3/28/12 - The ice cleared from Sawbill Lake yesterday, March 27th. This is a new record for early ice-out by a wide margin. The previous record was set on April 4th, 2010. An ice-out date in March was unthinkable in the past.
Canoeing is theoretically possible now, but I'm sure some of the larger lakes are still ice covered. Also, the weather forecast is fairly grim for the next week with snow, freezing rain and high winds predicted. Today it is snowing with very high winds and temperatures in the low 30s. - Bill
A small remnant of ice floats on Sawbill Lake. Officially, the ice is considered out when more than 90% of the lake is ice free.
3/23/12 - Sawbill Lake's ice cover is pretty degraded, but we are expecting more seasonable temperatures in the coming week, so I don't think it will go out for at least another week. It is a notoriously difficult thing to predict though.
The view looking north from the Sawbill canoe landing at 5:30 today.
The Forest Service is replacing their old floating airplane dock on Sawbill Lake. They usually unhook it from shore and paddle it around into a sheltered bay for the winter. With the new dock in position to be installed this spring, they decided to leave the old dock in place this winter. Soon the ice will break it away from shore and it will have to be fetched back from where ever the wind decides to leave it.
3/20/12 - Ken Farnham was camping here at Sawbill less that two weeks ago. He has a beautiful, large canvas tent with a wood stove, cots, a table and a kitchen. He sent along this great picture of his 11 year old daughter, Seda, enjoying a snowshoe hike.
Seda is Armenian and her name means "Spirit in the Forest" and her father says, "She certainly is."
It's hard to believe that they were skiing and snowshoeing less than two weeks ago. The snow is all gone now, except for piles and some drifts in shady areas. Some of the small ponds in the area have lost their ice and it looks like some lakes will start to open up within the week. This is, of course, unprecedented since weather records have been kept. Take a look at the dramatic temperature change on our weather blog. - Bill
Phoebe inspects the rapidly melting lake ice.
Roy, looking like a black dog on a hot, sunny day.
By the way, you can listen to WTIP online if you want to keep touch with what's happening in this corner of Minnesota. In my opinion, it's one of the best little radio stations in the country. It's listener supported, non-profit and largely volunteer staffed - a true voice of the community!
If you're already a listener, or just want to support a great effort in a favorite part of the world, you can become a member right now by selecting the "Pledge Now" button at the website and tell them that Sawbill sent you. - Bill
3/13/12 - Like the rest of the Midwest, we've experienced an incredible meltdown over the last two days. Sunday, I skied the last six miles of the Cascade River with a group of friends. It was warm, but the snow was still very mid-winter like. By late the next day, I doubt that the river was safe to ski due to rising water.
Cindy's book club, which I call the "Lovely Ladies of Lutsen", went sliding on Sunday evening. - Bill
LLLs (l - r) Jeanne Rysdahl, Sue Davies, Jana Larson, Cindy Hansen, KB O'Neill, (not pictured: Ann Rider). Photo by Mike Larson
3/8/12 - Here is the finished version of canoeist/song writer Jerry Vandiver's beautiful song, "The Spirit of Fishdance Lake." It is from Jerry's new CD "True and Deep - Songs for the Heart of the Paddler" available at paddlesongs.com and on iTunes. we'll stock it in our store this summer too! - Bill
3/7/12 - Dan Walch, from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, is a long-time Sawbill camper and all around good guy. He was here last weekend for a solo trip into the BWCA Wilderness. He found travel conditions to be very difficult due to deep, soft snow on the lakes and ended up camping just a short way up Sawbill Lake. When he returned from his trip he came over to the house for a little visiting. Minutes after we said goodbye, he snapped the pictures below. - Bill
Holy lynx Batman! Look at the size of that rear foot! Photo by Daniel Walch.
You know it's a lynx when you see ear tufts like this. Photo by Daniel Walch.