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Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter Archives: October 2011
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « September 2011 | November 2011 »

10/31/11 - Here is a happy Halloween gift. Back in September, Mountain Stage, the long running, syndicated public radio music performance show, recorded two shows at North House Folk School in nearby Grand Marais. This was a very exciting event for our little community and especially meaningful for those of us that enjoy performing home-made American music. The first of the shows is being played at various times around the country this week and the second show will air next week. You can find broadcast times on the Mountain Stage website. After each week of broadcast, the shows can be listened to on the website archive section any time.

My band, The Splinters, warmed up the crowd for the first Mountain Stage show and my other band, Unnamed Stream, warmed up the crowd for the second show. We didn't make the recording, but the national musicians who did appear on the main stage were very complimentary and kind. - Bill

10/31/11 - Here is the latest edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP North Shore Community Radio.

10/23/11 - Fire operations have mostly shut down in Ely, and crews are being sent home. With so many crews using gear from so many outfitters, it is a logistical nightmare for the Forest Service to attempt to return everything to its rightful owners. When crew members Luke Opel and Jessica Hemmer went on a mission to pick up some of our canoes near Forest Center, they got a chance to drive roads that have been closed since the fire ran its course. The barren landscape shows how powerful mother nature can be, and serves as a reminder that things in the wilderness are always changing. It will be interesting to see these areas become green again in the years to come! -Liz

Luke holds a sign burned in the fire

No green to be seen

10/22/11 - We have had some interesting wildlife sightings around Sawbill recently, but perhaps the most notable are the multiple beavers we've encountered on land. One beaver was making his way down the Sawbill Trail (with no water in sight), while the other was found making a break for the lake from the parking lot at Kawishiwi. We're not sure why these beavers are traveling over land; perhaps they're maintaining or looking for new territory, or perhaps they were forced to move by the Pagami Creek fire. Whatever the reason, they are a sight to see waddling down the road.

When approached, the beaver still slapped his tail on the gravel. Not quite as effective or loud as in the water...

Almost to the lake! Thanks to Jessica Hemmer for these pictures of the Kawishiwi beaver!

10/19/11 - Last night we had our first snow accumulation. It is quite beautiful this morning with a patina of snow on every needle and twig. - Bill





10/18/11 - The Forest Service has reduced the size of the closed area within the BWCA Wilderness due to the Pagami Creek fire. The map below is hard to read, but in a nutshell, the route from Kawishiwi Lake up to Malberg is still closed. The Hog Creek entry point and Parent Lake are closed. Everything else in the Sawbill area is now open.

That said, there is nobody around Sawbill today. The parking lot is empty, we don't have any canoes rented and the campground is empty. There will be a few people here over this weekend as most of the schools in Minnesota are closed on Thursday and Friday. After that, there will be a few die-hards that still take short canoe trips, but the season is mostly over. We've already started on our closing chores, like doing inventory, draining water and stacking firewood. - Bill

The fire perimeter and the lakes still closed for canoe travel as of 10/18/11.

10/16/11- This weekend the weather turned cold and blustery just in time for our annual Sawbill Oktoberfest. This year's activities included a hearty autumn grouse feast followed by a foosball tournament and pumpkin carving. With nearly the entire summer crew back to visit, it made for a great weekend reunion. Thanks to everyone for coming! Happy Fall! -Liz

Pumpkin carvers get creative while the competitors duke it out on the foos table

The final products!

10/14/11 - 1.1" of rain fell here yesterday. This morning it is windy, 43 degrees, cloudy and wet. This is the October weather that we know and love. The hot, dry, sunny days were starting to freak us out a little bit.

The fire ban has been completely lifted. Campfires are allowed in the fire grates within the BWCA Wilderness and at the campgrounds outside of the wilderness.

Here is the latest edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP North Shore Community Radio.

As a follow up to the West End News, the DNR said yesterday that only 16 moose have been shot by hunters in Cook County this year. Last year the final tally was 43 moose shot. The season has three more days to run, but it's obvious that the success rate will be very low this year. - Bill

10/9/11 - It's past due time for an update on the Pagami Creek Fire. The Forest Service is calling the fire more than 70% contained and it has been largely inactive since the day of the big blow-up back on September 12th. Wildfire experts know that even though the fire looks like it is out, it can reignite as soon as the weather turns warm and windy. To avoid another blow-up, they've had hundreds of people on the ground building fire line and numerous water bombing aircraft working on spot fires and flare ups.

The last three days have been very warm and windy around here and it put the fire containment to the test. It did indeed flare up in some places, but they were able to keep it within its current boundaries. Last night, we did get a little rain across the forest and the wind has died down, so it seems like we've passed a critical test. In spite of the freakishly warm weather, the days are getting shorter and cold, wet weather can't be too far away.

The picture below was taken from a Forest Service helicopter in late September. It really brings home how close we came to being engulfed by fire on that scary day. - Bill

Photo by LynneAnne Vesper, U. S. Forest Service.

10/8/11 - Here is the latest edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP, North Shore Community Radio. - Bill

10/4/11- It is always fun to look back and see how much things have (or maybe haven't) changed over the years. Long-time customer Hugh Brady sent us these wonderful pictures from a trip taken in 1974. As he said in his email, the canoe landing looks relatively the same but the other photos include "features that no longer exist, canoe rests and the picnic tables that were at most of the campsites in the BWCA." Both the portage rests and picnic tables were once a standard part of BWCA travel, but were eventually removed for not being in keeping with the wilderness.

From left to right: Hugh Brady, Molly the dog, Renee Gladstone, Martha Wiseman and Ken Wiseman. Renee and Hugh survived the trip, got married in 1978 and made many trips back over the years.

Taking a ultra-light kevlar canoes here!

What's for dinner?

Thanks to Ken Wiseman for digging up these photos, and thanks to Hugh Brady for sending them to us! -Liz

10/1/11- On the first day of October we awoke to a land covered in frost. Although the temperature is supposed to climb up near 70 degrees again tomorrow, last night it only reached the mid 20's. For winter sport enthusiasts this may spark excitement for the coming winter, but for those who enjoy basking in the may come as a sad sign that the last of the warm summer weather may soon be gone. Whether good or bad, the seasons will change...and nothing says October like a good frost. -Liz




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