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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: January 2013
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « December 2012 | February 2013 »

1/30/13 - BWCA Wilderness entry permits can now be reserved on a first come, first served basis. To reserve a permit, the only thing you need to know for sure is the date that you will actually enter the wilderness and at which entry point. How long you stay, how many people you have, where you go in the wilderness and where you exit the wilderness can all be flexible right up until the moment you arrive here.

You can reserve your own permit online at or you can call toll free 1-877-444-6777 during business outfitters.

We're happy to reserve your permit for you. Just fill in the appropriate spaces on our outfitting reservation forms or give us a call, whichever is most convenient for you.

As always, we're happy to answer questions, help plan routes and generally make your wilderness canoeing experience as pleasant as possible. - Bill

1/25/13 - We received this nice note. Thanks Dave.

Hi Bill,

I'm Dave VandeVere - lived in Maple Grove, MN for 12 years and in Frederick, Maryland for last 8 years. While in MN begin winter camping and have been out about 15 different years. I come back to MN almost every year to do so. We've traveled out of the Sawbill area at least 9 times. (Have rented canoes from you a couple times in the summers as well.) Just got back from a 4 day trip (Jan 18-21) to Burnt Lake with my friends Sherman McCormick of Ely and Scott Osvold of Hutchinson. Thought you might like some pictures. Really cold the last two days, but that's what I always hope for.

The canoe landing on Sawbill Lake.

Burnt Lake

Speaks for itself.


Sherman McCormick, Scott Osvold, Dave VandeVere.

Here is this week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP, North Shore Community Radio.

1/22/13 - Life gets interesting when the temperature drops to -20 F and stays there for awhile. This cold snap was ushered in by high winds with gusts close to 50 mph. The wind blew out the propane tank heater on our diesel powered generator, so it failed to start automatically. Our battery bank kept us powered up while I started the heater to warm up the generator.

Once I got that fixed, I noticed that our propane backup furnace was also out. It turned out that the wind had packed snow into the fresh air supply pipe on the furnace, causing it to shut down. Our wood boiler was keeping up fine, but it always makes me nervous when we don't have a functioning backup.

This morning, the diesel fuel stopped flowing from the fuel tank to the diesel generator. This time, ample sunshine kept us powered up until it warmed up enough (all the way to -12 F) to allow the fuel to become liquid again.

Meanwhile, our radio phone system went down, presumably from a power outage in Lutsen where our base station is located.

The fun never ends here at Sawbill! - Bill

1/21/13 - We got this nice YouTube link from one of our favorite customers, Willie Waldman, today. Willie is a talented and well known jazz trumpet player. Every year, he and his band, the Willie Waldman Project, play the Summer Camp Music Festival in Peoria, Illinois and then head straight up to the BWCA Wilderness for a canoe trip. This year, they came through Sawbill. The music for the video was recorded on a campsite in the wilderness and is completely improvised. The guitarist is Clint Wagner, playing a small, travel style Martin guitar. - Bill

Willie Waldmen and Clint Wagner jamming in the wilderness, June 2012.

1/17/13 - It's little nippy here this morning with the temperature standing at -9F when we got up. The overnight low was -13F with a fairly steady north wind. It feels good to those of us who have spent our lives in the north woods.

I've seen a few lynx lately as I've been doing some longer drives on the back roads. A friend sent a picture of a lynx that they captured on their trail camera. - Bill


1/14/13 - Our good friend, songwriter and musician, Jerry Vandiver, has started a Kickstarter campaign that we are supporting. In addition to his obvious creative talents and being one of the nicest people I know, Jerry does a lot to promote the love of wilderness. Here are the details in his words:


The Project

Last year I answered a life-long dream by combining my two passions - songwriting and paddling (a canoe or kayak, c'mon now!) - when I recorded the CD "True and Deep - Songs for the Heart of the Paddler." I held a CD "release party" in the form of three concerts at Canoecopia (in Madison, WI) last March to multiple standing ovations. Canoecopia is the largest paddle sports expo in the U.S., with over 20,000 paddlers (my audience!) attending the three-day event.

Canoecopia wants us back this year for 3 concerts on March 8, 9 & 10, but their limited budget can't cover all our expenses and that's where this campaign, and YOU, come in. I'm looking for you to be a part of our journey back to Canoecopia 2013. Your investment in "Jerry Vandiver and the One Match Band" will help pay for the musicians, rehearsal time, transportation, sound, and lodging. If this campaign raises more than the goal amount, it will be invested to go to future paddle sports festivals and expos as well!

Who the Heck is Jerry Vandiver and the One Match Band?

I'm glad you asked. I (Jerry) am a singer/songwriter in Nashville, TN. I've been blessed to have a few recording artists record my songs - Barbara Mandrell, The Oak Ridge Boys, Phil Vassar, Lonestar, and Tim McGraw, to name a few. I've even heard a couple of those songs on the radio! I also get to perform regularly at the Bluebird Cafe and the Country Music Hall of Fame here in Nashville, as well as many other songwriter venues and house concerts around the US and Canada. Most importantly, I'm an avid wilderness canoeist and camper, especially in the Boundary Waters (where my wife and I were married) and Northwest Ontario.

1/12/13 - Like the rest of the Midwest, we've had quite a meltdown here in the last two days. We had a little more than .6" of rain and lost about half our snow, leaving about 5" on the ground. The temperature is dropping fast now and everything will be well frozen by this afternoon. The driveway will be treacherous, but maybe the lake will be good for ski skating? - Bill

Here is this week's edition of the Cook County West End News from WTIP, North Shore Community Radio.

1/9/13 - Today, we are having what passes for a blizzard now-a-days. High winds, falling temperatures and an inch of snow. The "storm" has knocked out power at the tower site in Lutsen where our radio telephone connects to the real world. If you're trying to call us, be patient, or send an email. Our internet connection is by satellite, so only goes out when it rains or snows really hard. It's the price way pay to live in paradise.

With today's snow the total for the winter is 26.5" with trace amounts that fell on 23 days not included. As of today, there is 10" of snow on the ground.

A lot of people are starting to plan their canoe trips for this summer and are wondering about booking permits. The system has been simplified a little bit this year. All overnight permits in the Sawbill area can be reserved on a first come, first served basis beginning Wednesday, January 30th at 9 am central time. Actually, if you reserve your permit anytime before the end of February, you are almost certain to get the date and entry point that you select. As always, you can contact me and I'll reserve your permit for you. You can email or call with the information asked for at this link:

You can also just note on your outfitting reservation that you would like us to reserve a permit for you.

Here is a little more New Year's broom ball fun from the crew reunion, thanks to filmmaker extraordinaire, Carl Hansen. - Bill

1/3/13 - Each year, it is bitter sweet when the New Year's crew reunion ends and the current and former Sawbill crew head back to the "real" world. This year we had a great group here and the usual ton of fun. - Bill

Sawbill Lake at midnight, January 1st, 2013.

Current Sawbill Newsletter | « December 2012 | February 2013 »

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