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Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: July 2006
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2006 | August 2006 »

7/29/06 - Here at Sawbill our busy week looks as if it will only get busier. It seems that the customers have brought the heat with them. The temperature has been forcast for the 90's all week. With the heat pushing down on the crew's backs, we have searched for new forms of amusment, often found in our two lovable dogs Izzy and Homer. -Johnny

This picture of Matt at the Christmas party inspired Izzy

We all thought that Izzy looked quite the part in her new Matthawk

Izzy seen posing with her new friends, Brittany & Jakob Weninger and their dog Lizzy. (Homer seen sneaking into the picture)

7/27/06 - It has been a beautiful summer for good weather and today was as good as they come. It was in the middle 80s with just a light breeze. The bugs are just about gone for the summer - just a few mosquitoes at dawn and dusk.

The big Cavity Lake fire was never threatening us, but it has gone into hibernation during this mild, calm weather. The Forest Service is calling the fire 45% contained today and expect that number to go up over the next few days. They have half a dozen or more aircraft working the fire and nearly 500 people on the ground. The fire is almost exclusively confined to the area that blew down heavily in the July 4th, 1999 storm. A few entry points on the Gunflint Trail are closed or restricted, but the vast majority of the BWCA Wilderness is open.

As a result of the fire, there is an open fire ban in about half the BWCA Wilderness.

Here is a map of the area where open fires are currently banned. Stove are, of course, allowed everywhere. The Sawbill Campground still allows open fires.

7/26/06 - This picture was sent along by long-time Sawbill campers, Al and Arlene Olson. They spotted this pair in the pond along the Sawbill Trail about seven miles south of here. The same pair was in the pond this morning, getting photograghed by each passing car load of canoeists.


Day trippers and those who have gone through the Kelso loop recently have seen a mama moose and her baby. Even during mid day they can been seen out in the water chewing on some weeds and other plants.

7/26/06 - Merry Christmas! No, we dont have snow up here yet, but we the crew did celebrate Christmas in July. Our festive dinner had the X-mas theme, from people dressing up in costumes, decorations, and singing Christmas carols. We also participated in the tradition of secret santa. Many of the presents were very creative while some were quite random. Just as much fun either way. I got a fishing pole made by Johnny. He put both sweat and blood into making it (two stiches following a minor hand saw accident). Dinner was stuffed chicken, rolls, potatoes, cranberry, salad, gravy, the whole nine yards!

The Sawbill Crew of 2006 celebrating Christmas in July.

I am leaving on a trip for a couple of days. I am going north to Cherokee and will have stories and adventures to share on my return. Also I will have a detailed fishing report of those lakes up there.
Over and Out
Carl Geving

7/24/06 - Sunday evening held a bit of excitement for the BWCAW. There was a large storm which lingered over us for quite some time. It was a storm, which had a lot of potential. However, this potential could have been either really good or really bad. This storm--let's call it Albert (since hurricanes can be named, why not really big land storms?)--alright, so Albert had something I personally had never seen in a storm before. Usually, shortly after each flash of lighting there is a boom of thunder. Albert did not behave this way. He would have multiple strikes before any sound of thunder, as many as 30 large flashes before the thunder. It looked like there were many close calls. Crew members Corey, Johnny, Liz, Clare and myself went to the landing to watch the storm around midnight. At that time, Albert was hanging around Alton and Grace Lakes, but it was moving toward us. We watched the lighting for about fifteen minutes. During that time, there were several large strikes in which you could see not only what color shirt the person standing next to you was wearing, but also any dirt or smudge on it. After those strikes, there was the temporary blindness similar to the flash of a camera only feet from your face. With all the strikes, thankfully Albert did not cause any more fires than what we have already. Also, later that night he delivered a much needed downpour. Thank you, Albert!

Quick fire update (Cavity Lake Fire):
Size: 31,830 acres (aprox 50 square miles)
It has been burning for 10 days; it started July 14th.
Contained: 35%, and that number continues to rise rapidly
Total Personnel: 460

Bear update:
It is ALWAYS a good idea to hang your food in a tree. There are several ways to hang a pack so that it is unreachable by bears. If there isn't a good spot right there at the camp ground, keep hiking back there. When picking out a campsite, good pack-hanging trees are something that I look for before taking the site. I would rather have a good bear tree than a good tent spot. Secondly, bears have been hanging around the end of portages and swiping food when people go back for a second trip. Basically, just keep someone with the pack at all times and have it in sight. If a bear does come a little too close, shoo it away firmly--you'll both be better off. As Bill reminded me, bears want nothing to do with people, they just want food. There is more danger in a stranger's dog than a black bear.

Carl Hansen, Pat Nash, and Homer got back from their adventure to Carl Lake. Homer is glad to be home, and happy to see Cindy and Izzy. Both Carl and Pat decided to pack light this trip--neither of them brought any rain gear...which turned out to be a mistake. Lots of rain and wetness, but overall it was a good trip.

I shall have another fishing report tomorrow after I get out there and try my luck again.
(I bought a brand new lure in town and will have to give a report.)

Over and Out
Carl Geving

7/22/06 - The rain is finally here! Okay, it isn't pouring but it is a start. With the Cavity Lake fire any little bit of rain helps the 400+ personnel working. As of the last update from the Pacific Northwest National Incident website, aproximently ten percent of the fire has been contained, mainly the east and south sides. With today's showers hopefully that number will continue to rise.

Fishing Report:
Fishing has been great here! I have been nailing the small mouth. Yesterday crew member Corey Belt and I went to explore Handle Lake, which doesn't get much use. There was a beaver dam which made getting into the creek difficult. Once we were in there with all the water grasses and weeds, paddling really became a workout. On the way back I decided to do some fishing and caught several large small mouth. The first one was a pound, the second was two pounds, and the can guess it....three pounds. I only wish that I could have fished longer.
In the evening I will throw out a bobber with a leech and catch my breakfast walleye. Life is Good!

The bears are keeping busy, but thankfully away from us. I wonder how many more animals we have with the fires everywhere, the critters must go somewhere...right? Why not come here to Sawbill! The blueberry patches we usually raid have not been producing like we all hoped. Our theory is that it has been too dry and hot, but who knows, maybe there is a bear that just beats us to each patch.

The loon babies are growing up quickly. They are no longer the cute little puffs on their mothers backs. Flying is still something out of their grasp, but they are going under water for short distances. They still rely on mom and dad for food, but they are learning quickly.

Over and Out
Carl Geving

Link to Cavity Fire website:

7/20/06 - Kari found this cute little guy just outside the Sawbill store this evening and brought him in for a photo shoot. We have tentatively identified it as a juvenile American Toad (Bufo americanus), which is usually between two and four inches in length when fully grown. Look out for these toadlets as you walk around your campsite at night. -Molly

american toadlet 7_20_06.jpg
Here is a link to some good info on American toads.

7/18/06- The last few days have seen a lot of excitement from the surrounding forest fires. Luckily for us, the Sawbill area has remained unscathed. We have, however, seen a lot of smoke and ash. Tonight half the crew has taken a road trip to survey the fires on the Gunflint. Hopefully, next week will be a little less eventful. -Corey

With forest fires nearby we thought it prudent to test our sprinkler system. Pat Nash tests the sprinklers on top of the dome.

A bird's eye view of the canoe yard.

Carl Hansen shows off on his recent canoe trip.

The smoke to the north of Sawbill presents a dramatic backdrop for a beautiful sunset.

7/17/06 - This morning, it's our turn to get some of the smoke from the Cavity Lake fire. The smoke is moving in and out every few minutes, so we must be on the edge of the smoke plume. It isn't too bad - just the distinct smell of smoke in the air. Winds are predicted to switch to the south east tonight, so that will clear things up.

We had another down pour of rain this morning, dropping a quick four tenths of an inch along with a little hail. The temperature has moderated and we're glad to see the hot temperatures depart.

Cindy and I saw a small cow moose with a beautiful calf in the pond alongside the Sawbill Trail about seven miles south of here last night. Of course, we forgot to bring the camera! - Bill

7/16/06 - A lightning bolt last Friday afternoon birthed a forest fire approximately 20 miles northwest of Sawbill. Luckily, the fire is located in an area prescribed to be burned later this fall, and is near a larger area of previous prescribed burns. Therefore, the Forest Service has high confidence of bringing the fire under control, and it poses no threat to the Sawbill area. The fire news had to compete briefly this evening with a tornado warning. No tornadoes developed, but quite a bit of rain fell over the area as a cold front moved through and dropped the temperatures dramatically.
Picture of the smoke cloud taken from a Beaver float plane belonging to the Forest Service.
Smoke plumage Friday afternoon as seen from Sawbill Lake.
Attempt to get a view of the smoke plumage at sunset from the loading dock.

7/13/06 - Jim Holm from Lino lakes wrote to us to say that he found a digital camera in a tin mint container on the north end of the portage from Sawbill Lake to Ada Creek. He also found a fishing rod on a campsite on the northeast end of Sawbill Lake. If either of these items is yours, contact us and we'll get them to you. - Bill

7/10/06 - This past weekend was a busy one. Over 50 boyscouts from two troops graced Sawbill with their presence and have since been sent on trips, but not without first creating an atmosphere that only boyscouts can. Despite the eager scouts and customers the crew has found time to get out and enjoy the wonderful weather. -Johnny

Myself lounging on a rock on Kelso lake. I rock.

Finding our work done Carl and I decided to take a swim. Homer stole shotgun!

Homer excels at fetching sticks but bringing them back is another matter.

After a scare at the lake Carl and I thought it was time for Izzy's first swim lesson. Watch out for this guppy.

7/10/06 - We would be remiss if we didn't mention that Loren McWethy, former Sawbill crew member, also swam the entire length of Sawbill Lake while here for the big crew reunion last week. Loren and Liz (below) owe their inspiration to former crew member Patti Olson who first accomplished this impressive feat back in '97. The distance is five and a half miles.

Loren strokes steadily south on Sawbill Lake.

Loren strikes a victory pose. He reported slightly tired muscles, but no severe stiffness or fatigue.

7/7/06- It's been a busy but beautiful week here at Sawbill Lake. With all the former crew members gone and the excitement of the reunion dwindling, the Sawbill crew seems to be in recovery mode. Bill, Carl, Clare, Liz, and Molly have all left the grounds on canoe trips, leaving the remaining crew to our own devices. -Johnny

Late arrival crewmember,David Bodeau, is finally here.

Carl finally succeeded, with the help of Corey, in reaching the fabled Hog Lake.

Finding several hours off Liz embarked on swimming the entire length of Sawbill Lake, oneway trip lasted only 3 hours!

Liz, Corey, Carl, and Kari after finishing the Tofte Trek. Way to go guys!

7/4/06 - America's birthday seems awful quiet around Sawbill. After the wild reunion weekend, our beloved former crew members have all disappeared and we've been left a little lonely. With that in mind, I'm dedicating one last entry to reunion photos. We are managing to enjoy the 4th even without our old friends, though. This morning, Liz, Kari, Carl and myself ran in the Tofte Trek and tonight we are all off to the shore once more to watch the fireworks display at Bluefin Bay. Happy 4th of July everyone! -Corey

Adam Hansen, John Mlade, Eric Frost, Max Wilson and Erik Hoekstra get reaquainted at the porch party.

The Zinn girls (Ellen, Mary and Sandy) holding court on the deck.

Future Sawbill crewmember, Gus Nelsen.

Andrea Wicks, E.J. Gardner and Deborah Crowell put in long hours as kitchen helpers.

Annie Strupeck and Michele Thieman display our delicious desserts.

Pat O'Neill and Bear Cihlar cook up the brats!

Will Decker, who provided half our homebrew, and our evening's MC John "Obie" Oberholtzer

7/02/06 - Yesterday was the much anticipated 50th Sawbill Reunion. More than 200 former crewmembers, friends, family and dogs all made their way to the end of the trail and made this year's reunion one to remember. People began slowly trickling in during the week with the majority showing up in time for a back porch party Friday night. On Saturday evening we had an incredible bratwurst and homebrew barbeque followed by a special showing of the Sawbill Squatzi movie, a program by the crew and a late night barn dance! Thanks to all the wonderful people that made this weekend a sucess. See you all for the 60th!!! -Corey

KB puts the final touches on her cake.

Mark Boggie and Bill Hansen having a chat at the barbeque.

Jim and Fran Sampson enjoy their meal.

canoepicninc7_1_06.jpg Former crewmembers eating their brats on an alumacraft picnic table.

All the former and current employees of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters.

A bird's eye view of the crew!

Alison, Carl and I wait in the wings for our entrance during the crew program.

The Blues Brothers dancing in the dome.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2006 | August 2006 »

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