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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: August 2007
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2007 | September 2007 »

8/28/07 - After 30 years of living year round at Sawbill, Frank and Mary Alice Hansen are packing up and moving to the big city. Well, at least to Grand Marais. Prior to moving up to Sawbill full time, the Hansens commuted to Tofte for the canoeing season from their home in Bloomington. While I'm sure Frank and Mary Alice, both in their 80s now, won't miss the dusty drives "into town," we can be certain that their love for this special place remains. With Grand Marais only an hour away we're hoping they will be back to visit frequently. - Caitlin

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Everyone pitched in to load the moving van, including long-time ex-crewmember and Uhaul driver extraordinaire, Obie, as well as campground host Jim Ter Beest.

Moving Day.jpg
Frank and Mary Alice with their 26-foot truck.

8/27/07 - Jean Larson, a poet and Sawbill customer, sent us this poem and photo after her canoe trip this summer. She has been taking trips out of Sawbill for 15 years. Thank you Jean! - Caitlin

The Moonlight Act: Luna'ha

I drove up North alone under the search-lamp moon--
silver, some say, and it was--
following me along
the cliffs of Lake Superior, pale nightlight
reassuring as I slipped the lonely

--then, into the woods
away from the big lake, sliding
like oil on water over gravel, moon flashing
through the filter of forest fangs, low
mountain--Sawtooth, they say--
so I sing to the moon for reassurance, call her
Luna, Lu-na'-ha

and laugh out of a sense of love--
for Luna'ha, deep forest, momentum,

and the moonlit act
of setting up my silver
tent beneath poles of pine
beside silence.... . . ..

the lake they call Sawbill.

-Jean Larson

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Sawbill lake in the early morning. Courtesy of Jean Larson.

8/25/07 - Two of the greatest things about working at Sawbill are our fellow crewmembers and being able to spend time with each other while taking care of our work. This week Tiny and Lee cleaned up outfitting stoves and lanterns while discussing important topics ranging from the correct number of pumps required to pressurize a stove to women. All in a day's work. - Caitlin

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Lee and Tiny work on outfitting maintenance with a little bonding on the side.

8/24/07 - We received this beautiful picture from a recent Sawbill customer, Mark Manteufel. It was taken on a cold evening from an island site on the north end of Kawishiwi lake. I don't think you can help but feel more peaceful when looking at it. Thanks Mark! - Caitlin

Dusk on Kawishiwi lake.

8/21/07 - Rain! It's not often that grey and rainy skies are greeted with so much excitement and gratitude. It didn't last long and was certainly not enough to lift the fire ban, but it was a start. You can see on the weather history section of our website just how light the precipitation has been in the last three weeks especially. Keep it coming! - Caitlin

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A colorful Barberry bush catches a few raindrops.

Hazelnuts are favorite treat of the native Black Bears.

8/20/07 - Always looking for a challenge, Kari and Lida cruised around the Louse River loop last week in just 16 straight hours. This route typically requires 4-5 days to complete. These two extremely experienced crewmembers hit the water by 5:30 am and returned back to Sawbill by 9:30 pm exhausted but triumphant. Well done ladies! You can see in the picture below that the water levels are low, but still passable. - Caitlin

Kari pauses only long enough to strike a pose.

8/19/07 - The lack of rain is certainly not good for the wilderness, but the clear skies sure do make for some beautiful vistas. Liz took this photo on Little Sag during her recent trip. - Caitlin

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8/17/07 - A complete fire ban in the Superior National Forest went into effect this morning at 8 am. Under this ban fires are not allowed in the Sawbill Campground, Temperance Campground or Crescent Lake Campground. Fires are also prohibited in the entire BWCA wilderness. Due to extreme drought conditions this ban is not expected to be lifted in the near future. - Kari

8/13/07 - The string of disappointing blueberry seasons of the last few years has finally been broken. This summer, blueberries ripened along every road and hillside. It was the kind of overwhelming abundance that almost makes you crazy. You try to go out picking for an hour and end up staying out for four without even knowing it.

Sawbill caught this blueberry fever in a big way and as a result our freezers are now overflowing with frozen blueberries. The champion picker was Katie who closed the season with an unbelievable 115 cups (about 25 lbs) of blueberries! Anyone driving up the Sawbill trail over the last few weeks was sure to pass about a dozen people in the ditches along the way hunched intently over the bushes. And all the hard work will be even more worth it when we get to pull a blueberry pie out of the oven in January. - Caitlin

Katie's blueberry cache.

8/12/07 - If you have the energy and a good dark sky where you are tonight be sure to stay up and check out the Perseid meteor shower. This particularly well-known meteor shower peaks around the 11th-13th of August each year. This year it is predicted to be especially fantastic because the moon will be new and therefore not providing any light pollution to dull the viewing. During its peak hours there may be up to two meteors per minute. The peak is expected to occur around 2 am EST on Monday, which will be 1 am here at Sawbill tonight.

These meteors are now known to consist of the debris trail from the Swift-Tuttle comet. Every year when the Earth passes near to the orbit of this comet the dusty remains run into our atmosphere at about 37 miles per second causing the fiery streaks that cause us to ohhhh and ahhhh. - Caitlin

8/11/07 - Every once in awhile the crew members are able to sneak away for a few days on our own canoe trips to stretch our legs and check out the routes we send other people on all summer. Lida, Clare and I returned this week from a fantastic trip complete with moose sightings and great weather. Most impressive of all, however, were our bear pack hangings. We were so proud in fact that we had to take a picture. Needless to say we had no nighttime visitors! - Caitlin

The perfect bear pack hang.

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Clare and Lida enjoy a perfect summer evening.

8/10/07 - Most of the people that come through Sawbill to be outfitted are setting out on canoe trips with at least one other person, often many other people. Some, however, choose to take on a solo trip in which they rely wholly on their own strength and experience. Scott Sorenson, a music teacher from Michigan, recently returned from a 25-day solo trip. He covered territory in both the BWCA and the Quetico. He arrived back at Sawbill in great spirits and 15 lbs lighter than when he left. He also collected some great stories including one involving a trio of wolves feasting on a moose! These solo trips are nothing new to Scott, and next year he hopes to travel through not only the BWCA and the Quetico, but also the Voyageurs park. - Caitlin

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Scott points out the extent of his route which reached beyond the scope of Sawbill's maps.

8/10/07 - There is currently a fire ban in effect for a large portion of the Boundary Waters. You may still have campfires in the Sawbill campground, as it is not in the BWCA. The small unrestricted area includes the Lady Chain west of Phoebe lake. Little Saganaga marks the northern boundary of the unrestricted area. There is an online map of the restricted area, or it's available for viewing at Sawbill when you arrive. - Caitlin

8/6/07 - Following North Country tradition, the Sawbill crew held its own version of the recent dragon boat races that were held in Grand Marais. After store closing one night and before the sunlight retreated from the sky, four teams raced from the forest service dock to the canoe landing on south Sawbill Lake. Teams were announced a half an hour before the race, so the four-person groups rushed to strategize and hyped up with matching face paint. My team painted our faces white and put red paint on our lips, eliciting such comments as, "You look like creepy mimes," and making me feel like a reject from the casting tryouts for the Oscar winning film "Memoirs of a Geisha." The team of Tess Dornfeld, Patrick Nash and Cindy Hansen with author and Sawbill friend Andrew Keith steering won, finishing in just over four minutes. The victors won bragging rights and first dibs on a share of a dragon boat themed cake made just for the occasion, while the losers swamped their own canoes in the shallows, argued about possible cheating and swam to shore with the capsized boats in-tow, our face paint dripping like sore-loser tears. -Lee


8/5/07 - Upon realizing three pairs of crew members shared birthdays, Cindy Hansen, not one to shy away from a photo op, called them out for picture time. Cindy says that once while working in the store she sold a fishing license to a man and when she checked his date of birth, she was excited to find it was the same as hers. Not only that, but the customer was purchasing the license on the birthday they shared. Cindy says Bill's not as impressed by the "mere reality that people share birthdays" as she is, but she still gets excited to meet a new birthday buddy. Having three pairs of them working together must be a rarity, too, but perhaps not as rare as the look on Lida Storch's face under Johnny Anderson-Hermann's weight in the piggy back birthday buddies photo. -Lee

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The birthday buddies are (jumping, left to right):
May 17 - Cindy Hansen (1960) and Patrick Nash (1983)
March 8 - Lida Storch (1983) and Johnny Anderson-Hermann (1987)
February 27 - Patrick Hughes (1984) and Clare Hansen (1988)

8/3/07 - We received this lovely note and picture recently. Yes, this child is named after Alton Lake! - Bill

As promised I am sending you pictures of my son Alton Morrissey who made his
1st canoe ride and portage (at 8 months old) to Alton Lake last weekend when
my family was there on our annual trip to the BWCA. We have been coming to
Sawbill since 2000 and now married with 3 children, we still continue to
come, with kids and grandparents, each year. The picture is of Mom (Heather
Morrissey) and Alton at the Alton portage. We will make the
trip again next year of course. See you then! Thank you.
Heather Morrissey

Alton and Heather Morrissey enjoy a beautiful day on Alton(s) Lake.

8/2/07 - We are happy to report several glowing fishing reports around the Sawbill Lake area in the last few weeks. More than a few fishermen and women have returned happy and full of exciting stories that make me want to toss out my line a little more regularly. -Lida

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We received this picture of a Walleye and Smallmouth from Ken Stone and his son Jesse. The seasoned father-son pair spent quality time fishing and camping on Burnt Lake. This was their last getaway before Jesse takes off for his first year of college in Chicago.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2007 | September 2007 »

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