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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: March 2010
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « February 2010 | April 2010 »

3/22/10 - Dave Freeman and Amy Voytilla were married yesterday in a very unique setting on White Iron Lake near Ely. Dave was a Sawbill crew member for many years and recently has been a wilderness guide for many Sawbill canoeists. Amy has guided here for the last couple of years as well. Both have worked for many winter seasons at Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge near Ely.

The site of the ceremony was accessible only by lake. Many of the guests rode dogsleds out to the ceremony, some walked, but four of us who worked with Dave and Amy at Sawbill chose to ice skate.

Congratulations to Dave and Amy. In a month they will leave on their "honeymoon" - a three year, 11,700 mile journey across North America by kayak, canoe, and dogsled. - Bill

Adam Hansen and Jeff Greensmith demonstrate wedding travel - Sawbill style.

Former Sawbill crew member Eric Frost (center) conducts the wedding of Dave Freeman and Amy (Voytilla) Freeman.

Cindy Hansen and John "OB" Oberholtzer look on approvingly.

After the ceremony, Dave and Amy walk to their dogsled limo.

Amy and Dave mush off into their future together.

3/21/10 - The return to cooler weather allowed me to get out on Sawbill Lake yesterday for some rare spring ice skating. It was mostly really bumpy and difficult except out in the middle where there were large swatches of smooth, black ice. - Bill

Skating north in the BWCA Wilderness on Sawbill Lake.

Roy and Phoebe enjoy running into the wind.

Ice is a mysterious, complicated and intriguing compound.

Footprints in the snow from much earlier in the season are preserved in solid ice.

3/20/10 - Cindy Hansen sprained the heck out of her ankle this week, causing her to develop a raging case of cabin fever. The thing she is missing most while waiting for the swelling and pain to subside, is taking the Sawbill dog pack for its daily walk. I volunteered to facilitate her return to this routine by pushing her around the campground in the garden cart. - Bill

Homer and Roy are excited for Cindy's return to the daily "walk" while multi-tasking with recycling duty.

3/19/10 - Our long-time campground host at Crescent Lake Campground, Joanne Koski, has retired from hosting. We are looking for a new campground host for the Crescent Lake Campground. Basically, the host does a couple of hours of light work per day in exchange for free camping in a premium site and a monthly stipend. The job lasts from mid-May to mid-September. If you're interested, or know someone who might be interested, a detailed job description and an application form are available on our website. The application deadline is April 15th.

I'd like to thank Joanne for all her years of service and friendship. Joanne camped at Crescent Lake all summer for many years before she was the campground host - around 30 years all together. I know she'll miss it! - Bill

3/17/10 - When I go for my daily ski or run, I always see something that makes the trip worthwhile. It may be as dramatic as a gorgeous sunset or a subtle as a tiny strawberry blossom.

Yesterday, I hit the virtual jackpot. Not only was it 55 degrees with warm sunshine beaming on me and the bright green pines, but it was perfectly still and silent, without a breath of wind.

About two miles south of Sawbill I encountered a moose standing in the road. It let me get within about a hundred feet and then turned and walked down the road in front of me. Every minute or so, she would stop, ponderously turn around to see if I was still there, and then continue down the road. This went on until I turned back for home.

On the way back, I was admiring the large, fluffy cumulus clouds, which are common during the summer, but pretty rare in the middle of March. One cloud was large enough that it started to produce a rain shower which, in turn, created a complete double rainbow arch from horizon to horizon.

I can't wait to see what awaits me this afternoon. - Bill

3/12/10 - What a difference a week can make at this time of year. A week ago, we were skiing through soft snow on the lake and there was 18" of white snow on the ground. After a week of unusually warm weather and rain, the lake snow has turned to 6" of slush and the official snow depth in the woods now stands at 4". It looks like the middle of April around here with a lot of bare ground showing amid piles of degraded snow. - Bill

Scott Harrison, Rick Burns and Nancy Burns enjoying a wilderness ski outing on Kelso Lake just a week ago. Scott and Nancy own and operate historic Lutsen Resort. Rick is Nancy's brother visiting from Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

On the same trip we encountered this cozy winter camp. The canvas tent and wood stove were rented from The Canoeist in Two Harbors.

Contrast the scenes above to this shot of Sawbill Lake today. Wet, wet, wet.

You can see how soft the lake surface has become, but there is more than 2 feet of solid ice under my boot.

Large patches of bare ground are now exposed, but history tells us that more snow is very likely to fall before spring really arrives.

This snowman is just a few days old, but isn't long for this world.

3/4/10 - Greg Fangel and Liz Wagner, Tofte and Twin Cities residents and avid cross country skiers, spent a couple of days camping in the wilderness starting here at Sawbill. They enjoyed gorgeous weather - warm temperatures, calm winds, brilliant sunshine and a night sky thick with stars. They were kind enough to share some pictures with us.

Greg show good skiing form even with a toboggan holding him back.

Multi-tasking breakfast and boot warming.

Home, sweet home.

The frozen waves of Alton Lake.

A bobcat track.

Exploring Kelso Lake.

Greg and Liz are aficionados of classic wooden winter transportation. Visit his fabulous website

Liz peers comfortably from her down sleeping bag.

3/2/10 - We received this kind and useful email this morning from long-time Sawbill customer Scott Oeth:

I am a volunteer with the Northern Star Council (Minneapolis-St. Paul area) Boy Scout Council and serve as the chairman of the council's Eagle Scout Scholarship committee. I'm also a big fan of Sawbill, and have made many trips with my good friend Mike Branham to stay at the campground. I always appreciate Bill’s friendly conversation and being able to buy coffee, showers and souvenirs at your store! Our committee is working with Cliff Jacobson on organizing a wilderness canoeing school which he will be conducting the weekend of March 27th, with all the proceeds going to fund scout scholarships. The program is open to the public, but is designed for the outdoors enthusiast, in particular trip leaders. Cliff is also a big fan of and recommends many trips heading out of Sawbill!

I'm wondering if you could help us out on the promotion side. I've attached a detailed agenda and registration form and a link with information on the council site is below. If you could please pass this on to those you know who may be interested, it would really help our scholarship fund and to help develop canoe country enthusiast.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I'll see you this fall if not before!


Scott Oeth

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