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Email: info@sawbill.com
Phone: (218)663-7150
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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615


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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: February 2001
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « January 2001 | March 2001 »
2/28/01 - We received about 13" of snow over the weekend. Near Lake Superior, 24" fell and in the highlands just inland from the big lake 30 or more inches fell in some places. One of my extracurricular activities is substitute driver of the snow cat that grooms the 70 kilometers of cross country ski trails that lace the hills above Lake Superior in Tofte. The snow cat, brand named Pisten Bully (which means mountain goat in German, I'm told), is a large machine with a 170 horse power diesel engine. It is actually designed for grooming downhill skiing runs, so it has an incredible ability to climb hills. In spite of this ability, in the face of 30+ inches of fresh powder, even the Pisten Bully had trouble. On the first pass, it had all it could do just to punch through, without grooming the trail flat or setting the tracks. On the second pass I was able to lay down a nice track and skating trail, but suffered from what groomers call "falling off the platform." In years of very deep snow, the repeated grooming actually builds up a raised platform, layer by layer. Eventually, this platform surface is 3 or 4 feet off the ground, surrounded by a sea of soft snow. When climbing the hills pulling the heavy grooming equipment, the machine will sometimes break off the edge of the platform and wallow sideways into the powder snow, which acts a lot like quick sand. Fortunately, the machine is powerful enough to maneuver back onto the trail, allowing another attempt at climbing the hill. This scenario repeated itself dozens of times during the 25 hours of grooming I did during the last two days.

I actually groom two additional small trails by snowmobile. One is here at Sawbill and the other is behind Birch Grove Elementary school in Tofte. The snowmobile is also susceptible to "falling off the platform," although the solution for that dilemma is to physically lift the snowmobile back up on the trail. This is a particularly difficult task while standing in chest deep snow.

The bright side of all this travail is that the ski trails are in beautiful condition and should stay that way for awhile :-) Bill

2/22/01 - We are back from a lovely vacation in the mountains of British Columbia. We snowboarded, downhill skied, and cross country skied until we could barely stand up. It is beautiful country populated by very friendly people.

Today, as if to welcome us home, a beautiful red fox strolled up to the house and hung around under the bird feeders for a few hours. At times, we were only about three feet away from him, separated only by a window pane. Homer, the golden retriever puppy, was asleep on the back porch the whole time. He is a very curious dog and would have loved to make the acquaintance of Mr Fox.

 

2/12/01 - Several of us, including the all the current newsletter contributors, will be heading out on vacation for the next week. Frank and Mary Alice will be available by phone, for questions or reservations. I will be checking the email from afar, but probably will not be able to post newsletter entries until we return. We are making our first family visit to the Canadian Rockies. Skiing of all types will be the activity of choice. We are excited for this new experience and will probably have a few stories to tell. - Bill

2/11/01 - Real winter weather is a welcome relief after three years of abnormally warm Februarys. We had 7" of snow a few days ago and last night the temperature dipped to -27 F. This morning, the clouds have returned and it is snowing again.

Minor disaster struck on Friday night when a freak accident ended up frying my laptop computer. I won't go into details, but it is safe to say that spilling Chardonnay on a laptop is good neither for the computer nor the wine. While most of my data was backed up, some emails that came in on Thursday and Friday are now locked in an inaccessible hard drive. The technicians assure me that the data will be safe, but unusable for the next week or so while the computer gets fixed.

2/7/01 - Yesterday was Frank Hansen's 80 birthday. Frank is, along with Mary Alice Hansen, the founder of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters. He is also a child psychologist, former county commissioner, and participant in too many community organizations to list in one place. He is also my father. He celebrated with a small family gathering at Superior Shores in Two Harbors. Frank received many cards and emails from former Sawbill crew members. Most people are expressing amazement that Frank is 80 due to his generally more youthful appearance and activity.
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « January 2001 | March 2001 »

 


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