Contact Us:
Phone: (218)663-7150
Fax: (218)663-7980
Mail: 4620 Sawbill Trail
Box 2129
Tofte, MN 55615

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Sawbill Newsletter

10/20/16 - When former crew visit us in the Fall, the ensuing celebration is always BYOP - Bring Your Own Pumpkin. This year, we were happy to see former crew members Leif Gilsvik and Nils John Anderson along with Leif's girlfriend Elina. With an abundance of inspiration and optimism we carved up 12 jack-o-lanterns to adorn our deck. -Clare

Elina Leif Nils 10_20_16.jpg Elina, Leif, and Nils are all smiles.

Pumpkins2 10_20_16.jpg Clockwise from top left: Elliot's Hamm's beer tribute, Elina's map of the North Island of New Zealand, Carl's ode to the world's most perfect food, Nils' Monarch butterfly, Leif's map of the South Island of New Zealand, and Dan's rendition of the November gales on Lake Superior.

Pumpkins 10_20_16.jpg Clockwise from top left: Cindy drew inspiration from close at hand, Jess's friendly portrait of Huckleberry, Bill's nuanced depiction of Bob Dylan, Phil's minimalist Big Dipper, Brian's twist on the traditional Jack-O-Lantern, and Clare's wilderness scene.

10/15/16 - Carl Hansen, photographer extraordinaire who grew up at Sawbill, is back for a visit and these gorgeous nighttime pictures are the proof. - Bill

View from the Sawbill Lake canoe landing last night.

A clear view of the Milky Way is a rare sight these days in most places, but not at Sawbill.

The International Space Station makes its way over Sawbill Lake.

10/2/16 - We had two out of the ordinary groups go out into the BWCA Wilderness this gorgeous autumn weekend.

The first were two 18 year old women from Germany and Austria. They are working as au pairs for the year in the Twin Cities and decided to take advantage of the nearby wilderness area. Although wilderness canoe tripping was new to them, they proved to be very capable campers.

Magdalena Dolezal from Hofkirchen im Taunkries, Austria and Celine Bucker from Iserlohn, Germany impressively single portaging on their first BWCA Wilderness canoe trip.

As young as Magdalena and Celine are, our own Kit Shirley has them beat by at least 17 years. Kit (with her parents) completed her first overnight canoe trip this weekend. The permit is going into her baby book. - Bill

Kit Shirley is fully relaxed about her first wilderness canoe trip.

9/29/16 - Our annual used equipment sale has arrived. If you're planning a trip to Sawbill this fall don't forget to check out the sale located in the screen porch. Don't worry if you won't be in the area, you can also shop from home by checking out our website. Happy shopping! -Jessica


9/26/16 - We were honored to be the site of a wonderful wedding last weekend. Jackie and Zach Barnes were married on Sawbill Lake with their friends and family on a beautiful fall day.

The couple are taking leaves of absence from their jobs to travel for six months in Thailand, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. They plan to celebrate their anniversary each year at Sawbill at this most beautiful time of year.

Zach has been a Sawbill camper for many years with his parents, Terry and Kevin Barnes, from the Twin Cities. - Bill

Jackie and Zach Barnes

9/24/16 - If you've been within earshot of Sawbill crew member, Brian Henry, you've probably heard him talk about "Da Binky." His granddaughter, known to the rest of the world as Maddy, was up visiting last week and landed this lunker at an undisclosed location on Sawbill Lake.

Da Binky outfishes her grandpa again.

9/23/16 - More than 25 years ago, we had a visit from Carol Winter and Kirk Dornfeld, along with their 3 year old daughter, Tess. Carol was a former Sawbill crew member. We took Tess and our 3 year old daughter, Clare, for a walk. We used the cute picture we snapped in a picture frame display in the store. The sample frame, with the cute girls, sits on top of the cash register in the Sawbill Store to this day.

Tess recently returned to Sawbill to help us out by working for a couple of weeks. Brian Henry caught the two young women sitting together right behind their childhood picture. Tess was even wearing the same model of Sawbill sweatshirt! - Bill

Cute then and cute now!

9/14/16 - Sawbill's own Laura Hoppe was recently recognized in this summer edition of Legacy, published to keep readers up to date on how philanthropy fuels discovery at the University of Minnesota. Here is a link to the online article.

Laura has been a key member of the Sawbill crew the past four summers so we are very excited, but not too surprised, at the difference she is making. It's always great to see members moving on to bigger and brighter things. We can't wait to see where Laura goes next! - Jessica

9/9/16- The Northern Lights have been keeping us company for the past few evenings. Every clear night for the last week, at least one crew member has walked down to the landing for a lights check, and they keep on spotting some! It's always a treat to go out at night and see the Milky Way to south and the Aurora Borealis to the north. -Britta

Northern_Lights_9_9_16 copy.jpg
Brian snapped this picture one night- if you look closely, you can see the bottom of the Big Dipper in the upper part of the photo.

9/2/16 - Every day here at Sawbill we see old friends walking through the door. Few are as long of acquaintance as Al and Bonnie Frielund, from Duluth. Al started camping at Sawbill in 1952, so is one of the rare people who predate our family, who arrived in 1957.

I have many fond memories surrounding Al, Bonnie and their family over the years. Although they don't do much camping anymore, it was sure good to have them in the store once again! - Bill

Al Frielund and Bill Hansen reminiscing in the Sawbill Store. Photo by Bonnie Frielund.

8/31/16 - As the leaves begin to change and the summer daylight wanes, so do our hours. Starting Labor day we will be open from 8am until 7pm.

Although we'll be open a few hours less each day there is still plenty of time to get those last minute canoe trips in. This time of year is prime time for beautiful weather, no bugs, and fewer people. - Jessica

Roy gazing into the sunset.

8/23/16 - Wildlife sightings can be the cherry on top of any wilderness camping trip. Catching a glimpse of a 1,000 pound moose measuring six feet tall at the shoulder is quite the thrill, but if you aren't lucky enough to see one in the flesh the careful observer can often put together the story of animals who have already passed through. Portages and campsites are the perfect place to find tracks and scat left by these animals. It's pretty fun to imagine what it would have been like to be standing in the same place just a few minutes, hours, or possibly even years ago when the sign had been first left. -Jessica

It's fun to picture a black bear bumbling along the portage hours before I came along to snap this photo.

This moose skull was found on a campsite a couple days paddle from Sawbill. How did it meet its demise? Hard to say, but it doesn't hurt to speculate.

8/21/16 - Nashville singer, songwriter Jerry Vandiver recently passed along this very nice video featuring his "Leave No Trace" song. The video was put together by the Leave No Trace Center and talks about the history and mission of their organization. Worth a watch. -Jessica

8/18/16 - How many places can you think of more romantic than the Boundary Waters? I bet many of us can agree it's pretty hard to beat waking up to an early morning mist setting in over the lake, watching the colors of the sun reflecting off the clouds as it sets behind the horizon, or gazing up at some of the darkest night sky many of us will ever see.

Thom Stang must have been thinking along these lines when he decided to propose to Stephanie Morris during their 11 day canoe trip. The couple's friend, Joe, very carefully carried the ring in his pocket the first four days the distance to Little Saganaga lake. On the fourth day Thom popped the question and Stephanie has been transporting the ring on her finger ever since. -Jessica

Stephanie and Thom shortly after returning from their trip.

8/15/16 - The first few miles of the Sawbill Trail have been a summer training stop among competitive cross country skiers over the years. With the addition of another 10 miles of fresh pavement their training ground vastly expanded. Yesterday a group of at least 50 roller skiers made their way up the seemingly endless inclines as they traveled away from the shores of Lake Superior. Quite the sight to see. - Jessica

Caution signs were posted along their route.

Nothing but uphill and fresh pavement.


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