Posted on

November 2004

11/29/04 – Sawbill Lake froze over on November 24th. I ice skated up to the first narrows on the 26th. The ice was two inches thick, but quickly warming temperatures made it kind of rubbery. That, combined with ominous cracking sounds under my feet, led me to cut short my skating fun. Over the weekend, a couple of inches of snow have spoiled the good ice skating, but I look forward to cross country skiing on the lake today.

Fourteen year old Sawbill crew member Carl Hansen got his braces removed this week, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Before and after.

11/24/04 – As winter’s grip begins to change the landscape, I am getting anxious for the day when I can strap on snowshoes, or skis and head out onto Sawbill Lake to welcome another winter in the BWCAW. In the summer I am often asked about winter in the boundary waters, and when I tell canoeists that winter is my favorite season I am often greeted with quizzical looks. However, with the proper equipment, and some basic knowledge winter is a wonderful time to enjoy the BWCAW.

I will be leading several winter camping trips out of Sawbill this winter, designed for people who would like to give traditional winter camping a try. Trips accommodate up to 4 participants, and each night will be spent camping in canvas tents that utilize a wood stove for heating and cooking. While traveling between campsites, participants will travel using skis and snowshoes, and will help pull the groups gear on traditional toboggans. The goals of the course are to provide participants with an enjoyable traditional winter camping experience, and teach basic winter camping and travel skills. The trips are being offered through Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, and we will be using top quality equipment provided by Empire Canvas.

Trip Dates: Saturday, 1/29 to Tuesday 2/1, and Thursday, 2/3 to Sunday 2/6

Cost: $450 per person

Click here for a detailed trip description! ( Microsoft Word Document 80 K)

Let me know if you have any questions, or would like to make a reservation.

– Dave

(312) 505-9973 (cell phone)

(218) 663-7150 (Sawbill)

A canvas tent, heated with a wood stove, is a wonderful place to relax after a day of winter fun.

11/22/04 – In this odd period of limbo – between autumn and winter – everything seems to be waiting. The woods are gray and look dead. The lake is too hard for paddling and too soft for walking. The campsites are empty and forlorn. Absent are the smell of wood smoke, the distant sound of an axe splitting wood, and the drifting sound of faraway laughter. The wind, blowing almost constantly, takes on a high, harsh sound as it rips through the naked branches and brush. Only the pines soften the sound with their whispering needles, sounding at times like voices or a car on a distant gravel road. When the wind stops, the loudest sound is the blood being pumped through your ears.

Belying these human impressions are the wild animals, who seem to be energized by this difficult season. During a long run last week, I was treated to an incredible parade of wildlife. A bald eagle flew no more than fifteen feet over my head as I crossed Sawbill Creek. She was cruising low up the creek bed in search of a tidbit to eat. In the next mile, a totally white snowshoe hare crossed the road right in front of me. Further on, a spruce grouse erupted from the roadside which surprised me in two ways – by the sudden eruption of drumming wings and seeing a grouse at all when the population is seemingly at an all time low. Another mile and a pileated wood pecker hammered on a white pine snag near the road. I always think of Woody Woodpecker when I see these huge birds. Another mile, and a great gray owl dropped from a tree just ahead of me and cruised on silent wings to another tree across the road. Great gray and snowy owls are being seen frequently around the area due to a rodent shortage farther north. I turned onto an old logging road and observed several piles of wolf scat along with clear wolf footprints. After a mile, I turned back and came upon a new pile of wolf scat that was not there just a few minutes before. I stopped, let my breathing slow down, and listened carefully for any sound of the pack, but to no avail.

The next day, Carl and Clare were held up on their way home from school by two bull moose with full antler racks. After they recovered from seeing a car approach them, the bulls began to spar with their antlers while Carl and Clare watched with delight. – Bill

11/11/04 – After several days of high winds, it turned colder last night and the wind slowed down. The sheltered bays on Sawbill Lake are covered with skim ice, signaling the practical end of the canoeing season. Hopefully, it will soon be the ice skating season! – Bill

The ice near the Sawbill canoe landing forms interesting patterns that draw the puzzled attention of Homer.

11/08/2004 – This weekend was our annual traditional cookie baking weekend. Cindy’s mom, sister, niece, and nephew joined us for a marathon of cookie baking and seasonal music. We all gained three pounds, but a good time was had by all.

A small sample of 2004’s creative cookie work.

11/5/2004 – As you can tell from the lack of newsletter entries, things have been very quiet around Sawbill. The seasonal crew have all dispersed around the country, the canoes are put away, inventory has been taken, and we are waiting for the lake to freeze. We rented a canoe yesterday to Bob Clark and his son Nick from Belvedere, Illinois. They went out overnight and then were blown back in by the wind and cold. It has actually been fairly warm for this time of the year. I don’t expect the lake to freeze for at least another week. – Bill