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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 2008
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2008 | September 2008 »

8/31/08 - My brother Todd and my nephew Devin came up to Sawbill for a week of camping and fishing. They live in New Jersey and it was Devin's first time in the Boundary Waters. Todd hadn't been here in over 15 years and the last time he came he and his wife only caught one fish. I joined them for the first couple days and showed them a few of my favorite spots. After 6 days they came back smiling and full of fish stories, having caught dozens of fish, including the largest walleye Todd has ever caught, and Devin's first northern pike! It is easy to see why family canoe trips can quickly become a cherished tradition. - Dave

Todd and Devin with a nice walleye they caught near Sawbill.

Devin shows off his first northern pike.

8/29/08 - Crew member "Tiny" Tim Rinden recently stopped by the pictographs on Fishdance Lake during a personal trip and took pictures. Tiny was paddling with friend Bill Cook. The guys went up north to Little Saganaga, southwest toward Fishdance and headed back toward Sawbill, stopping along the way. Tiny said they had a great time and four days of enviable August weather out there. - Lee

Tim posing from the bow seat in front of the Fishdance Lake pictographs.

Tradition says these pictographs were left by native tribes many years ago. Can you make out the images?

Tim and Bill relaxing at a long-sought campsite.

8/26/08 - Ruthie Hansen, photographer extraordinaire, was here for a brief visit last week and took this cool picture of Roy, Deputy of Outfitter Security, riding in the beautiful Seliga wood and canvas canoe. - Bill

Roy on lake patrol. No terrierists were detected on this day, but the little island on south Sawbill got a good barking.

8/25/08 - Whoops, I failed to include the dates of the Passport In Time project on the Sawbill Guard Cabin. They are September 8-12 & 15-19, 2008. - Bill

8/23/08 - Passport in Time (PIT) is a volunteer archaeology and historic preservation program of the USDA Forest Service (FS). PIT volunteers work with professional FS archaeologists and historians on national forests throughout the U.S. on such diverse activities as archaeological survey and excavation, rock art restoration, survey, archival research, historic structure restoration, oral history gathering, and analysis and curation of artifacts. The FS professional staff of archaeologists and historians will be your hosts, guides, and co-workers.

On September 8-12; 15-19, 2008, come help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the CCC at the historic CCC-constructed guard cabin at the Sawbill Lake Guard Station. Set above the shores of scenic Sawbill Lake, the NRHP-eligible guard station is a testament to the days of remote station work carried out by Forest Guards. The CCC boys at Sawbill Camp F-10 constructed the log cabin with saddle-notching for the Superior National Forest circa 1936 using the standard Forest Service plans. The cabin remains in use by the Superior National Forest to house seasonal wilderness crews. With your help, we will restore the windows this year, by removing old caulking, cleaning and replacing broken panes, re-caulking, and repainting the frames.


Number of openings: 10

Special skills: Carpentry and painting experience helpful but not required

Minimum age: 15 years old; under 18 with a responsible adult

Facilities: Free camping for the volunteers at Sawbill Campground, adjacent to the guard station, pit toilets, potable water; general store, showers; hotel facilities available along the North Shore of Lake Superior near Tofte

Nearest towns: Tofte, 20 miles; Grand Marais, 47 miles

Application Form.

8/23/08 - Our staff guide, Dave Freeman, sent us the following post:

Kim and Ian Vander Hoeven sent me a couple of photos of smallmouth bass that they caught on our recent trip. We base camped on Flame lake, and fished Smoke, Burnt, Kelly, and Peterson. We let most of the fish go, but we kept a couple to eat. At one spot we landed eight 14 - 20 inch small mouth in a matter of minutes and lost a bunch more. Plus, I had a huge northern pike rip a foot long smallmouth off my line. It was one of the most action packed 30 minutes of fishing I have had in a long time.

We also had some unusually friendly loons swim after our canoe. One loon in particular swam after our canoe several times and actually ran into my paddle. The only thing I can think of is that it was chasing bait fish that were startled by our canoe. - Dave

Ian Vander Hoeven with a nice bass.

Mother and son enjoy fishing success.

8/20/08 - As of tonight, campfires are banned in a large portion of the BWCA Wilderness. The banned area includes most of the area around Sawbill, Baker, Brule and Homer Lakes. All of the area north and east of Sawbill is in the ban area. The ban area extends west of Sawbill through Phoebe Lake along the Lady Chain route. There is no ban out of the Kawishiwi Lake entry point until you get north of the Kawishiwi River just above Malberg Lake. There is a map available showing the restricted area (large file). - Bill

8/20/08 - For this year's installment of guys' night out, the Sawbill men made an eating tour of a few of our favorite spots around Grand Marais (imagine six hungry PacMans frantically racing for pellets). First, we listened to live music and had dinner at The Landing on Devil Track Lake. We then headed to Sydney's Custard for a sweet treat, but a few of us couldn't resist their top notch gyros. After that we walked to Sven and Ole's pizza for the legendary Meat-Zah. Needless to say, we came home feeling fat and happy. Thanks for a restful night out, Bill! - Lee

Here's the whole gang waiting patiently for food at The Landing.

Sven and Ole's was closing when we got there, so we took our pizza to go. Here we're loitering on a Grand Marais street corner, about to dig in. Marc took the picture, and Carl was across the street catcalling teenage girls.

8/16/08 - The Siebenmanns, long-long-long-time Sawbill customers (45 years!), brought along a special guest on their annual trip this year. Shogo Okada, 22, Yokohama, Japan, got his first glimpse of wilderness when he accompanied Fred Siebenmann III, Fred Siebenmann Jr. and Welden Blum on a Boundary Waters canoe trip through Brule Lake. Okada, an undergraduate pre-law student back home, is in the United States on a year long ESL exchange program, and is staying with the younger Fred's family in Portland, Ore. Six months in, he's already visited Yosemite National Park, toured Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, skied and snowboarded Mt. Hood, in Oregon, whitewater rafted (with Fred III as his private guide) on the Deschutes River, in Oregon, and paddled the Boundary Waters. Who knows what the remaining six months have in store? - Lee

Fred Siebenmann Jr., Welden Blum, Fred Siebenmann III and Shogo Okada (left to right) take a well-earned break in the canoe yard after their trip.

8/15/08 - For those of you who haven't seen the aftermath of 2006's Cavity Lake Fire for yourselves, here are two photographs I took on my recent trip into the Boundary Waters. The fire started on Cavity Lake, off the Gunflint Trail, and spread all the way to the area shown below, just north of Little Saganaga Lake. Paddling and portaging through the burn area was an eerie reminder of the power inherent in undeveloped ecological systems, and an amazing look at a near-wasteland of charred tree trunks, burned-white granite, and new green brush growing up between. - Lee

Imagine That: A few years ago this gurgling stream off the north end of Little Saganaga Lake would have been rushing out from the cover of trees.

Notice the hint of purple wildflowers along the green brush on the floor of the burn area. Signs of healing, indeed.

8/14/08 - Tom Bittinger, a long time canoeist from Owatonna, Minnesota, sent the picture below from his recent canoe trip. Not only did he catch two nice bass, he caught them on one lure at the same time. Now that is good fishing. Thanks Tom.

Tom calls this his "30 inch" small mouth - a 14" and a 16". Both posed cooperatively for the picture and were returned unharmed to the water.

8/7/08 - Blueberry picking season has arrived. For a few weeks in late summer the Northwoods abound with ripening berries. Today Molly, Liz and Caitlin took a few minutes away from work to drive to a secret location down the trail and harvest these sweet treats (I hear we might be having cheesecake for dessert soon!). If you're out on a canoe trip in the next few weeks, scout open areas exposed to lots of sunlight; look for the berries on a small bushy plant. You just might come away with a full basket, and telltale blue fingertips. - Lee

Caitlin removing bits of leaves and the few unfit blueberries from the bunch.

One hour worth of harvesting: The pickers gathered enough blueberries to fill half of a gallon ice cream tub in about an hour this afternoon.

8/6/08 - At last! The final member of our summer crew has arrived. Returning crew member Caitlin Coomes showed up in late July and got right to work stacking wood under the supervision of master stacker Liz. Caitlin brings us renewed enthusiasm, wicked dance moves and mad soccer skills. We're glad to have her back, and just in time for a busy August. - Lee

Liz and Caitlin on the job.

8/3/08 - The Sawbill crew held its second annual dragon boat race (actually canoes) to coincide with the Fisherman's Picnic dragon boat races held in Grand Marais every year. Four 4-person teams started at the Forest Service dock half a mile from the Sawbill Landing and raced back to the landing. The winning team, in four minutes flat, was Three Babes and A Boy, consisting of Cindy, Tess, Jessa and me. Aside from swift paddling by the three gals and precision steering by me, our win is largely credited to the fact that all the other teams ran into each other when they rounded the point near the Forest Service dock. - Lee

Three Girls and One Boy: Cindy, Lee, Tess and Jessa bearing our pre-race game faces.

Something's Afoot: Nathan, Sam, Clare and Liz getting pumped up before the race.

The Warmouth Slayers (Molly, Tim, Carl and Belinda) getting their boat into position at the dock.

Fear of Phartman: Frosty, Marc, Ellyn and Caitlin, ready for a postrace water fight.

8/3/08 - Thank you to Greg and Liz Fangel who sent this email:

On our day canoe outing yesterday, we saw what looked like an army helmet on
a rock in Sawbill Lake near the Smoke Lake portage. Upon closer examination,
we found this prehistoric creature.


Earler in the day, we were able to pick 5# of wild blueberries near Sawbill
(location undisclosed). They are abundant and plump this year.


Greg Fangel

8/1/08 - Every summer the self-proclaimed Sawbill Babes (female crew members) get dolled up for a night on the town in nearby Grand Marais. This year they visited Sivertson's Gallery, which features Northwoods motif fine arts, the Angry Trout, a local seafood lover's favorite, and Chez Jude, an award-winning fine dining establishment overlooking the harbor. As usual, they returned from the evening rested and raving about the good eats. - Lee

Say smoked gouda! The Babes take a moment away from dinner to pose for a group shot on the dock outside the Angry Trout.

On the left, Clare Hansen regales the others with stories (of course, wildly exaggerated) of her recent student travels in Chile.

The Babes share a warm moment again on the dock, most likely contemplating the serenity of the harbor and their next move. Dessert anyone?

Dessert at Chez Jude: delectable, and probably the first such morsel they'd seen in weeks that didn't come from the ice cream freezer in the Sawbill store.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « July 2008 | September 2008 »

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