Posted on

June 1998

6/30/98 – Contrary to popular belief, there are many BWCAW travel permits available for the rest of the summer. July is particularly open. You can check out availability, and even reserve a permit, at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Reservation Center. The entry points near us include: Hog Creek – #36, Kawishiwi Lake – #37, Sawbill Lake – #38, Baker Lake – #39, Homer Lake – #40, Brule Lake – #41, & Brule Lake Only (must camp on Brule Lake) – #41A.

6/29/98 – Warm sunny weather. People returning from the wilderness are aglow with it. Ruddy, hairy, relaxed: they beam from ear to ear. The sun was wonderful all day, illuminating the tree tops and clouds in yellows, oranges, and purple in the late evening. A party of four novice women found great success and solitude on the Lady Chain. They overcame the difficulties of long portages, including the rocky portage from Ella to Grace. On a large rock in the middle of Grace, they baked in the sun and experienced profound silence. Out of the city, away from routine, on a carefree sunny day, the mind begins to relax and shift focus. There is an immediacy of reflection in these moments. Unlike our daily rush, in the wilderness we can slowly consider, try on different ideas, work on those big questions for which we never find time. On a rock in the middle of a lake, the world becomes very small. Here and now is the focus. Tiny objects like fish bones, pebbles, and lichen are the source of scrutiny and speculation, and sometimes, on a clear sunny day, these ruminations hint at something bigger, something lost and long sought after.

6/28/98 – Frank and Mary Alice Hansen are back from Texas. They tangled with the terrible weather in Minneapolis and ended up coming home late. They are grateful to be back into the "cool" weather.

6/27/98 – It is a quiet day at Sawbill today. Very little news to report. Moose sightings in the wilderness seem to be increasing as the hot afternoon horseflies drive the moose into the water. Although the D.N.R. asserts that the moose population is only down slightly, anecdotal evidence would suggest a significantly lower population. The good news is that the breeding season seems to have been very successful following our unusually mild winter.

Excited about the new microwave phone system, Bill Hansen expresses his jubilation 100 feet off the ground.

6/26/98 – There are a few lingering technical problems, but the new microwave radio telephone system is fully operational. Our new phone number is (218) 663 – 7150. Our old number will be in service for a couple of years, but change your Rolodex now 🙂 Our FAX number remains the same (218) 663 – 7980. Our FAX will now be automatic, so it will be smoother sailing for folks who FAX in their reservations.

6/25/98 – Slow progress continues on our new radio telephone system. We now have all five lines coming into Sawbill, but all the bugs haven’t been worked out. The end is in sight though and the pay phone has already become routine. We even rigged it with a motion detecting nightlight.

The weather is very humid today, but not terribly hot. Although darkly overcast, we have just had a few drops of rain. A customer driving in saw two bears on the Sawbill Trail this morning. So far, there have been almost no bear encounter reported in the wilderness.

6/22/98 – We thought we had seen it all when some customers from Iowa arrived at Sawbill in a limousine (see story and picture below), but this group topped even the limousine for unusual method of travel.

6/21/98 – Sawbill has a pay phone. We literally broke out the champagne when the new pay phone became operational yesterday. Although still connected through our radio telephone system, it works like a regular pay phone. After 42 years of explaining our odd phone situation to people, we are now free to answer "Yes!" when people ask so casually "Do you have a pay phone?"

Jared Gustafson was the first lucky customer of the new Sawbill pay phone when he called his dad in Faribault.

6/20/98 – Imagine our surprise to see a limousine arrive here at the end of the Sawbill Trail! The bus serving the north shore broke down yesterday, so customers arriving from Des Moines rented a limousine to finish their journey to Sawbill. Perhaps we should provide Sawbill Trail limousine service to every Sawbill camper?

Poor timing on our part. After nearly a week of perfect weather, the day we chose to install the second antenna for our new microwave system, lightning and high winds kept the technician off the tower. We did get all our new phone instruments installed, and the microwave link will be done on Monday or Tuesday, weather permitting.

6/18/98 – What can we say about the weather – perfect is the only apt description. This morning is cooler and breezy, with a few clouds drifting around.

Our new phone system hit a delay yesterday when the tower technicians truck broke down and he had to spend the afternoon getting it repaired. He promises to be on the job early this morning however, and we hope to be functional by tonight – barring any unforeseen glitches.

The new microwave dish joins the other radio antennas on the Sawbill tower.

6/17/98 – The two excellent technicians, Steve Schuh and Tom Cichanowski, have made major progress on our new microwave telephone system. By noon today, they will have deactivated our old telephones and switched over to the new, modern desk phones. By tonight, the microwave link should be done and you will start to notice a difference in the audio quality of our phones. By coincidence, Tom’s brother, Mike Cichanowski, is the founder and owner of Wenonah Canoe Company.

The Woodside Middle School kids continue to enjoy beautiful weather. Sunburn is their biggest challenge at this point. They enjoy some of the best leadership we have ever seen, so I’m sure they are being wisely sunscreened and shaded as appropriate.

6/16/98 – Yesterday was another beautiful day in paradise! 85 degrees and light southerly breezes tempted many canoeists into an afternoon dip. A couple of dark clouds rumbled by about supper time, but no lightning or rain was observed. Today has dawned cool and clear with a nice breeze keeping the mosquitoes down.

We have begun installing a new microwave radio link between Sawbill and the outside world. At the same time we are replacing our aged internal phone/intercom system. There may me some down time in the next three days, but it should be brief. The new system will give us a new telephone line, much higher audio quality, higher data bandwidth and (best of all) capability to have a pay phone.

6/14/98 – Indiana invaded and conquered Sawbill yesterday. We had the Woodside Middle School from Fort Wayne, Indiana, back for the umteenth year of outfitting with Sawbill Outfitters. Their excellent leaders told us that the 7th and 8th graders that they bring must complete a 30 hour course before they qualify for the canoe trip. It includes an overnight "dry run" in a local state park. They are the best behaved and highly motivated group of junior high kids that we see all year. We also had Troop 390 from northern Indiana in the campground at the same time. The 36 scouts didn’t outfit with us, but they sure did their best to use up our 7-day out-of-state fishing licenses:-)

6/13/98 – The dryers in the Sawbill laundry room worked overtime yesterday. A parade of people with soggy sleeping bags streamed by, each with a tale of tent failure. We call them "wishful thinking" tents. They only leak when it rains. We also sell and rent tons of rain gear whenever it rains, all to people who are heading out on canoe trips. It makes one wonder how many people head into the wilderness without rain gear when the sun is shining. This morning glorious golden sunshine is pouring down from a stonewashed blue sky.

6/12/98 – Wet, wet, wet. Yesterday was a classic foggy, drizzly June day. Every leaf on every tree is hanging down, sodden and soaked. The forest is lush and full of damp smells. Light, persistent rain continued all night and this morning. The lake is flat calm and the sky is uniformly gray.

6/11/98 – A quiet day at Sawbill yesterday. People peacefully coming and going from the wilderness, no complaints about the fishing, moderate temperatures, and light breezes. Sawbill’s youngest crew members, Carl and Clare Hansen, successfully completed the second and fourth grades respectively. Carl is now a full fledged reader of chapter books and Clare is 4th grade chess champion.

6/9/98 – A western painted turtle chose the Sawbill Lake canoe landing to lay its eggs last night.

A snapping turtle female also uses the landing every year, but hasn’t appeared yet. She is about 20" long and has lived in the same bay for at least thirty years.

6/8/98 – Bob Caticchio of Plymouth dropped off this picture taken during his last trip to the Sawbill area. He weighed this walleye at 8 lbs, and caught another at 10 lbs. Bob returns every fish he catches to the water, so this beauty can be caught again.

6/7/98 – Sorry for the slow newsletter update. It happens when Bill and Obie go out of town at the same time. They were most recently delegates to the Minnesota Democratic State Convention, where they continued their work in defense of wilderness. They made many good contacts and are optimistic about the political future of wilderness in Minnesota, but both were somewhat dazed by the noise and hoopla of the convention floor. They agree that they would rather be paddling in the wilderness than swimming with the sharks in political waters.

Tina McCauley and Jim Pietila and their children, Danya Larson and Tad Jokinen, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota were joined in holy matrimony in the Sawbill campground this afternoon. They have camped at Sawbill for several years and decided it was the ideal place to be married. Rev. Linda Wahlstrom, pastor of Zoar Lutheran Church in Tofte, officiated.