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Campground Update

5/4/21 – We’ve gotten word from the Forest Service that the order closing Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake, and Temperance River campgrounds is lifted. It’s still freezing at night, so the water isn’t turned on and we aren’t maintaining the outhouses yet. That means, if you want to come camp you are welcome to and there are no fees being charged. All the same rules apply, and our store is open so we’ll still be here to greet you. Once the water is on (probably in the next week) we will begin cleaning and the campgrounds will all be open as usual.

Each year the USFS flags hazard trees, and we work quickly to remove them before any campers show up.
We’re fortunate to have crew like Paul who have all the appropriate training to fell these trees!

Aside from felling hazard trees, we also rake around all the fire grates to remove the buildup of pine needles and other fuel hazards. Then the fire grates get scooped out, removing the ash from last season and making way for many happy campfires this year. Lastly, we some general brushing, stain picnic tables, repair signs…the list goes on! We’re taking full advantage of the beautiful sunny days to get things ship shape for this camping season!


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Ice out!

4/18/21 – The ice on Sawbill is officially out. We consider the ice out when the lake is 90% open water, and with the recent warm windy days the lake was ice free as of April 17th. Certainly, this is an early date for ice out. Typically we expect there to be ice on the lake until the first week of May. Dan did a little research into our archives to find some of the earliest ice out dates and came up with the following:

  • April 21, 2017
  • April 12, 2000
  • April 4, 2010
  • March 27, 2012

True to tradition, the Sawbill crew marked the occasion by “opening the beach club.” Resident swim enthusiast, Huckleberry the dog, says that this is his favorite holiday.

Matthew, Sawyer, Clare, Dan and Huckleberry open the beach club for 2021.

Meanwhile, we are busily preparing Sawbill for the season. With an early spring and some warmer days we are tackling many outdoor projects. The most important of which is working to firewise the property. Early spring coupled with a minimal snowpack can portend dry conditions. In an effort to be prepared, we have fixed a broken line in our robust sprinkler system and are now working to rake and trim a perimeter around all of our buildings. Living in the forest as we do, it’s important to realize that it’s not if, but when, a fire will burn through the area. Thinning out the brush and keeping the pine needles at bay can go a long ways toward protecting our infrastructure in the event of a fire.

It’s all hands on deck to get Sawbill ready for the season!

There’s more snow in the forecast so we haven’t pulled the canoes out of storage just yet. If you’re itching to get an early season trip in though, give us a call and we can get you set up! We’re excited to start welcoming folks back to the wilderness.


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So Close…

4/15/21 – Today we finally have blue skies and open water in front of the landing (see progress report below), although it appears there’s still a good amount of rotten ice hanging on further up the lake. -Jessica

Sawbill canoe landing April 9th.
April 10th
April 12th
April 14th
April 15th (1pm)
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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.