4/30/13 - Today's Sawbill Lake ice report: 5" of slush and water on top of 24" of ice. Sawbill's ice measuring technicians report that it is increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the slush and the ice.
The weather this afternoon is sunny, warm and windy, following a hard rain this morning. Everything is melting really fast. We're down to an average snow depth of about 10 - 12".
Unfortunately, the forecast is for rapidly falling temperatures tonight and more snow tomorrow - only for a couple of days though - and then it will warm up again. - Bill
4/29/13 - Today's Sawbill Lake ice report: 8 inches of snow, slush and water on 26" of ice. The ice continues to show deterioration with layers of water within the 26". - Bill
Tyler drills the daily ice measurement hole.
Looking south from the canoe landing toward Sawbill Creek. This bay is the first to open every year. The ice is still plenty strong enough to ski on, which we will do on the mornings after freezing night temperatures. More pictures to come...
4/28/13 - Today's ice report: 8" of snow, slush and water on top of 26" of ice. But... the slush is much more watery today and the ice is visibly more degraded.
The last two days have been quite warm. Two days ago we topped 50 degrees for the first time since October 24th and yesterday we topped 60 degrees for the first time since October 3rd. It didn't freeze last night, which helps the melting enormously.
We have lost approximately half of our snow depth in the last few days. The deck where I measure snow depth stands at 19" this morning and still melting fast. In the woods, the snow depth is highly variable, depending on how much sun exposure it receives. This might be one of those years when you can find small patches of snow back in the dark swamps on the 4th of July. - Bill
4/27/13 - A sure sign of spring is the arrival of a new fleet of Wenonah canoes from the south. Other signs of spring observed today include: the first grackle, red winged blackbird, purple finch and robin of the season, and an early morning skate ski up to Handle Lake. - Bill
A nice day for unloading canoes. Last year it was 32 degrees and sleeting.
Leif and Tyler unload the last canoe.
Brand new Kevlar Wenonahs for the canoeing season, when it finally arrives.
Todays's ice report: 10" of snow, slush and water on top of 26" of ice.
4/26/13 - Today's Sawbill Lake ice report: 13" of snow/slush/water on top of 26" of ice. Today's temps will peak in the 50s for the first time since October 24th.
One of our favorite customers, Dale Benham, leads a group of students from Nebraska Wesleyan University on a canoe trip through Sawbill every year. Last year, one of the co-leaders was psychology professor Frank Ferraro, who conducted some interesting research on the trip about the effect of wilderness on the frontal lobe of the brain. Here is a blog entry with a short summary of the research. This link leads to a longer, more detailed article titled "A River Thinks Through It" in the NWU alumni magazine with fun pictures and references that will be familiar to Sawbill canoeists. - Bill
4/25/13 - Today's ice report: 15" of snow, slush and water on top of 26" of ice. Much warmer temperatures are due to start tomorrow!
Tyler, Leif and Luke went "winter" camping on Alton Lake last night. They hiked out after work in the late afternoon and enjoyed a warm fire and a full moon before sleeping under a tarp.
Tyler filling out his BWCA Wilderness entry permit. Photo by Luke Opel
Tyler and Leif heading up Alton Lake. Photo by Luke Opel
Tyler and Leif gaze at the stars. Photo by Luke Opel.
Cozy by the fire under the moon. Photo by Luke Opel
Alton Lake by moonlight.
It's been a long time since we've heard from Sawbill's Poet Laureate, Ed Dallas.
Late April, with its snow-covered fields
and lack of spring green,
has reduced my brisk afternoon walks
into slow shuffles.
Like the snow, I'm hanging on,
waiting for better times to come.
Oh, many will say,
"It's just Mother Nature playing a little joke on us,"
but I know better.
She's in cahoots with Old Father Time.
As I shuffle down the road,
their evil plan becomes clear to me.
Mountain-sized snowmen, a half-mile thick at the waist,
plod slowly through Minnesota, Iowa bound.
Their cry "Remember the Ice Age!"
sends the fleeing populous into a panic,
but not me. I'm staying put,
dig my fingernails in,
hang on... adapt,
so the future Dallas-Neanderthal Clan
can have the joy of
hunting woolly mammoths
with a spear.
4/24/13 - Today's ice measurement is 18" of snow, slush and water on top of 26" of ice.
Our good friend, Nashville songwriter Jerry Vandiver, will be appearing with his One Match Band at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo in Minneapolis on Sunday, April 28th at 2 pm in the big top tent near the food area. Jerry is one of the world's friendliest people, so stop by and say hello if you're at the Expo. - Bill
4/23/13 - I'm sorry to report the loss of another long-time Sawbill camper, Willard Stevens. He passed away this week from complications after heart surgery. Willard, his wife Viv, and their children have been camping here so long that I can't remember when they started, but I think Kennedy was President. Here is the link to his obituary.
Willard was a favorite with everyone at Sawbill. He was a man whose kindness showed clearly on his face. He was a master story teller, in a style of wry humor that has become something of a lost art in our fast paced world. He and Viv hadn't been able to visit for the last few years, and we missed them, but now we are so sorry to know that they won't be camping at Sawbill ever again.
The daily ice report doesn't show much change, but we are getting a little melting today and the forecast is for much warmer temperatures - finally. Today we found 6" of snow, 6" of slush, 6 inches of standing water and 26" of ice. - Bill
Luke Opel drills today's hole with the ice auger.
Roy Wonder (Deputy of Outfitter Security), Luke Opel and Tyler Campbell measure the ice thickness.
26" of ice on Sawbill Lake.
4/22/13 - OK, this is starting to get ridiculous. We got another 3" of snow last night and another 3 - 5" is predicted for tonight. Snow is forecast for a few more days and then, finally, some warm temperatures are on the way. The North Shore streams are going to be in epic flood mode in a couple of weeks.
Sawbill crew members Luke Opel, Tyler Campbell and Leif Gilsvik shovel snow off the shuttle vans in anticipation of another spring snow storm tonight.
Starting today, we will post a daily measurement of the snow and ice on Sawbill Lake. Today we measured 18" of snow on the lake with 31.5" of ice. This is a few inches more than our measurement a few days ago. That doesn't mean that the ice is getting thicker. It just indicates that underside of the ice sheet is uneven. - Bill
4/21/13 - We ended up with 20.5" of snow from the most recent storm. The snow on the ground was right up to 4' deep. It settled a little bit yesterday, in spite of a high temperature of 23F, just because the sun was out and has a lot of power this time of year. Today, it is snowing again, but we've had little accumulation.
I tried to groom the ski trail after the storm, but the snow was too deep for the snowmobile. It would make headway under full power if I stayed right on the formerly packed ski trail. If I strayed even 6" off the packed course, which was hidden under the fresh snow, the snowmobile would tip off the trail and bury itself on its side in 4' of soft snow. Twenty minutes of shoveling, heaving, sweating and cursing would get it in position to gun it out of the hole and back onto the trail. A short distance later, it would fall off the trail and the whole process was repeated.
I had no choice but to dig out the snowmobile because the snow was literally too deep to walk through. The only way to move under your own power was to literally swim through the snow, which is painstakingly slow. After an hour of struggle, I finally got the snowmobile back to the shop, where it will stay until this new snow firms up a bit.
4/19/13 - 10:30 AM, 19.5" of snow from this storm. Close to 4 feet of snow on the ground. Sawbill Lake ice depth is 28" with at least 2 feet of snow on top of the ice. - Bill
This is our house after the first round of plowing this morning.
The back of the store building. The paddle rack is on the left.
This is the picnic table in front of the store.
Cindy's car this morning.
The predicted low temperature tonight is 7 degrees. Last year we had daffodils blooming on this date.
4/16/13 - After 57 years of looking at Sawbill bird feeders, it is pretty rare to see something surprising. Yesterday, for the first time that I can remember, we had yellow rumped warblers at our feeders. Wikipedia tells me that it's not unusual for these little passerines to visit feeders, especially if they arrive in the north before the insects that they usually eat are available.
Yellow rumped warbler feeding on the woodpecker feeder.
4/13/13 - Here are some recent pictures. - Bill
This isn't a scene that you see too often in mid-April. The skiing is excellent here right now.
An otter's track parallel to the ski track.
4/10/13 - The long break since the last entry is explained by the annual Hansen family vacation. In the past, we've posted from where ever we were staying, but given the long winter this year, we felt like it would be cruel to post from the Caribbean.
Thanks to Karl Hansen, who watched the business, the dogs and the complicated energy system while we relaxed on the beach.
We returned to the classic bad news, good news scenario. The bad news was the passing of Sawbill icon, Larry Wilbers. Larry was a favorite customer and friend for many, many years. We first bonded with Larry when he flew his small private plane from his home in Ohio to the airport in Grand Marais. He asked us to pick him up and when we arrived, he offered to take us for an airplane ride. The airplane ride became an annual tradition and great fun for the whole Hansen family.
Larry, his son Steve, and many of Larry's friends and family enjoyed Sawbill canoe trips over the years. This family tradition was lovingly documented in Steve's books, "A Boundary Waters History: Canoeing Across Time" and "Canoeing the Boundary Waters Wilderness: A Sawbill Log."
Larry's granddaughter, Meg Simon, is a current Sawbill crew member.
Larry and Cindy in August of 2010 during his last Sawbill visit.
The good news was the birth of Mia Rose Casper. Mia is the daughter of Lida (Storch) Casper, former Sawbill crew member, who now teaches in rural Alaska.
The two events remind us, of course, how the wheel of life keeps turning. Just like spending time in the wilderness, the big life events remind us to keep an eye on the big picture and remember what is important in life. - Bill
Welcome to Mia Rose Casper! She is planning her first camping trip in the Sawbill Campground this summer.