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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: May 2010
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « April 2010 | June 2010 »

5/31/10 - There have been numerous wildlife sightings around the Sawbill area, as many visitors have reported seeing moose, eagles, grouse, and beavers. Perhaps most unexpectedly, though, have been the early appearance of dragonflies, which usually don't show up until mid-June. They can be seen all around Sawbill right now, resting on canoes and buzzing the roads looking for insects.

Today, a rare daytime visitor slept right outside the Sawbill store. A small brown bat, one of the most common bats in the area, flew in midday and slept next to the door to the office all day long. He moved once, most likely right after he was drawing attention from the camera, to hang in between the frame of the door and the corner of the building.

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The bat when he first arrived.

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He later moved to a slightly more protected spot.


5/29/10 - A group of 23 Rochester Century High School students recently returned to Sawbill from a five day trip into the Boundary Waters. The students went on the trip for the culmination of an Environmental Awareness class, and the trip allowed them to examine the issues and concepts from the class through a firsthand wilderness experience. All the students, however, are seniors and will be graduating next week, and as they traded stories on the porch outside the Sawbill store, it was clear that their memories went beyond what they experienced for the class.

Rochester Century Students on the Porch with Homer.

Many of the students shared stories of nasty spills and practical jokes. Others had more curious memories. When asked about his favorite part of his trip, Erich Moyer said he most enjoyed double portaging 285 rods.

The students also had excellent news that has been shared by many Sawbill visitors recently: fishing is picking up. Cody Thompson reported great walleye fishing on Smoke Lake, and excellent pike fishing on Cam Lake, where five lines in the water resulted in five Northerns in the boats, all at the same time.

Perhaps most curious, however, was the pride of Matt Hyde, whom the group called "The Polar Bear." Hyde showed off a terrible sunburn, and it is doubtful that he will enjoy the sunburn as much for his long ride home. When asked whether he had learned anything from the experience, perhaps the value of sunscreen, Hyde rejected this notion. He only said that next time he'll maybe wear a shirt, but sunscreen was out of the question. He prefers to be "all natural."

Matt Hyde shows off his sunburn.


5/27/10 - One unexpected benefit of the unusually warm spring has been the almost complete lack of black flies. Black flies (often referred to as gnats or sand flies), usually present in late May and early June, are aggressive and persistent biters. Although they are easily repelled by normal insect repellent, some years they are so numerous that they become real pests. This year, we had a few days back in early May when they were biting, but they now seem to be gone for the season.

A local biologist explained recently that black flies exist as larva in running streams. When the water temperature reaches a certain point they emerge as flying adults. This year, the streams warmed up so fast that only a few were able to emerge and they now seem to have died of old age. - Bill

5/26/10 - Last night Sawbill received some much needed rain, in the form of a sudden storm that hit around 5 p.m. The winds were high, and brought down some branches, but didn't cause any serious damage.

The top portion of a white pine fell due to the storm.

The good news is that the storm probably helped fishermen today. Fishing has been slowly picking up since the opener, and walleye are definitely biting now. Which is perfect timing, because Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. It's going to be a beautifully busy weekend here.

Sawbill Lake, a great place to start an adventure.

5/21/10 - This week we welcomed three returning members of the Sawbill clan. First up is Liz Foot. She just moved back to the Midwest from Washington state, and is excited to be back in the North woods. If you see a yellow rowing shell on Sawbill Lake it'll probably be her rowing by.

Liz in the store.

The next to arrive was Andy Keith. He has been a longtime carpenter for Sawbill, and brings a great deal of experience to the crew. He actually rode his bike here, from Minneapolis. He is the author of "Afloat Again, Adrift", which is about his three epic canoe trips from Northern Minnesota. One of these canoe trips began at Sawbill Lake and ended at Hudson Bay. He's looking forward to paddling and exploring the area again this summer.

A smiling Andy in front of the store.

The third returning employee was Carl Hansen. Carl drove back from Missoula where he's a film student at the University of Montana. He's also the son of Cindy and Bill Hansen, the owners of Sawbill Canoe Outfitters.

Carl and Homer relaxing outside.

5/17/10 - Last night we welcomed the arrival of Pat Eidsmo. Pat is currently a graduate student at University of Minnesota-Duluth, and he teaches a freshman composition class. In the winter he likes to play hockey, in the summer he likes to go camping and golf. He does a lot of reading and writing, in his spare time and for work.

Pat is carrying a canoe.

5/16/10 - As the summer begins more of our crew has arrived. Next to arrive for our crew was Tyler Campbell. Tyler hails from Duluth Minnesota. He enjoys snowboarding, canoeing, and fishing among other things.


Tyler in the outfitting department taking a short break from rolling tents for a photo opportunity.

Third to arrive was Ellyn Krieg. Ellyn is the daughter of a former Sawbill crew member from the 80's Paul Krieg. She is from Woodstock Illinois and has been taking trips up to Sawbill since she was a young girl. She will be entering her junior year at Winona State University in the fall and enjoys canoeing, hiking, and campfires.


Ellyn in the outfitting department sorting tent poles.

Fourth to arrive was Sarah Davidson. Sarah is from Lake Bluff Illinois, and goes to University of Minnesota-Duluth. She enjoys camping, rocks, and smores.


Sarah is manning the till.

5/14/10 - Back in the 1920's, Cindy's grandfather, Clarence Johnson, lived here at Sawbill in the Forest Service cabin at the north end of the campground. It was a different, smaller cabin back then, although the cabin still exits and is being used by the Birch Grove charter school in Tofte. Forest Service archeologist, Lee Johnson, sent a picture of the cabin taken shortly after it was built. Neither of the gentlemen in the picture is Cindy's grandfather and they are not identified on the photo.

Photo Credit: Superior National Forest Collection

Michelle Thieman, former Sawbill crew member, recently became a mother and sent along this adorable picture of her son, Jack, labeled "Crew Member Summer 2028."

Jack William Thieman Sperle

5/13/10 - I just received a call from the U.S. Forest Service announcing that the fire ban will be lifted at noon tomorrow. Good news. - Bill

5/13/10 - It is raining today! I'm looking out the window at hard, cold, rain pelting down and being hungrily soaked up by the parched landscape. Some would say that this is typical weather for the Minnesota fishing opener and they would be right. It is indeed welcome, even if there is a strong chance it will turn to snow overnight. Starting on Saturday the forecast is calling for sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Cindy Hansen's great-aunt, Millie Mainella, who turned 102 in January, was crowned queen of the care center's Senior Prom in Grand Marais this week. Most of Cindy's large, extended family joined in the celebration and dancing. Cook County's own community swing band entertained and a very good time was had by all.

Millie was born in Hovland, was the postmaster there for many years and was an accomplished accordionist who played for countless dances at the Hovland Town Hall. - Bill

(l-r) Cindy's mom, Arline Johnson, great aunt Millie, Cindy.

5/6/10 - Our satellite internet service has been down for the last two days. I've know for some time how dependent we've become on high speed internet service, but it's a whole different feeling when it's actually gone. We do have a numbingly slow dial-up connection for a back up, so I've been able to keep up with reservations and inquiries at a minimum.

Living so far from town and off the electrical grid has taught me to use unusual resources to solve problems. The satellite company probably doesn't want me opening up the modem and re-soldering connections - but hey - it worked!

We've had a dusting of snow on the ground for the last two mornings. Snow is also in the forecast for tomorrow. It seems like March, April and May have somehow gotten out of order this year. - Bill

By 7:30 am the snow was already almost melted.

The Bell Seligas patiently wait for the canoeing season to really get started.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « April 2010 | June 2010 »

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