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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: July 2004
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2004 | August 2004 »
7/30/04 - Not to be outdone by Shawn Peyton, Sawbill customer Michael Newmeister sent us this pic from a recent Boundary Waters trip he took out of Sawbill. This 42" Northern Pike was released and can be found prowling in a lake near you.

Nice fish, Mike.

7/28/04 - Effective July 30, a partial fire ban will go into effect in the BWCAW. In the restricted area, fires will be permitted only between 7 p.m. and midnight. The restricted area includes all the lakes east of Hazel, Wine and Mesaba Lakes (including Sawbill Lake). The ban also includes almost all of the northern half of the BWCAW. Fires are still permitted at any time in the unrestricted area.

Sawbill customers Jim and Pat Langsdale from Texas stopped in yesterday on their way to Burnt Lake. They were visiting the site where they were engaged 27 years ago.

Jim and Pat Langsdale

7/25/04 - Sawbill customer Shawn Peyton bragged to us back in May that he caught a monster Northern Pike up on Trail Lake. Yesterday he sent us the proof via email. Trail Lake sits exactly on the halfway point of the rugged and infrequently-used Louse River. Ordinarily, we don't like to disclose the location of big fish on this page, but we are confident that, as in the past, only the most determined anglers will make the trip to Trail. I am always trying to convince our more adventurous customers to give the Louse River a try. It's got the whole package--solitude, scenery, fishing, nasty portages--everything you could want out of a wilderness trip. Shawn gives some great description in an article he published on

Sawbill customer Shawn Peyton and fish pause for reflection.

Some campers recently discovered a female's wedding band on a campsite on Polly Lake. The ring, pictured below, has "BECKY 9-20-02" and "14K-L" engraved on the inside. Please contact us if you feel you have any relevant information which could help us track down the ring's owner.

Is this your ring?

7/23/04 - Every few years or so, we Sawbill crew members like to take a few days to reorient ourselves with our popular canoeing routes. It's a tough gig, but it's only fair to our customers if we know the facts before counseling them to go this way or that way. Crew members Dave Freeman, Jeff Green, former crew member Eric Frost ('97 - '02) and I decided to check out the remote Frost River this past week. The highlight of any visit to Frost Lake is a visit to the fabled brown sand beaches. After winding our way through miles of river and climbing over a half-dozen or so beaver dams, we reached to headwaters and settled into a nice rhythm of swimming, fishing and relaxation.

Crew member Jeff Green passes out immediately after being told he accidentally paddled to Mexico.

7/19/04 - On Saturday night we got a call from the Forest Service requesting our assistance. A man and his 12 year old son were stranded on Malberg Lake, a 4-hour paddle North of Kawishiwi Lake, when their canoe was ripped in half after flipping in a set of rapids. Eric Frost, a former crew member, and I set out yesterday morning to bring them a new canoe. It took us a few minutes to get used to our silent partner, the second canoe dragging behind ours, but we soon settled into a steady rhythm as we made our way North from Kawishiwi to Malberg. Painted turtles, loons, mink, and pitcher plants captured our attention, and soon we were paddling up to the father and son waiting for their canoe. The bow and stern of their old canoe lay in a pile on the sand beach by their campsite. After a few minutes of visiting and a thorough canoe orientation we hopped back in our canoe.

I sure hope our canoe doesn't come back looking like this!

Instead of retracing our route back to Kawishiwi we decided to take the lesser traveled Louse River back to Sawbill. It was one o'clock by the time we started back, and we knew we had a solid 7 or 8 hours of paddling ahead of us. The small lakes and shallow marshy rivers that make up the Louse River are connected by a series of narrow foot paths that often combine steep hills, sharp turns, and boot-sucking mud, which can make for some very interesting portaging.

Our reward, however, was total solitude and several truly memorable animal encounters. I am sure we will remember the three river otters that spent 5 minutes barking at us as they danced around our canoe, enjoying the moment as much as we did. However, for me the real highlight of the trip was was the countless water lilies in full bloom. It is so easy to get lost in the intricate white, yellow and green patterns of a dense bed of lilies. - Dave

Eric Frost paddling through a maze of water lilies.

If you could only smell a photo!

7/17/04 - The 2004 Sawbill Beard Off has turned into a very heated competition. As we enter the final stage of the competition all competitors are concentrating on growing the best beard possible. Yesterday, a man with one of the bushiest beards I have ever seen came into the store. Anxious to gain the upper hand on my competitors I walked over to the man and started telling him about our Beard Off. I was hoping that this Jedi Master of beards would provide me with some kernel of knowledge that could transform my beard into one that Santa Claus would be proud of over night. Unfortunately, I was not able to glean his beard growing tips, but I was able to convince him to pose with us for a photo. -Dave

Walter, Pat, Jeff, and Dave pose with a man with a REAL BEARD!

7/14/04 - For one night every summer Sawbillians spin, promenade, waltz, and jig at the Dome Dance. This year's Dome Dance lived up to its growing reputation and everyone had a wonderful time dancing the night way. A huge warm fuzzy to Terence and Mark for the beautiful music and masterful calling.

Pat and Clare sharing a waltz.

Everyone take four steps in with a big Yaaaah Hoooo!!!

The whole crew smiling for the camera. Don't we look great!

7/13/04 - Molly and Taramin, one of Molly's friends, left on a canoe trip on Sunday. All of the hype that snoosing has received lately put them on high alert, and we were unable to get snoose items in their packs before they left. Unfazed, Alison and I decided to leave on a top secret snoosing mission at 6 am yesterday. Sunday night we packed a light lunch, rain gear, cameras, and our snoose item of choice, Roscoe. Roscoe is a two foot tall plastic penguin that has been floating around Sawbill for many years. We felt that Roscoe really needed something more to complete the snoose so we dressed him in "the sling-shot". The sling-shot was crafted by Sawbill's employee Sonya Hanson, it is a style of bathing suit somewhat popular in California that resembles a thong that is held up by suspenders rather than a waistband. After securing "the sling-shot" to Roscoe with a liberal supply of tape, our snoosing trio was ready to hit the water.

We sped along breaking the lakes glassy surface with every paddle stroke.

Our best intelligence told us that Molly and Taramin were camping on South Temperance Lake, about 3 hours of fast paddling from Sawbill. As the miles drifted by, the sun rose higher and the temperatures soared into the 70's. When we reached Jack Lake we began sneaking up to campsites to see if our snoosees where there. Finally we tromped across the 240 rod portage that connects Weird Lake to South Temperance. Sure that we would find them, we removed Roscoe from the pack and made plans for our attack. As we inched along the shoreline we saw Molly and Taramin enjoying a morning swim off their campsite. As we slid the canoe up to the campsite Taramin saw us and exclaimed, "Isn't that Alison?" Alison waved Roscoe at them as she leapt onto their campsite. They began swimming as hard as they could back to shore, but it was too late. We quickly paddled away, encouraging them to take good care of Roscoe.

Roscoe peeks out of Alison's pack as we tackle a portage.

Savoring the sweet smell of victory, our paddling cadence decelerated to a more normal pace and we started looking for a place to stop and have lunch. After we were sure that they were not following us, we found a nice sunny rock and stopped for a break. The rock proved to be the perfect spot for a swim, and after summoning up a little courage we began hucking our selves into the cool lake. After gobbling down a few sandwiches it was time to it the water. We still had three hours of paddling ahead of us and there was work to be done back at Sawbill.

Alison lets out a whoop as she pops to the surface.

Our muscles were beginning to tire as we paddled south down Sawbill into a growing headwind. We had been on the water 8 hours and had covered over 20 miles of lakes and portages. We slowly paddled down the lake recounting the day's events and thinking up future snooses.

7/11/04 - Yesterday afternoon the unthinkable happened. The water pump from our well gave out causing a water crisis. Showering, flushing the toilets, washing dishes, even brushing our teeth became a chore. The whole crew pitched in by hauling water from the campground and taking dips in the lake to replace hot showers. Luckily we were able to get a new pump installed this morning and everything is back to normal. Going without water for a day makes you realize that you really take running water for granted.

I could feel my beard growing as we all stood around watching the well get fixed.

A steady soaking rain lulled me to sleep last night and continued to drop much needed rain all night long. In the morning I found a beautiful Luna moth trying to dry its water-logged wings. The 6-inch long moth sat motionless as I took several photos and admired the intricate patterns that adorned its wings. Luna moths are rarely seen because they only fly at night and each moth is only alive for 6 or 7 days after emerging from its cocoon. Luna moths are unable to eat because they do not have mouths. They rely on the nourishment gained from the leaves that they devour as a caterpillar to see them through their brief winged life. - Dave

A Luna Moth drying its wings after a rainy night.

7/9/04 -

Toby (Sonya's Dog), Homer, and Sunny discuss themes for the second annual one eyed dog conference, tentatively planned for July 16th, 2005. Sunny's lecture on advanced dog treat detection for one eyed canines drew a large crowd. She is planning to publish several exciting papers on dog treat detection and several other topics in the OCCS's (Optically Challenged Canine Society's) quarterly newsletter. When asked about this year's conference, Toby said," I have always felt ashamed and alone because I poked my eye out with a squeaky toy..... Meeting other one-eyed dogs has helped me realize that there are optically challenged dogs out there living happy, healthy lives. Sunny and Homer have taught me so much. I can't wait for next summer's conference!" - Dave

7/8/04 - A beautiful day brought day trippers out in droves, keeping the store and the rental department busy all morning. Now people are returning with stories of moose sightings and great fishing. Today was certainly a great day to be out paddling. Some of our crew members have been gone for the last few days enjoying this fine weather. Walter, Alison, and Sonya are all gone right now and it doesn't feel the same without them. Walter headed home to Indiana for Freshman orientation: he will be starting college at Purdue at the end of August. Sonya and Alison are exploring the north woods on foot and by canoe.

For many years now a game of cat and mouse has been played between crew members leaving on trips into the wilderness and crew members left behind to run Sawbill. We worked hard this week, and we are confident that both Alison and Sonya were carrying a little something extra when they left Sawbill. The idea is to find creative, sometimes heavy objects that people will have no use for during their trip. Once items have been selected, the crew does everything in their power to slip items into the travelers' packs in strict secrecy. If an item is successfully placed in someone's pack and they leave on their trip without noticing it, they have been "Snoosed"! No one wants to be snoosed, so potential snoosees often carry their packs around with them as they pack, lock packs in their cars, pack their packs in the middle of the night, or in extreme cases pack a set of dummie packs and then pack their real packs in secret.

Sonya and her family pose for photos as snoosers cram useless items into their packs.

At the same time, the snoosers are constantly looking for new ways to trick the snoosees. The most common method of snoosing is the "lay in wait" method, which involves waiting around until a potential snoosee leaves a pack unattended. The "distraction" method, which involves setting up a distraction that will draw a crew member away from the packs long enough for other crew members to sneak in and plant the snoose items, is also common. We used this "distraction" method while snoosing Sonya and her parents. Another method is to stick items in sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and tents and hope that the snoosees choose those items when they pack their packs. In extreme cases, snoosers will paddle out into the BWCAW at night in search of crew members' campsites. Once located, a highly trained set of snoosers can wreak havoc on a campsite. One of my favorite snooses involved trading someone's 42-pound, ultra-light kevlar canoe for a 63-pound Alumacraft in the middle of the night!

Now all we can do is wait for the snoosed to return from their trips and scheme about future snooses. Unfortunately, I think I will be the next crew member to go out on a trip. I'd better have my wits about me while I pack. - Dave

7/6/04 - The US Forest Service tells us they are finding more evidence than in the past of campers in the BWCA burning their garbage--especially plastics. They have issued a warning to permit issuing stations (which we, in turn, are passing on to you) basically stating that rangers will be looking for this violation and will not hesitate to issue citations.

In other news, we have failed to report so far that former Sawbill crew member, Nathan TerBeest ('97 - '03), and his longtime lady friend, Belinda, tied the knot on June 19 in lovely Sioux Center, Iowa. Sawbill was well represented, and everyone seemed to have a Nathan story good enough to make his Mother-in-Law-to-be blush. Nathan's skill and charm are already missed up here; we made the same plea to him we give to all of our former employees who leave Sawbill for the real world: quit, come back.

Nathan and Belinda TerBeest maintain composure on their wedding day.

7/5/04 - Another July 4 weekend come and gone--plenty of action at Sawbill. We had (another) festive dinner Friday night featuring beach-themed food and attire. Former crew members Paul Lundgren, Will Decker and Sandy Zinn were on hand to commemorate the creation of the now-imfamous Sawbill Beach club, an organization they helped found sometime back in the depths of Sawbill antiquity (possibly the late '80s).

I wish they all could be Sawbill girls ...

Words escape me ...

7/2/04 - One of my favorite BWCA lakes of all time has to be Makwa--huge cliffs, clear, deep water, and great lake trout hunting. With the impending July 4 rush still a day away, Lida and I couldn't resist the chance to go up there for a casual lunch date yesterday. After 1 1/2 hours of cliff jumping and sunbathing, and a lunch of ultra-thick thuringer and cheese sandwiches, we headed back to Sawbill via Little Saganaga (another great lake). It should be noted that during the course of the day, Lida spotted three Western Painted turtles, and I saw only two.


Lida deftly paddles the new Bell Kevlar Seliga.

In a competition utterly unrelated to turtles, the First Annual Sawbill Beard-Off is well underway and several key trends are beginning to emerge. Dave Freeman and Pat Nash are locked in a dead heat for the Length, Thickness and Overall Aesthetic categories; Walter Booker looks like a shoe-in for "Best Skunk Spot"; Jeff Green and Loren Mcwethy are vying for the prized "Most Vagrant-Like" award. Meanwhile, Adam Hansen appears to be running away with the fan favorite "Best Trash 'Stache."

In a move that is sure to shake up the competition, former crew member Erik Hoekstra ('98 - '00) shaved off his beard of four years and threw it into the ring. Will he catch the other competitors? Check back here to find out.

Left: Former crew member Erik Hoekstra is back on the straight and narrow. Right: Current crew member Jeff Green is not.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2004 | August 2004 »

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