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2/11/05 – John "OB" Oberholtzer and Steve Surbaugh, both former Sawbill crew members, joined me for a couple of nights of winter camping last week. Steve had to be in Tofte for an 8 AM meeting, so he left our cozy camp on the north end of Sawbill before dawn. He later exclaimed,"I had an awesome ski down Sawbill…I wish I could commute to work like that every morning." OB and I certainly agreed, but we took our time packing up camp, and skiing down Sawbill. Plus, I called Cindy on my satellite phone and asked her to stoke the sauna for us. Cindy, OB, and I lounged in the sauna for an hour an a half when we got back to Sawbill….man it sure is a hard life!

Mary Alice received the final draft of her new book about the history of Sawbill two days ago! The book looks great, and we should have them for sale in about a month. – Dave

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2/7/05 – Chris Nelson, a Sawbill crew member from ’84 – ’87, and his wife, Euridice, just became parents for the first time with the birth of their son, Constantine Vernon Nelson. Mom and babe are doing fine. Pictures will be forthcoming soon. – Bill

2/6/05 – A stretch of cold, snowy weather has been broken by several days of balmy temperatures. I just returned from a three day trip around the Cherokee Loop and the high temperature each afternoon soared to near 40 degrees. The snow lay deep and untrampled on all of the portages, and we did not see any signs of other winter travelers between Kelly Lake and Ada Lake. The solitude found in the BWCAW in the winter is a beautiful thing. Striped down to our long underwear and searching for places in the shade to rest made it feel like a summer canoe trip, but the swish of my snowshoes, and the constant tug of my toboggan strap on my shoulders reminded me that summer is still a few months away. A North wind started to blow this morning, and the forecast calls for cooler temperatures. Long time crew member, John "OB" Oberholtzer, just arrived, and we are heading back out for a few more days in the winter wilderness, and we are hoping that Bill will come join us as well. – Dave

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1/31/05 – Bob Bugenstein stopped by yesterday. He is a long time Sawbill canoe country traveler – part of the famous "White Shirts" group. The White Shirts are a distinguished group of men who wear their old white dress shirts while on the trail. They discovered that the shirts are cool, comfortable, fast drying, bug proof, and provide great sun protection. Bob was also my pediatrician. – Bill

(l – r) Anne Bugenstein, Bob Bugenstein, Larry Fries, & Jeff Bugenstein, . (Homer gets in every picture.)

January broke all records for snowfall here at Sawbill, forcing us to shovel the snow off of some of the building roofs. Crew members Adam Hansen and Lida Storch made a special trip up from Minneapolis to help us with this labor intensive task. After the snow was removed, we had fun jumping from the roofs to the snow banks. Some had more fun than others. – Bill

Adam and Lida jumping off the shower house roof and Carl snowboarding off the Mobe (crew housing) roof.

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1/25/05 – This past weekend was marked by the return of the Sawbill Ladies, a group of former crew members who gather each winter for skiing, wine, saunas and laughter. This year, Beth Rolf was guest of honor for a Sawbill style wedding shower.

Beth Rolf models her lovely shower gifts. Guests (l – r) are Sandy Zinn, Clare Hansen, Carl Hansen (honorary Sawbill Lady), Patti Olson, Annie Strupeck, and Michele Thieman. Photo by Sawbill Head Lady, Cindy Hansen.

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1/20/05 – We are very sad to report the passing of Mike Clair, long time Sawbill camper and all around good guy. Mike spent many hours in the Sawbill store engaged in pleasant conversation with crew and customers. We will all miss his friendly face and affable story telling.

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1/18/05 – We have just emerged from a stiff little cold snap. Today, for the first time in nearly five days, the temperature is above zero. We had a low of -34 F on both the 15th and 16th. Sunday, a winter camper couldn’t get his car started. We pushed it into the shop and warmed it up while watching the Vikings lose. Our bird feeders have been mobbed with business. Chickadees, gold finches, red breasted nuthatches, white breasted nuthatches, pine grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks, pine siskens, red polls, gray jays, blue jays, hairy woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and the flightless "red squirrel" birds, are all regular visitors.

The thermometer and Carl’s face both tell the tale of winter cold.

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1/17/05 – Dave Freeman, Sawbill crew member and Wilderness Classroom founder, is in Peru preparing for Wilderness Classroom’s adventure there later this spring. He sent the following note and pictures today:

Hello everyone –

I am in Iquitos trying to cut my way though all of the bureaucratic red tape
and get permission to paddle through Pacaya Samaria National Park, which
seems to be proving hard and harder by the minute. But on the up side I am
also finding a lot of good alternatives for things we can do if we do not
get permission.

It is really, really hot down here, and during the middle of the day it is
hard to be out in the sun. I have been told that it is hotter than normal
right now, which I hope is true.

All of the new noises, smells, sights of the Amazon are amazing, and I am
looking forward to getting out into the jungle for a few days. This
afternoon I am going to go to a zoo, which is outside of town to try and
get some good photos.

Yesterday, I spent a bunch of time walking around the Benen market, and
taking photos. Talk about a sensory overload. The photos really do not do
it justice, but I am going to go back with the video camera tomorrow. It
is known for pick pockets, so I didn’t want to bring more than one camera,
but the people were super friendly, at first I tried taking photos with out
people knowing, but soon found that everyone wanted their photo taken, and
it became a great conversation piece, so that was good.

Anyway, I am off to the zoo, and tomorrow I am going to meet with the big
cahoona at IRENA to see if we can paddle through the park, and then I am
going to go out on the river for a paddle!

Enjoy the photos.


Iquitos, Peru at dusk. Benen fish market.

Strong guy. Photos by Dave Freeman.

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1/14/05 – School was cancelled today due to extreme wind chill temperatures. The high today was -10 F with a steady 25 mph northwest wind. When I was a kid, we wouldn’t have even cancelled hockey practice, much less school. Of course, we also walked two miles to school through six foot drifts and uphill both ways to boot. The low last night was only about -25 F, but colder weather is forecast for tonight. It brings to mind the Ballad of the Frozen Logger, "The weather tried to freeze him, it tried it’s very best. At 20 degrees below zero he buttoned up his vest."

Wednesday morning, when it was warm, I woke up to the sound of dozens of blue jays squawking their heads off outside my bedroom window. Later that morning, I noticed another chorus of strident blue jays about a quarter of a mile away. Finally, as I walked among the buildings here, a chorus of at least fifty blue jays had moved into one of the large red pines near the canoe yard. As I peered up into the tree, wondering what was going on, a great gray owl flew out of the tree and across the yard to another tree. The gang of blue jays followed, sounding their frantic alarm as they went. It looks like their strategy is to defeat the owl through sleep deprivation. – Bill

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1/11/05 – It is a good time of year to start thinking about your canoe trip for the ’05 season. Permit reservations will be available after January 20th. You can apply for a permit now and the reservation office will process it on January 15th. They talk about a "lottery" for permits on the 15th, but that doesn’t really mean anything for permit reservations in the Sawbill area. If you apply for a permit anytime in the next few weeks, you are sure to receive that permit. As always, you can reserve your permit online at BWCAW Permit Online Reservations or you can let us take care of it for you. Just email us the information called for on our Permit Reservation Form.

You can reserve your outfitting with us whenever it is convenient. Our 2005 prices are unchanged from 2004. All our outfitting options and equipment rental prices are available at the links above. – Bill