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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: April 2011
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « March 2011 | May 2011 »

4/30/11 - Here is the latest West End News from Cook County Community Radio WTIP-FM.

4/29/11 - Today we had to use a canoe to get out onto the Sawbill Lake ice sheet. Even 17' from shore there is 6 - 8" of slush on top of the ice. A little farther out though, I could stand on the top and drill a hole. - Bill

16.5" of ice left. Only about the bottom 4" is solid though. The upper foot is quite honeycombed.

The view looking north up Sawbill Lake. Pretty slow paddling conditions.

The landing is pretty clear.

4/24/11 - The ice on Sawbill Lake measured 19.5" today. The first 14" is pretty flimsy, so I expect we'll make some fast progress toward liquidity now. - Bill

The official measurement.

Luke, Phoebe and Roy take an exuberant hike on the lake.

The first rainbow of the season.

4/23/11 - This is the winter that just won't quit. It is hard to believe that we will be canoeing in just a couple of weeks! - Bill

Sawbill store and outfitting building seems to be solidly in winter's embrace. Four inches of fresh snow this morning.

This is the view from the driveway in front of the store toward the Sawbill Lake canoe landing at 7 A. M. this morning.

4/20/11 - We measured the ice on Sawbill Lake at 22" last night. The ice "floated up" last week. Floating up is the phenomenon that typically occurs a couple of weeks before the ice melts completely. At a certain point the ice becomes porous enough that it changes its specific density and spontaneously rises up about 12 - 18". This happens when the edges have thawed enough to release the ice sheet.

This year, it floated up right at the end of big warm spell. Since then it has turned quite cold and snowed again, so the water around the edges has refrozen and the main ice sheet has firmed up.

Things can change very fast at this time of year, which makes predicting ice behavior very difficult. - Bill

Our second crew member of the season, Luke Opel, mans the auger as we test the ice thickness on Sawbill Lake. This is Luke's second season on the Sawbill crew. He hails from Apple Valley, Minnesota.

4/17/11 - 5" of snow on the ground this morning. The temperature didn't get above freezing yesterday. Don't worry, spring will come! - Bill

This week's Cook County West End News from WTIP-FM North Shore Community radio.

4/13/2011 - When we returned from vacation yesterday, we were amazed to find so much evidence of spring. When we left, everything still looked like winter and it was in the process of snowing four more inches. In a week we lost much of the snow and the ice on the lake is very degraded. We'll start reporting on ice depth every day in the next few days until it goes out.

The snow on the north side of the store building slid off this week with this dramatic result.

While we were gone, my brother, Karl Hansen and his wife, Lee Stewart, were kind enough to business and dog sit for us. They had a friend visit, Bernard Palchick, who is a water color artist.

Bernard Palchick painting on Sawbill Lake just off the canoe landing.

And here is his painting of the little island in front of the landing. It is most often called "Mouse Island".

Meanwhile, our first crew member of the 2011 season has arrived. Andy Keith was on the crew last year. Andy is a very skilled carpenter who lives in Mexico most of the time now. He works as a regular Sawbill crew member most of the season, but does some carpentry work here during the slow times. - Bill

Andy is replacing the store floor this spring.

4/9/11 - Cindy and I are on vacation in Anguilla. It is part of the subject of this week's edition of the Cook County West End News. - Bill

Rendezvous Bay is the nearest beach to where we are staying.

4/3/11 - Check out this article in the Duluth News Tribune this morning, featuring our own Cindy Hansen in a sarong.

It is snowing this morning and we are under a winter storm warning. You have to love Minnesota! Plenty of water for spring canoeing. - Bill

4/1/11 - All week I've been saying "It's just a matter of time." I've been talking about the glaciers and skating rinks that are scattered all around the region and especially the three of four that are located here at Sawbill. It's been a great winter for plenty of cold and snow, but now that the freeze/thaw cycle has started, the paths and driveways have become treacherous, leading to the prediction above. Well, this morning it happened. I was walking over to our generator for the daily inspection and was actually thinking that the path had a little more dirt showing than the day before and was slightly less dangerous. In the next instant, my body was horizontal and my thinking changed to, "This is going to hurt." I crashed down with no grace on rough ice, and of course, onto the ubiquitous dog poop. Roy, the Deputy of Outfitter Security (and the probable source of the poop), actually looked amused and took the opportunity for some quick face licking. Other than a few physical and psychic bruises, I am unhurt. The whole incident raises the philosophical question: "If an outfitter falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, is it still considered swearing?" - Bill

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