Posted on

Welcoming New Canoes Into the Fold

5/22/23 – Before a new canoe can head out for it’s first adventure there are a few items of business to take care of.  To start we license them all at the Grand Marais DMV which is located inside a flower shop (try finding a more pleasant venue for renewing your drivers license).  Back at home we apply the license, our logo, and a unique number to each of the canoes.  Then we install our custom adjustable yoke pads before introducing the greenhorn to the rest of the fleet ready and waiting in the canoe yard. -Jessica

Matthew tests out his best calligraphy.
Holes are drilled into the yoke perfectly spaced for the yoke pad bolts.
Varnish is applied to the freshly drilled holes.
Yoke pads go on.
And it’s off to join the others.
Posted on

Crew Opens the “Beach Club”

5/16/23 – Yesterday the crew took the customary plunge into Sawbill Lake to ring in the start of the paddling season. The following are some action photos. -Jessica

Per usual Huckleberry beat everyone into the lake.
The orange sun is a result of smoke from fires in Canada.
Note the absolute joy on Kit’s face. She jumped in more than once.
Posted on

Open season, Open water

5/13/23 – Just in time for fishing season, Sawbill lake is officially ice free! Happy paddling!


Sunset paddle last night on Sawbill Lake.
From the portage looking southwest across Alton yesterday 5/12.
Jr and Caid fishing on Sawbill before work this morning.
Posted on

Ice Report and New Crew Welcome

5/12/23 – Last night Sawbill welcomed a new crew member to the end of the trail! After several fishing trips to the fire lakes, Caid decided to join us for the summer in search of walleye. Upon his arrival from Oklahoma, we loaded a B19 on the roof of Hammer’s fancy new Subaru and headed east to find some open water and sunset views. We found what we were looking for on Moore lake just south of the grade.

Season’s first sunset paddle! Junior, Eli, and Caid soak in the scenery. Not pictured: Hammer and Matthew

With the first taste of canoeing behind us, the anticipation of ice out on Sawbill only grew. As of this morning May 12th, the western shoreline is open as far as the eye can see but ice sheets remain on the eastern side. Today is mostly sunny with a high of 72 and a decent breeze, so conditions are ideal to melt some ice. – Matthew

View from the landing at 9 am
Posted on

May 8th Ice report

The view from Sawbill landing today May 9th

5/9/23 – Yesterdays measurement was 19″ total with only the bottom 5 being solid ice. The top 14″ is very rotted/slushy “ice”. With warm weather in the forecast and more open water by the minute, paddling season is just around the corner.

Posted on

May 5th Ice Check

Today was my turn to check the thickness of the ice. Getting out far enough for a good measurement is a little more nerve-wracking now that the ice has officially split from shore, naturally an aluminum canoe is used to bridge the gap. The ice continues to hold at 25″ but today the 17″ or 18″ of solid ice from yesterday seems much more rotten and waterlogged, still about 7″ of slush on the surface. -Owen Jr

Crossing unstable ice near shore
Drilling the test hole
Posted on

May 4th Ice Check / Moose Sighting

5/4/23 – Today new crewmember Eli took his turn drilling through and measuring the ice. He reported the total held at 25″ made up of a 18″ solid ice base topped with about 7″ of slush and rotten ice. As Eli was measuring the ice Jessica spotted two moose coming out of the woods onto the lake near the north end of the campground, the two appeared to be a mother and yearling. -Owen Jr

New Sawbill crew Eli
Moose don’t fear the ice breaking
Posted on

May 2nd Ice Check

5/2/23 – Over the past couple of days the spring crew has started arriving. Per tradition we sent them out to check on the lake. They reported 25″ from the bottom of the ice to the top of the slush. 11″ of which were ice and 14″ compact slush. -Jessica

The official measurement.
Matthew and Junior getting the job done.
Posted on

April 24th Ice Check

4/25/23 – Yesterday morning the stars aligned for prime lake skiing conditions. On his way to take advantage of the first, and maybe last, spring lake ski of the season Dan measured 23″ of ice (varying in quality) and 8″ compacted snow. He reported some open water along shore, mostly in the narrows. -Jessica

Test hole drilled between the canoe landing and Mouse Island.
Suspect looking ice at one of the narrows.
Lynx tracks. Dan wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the prime conditions.