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Round the clock Wilderness

9/9/19 – Have you ever seen the sun go down to the haunting call of a loon? Have you stayed up and watched an ocean of stars appear above and below your rocky lake view camp? Has the sound of a beaver slapping it’s tail woke you in the middle of the night?

“The days are getting shorter,” a simple phrase but does it hold true? With the sun setting earlier and rising later it is a great time of year to embrace that you do not have to stay up past 11pm to start appreciating the darker side of the BWCA. If you have a strong knowledge of where you are and an adventurous spirit try going for a night float. Something as simple as drifting in your canoe just off shore of camp can be a life changing experience. Just be sure to bring a good strong light and keep track of where you are so you can make it back to your cozy tent at night.

-Jesse

Setting off into the sunet
Alton Lake by twilight
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Labor Day Weekend

9/2/19 – Happy Labor Day folks! It’s been a busy weekend up here at Sawbill with everyone trying to get trips in before it gets too cold or having to return to school. Busy but good! A special thank you to those who participated in the annual fish n’pick weekend – the music was fantastic both nights. To accompany the music, campers and crew members gathered on the landing dock to see a good show from the northern lights on Friday night! It was truly something special. A great holiday weekend and introduction to fall!

-Allison

The northern light dance on Friday, August 30th. Photo credit to crew member Brian Henry.
Musicians and friends alike gathered around the campfire in the canoe yard.
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Welcome to Autumn – Hours & Events

8/30/19 – As September approaches, it’s clear that the cool weather has joined it. We’ve definitely noticed a significant drop in temperature in the last couple of weeks! Even so, there have still been some beautiful and clear days. Be prepared if you’re taking a trip soon and bring layers along with a warm sleeping bag – and of course don’t forget your rain gear. With the weather changing, we’ll also be starting our fall hours this Tuesday, September 3rd. We’ll be open from 8 am – 7 pm daily.

In other news, labor day weekend has our campground completely full through today and tomorrow! There are options for campgrounds nearby though if you are worried about finding a site. Up here, it’s also known as fish n’pick weekend. A long time tradition, musicians come up to fish during the day and play tunes by a fire at night. All are welcome to join and listen to them during their jam tonight or tomorrow night in the canoe yard. Typically, they start around 8:30. Additionally, tomorrow marks the last US Forest Service naturalist program event of the summer! As always, they’ll be discussing Minnesota wildlife around a campfire with s’mores from 7:30-9. Plenty going on around here this weekend! Happy beginning of fall!

-Allison

Sunsets are early these days, this one captured right after 8 pm on 8/28/19.
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75 Years & still Portaging

8/27/19 – Portaging a giant boat on your shoulders is a pretty impressive feat of itself, let alone when you’re 75 years old. Yet Frank & Roxy Janezich make it look pretty easy! These two have surely had plenty of paddling experience and are not letting age get in the way of their canoeing. Thanks for the inspiration, you two!

-Allison

Frank and Roxy on their way to the Sawbill landing. Photo credit goes to crew member Brian Henry.
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Hiking around Sawbill

8/18/19 – Though we’re best known for the abundance of canoeing opportunities at Sawbill, there are plenty of other outdoor recreation opportunities nearby. We often get asked about hiking trails in the area and there are some great options! Eagle Mountain is probably the most popular choice, about a 40 minute drive from Sawbill down the grade. It is a moderate ~7 mile hike that summits at the highest point in Minnesota. The trail winds through forest, marshes and lakes before the relatively steep climb to the top in the last half mile or so.

A glimpse of the trek to Eagle Mountain.

A closer option to Sawbill would be the Carlton or Britton peak trails. The trailheads are just a few miles down the Sawbill Trail from Tofte. Britton peak is a short hike (only .5 mile or so), while Carlton peak is 3 miles round trip. Another option about 5 miles north of Tofte are the Oberg and Leveaux Mountain trails. Each trail is about 3 miles, both with amazing views overlooking Lake Superior and the surrounding national forest. These hikes can be extended for longer trips as they coincide with the Superior Hiking Trail, a 310 mile foot trail along the north shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. There are plenty of chances to hop onto the Superior Hiking Trail along Highway 61. If you’ve already done these hikes, don’t fret! The abundance of state parks on the north shore provide even more opportunities. I recently hiked next to waterfalls on the Cascade river and potholes of the Temperance river, both discovered on Highway 61 pulloffs. Wherever you go, it’s sure to be beautiful. Happy hiking!
-Allison

One of the 9 scenic overlooks on top of Oberg Mountain.
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Something to brighten your day…

8/15/19 – If you’re having trouble pushing through to the weekend, hopefully this will help a bit. This is an appreciation post for the sweet boy that is Huckleberry. If you don’t know him, he’s the springer spaniel that belongs to Sawbill owners Clare and Dan Shirley. Looking closely, you can see that his name tag gives away his occupation: the official Director of Public Outreach. Unofficially, he is the store greeter, bodyguard, therapy dog, Olympic swimmer, professional snuggler, and Sawbill mascot. On behalf of the entire crew, we’re all happy we get to spend time with him while we’re here. Friendly reminder that he does have severe food allergies so please don’t give him any of your treats or snacks. He also loves to swim with folks on the dock, but practice caution if you have a fishing line in. The poor guy doesn’t understand the concept that bobbers are attached to hooks. Besides that, feel free to give him lots of love if you see him around the campground! Cheers to Huckleberry (aka buns, hucklebuns, bunners, huck) for being the best boy!

-Allison

Huck takes his greeting job VERY seriously.
The happiest guy there is.
Taken in early May, anxiously awaiting for the ice to melt so he can swim.
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Berry Update

8/9/19 – Though things are still hectic around here, a few crew members have found time to escape for some berry picking. Perfect timing too! Peak strawberry season has passed, but we’re expecting the raspberries to start ripening very soon. The blueberries are the real star of the show right now. Clare and Kit did some picking earlier this week and report that the blueberries are about 60% blue with 40% green still. Definitely time to start heading to your favorite patches! It appears the weather will provide a near perfect few days, with mostly clear skies and mid 70s expected through Sunday. Whether it be berry picking, hiking, or canoeing, we hope you get the chance to be outside this weekend. Happy Friday!

-Allison

Kit picking out only the best berries to share!
Some of the haul collected from earlier in the week.
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Dome Dance!

8/3/19 – Thanks to everyone that showed up for this years’ annual Dome Dance! It was a great time. Terrence Smith showed everyone the ropes of square dancing accompanied by some fantastic lively music. What a great way to break in the new square dome! Though the new building is definitely not circular, it’ll always be a dome to us. Being peak busy season, everyone could use a little dancing release. If you’re sad you missed it, there’s always next year!

-Allison

Everyone practicing their square dancing skills!
Live music accompanied the square dancing lessons.
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2019 Crew Photo

7/27/19 – Drum roll, please… Introducing for the very first time, the entire 2019 Sawbill crew! This is probably the only time where you’ll see all of us in the same spot the entire summer. After locating everyone for a quick photo, the group dissipated within two minutes to head right back to work. We are in the busy season, after all! Thanks to crew member Matthew for the photography skills and capturing Kit’s finest smile with his camera. All we need now is to Photoshop Huckleberry in the middle; we think he was too busy visiting the campground to join us.

-Allison

The 2019 Sawbill Canoe Outfitters crew.
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Lady Chain Conquerors

7/26/19 – This past Saturday, two of our crew members took the day off and decided to conquer one of our 3-4 day routes in just one day! Mike and Nathan took the challenge of paddling the Lady Chain and were successful in completing it in about 9 hours and 20 minutes in our Wenonah Minnesota II canoe. They were able to do it in such a short amount of time by single portaging and bringing just a couple of day packs. Even with plans to complete it in a day, they still carried emergency equipment in case they had to stay overnight on a lake. The weather could not have been better for them, with slight winds and clouds turning into sunshine and tailwinds by the early afternoon. Mike got the chance to say hello to a group he sent out on Thursday as he passed them! Everyone enjoys their trips at different paces and this particular one was seen as more of a challenge than a vacation to Nathan and Mike. Though we wouldn’t recommend this speed to customers, those who decide to do something similar should be an experienced BWCA paddler and take the proper gear just in case.

The Lady Chain is one of Sawbill’s less frequented routes, being a point to point chain starting in Kawishiwi Lake. Most customers decide to start there and paddle through Lake Polly, Phoebe, Grace, Beth and Alton before arriving to Sawbill. This is a great straightforward route that can be fun for families or paddlers of all skill levels. With appropriate time allotted, there’s plenty of opportunity for exploring surrounding lakes and rivers along the route. There’s many campsites along the chain, so it tends to never be full or overcrowded. Fishers in particular enjoy this route. Polly, Phoebe and Grace lake are great for walleye, while Beth and Alton are filled with small mouth bass and sunfish. If you’d like to know more about this route, feel free to give us a call or ask a crew member for more information and suggestions. We’re more than happy to help!

-Allison

Nathan along the Phoebe river.
Mike and Nathan navigating through Hazel Lake.