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Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: January 2003
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « December 2002 | February 2003 »
1/30/03 - Dave Freeman and Eric (Frosty) Frost (former Sawbill crew members) departed from Sawbill today en route to Cumberland House, Saskatchewan, to begin their Bimaadagaako Adventure. Dave's brave little Honda Civic was loaded with toboggans, camping gear, and food for eight weeks, along with two huge sled dogs. They will drive to Winnipeg tonight and on to their starting point tomorrow. To learn more about this epic adventure and the really cool educational program that goes with it, go to their website:

Dave and Frosty test the limits of their trusty Honda Civic. Frosty is so sad to be heading into the Canadian wilderness for eight weeks.

1/29/03 - Some friends and I hiked across Sawbill and Alton over to Beth Lake a couple of days ago. We saw some unusual ice formations on Alton that we attributed to the ice heaving around shallow rocks. Cindy is convinced they are ancient igloo remains. The wolves have been using the Alton to Beth portage more than people lately and we kept our eyes open for them, but only saw their tracks. On the walk back, a bald eagle was soaring high above the lake. -Beth

Heaving ice or igloo remains? The eastern shore of Beth Lake

1/27/03 - Dave Freeman and Eric Frost are here getting ready for their epic toboggan journey across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Canada. They will be trekking across remote sub-arctic Canada with the help of two sled dogs for about eight weeks. It is an interesting educational project that has them communicating with school children on the internet via satellite phone. Meanwhile, they are packing mounds of food (5,000 calories/day/each) and training the dogs. More on this exciting adventure later.

Cindy and I picked up a stray puppy on the Sawbill trail on Friday. It appeared to be a 3 month old German Shepherd mutt. We're guessing that someone dumped it off with the hope that some softhearted people (like us) would pick it up and find a good home for it. Louse Trachta, who works at the North Shore Market in Tofte adopted the affectionate little puppy. - Bill

1/23/03 - Although there's no threat of losing the snow that is on the ground (the high yesterday was -2), the forecast for additional snow is bleak. Bill pointed out the path that a vole had taken, trying to burrow its way through the snow. There wasn't even enough for the poor vole to be completely covered. There's just a half-tunnel of a trail. It looks like a snake was working its way around the shower house. Looking at the weather records we keep, we've gotten only half as much snow this winter as we had at this point last winter. -Beth

1/18/03 - The temperatures soared into the 20s yesterday and the sun even held some warmth. Homer, Sunnie, and I took a long walk, exploring a nearby logging road. We saw many tracks, some clumps of mysterious gray fur (wolf?), and a full moon rising. -Beth

Something is using this stump as a tent - its tracks are in the lower left corner of the picture. Clouds moved in at sunset and brought a dusting of snow overnight.

1/15/03 - Cindy and I went to inspect the new pile of canoes that arrived yesterday and began talking about past canoe trips that each of us had taken. The discussion soon progressed to who had done the hardest trip and which of us was the toughest. The argument heated up and led to a wrestling match in the canoe yard - with no obvious winner. So we calmed down and tried to think of a rational way to determine who was in fact the toughest. The solution suddenly seemed obvious - Who could keep their tongue on the frozen metal gunwales of the new canoes the longest. Unfortunately, I was no match for Cindy, the life-long woodsbunny. The cold weather will be around for a while though, so a re-match may be in the future. -Beth

Even Homer is smart enough not to get in on this bet. Cindy wins! - but she's still stuck to the canoe, so who's the real winner?

1/14/03 - We were just about ready to take a lunch break today, when, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but 15 shiny new Wenonah canoes. And on the coldest day of the year! Bill bundled up and helped unload them, all the while wondering why he ever came back from Tucson. Its going to be a while before the canoes get their first paddle. - Beth

Bill and Ken, the Wenonah guy, work hard unloading the new canoes. Is the temperature minus two or ninety-two?

1/13/03 - Bill is in Tucson for a few days attending a wilderness conference, enjoying the sun and heat. Cindy and I are holding down the fort here, enjoying the cold and wind. Its not likely to get above zero today, and the wind chills are around -25 degrees. Its perfect weather for sitting around inside drinking a lot of coffee (and procrastinating on starting Monday morning work). We decided we needed some proof to show Bill just how cold it was this morning, and thought some science experiments would be fun. Since we had plenty of coffee handy, we tried tossing a cup of it out the window to see what would happen. The coffee quickly disappeared in a cloud of steam. After a half a pot or so, we realized that we'd be out of coffee soon (a horrible thought!) so we switched the experiment over to blowing bubbles. The bird feeders were soon covered in membrane thin, crystalline inscribed, frozen bubbles that shatter when the birds land on them. With hands numb from being outside, we went back inside and warmed them over the last of the coffee. -Beth

The cold air makes quick work of a hot cup of coffee. A collapsed and frozen bubble on the bird feeder.

1/9/03 - Our heat wave came to a screaming halt this morning. Its about 30 degrees colder today than yesterday - making it actually feel like January again. We also got about an inch of snow overnight. -Beth

1/8/02 - Yesterday was unusually warm, with a strong south wind that made skiing on the lake difficult. So I decided to go for a run instead. As I headed down the trail in the warm sun, amazed that I was outside wearing only one layer of clothing, thoughts of summer began creeping into my head. Everything along the road is frozen and shut down for the winter, but I pictured how it looks months from now. I ran past the place where the raspberries grow thick and sweet, past the place where the birds build nests and protect them fiercely, past the place where spring puddles last for weeks and fill up with squirming tadpoles. These summery thoughts weren't caused by spring fever, I was very discouraged that the precious little snow we have was melting, I was just enjoying the January treat of unexpected warmth. I had a schizophrenic urge to be able to ski on the lake to a spot where the ice turned to water and then dive into August-temperature water. I turned around and headed back for home, tucking away the thoughts of raspberries, tadpoles, and swimming for the days when spring fever really hits. -Beth

1/6/03 - We had a busy and joyous holiday season here at Sawbill. We spent many happy hours at the Lutsen Mountains Ski Area, eating, drinking, visiting, playing cards, skiing on the lake, and ice fishing. We continue to be short on snow here, just like everywhere in the Midwest. I guess we have more than most, but the ski trails in the woods aren't open yet. As a result, we have been skate skiing on the lakes. - Bill

The Kelso side of the Sawbill to Kelso Lake portage. Clare has the blues ice fishing on Alton.
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « December 2002 | February 2003 »


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