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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: April 2001
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « March 2001 | May 2001 »
4/30/01 - What a difference a few days can make. Sawbill Lake's ice cover measured only 12" last night, only half of what it was just three days ago. The snow is all gone except for piles where the drifts used to be. A week ago we were slogging through 6" of fresh snow in our pack boots. The high temperature yesterday was 77 degrees and the low last night was 57. With warm weather forecast all week, the ice could be gone in just a few more days. - Bill

4/26/01 - The lake ice measured 24" this afternoon, but the top 18" is watery slush. Only 6" is hard ice. The ice is detached from shore and floating. I needed to use a canoe as a bridge to get out to the ice pack. I discovered the 18' slush layer by trying to step out of the canoe and immediately sinking nearly to my knee in nature's slurpee. The ice on one of the small ponds along the Sawbill Trail will probably go out today. - Bill

4/24/01 - With 3" of moisture and 6" of fresh snow, the lakes and rivers are brimming with water. Although the rain must have degraded the ice somewhat, it is still 25" thick this morning. If you have an early May reservation, don't panic yet. The weather forecast is for very warm weather for the foreseeable future. I was tempted to set a ski track on the campground roads this morning, but by 9 am melting had already begun. The skis are put away and I guess that is where they should stay (sigh).

Looking from the canoe landing back toward the store at 9 a. m.

4/19/01 - The ice on Sawbill Lake is 27" thick.

4/18/01 - We received our annual truckload of new Wenonah Kevlar canoes yesterday. Each canoe comes wrapped in shrinkwrap plastic. When it is removed from all the canoes, it forms a dumpster sized pile of waste. The only empty dumpster at Sawbill is down in the campground, accessible only by unplowed roads, still covered with 18" of snow. Our solution for transporting the waste was to load it into a Royalex canoe and tow it with the snowmobile. This works surprisingly well. The plastic canoe slides easily over the wet snow and its shape makes it track perfectly behind the snow machine. Carl, Clare, Beth and Justin all took turns riding in the canoe while I drove. The sheer silliness of it was cause for much hilarity. Sorry, we were having too much fun to stop and take a picture.

Brand new Wenonahs in the sun.

4/17/01 - We had 4" of new snow, the temperature didn't get above freezing yesterday, and the low last night was 14F. I skied up Sawbill Lake yesterday into the teeth of a 30 mph wind. It took me half an hour to get to Kelso Bay and fifteen minutes to get back. Along the west shore there were a few spots where last week's warm weather had opened up some water. The blowing snow had turned this open water to slush. As I skied by, an otter popped up through the slush about six feet away. I don't know which of us was more surprised. The otter ducked back under the ice and did not reappear. This time of year they can travel great distances under the ice by breathing from air pockets that are trapped on the underside of the ice.

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters 4/16/01

4/13/01 - Carl and I measured 29" of lake ice right in front of the canoe landing last night. As we drilled the hole we watched an otter run down the length of the opposite shore - run, run, sliiiide, run, run, sliiide... The ice is not very solid, except for the bottom twelve inches or so. We'll be reporting the progress of the ice melt every few days for awhile. As ice out day draws near, we'll do a daily report.

The second Sawbill crew member has arrived for the season. Justin Hoekstra is from the Chicago area and is the younger brother of former Sawbill crew member Erik Hoekstra. He will be attending the University of Illinois, Chicago, in the fall.

4/11/01 - The first Sawbill crew member of the season has arrived. Beth Rolf has most recently been living in Minneapolis, but is originally from Glencoe, Minnesota. Welcome Beth.

4/7/01 - At 6 AM this morning it was pouring rain with 30 mph winds and the temperature hovering at 34 degrees. I am guessing we've had well over an inch of rain in the last few hours. The snow, which was 30" deep less than a week ago, dwindled to 20" yesterday and is down to 12" today. This is the most unpleasant and dangerous weather that this part of the world has to offer. It is much easier to deal with 30 below than this. I spent 15 minutes cleaning pine needles out the gutters this morning. Even in that brief time my shirt was getting wet under my rain suit and my fingers were numb and fumbling. This is one of the very few mornings that I was actually grateful to not be camping.

We've received many expressions of sympathy since Gust's death on Thursday. Thanks to everyone. Here are a couple of samples.

Eric Frost writes from Katmandu, Nepal:

Hi Sawbill -Perhaps the greatest gift to my outlook on life was seen through a dog's smile. Guster was a fully doctrinated professor of the courses in relaxation. Walking through the campground with him taught me the beauty of slowing down and letting life catch up at it's slower speed. He saw new leaves on trees and stopped to nap at them, not out of exhaustion, but rather out of appreciation. He appreciated the cold floor of the Dome, even when CO+ groups of 9 were wondering what they had gotten themselves into. It was only through a simple wag of the tail that showed his genuine gratitude of being fed from abandoned fire grates and being able to dig his nose in a rotting birch stump. He was content in his lot of being a scavenger (of which I think perfection is too weak of description), knowing that Carl or Clare would still feed him at the end of the day. He didn't seem to care that the world was seemingly passing him by. Maybe it's just the fact that I admired him for remembering me summer after summer. Nonetheless, he's more noble of a character than most of my duo-pod friends. He's a loss not only to Sawbill, but to those who he taught the righteousness of the humility which he took in every step: good dog, and a great friend of mine. - Frosty

And this from the Freiermuth family:

We are terribly saddened by the news of Gusts passing. Gust was an inspiration to dog lovers. It was his good nature that convinced us to get a Golden Retriever (Elmer) that is now almost 9 years old. Sawbill was made a destination of ours at times over the years because the kids wanted to see and feed Gust. He never failed to show up at our campsite and in the true spirit of the wilderness, left it better than he found it through his kindly spirit and friendliness. Even in his death, Gust brings to us a reminder of the reality and fragility of life and an appreciation of what we have. When all of Gods kindly animals gather together someday, they'll call Gust BOSS. - The Freiermuths, Gary,Deb, Alison and Nick

4/6/01 - Many of you will be sad to hear that Gust, our large affable golden retriever, died yesterday evening. He drowned in Sawbill Lake after falling through a hole in the ice near the headwaters of Sawbill Creek. Gust had fallen through the ice before, but he was always able to touch bottom and could easily jump out. This time, the ice broke in a way that trapped him over deep water and he succumbed to cold and fatigue.

Gust live the most perfect life a dog could ask for. He never knew the leash or the kennel. His backyard was an unbroken wilderness larger than several states. He had hundreds, if not thousands, of people who petted and loved him. He was a genius in two distinct fields of endeavor: He had an amazing ability to nap often and hard; and he was the best campground moocher that ever lived. He had perfected the art of looking starved and pitiful while actually being grossly obese. He was the most mellow of souls. He never had a fight, was infinitely patient with toddlers and puppies, and exuded a quiet dignity. He will be sorely missed by all.

Gustavus Adogus Hansen 1990 - 2001

4/3/01 - Beautiful spring weather is here today. At 7 PM it is still 45 degrees. Although the snow is settling fast, we still have about 30" on the ground. We are starting to get inquiries about the projected ice-out date. It is always dangerous to predict ice-out. Within the next week or two we'll start posting regular updates on the ice thickness. Right now it is more than two feet thick. We are enjoying the frozen surface for skiing and kite flying.
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « March 2001 | May 2001 »


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