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September Memory

11/19/20 – Sawbill traveler, Evelyn Greathouse, recently shared a memory she painted from a September trip with her husband. What a way to bring some of the warmer months back to life as we ease into winter. -Jessica

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Ice Conditions

11/5/20 – We’ve been enjoying substantially warmer temperatures the last couple of days, but colder temperatures late last month left the lake frozen over as far as the eye can see. The ice doesn’t yet look enticing to venture out on, but based on the very scientific “large rock test,” it’s certainly thicker than skim ice. -Jessica

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First Snow

10/15/20 – It’s been an exciting couple of days here at Sawbill. Yesterday, the kids and I went for a drive to seek out some fresh Lake Superior fish to put in our freezer. We took the long way and while we were cruising along a little used backroad we came across a pack of wolves! We were able to watch the pack, which looked like 2 or 3 grown adults and 2 pups, for quite a while. Eventually, they passed right by our car and headed off into the woods.

This was the first wolf we saw, and the biggest.
The two pups check us out before following their parents into the woods.

This morning we woke up to the first real snow of the season. Everything is covered in a nice fresh layer of crisp early season snow and even the air smells cold. We’ll be spending today and tomorrow putting the canoes into storage. In addition to the cold and snow, it’s been quite windy up here too so the lake is not very hospitable to travel at the moment.

Vibrant fall leaves are quickly disappearing.
Things will only get snowier from here on out.


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Campground Closures

10/13/20 – The Forest Service has officially shut off the water for the Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake, and Temperance River campgrounds. With temperatures forecasted for lows in the low 20’s and highs in the upper 30’s for the foreseeable future, we have also shut off and drained our seasonal water systems. Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the Forest Service is closing these campgrounds to all camping for the winter. Typically, they would simply go into a “no-fee” status where we don’t maintain the outhouses, the water is off, etc. but folks can still camp. This year, they will be closed until further notice to all camping to reduce risk of exposure in places that aren’t being maintained.

In a nutshell, Crescent Lake and Temperance River campgrounds are closed effective immediately.

The Sawbill Lake Campground will remain open, on a first come first serve basis, until Monday October 19th – with no fees required. We will be maintaining the outhouses this weekend, even though camping is free and the water is off, just to facilitate folks having one last chance to camp up here during MEA weekend.

As always, please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions. Thank you for your support!


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Fall Traditions

10/11/20 – Even though temperatures this week were unseasonably warm we are still feeling festive this fall season. To celebrate the return of cool weather, we had our annual crew pumpkin carving last night.

Mikey is all focus as he works on his masterpiece.
Jessica contemplates her canvas.

Thanks to our crew’s incredible dedication, we’ve been able to quarantine ourselves together all summer. This has limited our exposure and allowed us to provide a safe environment for our customers. But it has also allowed us to have festive events like this, which feels like a welcome dose of normalcy.

Kit wins the award for most enthusiastic pumpkin carver.
Sig wins the award for most thorough pumpkin inspection.

Three cheers for fall!


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Crew Appreciation

10/6/20 – Before we close for the season (sometime towards the end of October) we will be taking a well-earned afternoon off for our crew appreciation event. Sawbill will close at Noon on Wednesday, October 14th so that we can enjoy some time with each other before we all head our separate ways at the end of the month.

We’ll resume our regular fall hours on Thursday morning (Oct. 15th), 8am-7pm. As October wears on, we’ll be doing more work around the property here so if you’d like to rent a canoe, call ahead and check around back for us once you arrive. We are wearing our masks while helping folks out so we appreciate when you do too!

A fall evening on Sawbill Lake.
The canoe washers spotted this little stowaway, a rather large tree frog.

We are planning to be open at least through October 18th. After that, it will be weather and staffing dependent.


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Daddy Daughter Trip

9/30/20 – As we begin to wind down for the season, the crew is taking advantage of any free time we can eek out to venture out into the boreal forest to experience this year’s spectacular fall colors. Dan and Kit were able to head out for their annual father daughter canoe trip last weekend, for two nights and three days.

It was a beautiful calm morning to start a canoe trip.

Four year old Kit is a seasoned camper at this point and has had her heart set on completing the 480 rod Lujenida portage just north of Kelso Lake this year. Dan was happy to oblige so off they went, traveling from Sawbill into Alton, Kelso, Lujenida, Zenith, Frederick, and finally camping on Wine. With Dan carrying a Superior One portage pack, a day pack, and a Souris River 16′ kevlar canoe and Kit carrying her own small backpack, they were able to single portage and make it to Wine in about 6 hours. They also had Huckleberry along, although due to his propensity for constant swimming he didn’t get to carry his own pack.

Kit scopes out some fishing spots from their campsite on Wine.

I asked Kit if she had any advice for grown-ups who might be thinking about doing the long Lujenida portage. She said “Take lots of breaks and make sure to tell jokes!”

Coloring makes for a relaxing way to wait out the rain showers.

With temperatures forecasted to dip into the mid-twenties at night over the weekend, we will be monitoring conditions and plan to put our kevlar canoes in storage once skim ice starts setting in. If you are thinking of coming up for a trip in October, give us a call a few days in advance of your trip to check current conditions, things change quickly up here!


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Fall Beauty

9/22/20 – While I always find beauty in the Boundary Waters, there is a specialness to the fleeting treat that is fall in the northwoods. With a few nights of cold (26 degrees at 6am!) the leaves have really burst to color seemingly overnight. There are so many ways to enjoy the fall colors. A few of my favorites include hiking to the top of a peak along Lake Superior to see the canopy of colors set against the sparkling waters of the Lake; hiking deep into the sugar maple where the sunlight itself is orange after filtering through the leaves above you; paddling along the shoreline at dusk when the tamaracks are in full glow; collecting favorite leaves and pressing them in books for rainy day craft projects; walking through the soft carpet of golden-retriever colored pine needles.

Kit, Dan, Sig and I snuck out for a quick 45 minute hike yesterday.
Riding the backpack gives you more time for leaf-gazing.
Kit takes a break along the lake path on Sawbill Lake.

The Sawbill Campground is still open and being maintained daily. It’s been busy, but there are generally still first come first serve sites available for those short notice trips. We will keep maintaining the campgrounds until the Forest Service shuts the water off, which usually happens in mid-October. We will be open for canoe rentals until the skim ice starts to form, when it’s no longer safe for canoes.


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Fall Hours

9/9/20 – With night time temperatures dipping into the low 30’s and frost and freeze warnings in the forecast, Fall has blown in quickly here at Sawbill. The underbrush is beginning to change color and our thoughts are turning to squash soups, grouse hunts, and flannel sheets.

There are still quite a few folks heading into the Wilderness, and we are still open. With waning daylight, and waning staff, we are now operating on our usual fall hours. We are open 8am-7pm, seven days a week.

Earlier this summer, Dean Ellis was lucky enough to catch a monster Northern Pike near Sawbill and recently passed the photo along. We weighed this fish in at 12.95 lbs.

Warm summer days are fleeting, but the memories last all winter!