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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 2011
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2011 | August 2011 »

7/30/11- This morning we welcomed back the Zackley High School Youth Group from a week long paddle. The Zackleys are part of the First Congregational Church of LaGrange, which is located in the suburbs of Chicago. This year they broke into four groups of seven people and conquered dozens of lakes and travels tens of miles. The Zackleys have embarked on canoe trips through Sawbill every year for over 40 years! There have been a few former Zackleys that have even become crew members here at Sawbill (including myself).

The Zackleys are nice and clean after their first shower in a week.

7/29/11- Just a few moments ago, crewmember Carl Hansen shared some exciting news with us here at Sawbill. A couple weeks ago he submitted a video to Environment Minnesota in hopes of winning a solar energy video competition. He has just informed that he has been chosen as a finalist in the competition! Not only will he be judged on quality, but also by the number of hits that his video receives on youtube. So, not only will you be helping him by watching the video, but you will also be able to learn a bit more about solar energy and how we provide some of our own power here at Sawbill (so I've included the link to the video below). Enjoy!


7/27/11 - With all the hustle and bustle of midsummer I forgot to mention that Clare Hansen has returned to her roots from Missoula, Montana. Upon her return to Missoula she will be starting law school, but for the next few weeks she is lending a helping hand here at Sawbill. -Jessica

Clare is pictured here checking her Outfitting Manager check list, not to be confused with her naughty and nice list.

7/25/11 - Merry Christmas in July! Here at Sawbill we decided to celebrate on the eve of the holiday. To kick off the festivities we frosted cookies Saturday night and spent the following day spreading Christmas cheer by wearing holiday themed hats. Once we closed up shop we feasted on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and other holiday goodies. After supper secret Santa gifts were handed out and creativity was shown with each gift. Overall here at Sawbill holiday fun was had by all. -Jessica

The cookie crew admiring their delicious treats.

The feast begins.

Cindy opening her secret Santa gift.

7/20/11 - This afternoon Sarah, Ellyn, and I returned from a three day canoe trip. Our route involved lakes such as Cherokee, Gasket, the west end of Brule, Kelly, Smoke, and Sawbill. We enjoyed great swimming weather and beautiful sights. Surprisingly we saw very few people on our route and enjoyed the solitude. The theme of the trip seemed to be large mushrooms, as a result of the hot and humid weather we have been encountering. We also caught glimpses of beautiful wild flowers and exactly one ripe blueberry. -Jessica

Our first campsite on Cherokee offered us this beautiful sunrise.

Gasket was my favorite lake we visited. It offered this large scree field as well as sheer cliffs.

This meadowsweet was found hanging over the water on our Kelly Lake campsite.

7/17/11 - Yesterday Boy Scout Troop 477, from Plymouth, returned after a six day long trip. The troop is made up of scouts ranging in ages from 12 to 15, three troop leaders, and their guide Pastor Rich Dahle-Koch. Over the course of six days they made an impressive loop that covered approximatly 85 miles.

On their first day they entered at Sawbill and traveled north over the 480 rod portage to Zenith. They made camp that day on Crooked Lake, nearly to Tuscarora. Their second day they stopped for a break on Round Lake and then continued on to make camp on Paulson Lake. Day three consisted of making the 515 rod portage up to Seagull crossing the 105 rod portage into Alpine Lake blindfolded, yes I said blindfolded, and finally making camp on Gabimichigami. In the morning of Day 4 they decided to bushwhack their way to Vierge Lake and then proceeded onto Adams for the night. Day five they checked out the pictographs on Fishdance, traveled the Louse River and settled in on Mesaba. Finally on their last and sixth day they paddled back to Sawbill over the same 480 rod portage they traveled on their first day.

I admire the members of Troop 477 immensely. They traveled a large portion of the central Boundary Waters in less than a week, a very difficult task. This may not have been possible if it were not for the great leadership shown by Pastor Rich and the other troop leaders. -Jessica

Troop 477 from left to right; Pastor Rich, Jacob M., Herb M., Arthur C. (seated), Nathan D., Zach E., Mikhail S., Garrett E., and not pictured Mike E.

Members of Troop 477 making their blindfolded portage across 105 rods. They each had a person with them guiding them along the way. Their guide could not touch them unless their was danger involved.

7/16/11 - Recently Sawbill crew members Luke Opel and Tyler Campbell ventured out for a day trip up to Zenith Lake. While there they decided to see if they could find the famed "crashed" airplane. Without too much trouble they found it and snapped a few choice pictures.

Resident photo journalist, Luke Opel, took this picture while Tyler attempted to save the plane from crashing.

The story goes that on Christmas Eve 1946, just after World War II, a pilot from Omaha, Nebraska, landed on Zenith Lake to scout out future sites for beaver trapping. When he walked over toward a dam he heard a crashing noise behind him. When he turned around he found his Piper J-3 Cub submerged in icy water. With little options he decided to set off toward civilization. Sawbill Lodge was closed at the time, so he had to make the long 30 plus mile trek back to Tofte wearing nothing on his feet but street shoes. It took him nearly 24 hours, but he finally made it back.

In the days following a recovery team was formed. They headed back up to Zenith with the proper equipment to save the plane from the depths. Their first order of business was extracting the plane from the ice. They sawed around the plane and proceeded to jack it out of the lake. Once out, the thawing process commenced. In order to make this happen they pitched canvas tents around the plane and lit fires within. After the plane was mostly thawed it caught fire. Everyone involved quickly rushed to the scene and frantically put out the fire with snow. The plane was not salvageable so it was left behind on shore. Now when lucky paddlers travel along the north shore of Zenith they can share in this unique story. -Jessica

7/13/11 - Recently Steve Gendron and his ten year old son, Aidan, made the trip up from Minneapolis to helped conduct a loon survey of area lakes. On their way back home they stopped in and gave us a quick report. They found two loons on Smoke, three on Burnt, none on Flame, and only five on Sawbill. Steve estimates the populations of these lakes to be down nearly half from last year.
It is still hard to tell how much the Gulf oil spill will affect these beautiful birds, but maybe this survey will give us a clue as to how much it has impacted them already. -Jessica

A pair of fuzzy loon chicks sticking close to their mom.

7/8/11 - The last of the summer crew have arrived. Nils Anderson is coming to us from Two Harbors, Minnesota, after spending a semester studying abroad in Brazil. He is majoring in environmental studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. This is Nils' first summer here at Sawbill, and he is catching on just fine.

Nils dismantling a pallet for kindling.

Carl Hansen is arriving for his umpteenth summer working here at Sawbill. He recently graduated film school at the University of Montana, Missoula. His favorite activities include picking flowers and petting puppies. -Jessica

Carl on the back deck watching butterflies.

7/7/11 - Last week Sawbill welcomed back yet another crew member. Joe Daniels arrived last week after spending a beautiful semester in New Zealand. Joe was a crew member last year as well and his claim to fame is that he cleaned the store every day he has worked here. So if you come in later in the day don't be surprised to see Joe leaning on a broom. -Jessica

Joe in one of the many breathtaking pictures he has from New Zealand.

7/5/11 - The fourth annual Sawbill Dragon Boat Race was held yesterday evening. After the teams were drawn each boat seamed to have a fairly good chance of winning.
The race goes as follows. All canoes line up off of the end of the Forest Service dock. Jim, one of Sawbill's campground hosts, signals the start of the race and each canoe paddles toward the canoe landing. The first canoe to cross the end of the landing is the winner.
This year team Brew Crew took home first place with a record breaking time of 4 minutes and 8.55 seconds. Team Twins came in a close second with a time of 4 minutes and 8.68 seconds. Finally, team Maximum Motivation failed to finish the race and instead decided to take an impromptu dip in the lake. Overall fun was had by all. -Jessica

Members of the Brew Crew from left to right: Joe, Nils, Ellyn, and Luke.

Members of team Twins from left to right: Leif, Jessica, Sarah, and Bill.

Members of team Maximum Motivation from left to right: Tyler, Meg, Andy, and Liz.

7/5/11 - We had a beautiful July 4th weekend here at Sawbill. The holiday weekend started with a thunder shower on Friday night and ended with another one last night, but in between it was glorious, sunny and warm.

Traditionally, right after the 4th of July there is a lull in the use of the BWCA Wilderness. This is actually true of vacation destinations all over the country. Below is a listing of the permits that are still available at the BWCA Wilderness entry points that are most commonly used in the Sawbill area. The "A" means the entry point still has entry permits available for that day and the number under the "A" indicates how many permits are still available. An "R" means that the permits are already all reserved for that day. - Bill


You can check permit availability and reserve a permit online at:

7/2/11 - Here at Sawbill we have recently adopted a family of Pileated Woodpeckers. Over the winter the duo spent much of their time working over a tree near the Hansen's house. Just yesterday two larger looking chicks were spotted poking their head out of a gaping hole in a large pine. The siblings love to pass the day away squawking up a storm and waiting to be fed by Mama P., as we have named her. -Jessica

Baby Pileated Woodpeckers waiting to be fed.

Mama P. making an appearance earlier this summer.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2011 | August 2011 »

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