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The First Sawbill Campers this Year!

Steve, Halie (age 12), Calie (age 9), Paiten (age 11) and Karin


6/01/20 – Drum roll please . . . . This morning the Gaertner clan registered for camp site #10 at Sawbill Lake Campground.   Clare Shirley welcomed the family and pronounced, “You are our first campers here for the the 2020 summer season.” Traveling with ‘Nana” and “Papa” Gaertner are their three granddaughters who exclaimed, “We like it here!  We like the log cabin store, the people  and the lake.

-Trinke

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Whatever the Weather

5/31/20 –  As you flip or click your 2020 calendar page to the month of June with intent to plan a Sawbill Boundary Waters trip keep in mind as you write your packing list, although summer is only weeks away, seasonal temperatures  in the North Country may vary from  the low 40’s to the mid 70’s. Also consider the  effects of wind, rain and overcast skies combined with these temperatures as you choose clothes for protection and warmth.

On mornings this week, Sawbill crew donned jeans and hoodies, changed to shorts and t-shirts mid-day and by evening wore puffy jackets and wool hats. ALWAYS bring complete rain gear — jacket, pants, hat and footwear– and an assortment of clothes for layering to include shorts, pants and both long and short sleeve shirts.  Seek to have at least one set of dry clothes that also includes footwear and socks.  By packing a variety of clothing options you are better prepared for your paddling comfort as well as possible hazards or emergencies. 

-Trinke

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Dorothy’s Brew, May Your Heart Be Lifted Up. . . .

5/30/20 -At the Sawbill store a  refreshing cold drink is often a first request from paddlers returning after a canoe trip.  And as often, their request includes the query, “Do you have the rootbeer?”  Customers are referring to the beverage of Boundary Water lore,   Dorothy’s Isle of Pines Root Beer, home brewed by the “Root Beer Lady” of Knife Lake.

Dorothy Molter lived on the Isle of Pines in remote wilderness canoe country for over 50 years.  She served up her Secret Root Beer Recipe and provided thirst quenching refreshment to thousands of paddlers yearly.  Dorothy was known to give refuge to outdoor adventurers  (including animals) whether nursing care for physical ailments, a warm cabin to wait out a storm in, or a hot cup of coffee to converse over. Dorothy was a true friend to every visitor who crossed her rustic cabin path located 15 miles from any road accessible only by canoe, dogsled, snowmobile, snow shoe or floatplane.

Presently, the legacy of Dorothy’s remarkable life is sustained through profits from the sale of her Isle of Pine Root Beer that directly  support the Dorothy Molter Museum located in Ely, Minnesota. You can  learn more about the “Florence Nightingale of the Wilderness” at the Dorothy Molter Memorial Foundation website:  www.rootbeerlady.com.

-Trinke

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Sawbill First Time Crew

5/29/2020 – At Sawbill, customers and crew are the heart beat of all the action. As the North Country and Sawbill open to customers, onboarding of summer crew continues. Here are some FIRST time crew members joining the 2020 team:

Hailing from Tennessee, Kirsten Todd is excited to experience the unique area. She is eager to learn and awaits to meet your outfitting needs. Autumn Lauer takes the title of youngest crew member having recently completed high school in Edina, Minnesota. Here she tends to post canoe trip sanitizing and cleaning of our boats.

From Northwoods Wisconsin, Trinke Alexander and “Chef Ken” a.k.a. Ken Hall bring their passion for working and playing in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. At the Sawbill store, Trinke stocks shelves readying to meet a variety of customer needs. Chef Ken is shown preparing dinner, one of two meals eaten communally by the entire crew. Rave reviews followed his first meal of fish tacos made from Northern hooked from Sawbill Lake. Bright smiles abound!

-Trinke

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Campgrounds set to Open June 1, 2020

5/27/2020 – Today the USFS announced that beginning June 1, many developed campgrounds on the Superior National Forest will be opening. Included are the Sawbill Lake Campground, Crescent Lake Campground and the Temperance River Campground. We have developed an enhanced sanitation plan for each of the campgrounds to help maintain the well being of our guests, our staff and campground hosts. We look forward to seeing people in the campgrounds soon.

Other nearby campgrounds that remain closed include Baker Lake and Kawishiwi Lake campgrounds.

-Dan

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The wildlife is thriving

5/26/20 – As we venture through spring, we’ve seen lots of critters up here at Sawbill. The birds and spring peepers (Chorus frog) fill our days with song. We were lucky enough to photograph a pine marten and a chestnut-sided warbler.

Crew member Matthew captured a video of a pine marten, available on Facebook shortly. Pine martens, belonging to the weasel family, were common in northern Minnesota before the late 1800’s, although due to deforestation the species lost most of their habitat. By 1920 pine martens had almost completely disappeared from Minnesota. The species had a full recovery by 1990 due to the successful actions of the DNR.

This is a chestnut-sided warbler perched on our deck, unfortunately after being stunned by flying into our window. There are many different species of warblers, but this one in specific is located in south Canada, north east United States, and spend their winters in Central America. They sing “see see see” and like to live in bushy pastures.

-Jaid

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Meet the crew!

5/23/20 – Meet the crew! As the season jumped into action these past few weeks, these crew members fortunately got off quarantine just in time to help. Two returning employees, Sawyer and Matthew, who are both starting their second season up here at Sawbill. As well as two new crew members, Johnny and Jaid, both from Duluth, Minnesota who are ecstatic to start the season. Many more are on the way as we work through this strange, but increasingly familiar, process of quarantining.

Thank you to everyone that has made the trip up here for being so helpful and understanding of our social distancing precautions. We hope to see more of you soon!

-Jaid

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Are we open?

5/16/20 – By far the most frequent question we are getting right now is, are we open? The answer is yes and no! The good news is, starting on Monday, May 18th, the BWCA Wilderness will be open for overnight travel. Sawbill will be open at 8am Monday morning ready to help you with canoe and gear rentals. Our store will also be open, operating with a walk-up window staffed by our fantastic crew who will help you procure those last minute trip needs. The bad news is the Sawbill Lake campground has been closed by the Forest Service until at least June 1. We will be refunding anyone with a campground reservation between now and June 1, in full. The Crescent Lake and Temperance River campgrounds that we also manage are closed until June 1 as well, and we will be refunding those reservations in full, too. Dispersed camping on the Superior National Forest is allowed, so if you are looking for a place to camp the night before your trip starts, give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.

Sawyer rakes the copious pine needles, Jaid works on signage, while Johnny hangs a new t-shirt display. Hucklberry is supervising, as usual.
A close up of our new walk-up window in progress. Many warm fuzzies to Sawbill crew Paul Ryda for his incredible custom work!
Setting up the canoe yard is always one of our favorite spring tasks.
Sig Shirley, making sure everyone measures at least twice!

Thank you again to everyone who has shown us support through this time – we very much look forward to welcoming you back!

-Clare

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May 15, 2020 – Covid – 19 update

5/15/2020 – The USFS has issued a statement affirming that the BWCA Wilderness will be open for both day and overnight use beginning on May 18, 2020. We have also received verbal guidance that the fire ban will also be lifted for the entire Superior National Forest on May 18th. (We have not seen the press release yet, but expect it today)

Wilderness permits will continue to be issued in a virtual manner in most cases. We’ll be in touch with you on these procedures if you have selected us as your permit issuing station.

Sawbill Canoe Outfitters will be open and renting canoes beginning on May 18. We will have new procedures in place to maximize social distancing while still providing what you need for your trip. We will be posting a plan for you to review prior to your visit.

The Forest Service is also encouraging visitors to the Wilderness to be extra vigilant about packing out trash and following CDC sanitation and social distance guidelines.

Additionally, we have received verbal guidance that developed campgrounds are going to remain closed until further notice. Again, we have not seen a written statement on this yet, but we anticipate the closure to last until at least June 1, 2020. Once we see the press release we will advise the cancellation and refund procedures. This closure will affect Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake and Temperance River Campgrounds, among others.

We’ll update this post once we see the specific release pertaining to the campgrounds.

-Dan

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May 13, 2020 – Covid-19 update

5/13/2020 – This evening Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a new executive order that goes into effect at 11:59 pm on May 17th (found here). The bulk of the order is aimed at allowing most businesses to re-open, provided that they meet certain guidelines, have implemented a Covid-19 Preparedness Plan and only allow up to 50% of maximum capacity into the establishment.

More specifically pertaining to us at Sawbill, the State of Minnesota will allow dispersed and remote camping. Dispersed camping is defined as camping in an undeveloped location that does not contain facilities. Remote camping is defined as designated campsites that are accessible by hiking trail or watercraft. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness campsites fall under the remote camping designation. So, as far as the State is concerned, camping in the BWCA should be allowed beginning May 18. That said, the BWCA is under federal jurisdiction, therefore the Forest Service will ultimately decide when overnight use in the BWCA will be allowed. We are awaiting an update from the Forest Service.

Under this order, developed campgrounds must remain closed until at least May 31, 2020 at 11:59 pm. Again the Forest Service has the ultimate control over the Superior National Forest, so we will await guidance from them regarding the Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake, and Temperance River Campgrounds.

The State of Minnesota is still encouraging people to stay close to home and avoid all unnecessary travel. They advise that you should be able to complete your round trip journey on one tank of gas.

To date, coping with all of these restrictions and uncertainty has been challenging for all of us. However, there has been consistency between State and Federal requirements as they pertain to our areas of business. With consistency, and the degree of predictability it brings, we’ve at least been able to stake out clear positions and decisions for how we will operate our business . This latest update appears to be the beginning to conflicting policy and we are finding ourselves between a rock and a hard place both ethically and in how to provide our core services. The continued encouragement to stay close to home raises some tricky issues for us, who, primarily serve people who do not live close by. The potential extension of the campground closures creates a complication for us and many of our customers who rely on the Sawbill Lake Campground as a launching pad to their BWCA Wilderness trip.

Whether the BWCA and Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake, and Temperance River campgrounds will open remains at the discretion of the Forest Service, who will have to weigh many considerations with many stakeholders, and quickly. Please feel free to call or email us if you have any questions. We should know more from the Forest Service by the end of this week.

Hang with us as we continue to navigate this situation. Sawbill’s business mission is to help all people access the Wilderness in a friendly and inclusive way. Caring for our crew as if they are family is in our ethos. Looking out for our friends and neighbors in Cook County is a priority.

-Dan