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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: July 2017
Current Sawbill Newsletter | « June 2017 | August 2017 »

7/29/17 - Sawbill's annual hootenany, known as the Dome Dance, took place last night in the famed circular building behind the outfitters.


Terrence Smith called the dances to live music. One of the musicians, Jeff Greensmith, is a former Sawbill crew member!

Crew members and campers alike had a blast, dancing the night away. Thanks to everyone who made it! - Elena

7/27/17 - You'll know you're at the half way point of the 480 rod portage between Lujenida and Zenith when the trail disappears underwater. Don't fret - the water is less than knee deep and the ground is solid. Just keep an eye out for the sunken boardwalks on the northern portion.


The simplest way to cross this section (and any other wet or muddy portage) is to simply walk right down the middle. Sure, your feet will get wet and dirty, but it's the safest route and best for maintaining the trail.

As always, we recommend footwear that you don't mind getting wet and is suited for the job. A popular option is Chaco sandals. They are equiped with heavy duty vibram soles and a simple, secure and durable strap system.

Happy trails! - Elena

7/26/17 - Blue skies and sunny as of late have been making it hard to stay inside. The pollinators seem to be taking advantage of the beautiful weather as well. Earlier today these butterflies allowed me to get close enough to snap a couple quick pictures. I seen many other types of butterflies, bees, and pollinating flies but I wasn't quick or stealthy enough to capture their likenesses. -Jessica

According to Butterflies of the North Woods, by Larry Weber, the White Admiral butterfly doesn't usually nectar on flowers (although this one was found resting on a daisy). Typically they get nutrients from animal scat, aphid honey, or wet sand and gravel.

Aphrodite Fritillarys can be found in their butterfly stage from late June through early September. Fun fact; late in the summer they deposit their eggs on violets. The eggs will hatch into caterpillars in the fall. The caterpillars then remain dormant over the winter, but emerge in the spring to feast on nothing but violets. Some might say they eat and sleep violets.

7/25/17 - Hot off the press; a shipment of shiny new Alumacraft canoes. Although the majority of our fleet now consists of lightweight Kevlar canoes we still offer the classic aluminum option. -Jessica

Tyler and Laura untying the load.

We were the last stop on the drivers route. At one time this trailer was packed full.

Laura, Nick, and Megan demonstrate teamwork to get the canoes safely off the truck.

7/22/17 - Blueberry season is upon us!...well, its almost upon us. Yesterday I conducted some berry reconnaissance and found they are coming along nicely. Its pretty early in the season, but blueberry pancakes could be on the breakfast menu if you're heading out on a trip in the next few weeks.
A lot of the plants I found had a sprinkling of ripe berries, but many had reasonably sized, mostly green berries.

7/18/17 - Christy Prediger and her husband visited Sawbill last Friday to do a day canoe trip. During their time here, they spotted some wildlife. Christy was kind enough to send some videos our way, and we are so happy to be able to share them with you.

This loon family has taken up residence on Sawbill Lake. Loons will return to the same lake year after year, so this loon couple and their babies could be part of a long legacy.

Christy and her husband saw this young moose on their drive down the Sawbill Trail. Animals use the roads as corridors for their travel since the brush is often thick, so keep your eyes peeled on your drive up and back!

Thanks, Christy! - Elena

7/16/17 - Sawbill played host to a wedding this past weekend, between long-time campers Mike and Pam. Early in their relationship, Mike brought Pam up to Sawbill, so it was a fitting location for the beginning of their next chapter together. The wilderness treated them with good weather and a beautiful sunset.

Congratulations from the whole crew! - Elena

7/12/17 - Taking a stroll through the woods is always a good time, but sometimes it can be a little tricky to motivate when the weather doesn't seem to cooperate. Today I decided to throw on my rain gear and get outside despite the persistent rain. - Jessica

The walk along the lake path provided a close up look at this moss, complete with sporophytes (the reddish stem releases spores, not seeds like an ordinary plant).

Along the way I spotted this beautiful porcupine sedge (ID courtesy of Dan Seaman).

As you can see, the dock is currently floating higher than the landing which is not the norm for this time of year. Fast moving high water will be something to keep in mind while approaching portages if this rainy trend continues.

7/8/17 - Co-owner of Sawbill Dan Shirley, crew member Jesse Bergeson, and Huckleberry the dog recently completed the "Lady Chain," one of the more popular routes in the Sawbill area.

Jesse and Huck at one of the portages

One of the benefits of crew members going on trips is that they are then able to provide first-hand information and advice to customers traveling the same route. Below is Dan's report:

Paddling east from Kawishiwi to Sawbill is the common direction for paddlers to take - normally the upstream flow is inconsequential. However, with high water levels and the copious rain falls recently, the creeks were raging. Between Polly and Phoebe, we had to paddle up small rapids in order to reach the traditional portage landings. It was high adventure, for sure! While this was challenging, we appreciated that paddling down stream would be equally so as missing a portage and getting sucked farther down stream could be a possibility. Be safe our there, keep a level head, and have fun!

Dan and Jesse ran into fellow crew-member Nick and Nick's dad Dale along the Lady Chain!

Huckleberry's report: "The lakes are perfect for swimming this time of year... now please let me out of this canoe!" - Elena

7/6/17 - Sometimes you only have to travel as far as your backyard to see the wonders of the natural world.

Yesterday, a sharp-eyed Sawbill crew member spotted a snake engaged in a fierce battle with a bullfrog. After a long struggle, the snake proved victorious.

Snake vs Frog

Kit Shirley, the littlest outfitter, found this scene fascinating.

The snake, which was hanging out behind a shed, was spotted later that afternoon slithering along at an impressive speed, despite its bulging belly. A little slice of the circle of life! - Elena

7/4/17 - Instead of shooting off fireworks or having a cookout to celebrate the 4th of July, Sawbill celebrates in the best way we know how - with canoes!

The annual Dragon Boat Races took place this year on July 3rd to accommodate the travel schedule of Adam Hansen. Three teams of 4-6 piled into Minnesota IIs and raced from the Sawbill Landing to the Forest Service Dock and back, a distance of 1 mile.

And they're off!

The teams competing this year were:
Team Flower Power, led by captain Heidi Sarazen
Team Flannel, led by captain Jessica Hemmer, and
Team Super Sawbill Shooting Stars, led by captain Laura Hoppe.

Team Flower Power paddled victorious in the 2017 Dragon Boat races, finishing several canoe lengths before the next competitors.

Flipping canoes at the end is another essential feature of the Dragon Boat races

Is this not how you paddle a canoe?


Many thanks to all the visitors who came out and watched, either at the landing or along the lake shore. We hope you had as much fun as we did! - Elena

7/1/17 - The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is home to thousands of species of flora and fauna that grow and live in a variety of ecosystems - swamp, forest, rivers, and of course lakes.

The Kelso Loop, a popular day paddle out of Sawbill, is an excellent introduction to the biodiversity the BWCA holds.

Pictured above are two wildflower species: The red pitcher plant flower, and the purple iris.

The pitcher plant is carnivorous, relying on protein from insects to feed itself. The deep red flowers that rise above the pitcher-shaped leaves attract insects, which then fall down the sloping hairs before being digested in the enzyme liquid held in the pitcher. Spiders sometimes build their webs across the entrance of the pitcher, having adapted over time to this readily available source of food.

The iris is widely regarded as one of the more elegant wildflowers. Its name comes from the Greek word for rainbow, a nod to its brilliant colors.

Karlyn Russell, visiting from Madison, WI, takes a closer look at an iris.

Sawbill has a number of wildflower reference guides on hand, so please ask one of our staff members if you need help identifying a floral find of your own! -Elena

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