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Hare and Higher Water

4/11/2021 – A sure sign the ice is making moves toward sinking into the watery abyss happened on Friday when the lake rose substantially topping the edge of the canoe landing (the recent steady rain is probably contributing a little as well). Each day it’s risen slightly and the ice is really looking dark toward the north.

She’s taking on water captain!

While walking on the lake path the other day I ran into one of the neighborhood snowshoe hares. They informed me that last seasons styles were on the way out. Skinny jeans and side parts are now a thing of the past. -Jessica

This years fashion trend; seasonal camo.
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Returning Crew!

4/8/21 – Another sure sign of the approaching paddling season is the return of the Sawbill Crew! To celebrate his return for a third season, we let Sawyer do the ice measuring honors today. With the aid of the ever trusty Alumacraft he shimmied his way out onto the ice, demonstrated perfect auguring form, and measured 13″ of fairly porous ice. -Jessica

As you can see, the ice thickness is not at all uniform. One area you might have 13″ and just a couple inches from your canoe there could be a giant hole.
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Let the Melting Commence

4/7/21 – The weather this past week has been perfect for ice melting with highs in the 40s, 50s, and 60s with rain off and on yesterday and today. Two nights ago the humidity really ratchetted up, resulting in a rolling thunderstorm that spent several hours passing us by. This past weekend some winter campers reported 19″ of ice on Alton, but when Clare ventured out in front of the canoe landing, yesterday afternoon, she found a very rotten 14″ of ice. -Jessica

The canoe landing just after sunset yesterday evening.
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Neighborhood Snow-People and Backyard Birds

3/29/21 – Since my last post we really haven’t seen any melting weather. In fact, we actually added a few inches of prime snowman making snow into the mix. Kit and Sig took advantage making the artistic masterpiece you see below.

Also of note; the backyard birds have been keeping things exciting as well. Last Wednesday Kit spotted a Black-billed Magpie, which is a rare find in these parts. Apparently magpies sometimes migrate as far east as Minnesota in the winter months, but typically take up residents on the western half of the US and Canada.

But wait, there’s more; on Thursday Clare snapped a picture of a mighty Northern Shrike! This little songbird doesn’t look like much, but don’t let that fool you, it’s a ruthless killing machine. According to The Sibley Guide to Birds, shrikes lye in wait from a high perch such as; fences, wires, and treetops. After they spot their prey (mostly insect, but sometimes small mammals and birds) they dive into action knocking their prey unconscious with their strong hooked bill. Captured prey is occasionally impaled on thorns for fast food later on. -Jessica

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Ice Check

3/24/21 – Things have really started melting in earnest this past week. As a result, Clare and Dan did another ice depth check to see how things are progressing. They reported 20″ of ice from top to bottom, with the top 11″ hard compacted slush/rotten and the bottom 9″ clear. -Jessica

View from the canoe landing looking north yesterday morning.

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Canoe Delivery

3/10/21 – A sure sign that spring is on the horizon is the arrival of our first batch of new canoes. Not long ago Northstar dropped off these beauties. Unfortunately we won’t be able to christen them for a while. Clare and Kit drilled the inaugural hole through the ice yesterday and found 20″ of very solid clear ice. -Jessica

Northstar Seligas and B 16s fresh off the molds.
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Photo Shoot

2/26/21 – Sawbill Canoe Outfitters is a family business now managed by third generation owners, Clare and Dan Shirley. The following photos were taken of Clare’s parents, Bill and Cindy Hansen, shortly after they took over operations in the early 80s from Bill’s parents, Frank and Mary Alice. Copies of these images may still be hiding out on brochures tucked away in the deepest recesses of your home filing cabinet. -Jessica

Just look at that form! Bill and Cindy glide smoothly into the Alton to Sawbill portage.
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Sunday Stroll

2/4/21 – Last Sunday I grabbed my snowshoes and hit the lake. Although the parking lot was empty I wasn’t the only one out there…

A combination of binoculars, a smart phone, and some aggressive cropping resulted in this photo of my companion.

Fishing through a hole in the ice was the activity of choice for my otter friend, and it appeared the eating was good. Don’t worry, we maintained plenty of social distance. -Jessica

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We’re Going Live!

1/22/21 – Tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd at 8pm central, Clare and Dan will be taking questions during a Facebook live event. I’ll be hiding in the comments section as well. See you there! -Jessica

Wonder how we refurbish our for sale canoes, what Huckleberries favorite activity is, or have questions about a route; come hang out with us and we’ll answer all your burning questions.