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

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: June 2007
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « May 2007 | July 2007 »

6/29/07 - Yesterday evening a few of the Sawbill crew were lucky enough to have our own fly fishing lesson with certified master casting instructor John Breslin. Mr. Breslin is the father of one of our crewmembers, Molly Breslin. This was my first exposure and I must say it's a beautiful and artistic sport that is a wonder both to watch and to practice. The line arches through the air, whistling, then settles quietly in the water just to be snapped out again, leaving a line of ripples behind. Fly fishing is the oldest kind of angling, dating back about 500 years. Of course our casts were "noodly" at times and it was a very good thing we didn't have any hooks, but Mr. Breslin's smooth and perfectly timed movements were a treat to watch.

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To top it off, Mr. Breslin just returned from a canoe trip on the Lady Chain lakes with Molly. And the fishing was excellent with pictures to prove it. - Caitlin

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Mr. Breslin proves his expertise with a beautiful Small Mouth Bass.

6/28/07 - We are, inexcusably, almost a month late in announcing Pat Nash's arrival at Sawbill-always a much awaited event. Nash is from Middleton, Wisconsin and a Sawbill crew veteran of five years! Below you can see a then and now shot, documenting the transformation from shy and unblemished Patrick to hardened wilderness man Nash.

Patrick, 2003.

Nash, 2007.

Lee Noble, our newest crewmember, hails from Indiana. Among his many qualities endearing him to us are his wicked crossword puzzle skills, his paddle balancing grace and the fact that he passed up a trip to Hawaii to work at Sawbill. Looks like a keeper. - Caitlin

Lee and Nash hard at work.

6/26/07 - I took a few pictures during a late afternoon paddle around the Kelso loop this week. It turned into a perfect summer evening with a warm breeze to keep the skeeters at bay. The unusual Pitcher Plants, Wild Irises and Bullhead Lilies are everywhere in the marshy areas.

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Kelso River.

Pitcher Plants' nectar entices insects into the pitcher where slippery platelets coat their feet. The downward facing hairs inside the pitcher then prevent any escape attempts so the doomed insect slips into the pool of liquid at the bottom of the pitcher and is dissolved and digested by the plant. Yum. - Caitlin

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A shy Pitcher Plant.

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The sun goes down over Alton Lake.

6/23/07 - A big congratulations to Sawbill customers Jeff Theisen and Rebecca Oberton! They became engaged this week during their canoe trip on Cherokee Lake, and with a perfect sunset in the background no less.

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Jeff Theisen and Rebecca Oberton, recently engaged.

Another congratulations goes out to Roger and Judy Pedersen on their 48th wedding anniversary. Roger and Judy honeymooned at Sawbill 48 years ago today! This year they made the trip all the way from Cape Coral, Florida to celebrate in the BWCA once again.

Roger and Judy Pedersen, celebrating 48 years of marriage.

What better setting for these joyful milestones? Thank you for sharing your stories and we wish you all the best. - Caitlin

6/22/07 - Happy Solstice! The Sawbill crew rang in the official start of summer with a Crazy Hair party this year. The looks ranged from mohawks to up-dos accessorized by tree branches. An impressive showing as always. - Caitlin

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Sawbill Solstice party.

6/19/07 - Sawbill has many customers that unfailingly make the trip up The Trail each year to spend a few days enjoying the wilderness. This week it is the one and only Team Fubar, Team Norski and Team U-Boat that have congregated up here to fish themselves silly. Jack Brenegan of Team Norski brought this picture with him this year of him and Doug Redsten and the 3 walleyes they caught on Alton in 1987. All together their catch weighed in at 28 lbs! Jack was quick to point out that now they would release any fish that big.

Jack and Doug were the first ones to start coming to Sawbill around the late 70s. As they returned each year their numbers began to grow. Sadly, Doug passed away in 1995 at which point the rest of the group of friends and family that had by then made the Sawbill trip a staple of their summer schedules decided to set up the three Teams. Team Fubar is led by Darrel Parker and Fred Escher. Team Norski (named for their Norwegian heritage) is captained by Jack Brenegan and his brother Duane Brenegan. Team U-Boat (named for their German heritage) is Jerry Keiser and Willie Schweffle. While this core has remained the same each year, from time to time they convince a few other friends and family to join them.

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Jack and Doug, first cousins, with a fantastic walleye catch in 1987.

The arrival of Teams Fubar, Norski and U-Boat and their matching hats is now a much awaited event by the Sawbill family. Not only do we love to catch up with returning customers, but this particular group enjoys themselves so thoroughly and their sense of humor is so easy that we can't help but be infected by their good spirits. - Caitlin

6/17/07 - Another new Sawbillian to introduce! Tim Rinden, a native Minnesotan, was bestowed with his nickname, in true Sawbill fashion, before he even arrived. "Tiny" is currently a student at the University of Minnesota. His first catch of the summer, seen below, further cemented him as Tiny around here.


The other two fish caught last night (by our very own Clare Hansen) were a bit more impressive. Unfortunately, an intimidating Snapping Turtle was also quite taken with them.

She was spotted near the Forest Service dock on Sawbill last night while Cindy, Johnnie, Clare and Tiny were fishing. As the story goes, she "appeared from out of the depths." Unfazed by the now four shrieking people on the dock, she made a beeline for the fish on the stringer and feasted at her leisure. As Cindy Lou put it, she went at the walleye "like it was corn on the cob!"

While she did provide a fantastic photo opp, she has also weakened the swimming enthusiasm I mentioned yesterday. Even though according to all the books, Snappers won't snap at you unless they are approached while on land. It's hard to believe the books after looking at her though. - Caitlin

Going in for the kill...


Snappers are the largest turtles in the North Woods and are most often seen in June when the females come to shore to lay their eggs. The average lifespan in the wild is around 30 years.

6/16/07 - The sun has been shining here at Sawbill this week. With temperatures in the eighties for a few days the lake has been drawing customers and crewmembers alike in for a swim (or two or three.) The fireflies are also out in force once it gets dark, making a nightly trip to the outhouse a little more enjoyable.

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Solo fishing on Sawbill.

A wildflower update: the early spring flowers have faded now to make room for the summer blooms. The low-growing white Bunchberries and yellow Clintonia can't be missed along all the roads and foot paths. The small and fragrant Twinflowers are also recently out as well as the pink Pasture Roses. As you drive up the Sawbill Trail, you will also notice purple and pink Lupins along the way. - Caitlin

6/15/07 - For the last 15 years, Dave Freeman has been warmly connected with Sawbill Canoe Outfitters. He was a full fledged crew member for a number of years. In recent years, he's been providing expert guiding services here at Sawbill.

Several years ago, Dave and former Sawbill crew member Eric Frost founded Wilderness Classroom, an educational non-profit that connects kids to wilderness through the use of innovative technology. Regular readers of this newsletter are very familiar with Wilderness Classroom's expeditions, including the recently completed Wilderness Classroom Trans-Amazon Expedition.

Now, Dave has been nominated for the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame. He was surprised at the Duluth Airport last week by the Energizer bunny, some friends in bunny ears, and the local press and television.

Dave is surprised on his return home after his latest Wilderness Classroom expedition.

So here is where you come in. Dave is one of ten finalists for the Keep Going Award and the winner is determined by the voting public. If Dave wins, Wilderness Classroom gets a significant cash award to continue their good work connecting children to wilderness. Please vote for Dave at the Energizer Keep Going Hall of Fame website.

Thanks! - Bill

6/6/07 - As of this morning, the fire ban in the BWCA Wilderness has been lifted. Fires are allowed in the fire grates at the campsites any time. Of course, as always, fires should be drowned dead out before they are left alone.

6/5/07 - While these photos show nothing of the bustling activity of Sawbill as we head into summer, they do suggest the wonder of the wilderness that so many come looking for here. - Caitlin

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Heading into summer.

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The dainty Starflower is unusual in the plant family because it often appears with the uncommon pattern of 7 petals and 7 leaves. As you can see though, they occasionally will have 6 or 8 petals or leaves.

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A spring storm rolls in over Sawbill.

6/3/07 - Sawbill was overrun yesterday by the extended local Sawbill family of former crew members and their kids (future crew members to be sure!). Everyone made the trek up the trail to help out around here and enjoy the spring weather for the day.

Our little future crew members proved themselves exceptionally capable loading trash and recycling, filling ice bags, trimming down our overflowing stock of ice cream treats and catching a very fish-like stick or two in the lake.

And their parents showed that they haven't lost their touch a bit. At the end of the day the cash registers were only off by $1.39! Thank you so much to every last one of you! The Sawbill family is one of a kind. - Caitlin

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Karen, Cloe and Hazel go for a paddle.

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Steve and Tristan sweat up a storm lugging trash and recycling. Actually Steve carried refreshments while Tristan pulled the cart. Tristan appears unhappy about this labor distribution.

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Karen Blackburn instructs her son, David, in the time honored tradition of bagging ice.

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Young Sawbillians taking a breather in the lake after a hard day at work.

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Cloe Blackburn, Hazel Oberholtzer, David Blackburn, Will Surbaugh, Tristan Surbaugh and Cy Oberholtzer on lunch break. Francis Surbaugh not pictured here (not quite ready for the big kids table).

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « May 2007 | July 2007 »

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