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Photo Shoot

2/26/21 – Sawbill Canoe Outfitters is a family business now managed by third generation owners, Clare and Dan Shirley. The following photos were taken of Clare’s parents, Bill and Cindy Hansen, shortly after they took over operations in the early 80s from Bill’s parents, Frank and Mary Alice. Copies of these images may still be hiding out on brochures tucked away in the deepest recesses of your home filing cabinet. -Jessica

Just look at that form! Bill and Cindy glide smoothly into the Alton to Sawbill portage.
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Sunday Stroll

2/4/21 – Last Sunday I grabbed my snowshoes and hit the lake. Although the parking lot was empty I wasn’t the only one out there…

A combination of binoculars, a smart phone, and some aggressive cropping resulted in this photo of my companion.

Fishing through a hole in the ice was the activity of choice for my otter friend, and it appeared the eating was good. Don’t worry, we maintained plenty of social distance. -Jessica

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We’re Going Live!

1/22/21 – Tomorrow, Saturday the 23rd at 8pm central, Clare and Dan will be taking questions during a Facebook live event. I’ll be hiding in the comments section as well. See you there! -Jessica

Wonder how we refurbish our for sale canoes, what Huckleberries favorite activity is, or have questions about a route; come hang out with us and we’ll answer all your burning questions.
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Hoarfrost or Rime Ice?

1/11/21 – Minnesotans have been waking up to spectacularly frosted landscapes as of recent, including us. Up until now I would have described this phenomenon as hoarfrost, but meteorologists have been characterizing it as “rime ice,” adding a new term to my vocabulary and prompting some research into the difference between the two.

Most of what the state has been experiencing lately is called rime ice, which is caused when liquid water, in the form of clouds or low fog, comes in contact with something solid (such as trees), which it then freezes onto. Rime ice is generally on the heavier side and can look like frozen droplets.

Hoarfrost, on the other hand, is formed under clear, cold skies. The moisture in the air goes from a gaseous state straight to its solid form, skipping the liquid (i.e. clouds or fog) in between. Generally this type of frost is light and feathery and can be easily blown from whatever it clings to.

In the words of the great Bill Nye, “Did you know that…Now you know.” -Jessica

Not only does rime ice form on tree branches, it also clings nicely to abandoned fishing line.
Yesterdays low cloud cover left little doubt that rime ice was the star of the show.

Source: CBC News article “Here’s why you need to know the difference between hoarfrost and rime ice” from February 11, 2020.

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Happy New Year!

1/1/21 – As 2020 came to a close we were rewarded with a winter snow storm just before Christmas. We now have about 15 inches of snow in the woods and between 11 and 13 inches on the lake. As a result, we’re now able to take advantage of the ski trails, but lake travel has become a bit trickier with the added snow and resulting slush. I ventured down to the lake yesterday afternoon and found I really couldn’t go very far without sinking into the dreaded sloppy stuff, however it seemed like some folks with larger wooden snowshoes were able to mostly stay above the fray. -Jessica

My slushy postholes amongst snowshoe tracks.
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Solstice Celebration

12/22/20 – Yesterday I decided to celebrate the winter solstice by heading down to the lake with a glass of homemade black spruce cordial (see link for recipe).  Once I reached the landing I decided I might as well walk across to the western shore since it was not too windy, lightly snowing, and easy walking.  At about the halfway point I paused to take a picture of the setting sun and accidentally spilled all of the cordial onto my jacket, brand new mittens, and onto the snow covered lake (I hadn’t even taken a sip yet).  After briefly muttering a few choice words under my breath, I realized two very big silver linings.  First, I could now confirm the new mittens I had recently spent big bucks on were, as advertised, liquid proof! They hadn’t soaked up a single drop of cordial, which was more than could be said for my jacket. Second, cordial snow cones are delicious!!!  All in all the celebration was a resounding success.  -Jessica

All that to snap this picture of the setting sun.
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From the Vault

12/16/20 – As we enjoy this relatively uneventful (as far as Sawbill is concerned) December, I thought I would share one of my favorite newsletter posts from the archives. There were lots of gems to choose from, so stay tuned for more blasts from the past. -Jessica

7/9/04 – Toby (Sonya’s Dog), Homer, and Sunny discuss themes for the second annual one eyed dog conference, tentatively planned for July 16th, 2005. Sunny’s lecture on advanced dog treat detection for one eyed canines drew a large crowd. She is planning to publish several exciting papers on dog treat detection and several other topics in the OCCS’s (Optically Challenged Canine Society’s) quarterly newsletter. When asked about this year’s conference, Toby said,” I have always felt ashamed and alone because I poked my eye out with a squeaky toy….. Meeting other one-eyed dogs has helped me realize that there are optically challenged dogs out there living happy, healthy lives. Sunny and Homer have taught me so much. I can’t wait for next summer’s conference!” – Dave

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Lake Travel Conditions

12/10/20 –  Yesterday I decided to head out on the lake for my inaugural ski of the season.  There was just enough snow to hinder any ice skating attempts, but windswept enough that there were a fair number of bumpy ice patches to dodge.  It certainly was nice to be outside soaking up the sun.  Fingers crossed for more snow soon so we can hit the ski trails!  -Jessica

An even patch of snow found tucked away behind an island.