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Happy New Year!

1/4/19 – Since our last post we received a delivery of  23 brand new Wenonah canoes, welcomed a solid foot of snow in one dumping, and rang in the new year with some of our favorite people on one of our favorite lakes. 

The delivery driver and I contemplate how the heck we’re going to lower the Spirit IIs from the top of the trailer.

In accordance with New Years tradition, we headed down to the lake to ring in 2019.  Just before midnight, temperatures dropped to a relatively balmy (compared to years past) -15 degrees, accompanied by a -30 degree wind chill.

From left to right. Front row; Brian and Jessica.  Back row; Dan, Owen, Katie, Kevin, Hannah, Nick, Luke.  Not pictured; Claire, Clare, Kit, and Sig (all fast asleep).

In other exciting news, while visiting over the holiday weekend, Hannah Kennedy (crew member) and Nick Hansberry became engaged!  Welcome to the family Nick!  -Jessica

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First Ski of the Season

12/9/18 – Thanks to calm, sunny, 20 degree weather I was able to hit the lake yesterday for my first ski of the season.  There was just enough snow (2 to 4 inches) to make skiing fun without feeling like I was slogging through it.  I’m also happy to report the slush was overall minimal.  Luckily, with the high sun, I was able to see the darker slush pockets from a distance and meander my way around them.  I wonder if the wolves who passed through a day or two ahead of me had used this technique as well?  Their tracks seemed, for the most part, to zig and zag around the slush too.  -Jessica

This cedar caught my eye when I stopped at a campsite to soak in the sun. Clearly it too had the same idea, although it was accomplishing the goal more efficiently than I.

This picture was taken at a campsite in Kelso bay.  I call it; Tracks, Tracks, Tracks.  From left to right; rodent tracks, my tracks, wolf tracks.

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Christmas Cookie Extravaganza!

12/4/18 – This past Sunday Carl Hansen, Crista Clark, Cindy Hansen, and myself assembled to assist Clare and Kit in their Christmas cookie baking extravaganza.  Dan provided vital support by cooking us up some freshly smoked salmon, and Bill lent his ski trail grooming expertise for the first groom of the season (key ingredient to keeping off those cookie pounds later on).  -Jessica

And we’re off! Carl and Crista start rolling out the, affectionately named, SOB cookies (they’re a lot of work), while Cindy and Kit get to work on the classic sugar cookies.

While the cookie team is at it, Clare cranks out mass quantities of lefse.

Few! We made it!

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Thanksgiving Weekend

11/28/18 – I was lucky enough this past holiday weekend to have my family gather together right here at Sawbill.  It was a ton of fun to have the group together in a setting only the snow covered northwoods can provide.  Thanksgiving included the obligatory tonnage of food, card games, a million piece puzzle, lots of bird watching, and great company.

My amazing family in front of the Sawbill sign.  Photo credit to my mom.  As you can see she’s become quite the expert in self-timers.

Black Friday was celebrated by hitting the great outdoors in search of those coveted door buster bargains.  Some of our scores included; fresh snow the perfect temperature for snowman assembly, short lines at the sledding hill, and a solid 5-6″ of ice on the lake perfect for a stroll along the shore.  -Jessica

My grandma Barb pictured with three generations of snowman sculpture apprentices in tow. As you can see by this masterpiece, she is a true artist in this medium.

Shortly before we departed the lake a few snow angels made an appearance, but otherwise crowds were minimal.

The final cap to the weekend included Christmas tree hunting.  We were pleasantly surprised to find the isles remained fully stocked following a busy start to the holiday shopping season.

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Early Ice

11/14/18 – As of four days ago, Sawbill Lake is completely iced over.  In addition, it now has a powdery coating of snow to boot.  This afternoon I measured about 2″ of ice after briefly chiseling through the frozen lake.  Don’t worry, my feet were firmly planted, safe and sound, on the landing.  -Jessica

High in the sky clouds frame Mouse Island.

No auger needed to drill this hole. Only a couple blows with the chisel and I punched right through.

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Happy Halloween!

10/31/18 – A couple weeks ago the fall crew got together to carve these very intricate pumpkins in preparation for today’s big day.  As you can see, all of our painstaking research regarding the art of the classic jack-o’-lantern clearly paid off resulting in these beautiful works of art.  -Jessica

Last nights test run. The one in the middle has really aged to perfection.

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Canoeing Season Coming to a Close

10/24/18 – Over the past week we’ve been getting quite a few reports of substantial ice on some of the smaller area lakes, making travel quite difficult.  As a result we’ve put most of our canoes away for the season and almost completed winterizing the store.

The finishing touches were put on what we are currently calling the “Square Dome” just in time to safely stow away canoes for the winter.

Tyler and Dan ponder the best way to fit all the canoes.

A couple nights ago we witnessed ice crystals beginning to form on the south end of Sawbill Lake.  Most of that ice disappeared the next day, but if you look close enough today, you can see a swath of ice floating to the left of Mouse Island.  It sure seems winter is now knocking on our door.    -Jessica

Huckleberry dips his toes in the water this afternoon rather than his typical swim.  He must have noticed the ice.

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Early October Weather

10/12/18 – After 4″ of wet sloppy snow a week ago today, we’ve had a good amount of rain and a few dusting of snow leading to higher than normal water levels for this late in the season.  To add to the fall fun, temperatures have been quite chilly as of late.  Lows in the 20’s and highs in the 30’s mean proper clothing to keep you warm and dry is a must.

With consistent freezing temps, especially overnight, we had to quickly scramble to turn off our outdoor water yesterday (including the shower house and laundry) to avoid broken pipes.  The campground water remains on, but the Forest Service is scheduled to turn it off sometime today.  If you plan to stay in the campground yet this fall, be sure to bring your own water or have a plan to treat/filter it from the lake.  On the plus side, there is no charge for camping after the water is turned off.  If you reserved a site ahead of time you can request a refund by logging back onto your account or calling 877-444-6777.  Stay warm!       -Jessica

The 4″ of snow we received last week quickly melted throughout the day, but the most recent dustings have been able to hold strong in shaded areas.

When the clouds finally broke yesterday I was able to get outside for an afternoon grouse hunt. I didn’t see any grouse, but the tamaracks and sunshine made the hike more than worth it.

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Engaged in the BWCA

10/6/18 – Sawbill customers Rose and Jordan recently became engaged to be married while paddling in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. They shared the following tid bit with us along with the photo.

“We started dating 6 1/2 years ago. Our first trip to the BWCA was in Spring 2012. We have been going to different areas in the BWCA yearly ever since. The BWCA gave us space and time to get to know each other and discover how well we work together as a team. Jordan proposed on Cherokee Lake on an island campsite. We will continue coming back to the BWCA every year! “

Jordan and Rose newly engaged in front of the Sawbill Store


Congratulations and we wish you many more Wilderness trips together.


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Carlton Peak

10/1/18- One of the more popular hiking attractions on this part of the shore is Carlton Peak. It’s a crew favorite and should definitely be on your list. The trail is best accessed 2 miles up from Tofte on the Sawbill Trail at the Britton peak trailhead. It’s a short 1.5 mile hike to the summit with 550 feet vertical elevation gain. The summit itself sits 924 feet above the lake and offers a commanding view of the shore from north to south.  

Stop on by and let us know where your adventures are taking you!