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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: July 2008
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2008 | August 2008 »

7/30/08 - Four Sawbill crew members recently set their alarms for the early hour of 5:15 to try to catch sunrise along the Kelso Loop. It was already light when Liz, Marc, Ellyn, and I slid our canoes into Sawbill Lake down at the landing, but we did catch the sun as it started to peek over the tall pines on the east side of Sawbill Lake and illuminate the mist rising off the water. Getting out for a morning paddle reminded us all that the BWCA is different and beautiful in all its moods. I recommend trying it the next time you visit. - Molly

The lake was beautifully calm in the narrow strait between the "Boundary Waters island" and the shore.

We were quiet enough to come upon this loon family as we paddled north on Sawbill. Aside from this, we only saw one other party (in canoes), as we finished up the loop around 7:30 a.m.

7/29/08 - We received the following note and photo from Charles Kersten today:

My son and I are back from another great adventure into the BWCAW thru Sawbill. We put our used Sawbill canoe and packs into great use! It is always a pleasure to use Sawbill as our entry point and we love the store with it's friendly, helpful staff and great t-shirts to commemorate each years trip. This year my 14 year old son Andrew discovered it pays to look around the wilderness. While out on a "discovery" mission along a lake shore he came across quite a find! The attached photos say it all with the smile on his face. We took many photos to document his find...he will long remember that day! To those heading in...keep your eyes open...maybe you too can see treasure up close! We base camped on Cherokee :)

Andrew Kersten admires the massive moose antler that he found (and left for others to enjoy).

7/26/08 - Great news for all of you who like to leave your canoes down at the boat storage area while you're camping at the Sawbill Lake Campground! Six hardworking students from the Minnesota Conservation Corps spent this week rebuilding the center set of steps that leads down from the main campground road to the storage area. They tore out rotten timbers, straightened out the sweep of the steps, and moved around a whole lot of dirt and gravel to bring you this new, stately, splinter-free staircase.

The steps now provide safe and solid footing for portaging canoes from the lake back up to the Sawbill Store. I think the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) members of the 1930s and '40s would approve of this job.

As anyone who has read Mary Alice Hansen's book Sawbill History and Tales knows, the Conservation Corps has a long history in this area. A sign commemorates the CCC camp at the intersection of the Grade Road and the Sawbill Trail, and MA writes that there were once thirteen camps in Cook County. Men stationed at the Sawbill Camp did everything from improving portages to taking depth data that was the beginning of lake contour mapping. Britton Peak, on the Superior Hiking Trail just north of Tofte, is also named for Sawbill CCC camp enrollee "Windy" Britton. (For more information, see Sawbill History and Tales, Chapter 8: "Corps Values - The CCC.")

According to its website, the Minnesota Conservation Corps (MCC) follows in the footsteps of the CCC as it "provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and young adults while accomplishing priority cost-effective conservation, natural resource management projects and emergency response work."

The MCC members who worked at Sawbill this week have already spent four weeks at public space improvement projects across Minnesota and Wisconsin with other crews. They are participants in the Summer Youth Program, an 8-week traveling residential work program for 15- to 18-year-olds which attracts outdoor-loving students from across the country. They are now two weeks into their month working with this crew. When they left Sawbill yesterday, they were headed to the MCC base camp in Hinckley to await their next mission. - Molly

"Our" MCC crew goofs off in front of the Sawbill Store before they depart. From left to right, they are Tyler Goodwin (Bagley, MN), Zach Finger (Kasson, MN), Aimee Jefferson (Eden Prairie, MN), Chris Lezama (Daly City, CA), Ariana Hudzinski (Waynesboro, PA), and Elle Schneider (Belle Plaine, MN).

7/24/08 - Her first day on the water during this year's Sawbill vacation, 15-year-old Jill Ross hooked this 7 1/2 pound lunker of a northern pike. In addition to being an avid and successful fisherwoman, the Merrillville, IN native also has a Sawbill Family connection: she is a niece of former Sawbill Crew member Patti Olson ('95-'97). She has been camping at the Sawbill campground with her family every summer that she can remember. - Molly

Jill hopes to make this one look small later in the week!

7/21/08 - Adam Hansen, of The Three Jakes (a canoeing group usually comprised, oddly enough, of four former Sawbill Crew members, only one of which is actually called Jake), sent us these photographs from this year's annual trip. Over the last 12 years they've chronicled their adventures in a homemade book called "I'm In! The Story of The Three Jakes," which is full of goofy snafus, cryptic inside jokes and crazy pictures. This year they ended up on Cherry Lake, near the Border Route, where Adam said they saw the full array of Boundary Waters wildlife, a moose, a bear, eagles galore, and had an all-around madcap good time, as usual. Thanks Adam! - Lee

A bull moose spotted by the Three Jakes on Ogishkemuncie Lake.

Adam Hansen, who stands a towering six-foot-six, at the bottom of a cliff on Cherry Lake, finally looks short compared to something.

Hey guys, look over here! The Three Jakes looking scattered at the portage into Cherry Lake; Jason Morse in front, John Oberholtzer on the right, Adam Hansen to the left and Thomps, a.k.a. Jeff Thompson, behind the camera.

7/19/08 - Looks like it's past time for some crew arrival updates! Returning crew members Liz Foot, Tess Dornfeld and Tim Rinden all arrived in mid June, long-time Sawbillian Molly Breslin came late last month and Clare Hansen returned from a study-abroad trip in Chile just this week. The ranks are getting full here and it's great to have the new faces and energy in the mix. - Lee

Clare Hansen, the latest arrival, seeing her family at the airport for the first time in months.

Liz Foot rowing her sculling shell across Sawbill Lake this morning. Liz's rowing team at the University of Puget Sound won third place in the NCAA Division III national championships this spring.

Tess Dornfeld (center) enjoys the season's first festive dinner, with a fiesta theme.

Tim Rinden goofing off with Carl Hansen at the festive dinner.

Molly Breslin and I posing during the festivities.

7/14/08 - Another big walleye surfaced this past week when Anne Foote went fishing through Sawbill and landed this 30 incher. Foote didn't say whether or not it was a personal record, but by the look on her face I'd bet it's safe to say it's up there. The young angler released the beast soon after this photograph was taken. Foote went out with the Camping, Fishing and Canoeing class Professor Bob Ritzer teaches at University of Wisconsin River Falls. Where was I when registration for that class opened? - Lee

30 inch length, 16 inch girth: Arms getting tired, Anne?

7/13/08 - It must be wolf week here around Sawbill. Our friend Gary Freiermuth sent us these photographs of a wolf pup and its mother taken about three miles west of the Kawishiwi Lake Road on June 27. This is one of three pups they saw. The others scurried into the woods at the sight of the car. The next picture was shot in the side mirror of the car and shows the mother wolf looking for her stray pup. Look closely to see a tracking collar around mama's neck. She must have been caught by a live trap set by biologists and collared to help them study the area's wolf range. - Lee

Don't you just want to cuddle it?

Don't you just want to run away?

7/12/08 - John and Pam Chapman left these photos of a timber wolf they spotted crossing Cook County Road 3 recently, about ten miles from the outfitter. These animals can be anywhere from four to seven feet long, and weigh up to about 132 pounds, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They are voracious predators of large and small game, but may also feed on carrion. Notice the rib cage showing through the fur and slender hips on this one. It must be due for a good meal. - Lee



7/10/08 - Yesterday Austin Evans, 10, caught his first fish ever on a nearby lake. It was a beautiful 3.5 lb. smallmouth bass. - Frosty


Austin's older brother, Jordan, 13, also did really well with a 2.5 lb. smallmouth. Way to go, guys!

7/8/08 - Wildlife abounds in the Boundary Waters. Keep your cameras handy and you might catch some shots like these, which Sawbill customer Carel Koch took on his family's recent camping trip. Carel said they saw a moose cow, eagles, a deer with three fawns, a 3-foot snake, merganzers, a loon family, songbirds and a woodchuck. Unfortunately, the moose and deer pictures didn't turn out well. But Carel sent us some funny shots taken around their campsite and a nice photo of the loons. Thanks Carel! - Lee

This woodchuck on the north end of Kelso Lake let the campers come within about three feet of it, resulting in a comical paparazzi style shot. Can't a guy get some privacy around here?

It's good to see even the birds still find time for a family outing these days.

Whoa! Carel's daughter Mary posing with the spider. Carel said, "My wife and daughters had a 3-inch wolf spider living on their tent between the tent and the rain fly. They watched it eat mosquitoes for two days while we were camped on Smoke. I had to chase her away back into the woods when we took the tent down, but I give them credit for letting the spider live with them that close for two nights." What a story, and great photo!

7/5/08 - The town of Tofte put on its annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza last night, illuminating the night blue sky over Lake Superior. Crew member Molly Breslin took these fantastic photos from the rocky shoreline to share with our newsletter readers. Everyone at Sawbill wishes you a safe and happy holiday weekend! - Lee





7/3/08 - Road crews will begin culvert work on the Sawbill Trail Monday July 7. It will remain drivable. If you're coming up next week for a canoe trip, expect delays up to 20 minutes. Further travel advisories will be posted as they become available. - Lee

7/2/08 - Sawbill welcomes back campground hosts Jim and Rachel TerBeest! Jim and Rachel have been the Sawbill campground hosts since 1985 and have been camping at Sawbill for 34 years.

Jim and Rachel had an unbelievable first year of retirement, traveling to Israel and Nicaragua as well as spending lots of time with their grandchildren in Omaha. It's great to have them back! - Frosty


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