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Naturalist Program & Lady Slipper Sighting

6/18/19 – The US Forest Service’s sponsored Naturalist Program is up and running as of today! There are classes in multiple places each day that are going on Tuesday-Saturday through August 24th. Depending on location and week, each class will focus on different outdoor topics so that anyone can find one that peaks his or her interest. Sawbill in particular will be hosting a class every Saturday night from 7:30 – 9:00 pm starting this Saturday. Topics will be based around Minnesota’s wildlife, plants, astronomy, and more! Weather permitting, we will always have a campfire with some marshmallows for the guests. It’s sure to be fun and educational, so we hope you join us! Visit this link and look for the events titled “Summer Naturalist Program” on the calendar for more class locations and times: https://www.visitcookcounty.com/events/ .

In other naturalist news, we have a rare orchid growing on the Sawbill property! It is the beautiful state flower of Minnesota, the lady slipper. They need very specific soil environments to grow and are losing their population from people collecting them for their beauty or medicinal value. Additionally, the habitats that they are able to thrive in are decreasing, making them fairly difficult to come by these days. For the first time in anyone’s memory, we have a few clusters of them growing in the area and are very lucky to see them thrive! If you’re lucky you may spot some while visiting us.

-Allison

One small cluster of the Cypripedium acaule growing along Sawbill’s boundaries.
The flower petals that fuse together resemble a slipper, hence the nickname lady slipper.
Kit doing her best Lady Slipper imitation.

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Boundary Waters Podcast

6/14/19 – Our good friends at WTIP, the local radio station, are producing a podcast about the BWCA focusing mostly on stories of those who visit our favorite Wilderness area. There are many great episodes to catch up on, and the most recent is sponsored by Sawbill. You can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, or by clicking this link.

In other news, all of our phone and internet systems have been fixed and we are once again reliably connected to the outside world!

No internet means you find other ways to entertain yourselves. Here David does some portage cross training while keeping Kit safe from bears.

-Clare

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Sunset Season

6/10/19 – Yesterday was a beautiful and warm day, ending with some rain in the evening. However, the skies cleared up enough to give us a stunning sunset at the landing. The crew headed down around 9 pm for the show and were rewarded with the colors seen below! Sunsets always seem to be the most colorful after a good rain. There surely will be plenty more sights like these this season! Happy Monday, everyone.

-Allison

Sunset on the Sawbill landing on June 9th, 2019.
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Technical Updates

6/7/19 – We are on day four of running the entire store on a small cell phone hotspot and we are adjusting as best we can. We appreciate your patience as we figure everything out. It takes a bit longer to print permits and fishing licenses at the moment, but at least we can do them! We still have just one working phone line, but feel free to email us with any questions you may have at info@sawbill.com . There’s no definite date that we will have WiFi working again, but in the meantime we’ll be working hard and playing plenty of cribbage.

In other news, last week’s rainy days have served us well and it looks and feels like summer up here. The forest floor is turning completely green along with blooming trees, shrubs and flowers. The crew has been loving the couple days of sunshine, and those who are adventuring into the BWCA today could not have asked for a better day to do so! Happy Friday!

-Allison

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Technical Difficulties

6/3/19 – If you’ve been trying to reach us today you may have noticed we are a bit harder to connect with than usual. We are currently down to one phone line, so if you get a busy signal the first time you call please try back in a few minutes. Alternatively you can reach us by email at info@sawbill.com. We are hoping to have things back to normal in the next couple days, but in the meantime thank you for your patience! -Jessica

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Goodbye to old friends

6/2/19 – Winter clung to its grip on the north country this year. Green up was slow to come and small piles of snow still linger on the north side of the outfitting building. This slow close to winter feels appropriate this year as we also mourn the loss of several members of the Sawbill extended family. We feel Mary Alice’s absence daily – even though she moved to Grand Marais in 2008 reminders of her impact on Sawbill and Sawbillians alike are tucked around every corner here.

We are also sad to report the death of Sawbill’s first crew member, Tom Kubiak. Tom arrived at Sawbill in 1956 as a young teenager. He was primarily a guide, but in true Sawbill fashion he did a little bit of everything to help get Sawbill off the ground as a fledgling business, living in the bunkhouse at Sawbill Lodge until the Outfitter buildings were built. Tom paved the way for his two younger brothers who also came to work for Frank and Mary Alice. After Sawbill, Tom joined the Air Force for 24 distinguished years. After his retirement, he resumed camping at Sawbill, introducing his 2 sons and many other Kubiaks to the area. Tom passed away shortly before Mary Alice and, like his brother Bill says, we can’t help but think she’s up there bossing him around once again!

Tom Kubiak in the early days of Sawbill.
Tom (stern) on his last canoe trip before joining the Air Force.
Tom and Mary Alice (2nd and 3rd from right) at Sawbill’s 40th Anniversary.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the passing of two other longtime Sawbill visitors and family friends, Tom Glenny and Dave Schuldt. Both of these men exemplified the kind of character we come to associate with BWCA travelers – kindness, resourcefulness, and generosity. Their presence in our lives will be missed greatly. We take some comfort in the continuing relationships with the families of these fine men.

Spring light in the canoe yard.

Leaves are emerging, baby moose are being spotted in the Wilderness, and the extended Sawbill family is returning for another season – customers and crew alike. The north woods are ushering us out of one era into the fresh beginnings of another. How fortunate we are.

-Clare

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PSA for Old Crew Members!

5/1/2019 – Calling all old crew members! We need your help. A favorite aspect to customers and crew members alike is looking through the old crew photos posted in the southern hallway of the store. It is so fun to see old members, t-shirts, dogs, and consider how things have changed (or stayed the same)! However, we’re currently missing a few photos from past years or the ones we have are poor quality. We have no photos from before 1978 and we are missing the year 1979. Additionally, we have pretty poor quality photos from 1999, 2009, and 2015. If you are an old member from one of these years and have a crew photo laying around, we’d love to hang it on the wall! Feel free to mail it to us or take a scan of it and email it. Thanks so much!

-Allison

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Prescribed Burn

5/31/19 – For those camping and canoeing around the Sawbill area this weekend, it is important to know that there will be a prescribed burn happening tomorrow, June 1st in the area. It will be taking place near Baker Lake, directly adjacent to the Baker Lake Campground. The burn will total 40 acres and will not close any roads or campgrounds, as it should not be dangerous conditions for the nearby areas. It is aimed to reduce post-logging slash, which will allow the soil to be more fertile as pine seeds get dropped. Below is a map of the area, located in Township 62 North, Range 4 West. Feel free to ask any questions if they arise!

-Allison

Vicinity map for the prescribed burn area around Baker Lake taking place on June 1st, 2019.
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New Crew!

5/30/2019 – As it gets warmer and we’re getting busier, we still have a few more crew members on their way to join us for the summer yet. Over the last couple of weeks, Mike, Hannah, and Andie have arrived as well!

While Hannah and Andie are returning crew members, this is Mike’s first season at Sawbill. From New Jersey, Mike recently graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio with a major in music and a minor in math. He loves backpacking and is ready to combine his skills and experiences with some canoeing this summer.

Hannah is returning for her second summer at Sawbill. From Stillwater, she completed her undergrad at UW-Eau Claire in the fall of 2017 for violin performance. She continued on in her schooling and is getting her masters degree at CU-Boulder, with an expected graduation date in just one year! She’s also getting married next summer, so she’s got a big year ahead of her.

Last but not least, Andie is also returning for her second summer here. She’s currently going to school at Texas Tech University after attending Chapman University in California as well. She’s a double major in psychology and English with hopes to move back to sunny California after her summer here.

We definitely have some great, motivated people working here this summer. While we all have our different interests and hobbies, we all share a love for the BWCA. It’s gearing up to be a fun season! Stay tuned and learn more about the crew under the “About Us” tab at the top of the website. Cheers!

-Allison

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Volunteer in the Superior National Forest

5/26/2019 – The Northwoods Volunteer Connection is seeking out volunteers to assist in various projects happening in the Superior National Forest this year. The organization works hard with its volunteers to help conserve and preserve the forest and the BWCAW. They do this through service projects such as trail maintenance, building boardwalks, planting trees, removing invasive species, surveying, and maintenance of various BWCAW entry points. The activities are happening around multiple parts of the state- such as projects near Grand Marais, Tofte, and Cook this summer alone. Last year, 314 volunteers were active in the Northwoods Volunteer Connection and there’s always room for more when it comes to protecting our public lands and resources. In fact, the Sawbill crew will be partnering with the organization to complete a project around the area in June! If becoming a volunteer interests you, feel free to go to http://mnnvc.org/ for more information and specific project details.

Trail maintenance volunteers.

In addition to volunteering around or in the boundary waters, there is an option for those who have a special place in their hearts for one specific entry point. Adopt-an-Entry Point is a new program designed for folks who wish to help ensure that the point is consistently maintained and looking good for its next visitors. If you’re interested in the program, feel free to click this link for more information: http://mnnvc.org/adopt-an-entry-point

-Allison

The projects utilize teamwork and is a great medium to learn and practice outdoor skills.