12/31/11 - This is a very busy time of year at Sawbill. The usual Christmas whirl is followed quickly by our annual crew reunion over the New Years holiday. We have a great group here right now - busy making movies, taking pictures, skiing and playing broom ball - along with the usual fabulous food, drink and foosball.
By the way, we have 13" of snow on the ground right now and more is on the way today and tomorrow. The crew drilled a hole in Sawbill Lake yesterday and the ice is 16" thick. - Bill
12/25/11 - A Very Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for a peaceful world in the coming New Year from all of us celebrating here at Sawbill!
Roy is feeling the holiday spirit strongly.
Carl and I took a holiday ski on the frozen Temperance River. It was a great adventure, but I can't recommend it.
Carl examines an old support from the early 20th century railroad trestle that used to cross the river several miles upstream.
12/20/11 - I write this at 4:15 pm and it is already pretty dark outside. The white pines are silhouetted in black against a dark lavender sky. It is only really fully light for eight hours at this time of year. I don't mind it, but only because I know that the days will now start to lengthen.
Sawbill is one of the few places in Minnesota that has enough snow for cross country skiing right now. I've groomed the unplowed campground roads for both classic and skating technique and a few people have been driving up to ski. The lake is also excellent for skiing right now. The snow is a little deep near shore where the wind has piled it up, but it's only 2 or 3 inches deep on most of the lake. The ice is over a foot thick and there is no slush on the ice which makes travel very pleasant. - Bill
Looking more south than west on Sawbill Lake at 3:30 pm today.
We were a little surprised to find that the beavers have started to build a dam at the mouth of the creek that drains the pond between Alton Lake and Sawbill Lake. This was a large dam when I was a kid, but has been gone for at least 30 years.
Sure enough, here is the newly rehabilitated beaver house in the pond, with plenty of winter food just outside the entrance.
This is a picture of Alton Creek where it flows from Alton Lake into the pond. The water is so low this year that it doesn't even wash away the snow that falls in the creek bed.
12/14/11 - The Ham Lake Fire in 2007 burned over 75,000 acres and destroyed or damaged 140 structures in and around the BWCA Wilderness at the end of the Gunflint Trail. It was a traumatic and dramatic event that changed lives and created dramatic change in the forest. But, for all it's destruction, no one was killed by the fire - except perhaps for one person - the man who started the fire. I recommend this heartbreaking and gripping article in the Darmouth Online Alumni Magazine. - Bill
12/12/11 - Scott "Old Scout" Harris sent us this link to Nashville songwriter Jerry Vandiver's new song inspired by a trip to visit the pictographs at Fishdance Lake. It was recorded a few weeks ago at the historic Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. - Bill
12/8/11 - The Forest Service has simplified their system for reserving BWCA Wilderness permits for next canoeing season. At least for all the entry points around Sawbill, permits can be reserved on a first come, first served basis starting on January 25th at 9 am central time. As in the past, you can make your reservation online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777 toll free.
There is no reason to panic if can't get your plans settled by January 25th. In the past, the entry date quotas around here haven't started to fill up until the end of March, at the earliest. Of course, once your entry date is firm, go ahead and reserve your permit. As always, if you would rather, we're happy to reserve your permit for you.
Otherwise, there is very little going on around here right now. We're keeping busy with chores and waiting for a little more snow to start the ski season. The lakes are frozen at least a foot thick already and we have about 5" of snow on the ground. - Bill
Roy and Phoebe enjoy a run on the lake at sunset.
the moon rising above a very frozen Sawbill Lake canoe landing.