City will authorize the bidding process and the request for bids will go out.
*Decision Point #3: Council will have to decide on the financing plan that the City will be taking and will have to select a contractor from the bids received.
June - October/November: Construction of the facility will take place.
This is the plan that the City is going for. It calls for a steady movement through the project and relies on good bids from contractors, which we believe is very possible.
That was the bulk of the meeting and the items that the Council considered. If you have any questions, please let me know!
It’s February already? Where did January go? No sense looking behind and wondering where it went it’s time to look ahead and see where you are going.
Cross-country skiing? Snowmobiling? If you want to find out how the trails are then you can check out this page on the Minnesota DNR website. It shows you how much snow is in each part of the state and lists the conditions of the trails. If you are looking for specific information about Cook County then check out our local page for up to date information.
Or give us a call at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters, we’re out and about and can let you know our favorites so you can have a Happy February!
After many years of hard use and little to no maintenance I had to do some repair work on our track set-up.A call to David at
"American Track Truck"
got the project started,I have to say he's great to work with.Not only is the service and shipping well above average
but his pricing made the repair very reasonable.I had everything I needed in just a few days!Thank you for being such a great company to deal with!
"Tire and Auto Lodge"
The four turns of the front torsion bar was perfect,
that raised the 1999 Rodeo a strong 1inch
Big thanks to
Dean Berneking,The use of the heated shop with a swinging boom chain hoist, and his help, made the job an easy one. Installation is much nicer in a warm shop
Last but not least, "Cook County Towing" for their great service. They picked up the truck at Dean's and delivered it within 3 miles of our house.
Now to the next problem,With the shoulder surgery late in the fall I didn't get a chance to stage my winter equipment properly.This became painfully obvious when I needed to get my drag out to groom the road. Not only was the drag behind a pile of snow, it was behind a loaded two place snowmobile trailer that was behind the snow pile.
Here is a photo of what piss poor planning (PPP) looks like:
The thing sticking out behind the trailer is the tongue for the drag.
By this time the snow pile is rock hard, I came up with a elegant solution,ram the crap out of it with the back of my pick-up until it was soft enough to shovel.
Ramming it got me to this point.
After shoveling to find the tongue I hooked on to it with a strap and pulled the tongue right out from underneath the trailer.
Thank god Pat was there to give me that look of "What the hell were you thinking"
So now I have a heavy box of snowmobiles that I can no longer moveand the snowmobiles only unload out of the back. Someone I know described this as"screwed"That was enough damage for one day, so we decided to try again the next day.
Over night I came up with a plan, not a great one, but the only one I could think of.We started by cleaning off the top of the trailer so we could open the top, I then ran two straps, one under and the other through the trailer connecting them together in the backthen closed the trailer.
This finely worked and the trailer was free, I now had a opening to retrieve my drag,
Running straps to the drag we were able to pull it onto the driveway.
after the pull
ready to pull
That's two day of my life I'll never get back.
Here is a short video of the drag in action.
My cat Itchy had a visitor last week, normally it's the white menace (snowshoe rabbit)but this week it's a brown menace (pine marten?)
More later, thanks for reading
Catch the beginning of the Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Two Harbors, Minnesota. You can follow along on the journey by checking out this page of the website to find out where each musher is located thanks to their GPS.
The forecast calls for warm temperatures which isn’t ideal for the dogs. With their fur coats they will have to have frequent rests in order to not overheat and/or get dehydrated. The snow pack will be soft making the trail slower than normal as well.
Here’s wishing all of the mushers and their four-legged companions and safe and fun journey along the North Shore of Minnesota.
We’re lucky to live in a part of the United States that receives plenty of snow. I always say, “If it is going to be cold then we better have snow so we can enjoy it.”
Even though our winter has been mild to say the least we have been able to enjoy our snow time activities. I’ve been out cross-country skiing numerous times and the trails are in great condition. Of course I would like to spend more time skiing and get my snowshoes out but there are only so many daylight hours.
Mike was able to go for a snowmobile ride the other day. He took Matt and Cassidy along and they had a fabulous time. They were amazed at the views and all of the animal tracks. Mike in the lead, saw tracks of wolf, moose, lynx and fox but no otter slides.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience winter on the Gunflint Trail then come on up to Voyageur Canoe Outfitters. It’s a magical place and there is plenty of snow for fun.
Together with our power supplier, Great River Energy (GRE), Arrowhead Cooperative provides rebates to members to help offset the cost of energy efficient products. Once again, in 2016 we have a great list of Energy Star products and appliances that qualify for rebates.
1. Location must be served by Arrowhead Cooperative
2. Person applying and/or signing must be a member of the Cooperative
3. Rebate must be approved by the Cooperative
Forms are available on our website at www.arrowhead.coop –just click the link on the right to head to Rebates & Promotions.
To request a rebate please complete the appropriate form (available from our office or on our website) and submit it along with original receipts and, if required, proof of Energy Star status.
Inside the south side Care Center, the crews continue to build out with metal studs. They had a walk through with the care teams in an early mock-up of a resident room to see where the resident’s bed will go (mock-up was a construction job site box) and the future shower, sink and toilets. On the north side, crews were setting the wooden roof trusses. Where one of the old boilers was, a new structural steel mezzanine is in place where the transformers sit with conduits and wiring below in a crawl space.
The Care Center team and residents have been having some fun with the temporary walls and column posts by turning them into art walls. The care team has put their heights and names on one post, hand prints with names on another and then the residents have put some nice butterflies on the project update wall.
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!
Employment Opportunity for Naturalist Program Director at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center.
Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge and experiences of natural science with children of all ages?
The Gunflint Trail Historical Society is looking for energetic individual to join the crew at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center. The individual will serve as the Nature Center Program Director from the beginning of June to the end of August during the 2016 season.
Nature Center Program Director will work 25 hours per week at $12 – $15 per hour, depending on experience and skill level. Work schedule will include weekends.
Job responsibilities include but are not limited to: developing and implementing naturalist programs for every day of the week, train and oversee nature center volunteers, collect admission fees and provide information to visitors, work with the site manager to promote and market naturalist activities.
Assigned tasks will be diverse and vary from day to day. This job requires flexibility, creative thinking, and an enjoyment of working with the general public. Candidates with historical familiarity of the Gunflint Trail and an appreciation and knowledge of Northwoods biology and ecology will be given priority in selection process.
No on-site housing available.
For more information and to receive an application, contact the Gunflint Trail Historical Society at email@example.com or 218-388-9915.
Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center is located at the end of the Gunflint Trail.
Application deadline is February 21, 2016
Here is the progression from beginning to almost finished Nature Center, the doors will open up on May 28, 2016.
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!
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
Day 5! Day 5! Day 5!
Today is the last day of our countdown before we reveal the NEW Trapper’s Daughter print for 2015!!
We kick off today’s countdown with a truly incredible print from 2013,
“The Trapper’s Daughter Crosses the Height of the Land as Winter Fades From the Woods & Waters.”
“The Trapper’s Daughter and the Spring Moose” came into the gallery like a hurricane. We could hardly keep this image on the walls and in the bins after … read more