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Phone: (218)663-7150
Fax: (218)663-7980
Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: September 2006
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « August 2006 | October 2006 »

9/30/06 - The Wales family has been exploring the area around Sawbill by canoe for many, many years. Donald and Helen Wales introduced their children to wilderness canoeing beginning in the '50s, staging large scale trips out of the Sawbill Lake campground. They have a particular tradition of exploring remote and less visited lakes. Don passed away in 1991 and Helen lives in Phoenix now. The fourth generation of Wales are now carrying on the tradition.

(l-r) "Dani" Becker, girlfriend of Joel Wales; Zachary Moreno, oldest child of Pamela Wales-Moreno and great grandson of Donald and Helen Wales; Greg Wales; Connie Wales (who honeymooned with Greg on Ada Lake in 1969); Joel Wales, Greg and Connie's 6th child; Moriah Wales, Greg and Connie's 7th child.

9/28/06 - I'm sure everyone is getting a little tired of photos of colorful leaves, but since they are starting to fall from the trees at an alarming rate I figured I would include them in one last entry. The weather is beginning to cool off and every now and then I catch a scent of winter in the air. It's not time to put away the canoes just yet, though. -Corey

Fallen leaves along a nearby trail.

The colorful forest floor.

Just another ho-hum sunset on Sawbill Lake!

9/24/2006 - The signs of Autumn are all here: The air has taken on the distinctively crisp feeling of Fall. Some brightly-colored leaves cling tenuously to their branches, others crunch underfoot. The fireplace in the Sawbill store roars merrily. The yearly Sawbill used-equipment sale is underway. The pace of life has become at once leisurely and frenetic-- There are fewer paddlers but also fewer days left until Winter sets in.

The view from the Sawbill canoe landing. Brightly colored leaves stand out against a background of blue water and evergreens.

The maples have reached their fiery peak and begun to shed their leaves.

Autumn's oranges and yellows abound.

9/23/03 - Former Sawbill crewmembers Steve Surbaugh and John "OB" Oberholtzer took their eldest children out on their first overnight canoe trip a few weeks back. Steve's son, Will, and OB's daughter, Hazel, enjoyed their stay on Alton lake. The kids expressed some concerns about bears after seeing the bear in the permit video--they didn't end up seeing any bears, although Hazel attests to hearing one in the middle of the night. Steve sent along these adorable photos from their excursion.

OB, Will, Hazel and Steve pose at the Sawbill landing as they prepare to begin their trip. Will and Hazel were both equipped with small paddles so they could help the canoe surge through the sparkling water of Sawbill lake.

Proud papa, OB, looks proudly on as the kids enjoy their first overnight BWCA experience.

Will Surbaugh snarfs down some spaghetti fireside. "Camping is fun!"

9/21/06 - Today I'd like to take a moment to mention the current Wilderness Classroom project run by Sawbill crewmembers Dave Freeman and Eric Frost along with Amy Voytilla. On September 1st, Dave and Amy paddled away from Grand Marais in two kayaks. They are circumnavigating Lake Superior while teaching elementary students about the importance of clean water through frequent updates to their website via satellite phone. Visit the Superior Waters website for daily updates, podcasts, and videos.

Amy explores a dramatic cliff along the Lake Superior shoreline.

Amy inspects one of the ancient and mysterious "pukaskwa pits" in Ontario's Pukaskwa Provincial Park.

Dave and Amy kayaking on Lake Superior.

9/20/06 Life at the end of the trail is slowing down a bit. There have been fewer people canoeing this week, but we have been visited by a few hunters and a number of fall foliage enthusiasts. The weather has cooled off as well, but today has been a clear, blue sky autumn day. -Corey

Crewmember Carl Geving took this picture on a recent trip down some nearby forest service roads.

This is a photo of a canoe bought by Sawbill customer Harvey Diehl's father in 1951. This photo was taken on a recent trip to Flame Lake. The canoe has been to Sawbill many times over the years and has even been paddled all the way to Hudson Bay!

9/19/06 - We received some interesting photos today. Larry Wilbers sent these two photos:

Steve, Ed and Larry Wilbers (father, son and grandfather, respectively), posing before their Sawbill canoe trip in 1983.

The same trio in 2006. Ed still gets to wear the dorky lifejacket :-)

Nancy Grimes sent this gorgeous picture of Burnt Lake:

Burnt Lake just before sunrise in early September.

9/18/06 - The rain has finally come to Sawbill! We have had a few days of very welcome moisture to help squelch the forest fires north of Brule which have not yet been contained, but are not currently spreading. It has been called to my attention that there have not been enough pictures of the natural beauty which surrounds us so I am including some fall photos of the Sawbill area. I am also including a photo of Jessa Wallendal who, along with Ruthie Hansen, Bhupesh Pattni and Eric Frost, rounds out the new fall additions to our crew. More to come soon! -Corey

A placid morning near Sawbill Creek.

A bright red maple along the Sawbill Trail.

A birch grove with some early yellow leaves.

Carlton Peak in full fall bloom.

Our newest employee and long time Sawbill friend, Jessa Wallendal.

9/17/06 - We received this nice email this morning:

Hi there,

I just wanted to drop a line and let you know how much I enjoyed staying in the Sawbill campground. I usually stay at Baker Lake so this was a nice change. I emailed some pictures I took when I went out on Sawbill Lake in one of your canoes with my Yorkie. She had a blast, had never been in a canoe before so I was surprised to see that she was very relaxed during our 3 hour adventure. She even has a little portaging under her belt now as we went to Alton Lake as well.

Without giving you my life history I will just say I have cared for my husband, who is quadriplegic, for the past 17 years. Things have taken a great toll on me lately and my trips up the Sawbill Trail this summer have allowed me to "escape" into my own world of peace and tranquility as I am happiest when I'm out in the woods. The only problem I run into is that I never want to leave!! Your staff was friendly as always and helpful. I look forward to visiting you again soon.

Pookie says to say hi to Mary Alice, Homer and Izzy!

Take care,
Melanie Vittitow and Pookie Bear

Melanie and her dog relaxing in the sunshine on the Alton portage.

Pookie Bear is geared up for canoeing.

9/16/06 4 PM - Here is a good map of the Famine and Redeye fires burning north of Brule Lake. We did receive a small amount of rain this morning, but the remainder of the day has been cool and overcast. More rain is predicted for tonight.

9/16/06 9 AM - There are several new fires burning in the BWCA Wilderness. So far, none of them are threatening Sawbill. Some of the routes that our customers use are closed. Everything north of Brule Lake and east of Long Island is closed. The route passing through Long Island up to Tuscarora and Little Sag is open. The Gunflint Trail has been evacuated as a precaution. Rain is expected today, but also high winds, so we'll see what happens.

Amazingly, there are no campfire restrictions in place. The forecast calls for much cooler and wetter days ahead, so let's hope that it is accurate. Low water continues to be annoying on many routes. On the positive side, last week's frost has really set the foliage ablaze.

Follow these links for more info:
Fire-related BWCAW Closures
Red Eye and Famine Fire Update

9/13/06 - As you can see from the lack of newsletter entries, this is a very busy time of year for us. While use of the BWCA Wilderness is down, many of our employees are gone, so we are busier than ever. Luckily, we have more help this fall than we've had in many years.

The weather has continued to be beautiful. Every day is sunny and warm, although the nights are starting to get cool. We had four nights of frost in a row last week. The underbrush is starting to turn colors and the trees will follow soon.

It is quite dark by 7:30 pm now, so we have adjusted our hours to 8 am - 7 pm.

9/4/06 - Today is yet another sad day at Sawbill. Three more crew members are leaving us. Alison Behm (Kathy) is moving to St. Paul to begin her first semester at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Missy Peschman is also moving to the Cities to attend Northwestern Medical Institute and our very own Pat Nash is taking off for a two week vacation in Alaska. We will miss you all and wish you the best of luck in your adventures.

Today also marked the end of Labor Day weekend which in turn marks the end of our peak season here at Sawbill. Our bluegrass friends and their families left this morning so tonight we will be without music. Unless I get out the guitar and start singing away, but no one wants that! -Corey

Kathy and Missy all smiles on the summit of Carlton Peak.

Missy gets two photos on the website today with this one of her and Nash just before they left Sawbill.

9/4/06 - Brianna Luduigson and her family had a great encounter with a black bear on Sawbill Lake yesterday. They were out fishing when they heard a bear splash into the water just north of the Sawbill campground. They watched it for several minutes while it appeared to simply enjoy a little soak. It eventually ambled back up on shore and into the forest. Although it was sighted within a quarter mile of the campground, no one saw it in the campground overnight. It is always fun to see a bear in the wilderness that is not actively trying to eat your food. - Bill

A large black bear enjoys a Labor Day weekend swim in Sawbill Lake. Photo by Brianna Luduigson.

9/2/06 - Yesterday was a very busy day for Sawbill. The annual pre-freshman canoe trip from Carleton College showed up in the afternoon and kept us all busy. Then in the evening we were entertained by a group of bluegrass musicians who come and stay in our campground every summer. The banjos, guitars, mandolins and various other instruments and voices rang out into the clear star-filled night. Here's a few photos from the campfire jam session. -Corey

Pete Mathison holds forth on the bass during the bluegrass jam.

Eric Frost takes a turn on the upright.

Kathy (or Alison as some people insist on calling her) plays her cello at the jam.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « August 2006 | October 2006 »

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