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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: November 2000
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « October 2000 | December 2000 »
11/29/00 - I skied to the north end of Sawbill Lake for the first time this morning. I was pleased to see the fresh tracks of a wolf pack on the lake, something I only saw a couple of times last year. At the mouth of Kelso Bay, it was clear that they lounged for awhile, including six piles of scat. It appears they have been eating a lot of white tail deer, probably the offal left by the recent fire arms deer hunting season. Otter tracks were also evident. They only travel one way on the winter lakes - run, run, run, sliiiiiiiide. Each slide is eight to ten feet long. It looks like fun. At the very north end of the lake there was a lead of open water in front of an active beaver house. An otter was resting on the ice near the open water. After inspecting me, she dove under the ice. I skied over and stood near the hole, hoping she would reappear. Alas, she was smarter than I gave her credit for. I could actually hear the water slosh under the thin ice as she swam back and forth, but she avoided resurfacing. I wonder if she could see me through the thin ice and scant snow cover, or perhaps she could see the ice sag slightly under my weight. There were several fresh trails from both pine marten and fisher crossing the lake. - Bill

11/25/00 - Derald Storlie, owner of our nearest competitor Sawtooth Outfitters, and a good friend, died suddenly an unexpectedly yesterday of a heart attack. He was in Waseca, Minnesota, helping his mother arrange her affairs after the death of his father just two weeks ago. He was ice skating with his son when he died, which was his favorite activity in the world. It is hard to imagine a nicer guy than Derald. He will be sorely missed by many. - Bill

11/22/00 - I tried to ski on the lake again yesterday. Most of the ice seemed fine, but some of the snow covered areas creaked, cracked and gurgled as I strode over them. Before I got more than 100 yards my skis abruptly shot out from under me and I crashed down flat on my back on the unforgiving ice. The cartoon move included multiple bounces of my noggin. I lay on my back and watched the grey clouds glide by, thinking to myself "this is not going well."

Being a slow learner and a born optimist, I tried again today. Another inch of snow fell overnight, covering much of the bare ice on the lake. Last night's below zero temperatures (first of the season) thickened the ice to about 3" - plenty to support a skier. I was able to ski comfortably along the shore all the way to the Smoke Lake portage. Pine marten tracks laced along the shoreline. When I turned to head back, I was treated to a fleeting purple sunset, not in the west, but in the south with a slight westerly trend. The euphoria of gliding through the deserted wilderness soon made me forget my aches and pains (literally in the butt) from yesterday's big fall. - Bill

11/21/00 - Sawbill Lake froze over on November 19th. I tried (foolishly) to ski on it on the 20th. My first step onto the ice was my last, as my foot plunged straight through into the frigid water. Fortunately, I was smart enough to choose a shallow spot for my first step.

Cindy and I just returned from Chicago. We attended the wedding of former Sawbill crew member Chris Nelson. Chris was originally a camper with the Flossmoor Community Church, a long time Sawbill client from the south side of Chicago. Also in attendance at the wedding were Karen Blackburn and John Oberholtzer, both former Flossmorians and former Sawbill crew members. Both Karen and John (OB) have chosen to settle near Sawbill in the charming town of Grand Marais, Minnesota. The wedding and reception were in the tradition of Chris' bride, Euridice Chrones, who is Greek. It was fun to experience the elaborate Greek Orthodox ceremony and the authentic Greek dancing at the reception. The night before, Chris and Euridice treated us to a wonderful Greek dinner in Chicago's Greektown district. The biggest culture shock for Cindy and I was rush hour traffic on the Chicago freeways. They are a quite a contrast to the good ol' Sawbill Trail.

Along the way, we stopped to visit crew members Adam Hansen and Ruthie Hansen. Adam is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin and Ruthie is a freshman at the University of Chicago. - Bill

11/14/00 - The absence of an entry here is partly due to our annual moving of the computers from the office behind the store to the office in our home. With the networking, inevitable upgrades and the sheer scale of the task, it takes us awhile to get organized again. Now the store is dark and cold, the water is drained, the inventory packed away, and the electricity shut off. The ground is covered with snow, but not enough to ski yet. The lake hasn't frozen, but some of the small ponds have skimmed over, so we expect lake ice this week. As always, we have our fingers crossed for smooth ice thick enough to skate on.

Dave Freeman, long time Sawbill crew member, is embarking on an interesting and ambitious project this winter. Border Country Adventure is the name he has given to an epic winter camping trip that he is taking to raise wilderness awareness among the public. Assisted by a sled dog, Dave will pull a sled across the length of the BWCA Wilderness for six weeks beginning February 1st. He will be updating his website via satellite telephone during the entire adventure. Visit his website now for more details. We will be following Dave's progress with interest.

Sawbill related items continue to pop up on eBay. Last week there was a vintage postcard from Sawbill Lodge circa 1951. I was going to put a link to it here, but apparently was too slow and it is already sold. Currently there is a vintage Sawbill Outfitters grey hooded sweatshirt available from a seller in Duluth. This is very amusing for us. We still sell them new in the good ol' sawbill Store. - Bill

11/4/00 - Some would call it adventurous, some would call it sheer stupidity. That's right folks it's another episode with the Sawbill Polar Bear Club! I guess it's not much of a club any more seeing that I'm the last remaining member, but for the sake of continuity we'll call it a club. The weather was beautiful today after several days in a row of gloom and rain, so I had to jump at the opportunity to freeze my tail off. Also, I vowed to get in the lake on my last day of work at Sawbill and sadly, that day has come. Again, I forgot to bring a thermometer with me so I can't give a precise measure of the temperature of the water in Sawbill Lake, but here's a little description to give you an idea of where it's at. The Polar Bear Club members never jump in the lake just one time , it's simply not allowed, an encore is required. Today upon pulling myself out of the lake after the encore I actually got a brain freeze, you know, an ice cream headache. Needless to say, the whole experience was fairly intense. I'd like to dedicate today's jump to the Sawbill Crew Late Season Bachelors Association (SCLSBA) and two of its three members, Eric "Frosty" Frost and John "The Man with the Plan" Mlade, here's to you boys.

So it's time for me to say good-bye to Sawbill and make the big move off into my post undergraduate future. I owe quite a bit to this wonderful place, more than I could ever express in this newsletter. If any of you are in the New York Metro area, please look me up, I'll take you on a paddle down the Hudson! Take care everyone. Cheers! - Hoeky
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « October 2000 | December 2000 »


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