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Slow Early Ice Development

11/28/23 – Ice on Sawbill has been in a constant ebb and flow this fall. The lake has been ice covered as far as the eye can see multiple times now, but as soon as the wind picks up (which has been often) large swaths bust back open. Temperatures have been quite cold however, so as soon as we have a stretch of calm weather I expect ice should form quickly. -Jessica

A surprising amount of open water at the canoe landing late yesterday afternoon.
Currently the wind is minimal so ice was able to form overnight (picture taken first thing this morning).
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Used Canoes for Sale

11/21/23 – Our 2023 season-end canoe sale has begun! The party started a little later than usual this year due to some heating issues in our workshop (heat is a key ingredient for the hardening of the resin – see link for more details about how we refurbish canoes), but things are rocking now. Tandem, three person, and solos will be added to the used canoe section of our website as they are ready and can be purchased directly through our online store. After that we are happy to continue storing the canoe until your next visit to Sawbill. -Jessica

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Ice on Sawbill!

11/1/23 – This morning marks the first notable ice on Sawbill Lake! In front of the landing it was about a 1/4″ thick at 9am, and extended south into the Sawbill Creek bay. So far it appears to just be along the shoreline and bays, but it was significant enough that it would be quite hard to break through if in a canoe. Other area lakes that appear to be fully/mostly frozen over this morning include; Gust, Lichen, and Crescent. -Jessica

Mouse Island as seen from the canoe landing.
The very scientific “rock test.”

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Fall Festivities

10/10/23 – In keeping with Sawbill fall traditions, the crew celebrated the colder temperatures this week by carving pumpkins! Lots of fun designs including Kit’s viper and Felik’s rendition of Felix the Cat. We are still having beautiful fall weather with the trees continuing to change colors and drop their leaves plus near-freezing temperatures. Perfect weather for a hike or a paddle before the lakes start to freeze! – Anna

Scooping out the pumpkins and brainstorming ideas before the actual carving began
Left to Right: Sig, Feliks, Diana
Left to Right: Junior, Anna
Left to Right: Kit, Lauren, Matthew
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Self Issue Overnight and Day Use Permits

10/1/23 – Today marks the start of self issue overnight travel permits which are free, unlimited, and available at all entry point canoe landings. If you’ve ever taken a day paddle into the Boundary Waters you would have filled out the same short form now needed for overnight travel October 1st through April 30th. All the same rules apply and can be found on the back side of the permit. Happy shoulder season! -Jessica

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Grouse season is here

9/25/23 – We have two kinds of grouse here in the Superior National Forest, the spruce grouse and the ruffed grouse. The spruce grouse is endemic to Northern Minnesota specifically, whereas the Ruffed grouse can be found as far south as Iowa. Spruce grouse are named for their habitat in coniferous forests where they feast on spruce buds and pine needles. Since they have a smaller habitat, it makes sense that they have a smaller population as well. Somewhere between 10,000 to 20,000 spruce grouse are harvested annually, with ruffed harvest numbers ranging from 250,000 to 1 million! Grouse populations rise and fall in 10 year intervals, though the annual hunt does not affect population at either end of the cycle. Ruffed grouse prefer a more diverse forest, hence the larger range. Both species consume insects as the bulk of their diet, but ruffed grouse are known to enjoy the fruits of dogwood, mountain ash, and thornapple, along with rosehips and the green leaves of clover, strawberry, bunchberry, and some ferns. Both species share common predators. Large birds of prey like the goshawk and great horned owls, as well as some mammals such as fox, martens, fishers, and bobcats. To avoid these predators in the winter, both species spend almost all of their time in snow burrows for safety and warmth. The easiest way to tell the two apart is their defining features. Spruce grouse are generally darker and have a dramatic orange cat-eye, like it is wearing colorful eyeshadow, whereas ruffed grouse have a very distinct banded fan-like tail and a ruffled neck. -Matthew

Ruffed Grouse
Spruce Grouse. All information and photographs are from the Minnesota DNR.
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Aurora Borealis with the Sawbill Crew

Picture taken by Suz

9/21/23 – At Sawbill, we check the, My Aurora app, every day to see if, “tonight might be the night,” the Northern Lights would bathe our lake in the harmony of colors it produces. The likelihood of a celestial show was high and Monday, September 18th was the night! Lauren and Anna noticed the light columns forming in the sky and in seconds everyone was dressed and headed to the pier for the long-awaited performance. And boy, was it a blockbuster! Gray columns turned into a crown of sparkling rays shooting skyward, getting brighter as time went on. Suddenly, the white light began to turn emerald green with hints of rose-pink sneaking into the show. The entire lake basked in the rainbow of light that was reflected in the silky, smooth, water of Sawbill. For an unbelievable encore, what looked like a myriad of spotlights began zooming around the sky, illuminating a 360-degree circle surrounding us. And then, it was gone. Everyone simultaneously let out their breath in disbelief at what they had beheld. What we had witnessed was now a perfect memory.



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Used Canoe Sale

9/12/23 – This weekend marks the beginning of our much anticipated annual used canoe sale. Traditionally, we sell our three-year old rental canoes after a thorough refurbishment process, which you can read more about here. We’ll still be doing that this year, although not until early October. Once canoes are refurbished and ready, we post them here on our website.

So what’s for sale now? This year we are offering an early bird sale of “as-is” canoes. We have Northstar Seligas, Wenonah Minnesota 2s and Minnesota 3s available now. These are priced individually, depending on condition, but are generally between $1,600 and $1,700+tax. They are for sale on-site only here at Sawbill, they won’t be listed online. These canoes are all in great shape and were pulled directly from the rental fleet, and there’s still time to pick one up and sneak a quick fall trip in! Our store is open 8am – 7pm seven days a week, so you can make a trip out of it and grab a cup of hot coffee while you shop.

Seligas up front with MN2s peeking from behind. We’ll even be selling some of the Wenonah Spirit 2s in T-Formex this fall!
These canoes are currently available, you can peruse them out in front of the Sawbill Store.

If you have any questions about these or the refurbished canoes yet to come, please feel free to give us a call at 218-663-7150 or email at!


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Sawbill Crew 2023

8/27/23 – If you’ve ever worn a classic grey Sawbill hoody in the airport you’ll know, Sawbill crew are everywhere! Over 67 years of business Sawbill has had the great pleasure of becoming a second home for generations of crew now. All bias aside, Sawbillians are some of the best people to work alongside. The unique climate of deep collaboration, remoteness, and creativity is like no other and every summer season leads to new and lasting bonds.

The 2023 crew! Back Row: Eli, Matthew, Diana and Sig, Owen Jr, Feliks, and Carter. Middle Row: Clare and Kit, Grant, Lauren, Ethan, and Dan. Front Row: Jessica, Anna, Sawyer, and Caid. Front and Center: Huckleberry

Dan and I couldn’t do what we do without the crew. We are endlessly grateful for the good cheer, the hard work, and the total buy-in to the Wilderness ethic that these folks display year after year. While we wish some of the summer staff farewell as they head back to college, we’ve got a stellar lineup staying through the fall this year. Fall crew is already busy planning a Northwoods Feast where we’ll prepare delicacies we’ve harvested this season to include: walleye, small mouth, blueberries, juneberries, raspberries, a variety of mushrooms, wild rice and maple syrup from our friends down the road, and soon grouse!


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Fantastically Fun Forest Foraging for Fungus

08/21/23 As August slowly winds down in the next week and a half, new foragables are appearing. While they have been out for a couple weeks now, Lobster Mushrooms have become more noticable. I would like to share the first sentence on Wikipedia with you, Reader.

 “Hypomyces lactifluorum, the lobster mushroom, contrary to its common name, is neither a mushroom nor a crustacean, but rather a parasitic ascomycete fungus that grows on certain species of mushrooms, turning them a reddish orange color[1] that resembles the outer shell of a cooked lobster”. 

I enjoy the clarification that this organism is not a crustacean! 

Too old for people to eat, but it sure looks like someone has been nibbling on it!

To locate these mushrooms in the Midwest, head to a mixed forest; one with trees like birch, aspen, and red pine. In the Northwest, look for Ponderosa pines. Edible Lobsters are lighter orange in color, and will be firm and dense. Older mushrooms are darker orange, red, or purple-ish and are said to feel more like a sponge when lightly squeezed. As with anything found in the field, it’s best to go with a seasoned forager for a safer, hands-on experience. Ones that aren’t too old can be dried and turned into powder. For ones that are the right age, cut off all the soft parts of flesh and make sure to wash them well. The shapes the mushrooms grow allow for a lot of hiding holes for dirt and bugs!

Found on the Sawbill ski trail.

Many people say that Lobster Mushrooms have a meaty texture and have a taste similar to lobsters (there have been a few reports of people with shellfish allergies also reacting to the mushrooms). The first time eating them, cut them into strips and sautee them in some butter or olive oil to allow yourself to get the full taste of the mushrooms. Since the mushrooms are so dense and hold their shape well, it is common for people to grate the lobster mushrooms and make mushroom cakes like potato latkes. 

I personally am not a fan of them, so I just go with someone who will eat them. It’s a great excuse to go somewhere new and hike! 


What a neat color! I think this a bit too old to eat.
That’s half a Nalgene worth of lobster mushroom right there, Pardner!
A snail snacking on a Lobster Mushroom.