Posted on

February 2002

2/27/02 – We had a visit today from Lenert and
Ann Kalberg, from Stockholm, Sweden. Lenert and Ann’s son was an
exchange student at the local high school several years ago.
Lenert works for the Swedish Sports Federation. Part of his job
requires him to attend the Olympic games. They stopped by to
visit their son’s former host family, Sue and Grey Jordan of
Lutsen. Grey is the general contractor for our construction

L to R: Bill, Grey Jordan, Ann Karlberg, Lenert
Karlberg, Sue Jordan, Cindy.

Clare Hansen turned 14 years old today. Cindy
baked her an accordion cake. Clare has been playing the accordion
for nine years. She celebrated by going bowling for the first
time in her life.

14 year old Clare Hansen

2/26/02 – Tonight there is a full moon – and
there hasn’t been a cloud in the sky so far today. Its likely to
be a bright night at Sawbill. I took this picture last night
around 6PM, just as the moon was rising.

An almost full moon rising.

Construction continues to move
along. The sheet-rockers arrived last week and have almost
finished with the new part of the building. The roof isn’t quite
done yet as the crew moved indoors to work on finishing the
ceiling. The eight sky-lights are installed and let in so much
warm natural light. The shelves for the basement will arrive
tomorrow so soon we can start moving things in. – Beth

2/20/02 – Our glimpse of spring
two days ago was followed by 6" of snow yesterday. So much
for the sun tanning – but it means more good skiing. And I got to
plow for the second time this season. Cindy wasn’t around to race
against this time, so I had to battle the clock. I was on world
record setting pace when I ran into some trouble moving the cars
– one of them had a dead battery. After a quick delay to jump
start it, I was off again. And then I got a little too close to
the septic tank – and plowed the cover right off of it. The
exclamation of "Oh Crap" that came from my mouth seemed
fitting for the situation. Holding my breath, I ran over and
hauled the cover back onto the tank. I finished up without
further incident and while I didn’t break the world record, I
think I set a new personal best.

I watched speed skater Derek Parra
set the new world record in the 1500 meter race last night.
Thinking about it afterwards I tried to put it in Sawbill
perspective. 1500 meters is about a mile – which means he could
skate from the Sawbill landing to the Alton portage in one minute
and 43 seconds. Amazing. – Beth

2/18/02 – Lots of people took
advantage of the long President’s Day weekend to do some winter
camping in the area. There were over 20 cars in the parking lot
this weekend – its unusual to have more than one or two on an
average weekend. The lakes are great right now for skiing and
pulling sleds. Some strong winds blew early last week and really
packed down the snow. The traffic on the lake this weekend also
created some good trails. Hopefully, the skiing will last a
little longer. We’ve been luckier than most places in Minnesota
this crazy winter and have had almost a foot of snow on the
ground since around Christmas. However, warm temperatures have
crept in the last couple of days and the snow is beginning to
look a little sparse. But today was so gloriously warm and sunny
I couldn’t even get frustrated that the ski trail was melting in
front of my eyes. The high today was somewhere around 45 degrees.

The construction guys have begun
putting the new metal roof on the building and are overjoyed that
the weather is being so cooperative. They were working in just
t-shirts today.

Hans and Don work on their
summer tans.


2/14/02 – We received the
following e-mail from Jeffrey Yelich.

Your newsletter got me looking
back in old travel logs and I found my sighting of a tailless
wolf fishing for spawning suckers, May 6, 1998 at the inlet of
Phoebe Lake. My log reads "as I approached the portage to
Grace I could hear flowing water around the bend and passed by
the carry so as to see the inlet. I saw what I first thought was
a deer, then realized it was a wolf minus its tail and  I
silently glided to within 20 yards. Standing on a little
peninsula it was so involved watching the fat exposed backs of
the countless suckers that a full two minutes passed
before it looked around and I was busted. It streaked away
and actually tried to scale a smooth rock wall,I could hear it’s
claws scratching on the rock. It jumped quite a distance up the
wall, but no good. It seemed to pull itself together at that
point and with a backward glance it turned away and walked with
great dignity up the creek bottom. By this time the little boat
and I had drifted into the peninsula which was strewn with fresh
sucker carcasses, one can assume it was the wolf thou I didn’t
see it catch any."

It is possible its still around, I
hope so. This last year was the first in many years that I failed
to visit your area. We did a lot of the western rivers and its a
good time, but I miss the long solo paddles. The jerky is in the
food dryer as I write and the open water season is right around
the corner (April I hope) see you then!

-Jeffrey Yelich


2/9/02 – I saw three timber wolves on my way to
pick the kids up from school yesterday afternoon. I can’t be
sure, because they were moving pretty fast, but it appeared that
one of them did not have a tail. A little farther down the road,
I saw a small black critter scurrying across the road. I stopped
for a better look and was surprised to find a star nosed mole. On
the way home, we saw another mole running around on the road. We
stopped and I captured it in my chopper mittens. These unusual
creatures have twenty two fleshy appendages around their noses.
Scientists have recently discovered that the nose star has six
times the sensitivity to touch of the human hand. Star nosed
moles live in colonies around swampy areas and river edges. They
eat worms, insects and crustaceans. They are breeding this time
of year, which probably explains why they are out wandering on
the road. When we let him go, the mole tunneled into the snow
with amazing rapidity. He sank out of sight like a stone with a
shower of snow erupting from his burrow.

The Star Nosed Mole

Posted on

January 2002

1/31/02 – We received the following email from
the Forest Service. This would be a great opportunity for some
one with the summer free. They do pay a per diem to cover the
cost of food.

We just found out the two volunteers we had lined
up to spend the summer at
the Kekekabic Cabin in the BWCAW can not make it. I’m putting an
ad in
the Ely Shopper and was hoping that you knew of some potential
or ways of getting a recruitment notice out. The volunteers would
responsible for routine campsite and portage maintenance as well as
some user
education contacts in the Kekekabic and Knife lakes area.

Thanks for any help you can give getting this message out.

Norma Malinowski
Outdoor Recreation Planner

1/30/02 – Ed Dallas, the poet Laureate of Sawbill

I need a title for this poem as I can’t think of
a good
one for it. Could you post it on the newsletter and let the
readers submit
ideas for a title?

That early coffee smell,
before it begins morning hike
with campfire smoke through towering pines,
breaks grip of night sleep,
drags me from tent,
grants permission for this lake canoeing day
to burn wild over water trails
until I succumb to temptation
of warm sleeping bag
after watching another sunset
fade deep into the horizon.

Have a good one,

1/21/02 – Another ex-Sawbill crew baby to
announce: Will Pearson is the new son of former crew Ann Pearson
(Strittmatter) and Marcos Pearson. They currently make their home
in Nicaragua.

Future Sawbill crew member? Will Pearson and his
mom, Ann.

1/18/02 – Just when I think all the dramatic
changes on the construction project are finished, the carpenters
find something else to do that makes everyone’s jaw drop. This
week they removed the wall that separated the offices from the
store along with the ceiling timbers in that area. All of the
paneling and insulation had been removed from the wall and only
the frame was standing so it didn’t seem like it would be that
drastic of a change. But what a difference – the area seems so
much larger than I expected. I’m sure we’ll have no problem
filling it up with all the equipment from the dome.

Last weekend, four former Sawbill crew members –
Sandy Zinn, Ellen Bagnato, Annie Strupeck, and Michelle Thieman
came up for their annual girls ski weekend. They were limited to
skiing around the campground, since there is no snow on any of
the ski trails along the North Shore. But they made the best of
the snowless north and did some hiking on the Superior Hiking
Trail as well as spent lots of time chatting over coffee. We also
had a short visit from current Sawbill crew member Shannon Grace
who stopped by Sawbill with her family last sunday. She is on
winter break from the U of M.

The Sawbill Babes having coffee.

A cold spell has hit us hard today. The low last
night was -15 degrees and its hovering around zero right now.
Reading the thermometer makes it hard to get myself motivated to
go for a little ski, although I can see the beginnings of a
beautiful sunset which sometimes tempts me out of the house.
Today though, I think a book and some hot chocolate sounds like
the better option. – Beth


1/14/02 – Ed Dallas, the Poet Laureate of
Sawbill, writes:


The article took up half the front page of the morning paper but
it was the
colored picture that told the story. Eleven big trailers, packed
snowmobiles, tools, spare parts, clothes and who knows what else,
side by side, out behind a motel in Detroit Lakes, on lake ice
that was
obviously not thick enough. The perfect opportunity for my wife
to say
something like "There’s no law that says you can’t be
stupid." which would
have been a clear reference to our first and only trip to Las
Vegas where,
while under the influence of a rare vintage burgundy from France
(I kept
telling her that they don’t grow grapes like these back home in
Minnesota) I
became convinced that the biggest pile of poker chips I had ever
seen in my
life would "come home too Ma Ma" (how was I to know
that a pair of ladies
would let me down when they had always seemed to work back home,
on Saturday
night down at the VFW). But she just sipped her coffee, knowing
quite well
that if she brought up the subject I would have to remind her of
all those
cases of County Fair pickles we still have down in the basement,
and she
smiled, sweetly, asking if Warroad had beaten the Falls in hockey

Have a good one and do pray for some snow,

1/10/02 – Here is the latest update on the
rebuilding of the Sawbill store. This view is from the front. In
other words, this is what you see when you turn right at the stop
sign and drive up toward the parking lot. This will now be the
"side" of the building and the front will be off to the
right. This will all make more sense when the landscaping is

Looking south at the Sawbill store building.

We are experiencing the same "super
melt" as the rest of the Midwest. Two days ago the high
temperature was 37F and yesterday was 36F. Our foot of snow,
which was the deepest in the state, has shrunk to 6" or
less. I was forced to go running because even the sketchy ski
trails that I have been skiing are ruined. I hope to be able to
ski on the lake once the temperature drops to normal levels. –

1/4/02 – One of the carpenters working on the
store reconstruction, Hans Mueller, left his lunch box here for
almost two weeks over the holidays. When he returned, we
discovered that he had left a large chunk of ham in the lunchbox.
It had achieved an impressive array of colors while lounging in
our front hall closet. Fortunately, Hans’ lunchbox has a tight
seal. Today is Hans’ 39th birthday. Cindy, never one to let an
opportunity pass, baked him a cake in the shape of a spoiled ham.
It actually tasted quite good, despite the putrid appearance.

Hans Mueller, Grey Jordan, and Don Noyce are
the craftsmen rebuilding the Sawbill Store building.

Sawbill campground hosts, Jim and Rachel
TerBeest, paid a rare winter visit to Sawbill today. They are
vacationing at Bearskin Lodge on the Gunflint Trail and stopped
over for a tour of the construction and dinner.

Jim looks on as Homer plants a wet one on

Posted on

December 2001

12/27/01 – Things have been very busy at Sawbill
over the past week. Christmas was celebrated in style with many
of the extended Hansen family present; Karl Hansen and Lee
Stewart were in attendance, as well as Sawbill crew member Emily
Stewart who is currently on winter break from college in
Washington DC. Ruthie Hansen came in from the University of
Chicago for the festivities and everyone joined Frank, MA, Bill,
Cindy, Clare and Carl in the traditional Hansen Christmas fun.

One of the best things about Christmas at Sawbill
is the magnetic effect on Sawbill friends and family near and
far. Former crew-member Pete Glaschagel and his wife stopped in
for a quick pre-Xmas visit, and just today we have been enjoying
catching up with Dave Freeman and Eric "Frosty" Frost
of fame, who are headed into the wilderness
for a week-long winter camping adventure. They were joined
spur-of-the-moment by current and former crew-members Laura
Smith, Jeff Green and Kelsey Grant-Jenkins.

L to R: Ginny, Daver, Kelso, Hellcat, and

Work has resumed on the store construction project
after a short break for Christmas. Richard the architect and Don
and Grey the builders are all here and enjoying a warm
coffee-break and fresh-baked pumpkin bread as I write. Snow is
drifting down lightly outside, Clare and Carl are outside
sledding with Homer the dog. All is well at Sawbill. -Ruthie

12/19/01 – Part of the magic of "wild
ice" is that its existence is ephemeral. If you are going to
skate, you have to drop everything and go when the conditions are
favorable. Today four of us skated from Sawbill to the north end
of Cherokee Lake and back. It was snowing lightly most of the
day, but not enough to interfere with skate travel. I did get a
wet foot in the creek north of Ada Lake, but otherwise the ice
was a solid four inches or more everywhere. It took us six hours
for the entire trip, including several snack and conversation
breaks. We saw four sets of extremely fresh wolf tracks on
Sawbill Lake. Their presence was explained by the remains of a
deer right in the middle of the lake. Wolves use bare ice
conditions to their advantage by chasing deer onto the slippery
surface and killing them when they slip and fall down. All that
was left of the deer were a few large hunks of hide. – Bill

The skating voyageurs taker a break on the
north end of Sawbill Lake. Beth prepares to exchange skates for
boots at the start of a portage.

Paul’s unorthodox portaging footwear.
Inspecting the sparse remains of a wolf killed deer on Sawbill

12/18/01 – The recent unseasonably warm weather
and rain have had a smoothing effect on the lake ice. OB calls it
a "giant meteorological Zamboni." Today’s cold snap
made ice skating the perfect activity. We made our way over to
Alton, where the ice was even smoother and spent a few happy
hours exploring, playing and admiring the unusual ice formations.
– Bill

From left: Beth Rolf, Paul Lundgren, Homer,
Cindy Hansen, Bill Hansen, and John "OB" Oberholtzer. A
train moves down the track.

A double figure eight takes shape. Incredible
"ice feathers" in the middle of Alton Lake.

12/13/01 – Another Sawbill crew baby to report.
Mike and Leigh MacMillan are the parents of Cade Michael
MacMillan as of December 3rd. Cade was 8 lbs, 7 ozs and
20.5". Mike worked here for several years around the early

Leigh and Cade looking incredibly good. Mike
and Cade looking happy and perplexed respectively.

12/11/01 – This past weekend was filled with
activity. In addition to Carl’s birthday, it was also the weekend
to pick out a Christmas tree. This is a big event and many trees
are considered before The One is found. A beautiful 15′ balsam
fir was agreed upon. The tree was carefully loaded into the back
of the pickup, Homer and Sunnie were boosted into the back of the
cab, then Carl, Clare, Bill, Cindy, and Beth all squeezed in for
a very cozy ride home. – Beth

How about this one?…Maybe that one?….I like
the one over there. Everyone seems happy with the final decision.

Once we piled out of the truck and had refueled
on some birthday cake, it was time for the a little Snow Football
with the Hansen’s friends, Tim and Gus. This game was supposed to
take place over Thanksgiving weekend. However, as there was no
ice on the lake, it was postponed until this weekend. We got a
better workout from all the laughing than from the football
playing since the ice was so slippery with a light covering of
very powdery snow. It was basically impossible to change
directions once you were headed one way. If you did try to shift
directions, you were guaranteed to end up on the ice, sliding
whichever way you were originally aimed. Carl, the birthday boy,
had the play of the game when he ran a kick-off back to score a
touchdown with a wall of defenders surrounding him. Amazingly,
everyone made it through the game with no need for medical
attention. – Beth

I’m trying to stay on my feet, honest.

The construction guys were wishing the sauna was
done after the work they did yesterday. They moved the huge logs
that are standing in front of the store in the picture below.
Each log is almost 10 feet tall, has a diameter of a foot and a
half, and weighs about 600 lbs. The guys moved and stood them up
by hand yesterday. The new roof connecting the old and new
sections of the building (which they just started and you can see
in the photo) will extend over the logs to create the roof over
the new front porch. The windows and new front door went in at
the end of last week. They look really sharp and the logs on the
porch are impressive. – Beth

More than 2 tons of logs were moved into
position yesterday.

12/9/01 – Today was a very festive day at Sawbill
as it’s Carl’s 12th birthday! His day was filled with unwrapping
a pile of colorful presents, eating a huge piece of computer
shaped cake, and playing his new computer games. He seems to be
enjoying 12 a lot.

Homer and Sunnie wish Carl a very happy

12/07/01 – Ed Dallas, Sawbill’s Poet Laureate,
e-mailed this today.

I have been trying to come up with a haiku for
the picture of all the cookies and I did today. I can only wonder
just how much baking goes on at Sawbill at this time of year, so
I offer you all this one:

mid-winter diet —

steadfast resolution

after the New Year


12/05/01 – A huge cold front blew in last night
with some amazing winds. Cindy counted seven trees down on the
Sawbill Trail when she took the kids to school this morning. She
said one of them was the huge top of a spruce tree that had
landed in the middle of the road, but that section of the road is
surrounded by Alder trees. Who knows where it blew in from. The
temperature is about 20 degrees colder today than yesterday. I
walked down to the lake this afternoon and there is a gentleman
ice fishing about 20 feet off of the landing. He’d been there for
an hour and a half and hadn’t had a bite yet – he was still
optimistic though. He said the ice is about 3" thick, which
is good considering there was standing water covering it
yesterday from so much melting.

The construction crew finished ripping out the
old offices and the ceiling of the store. Right now they’re
insulating the new building and everything is bubble gum pink. It
kind of feels like stepping into Barbie’s Dreamhouse. They’ve
also finished the west wall on the old portion of the building.
In the upper right had corner of the picture you can see the
framework for the chimney of the new fireplace. The guys also
gave the old front of the store a hair-cut of sorts by removing
the overhang in preparation for adding a new roof over the cement
porch. – Beth

The old front of the store will be a screened
in porch. The new front of the store, and the path leading to it.

12/04/01 – Not only were we lucky enough to have
a sunny day yesterday, but we also had a magnificent sunset. I
caught a glimpse of the bright pink and purple clouds from the
office and hustled down to the lake, hoping the show wouldn’t be
over by the time I got there. I caught the last of the sunset and
also found OB down at the lake. He was at Sawbill working on the
new sauna and decided to see if the lake was ready for the first
skate of the year. He checked the ice, found almost 3" and
declared it ready to be skated on. I didn’t have skates but
skidded around on the ice in my boots. We were able to make it
around the point and to the spot where the Forest Service has
their dock before the ice got too thin to continue. It looks like
we won’t be able to skate again for a couple of days. Its over 40
degrees today and the ice is starting to melt a bit. – Beth

OB officially opens the 2001 skating season.

12/03/01 – The sun finally came out today – we’ve
had over a week with gray, cloudy skies. It was glorious to see
the rays of sunshine coming through the window this morning. Its
going to be warm today (probably mid to high 30s) and already the
snow on the tree branches is falling in clumps. Over the weekend,
some otters were enjoying the snow by sliding down the road. We
only saw the tracks left by their fun – about two feet of paw
prints and then another couple feet of belly slide marks, then
more paw prints and another slide. There’s a continuous line of
tracks for probably a quarter mile along the Trail. The otters
weren’t the only critters to go sledding this weekend. Yesterday,
Homer convinced Carl and Clare to go sledding as well. Sunnie
tried to join in, but she’s much happier watching than riding. -Beth

Homer scouts out the route for Carl. "Hey
Clare, how about a little faster?"

12/01/01 – After a full day of outdoor fun,
nothing feels better than a hot, steamy sauna. Luckily, the
Hansens are adding one to their back deck. Andy and OB (yes,
longtime Sawbill crew member OB) are making great progress on it.
In fact, Andy is even here today, on a Saturday, to work on it.
Wonder where OB is? It’d sure be nice if he was here, helping
Andy today so that we could fire that thing up even sooner.

"Oh no, Not yet!"

As its the first day of December, we’re all in
the Christmas mood here at Sawbill. Decorations are going up and
John Denver and the Muppets are singing Christmas carols on the
radio. A few weeks ago Cindy’s mom and sister Sherrie, along with
her two kids, Will and Anna spent the weekend here for their
annual Christmas cookie making marathon. Everyone joins in and,
as Bill puts it, "is forced to make Christmas cookies until
our ears bleed". The fun starts on Friday night and doesn’t
end until Sunday with hundreds of cookies piled everywhere around
the house. – Beth

Details are very important when decorating.
Clare, with years of experience, carefully trims the edge of the
bell. Anna is mastering the art of tiny silver ball placement.

Cindy’s mom Arline wishes she could make lefse
every weekend. Bill shows off his decorating skills as an
obviously impressed Carl looks on.

The Final Masterpieces (and this is only ONE
section of them)

Posted on

November 2001

11/30/01 – All of this beautiful snow has fallen
at Sawbill, but there’s not quite enough to ski on yet and the
lake isn’t solid enough for ice skating. However, after all our
work shoveling we decided we needed to have some fun in the snow
even if we couldn’t ski or skate. So we took a look around to see
what we could come up with. We didn’t have to look very far.
After a quick match of rock, paper, scissors to determine who
would drive, we were off (well, at least Beth was).

Cindy’s Indy

I walked outside last night around 10 o’clock and
was amazed at how bright it was. Since there are no lights
anywhere close, the nights here are usually so dark you have to
be careful not to walk into trees (or the occasional large
construction hole). But last night, with the fresh snow on the
ground, the branches of the evergreens still blanketed in white
and an almost full moon, it seemed like dawn had arrived far too
early. A light cloud cover seemed to diffuse and spread out the
moonlight. (The moon is full tonight – which will be a blue moon.
There was also a full moon on November 1st). I headed down to the
lake, hoping to catch a glimpse any animals that might be out for
the evening. Standing at the intersection of the Sawbill Trail
and the road down to the lake, I could clearly see the lake. Once
I got to the canoe landing, I had no trouble seeing the opposite
shore. It was tempting to test the ice to see how far out I could
get, but I knew it would quickly turn into a swim as the
temperature was near 30 degrees yesterday. I didn’t see any
animals last night, but maybe tonight as its sure to be just as


11/29/01 – Shortly after dark last night, Cindy
and Beth stumbled back into the house after their highly
anticipated plowing bet (See yesterday’s entry). Although at the
beginning it looked like it might be a neck and neck race, it
soon became clear who would be the winner. Cindy started right in
on the driveway while Beth struggled to get the truck door open.
Cindy was half done with the parking lot before Beth had even
started the truck. Cindy finished up by shoveling the new porch
on the store about the time Beth figured out how to make the plow
turn. In the end, Cindy finished shoveling out all of Sawbill in
approximately an hour and a half. She spent the rest of the time
helping Beth back the truck down the driveway. Thankfully, we
didn’t get any more snow today – Cindy’s arms are a bit tired.

Cindy the Victorious holding the Golden Shovel.

We’ve been showing you all of the changes that
have been happening at Sawbill during the construction. We
decided it was time to show you the people who have been working
so hard to make the new building take shape. Through rain, wind,
snow and cold they keep tearing down walls and putting up new

Grey, Steve, Don and Hans are rarely seen
without a power tool in hand.

11/28/01 – Winter has finally arrived at Sawbill.
A light snow has been falling steadily for the past two days, and
about 5" has accumulated on the ground. The lake also froze
last night. The ice is still very thin (about 1/4") but
there is almost no snow covering it so we’re hoping for some good
skating ice by the weekend. Frank reported that all of the lakes
along the Grade Road into Grand Marais were frozen this morning,
except for Crescent Lake.

Homer and Sunnie can’t wait for the ice skating
to start.

The construction projects continues to make big
strides despite the winter weather. The final inside wall came
down this week and almost all of the outside walls are in place.

Inside the old building. The door in the
background is the old front door.

Since the snow is piling up, it means we have to
plow for the first time this winter. As Bill is out of town,
Cindy and Beth are in charge of snow removal. Although both are
experts with snow shovels, they fall into the novice category
when it comes to plowing with the pick-up. During the discussion
of plowing, a wager emerged as to which would be quicker, Cindy
using the shovel or Beth plowing with the truck for the first
time. They’ve been out there for hours and there’s no sign of
them yet. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

On your mark, get set…


11/16/01 – The carpenters have torn out almost
the entire west wall of the store building. The destruction part
of the project is almost over.

Two views of the Sawbill store building where
it attaches to the new building. Ventilation is excellent at the

11/12.01 – We’ve been enjoying a streak of
unseasonably warm weather. The construction project is benefiting
(pictures coming soon).

Our resident Gray Jays are busy at the feeders.
We have two distinct tribes of jays that live near us. Clare
feeds them from her hand on a regular basis and in now able to
identify individuals. The family that visits most often has one
very friendly member, that readily sits on Clare’s hand and looks
at her with a cheerful eye. It has another member that will
reluctantly eat from her hand, but always is slightly suspicious.
The third is always shy and will only come within about eight
feet of Clare despite her best efforts to win its trust. Last
night the spring peepers were quietly calling. They were
obviously hopeful that winter is over and spring has arrived.
They are in for a rude shock soon.

Rick Grupe took this beautiful picture more
than two weeks ago. The icicles are all gone now, but will return

Posted on

October 2001

10/31/01 – Many things have been happening here
at Sawbill. In fact, it has been so busy that updating the
newsletter has been difficult. Here is a recap:

Yesterday, the trusses were installed on the
store building addition.

The boom truck lifts trusses into place. Crew
member Max Wilson and contractor Grey Jordan nail them into

Over the weekend, we had our store moving party.
Ten former Sawbill crew members and friends spent two days moving
every last thing out of the store building and tore out a good
portion of the inside of the store. A huge Sawbill thank you to
every one for lending a hand. We couldn’t have done it alone.

The moving and tear-out crew in the upper store
with all the merchandise, shelving and slat wall removed. . Back
row left to right: Bill, Max Wilson, Beth Rolf, Bill Kubiak,
Betsy Moyer, Rick Grupe, Steve Hedman, Natasha Warner, John
"OB" Oberholtzer, Mary Pat Grupe. Paul Lundgren,. Front
row left to right: Bob Kubiak, Dee Hedman, Cindy, Ellen Lock. The
other picture is the inside of the lower part of the store minus
the old ceiling, shelving, partition walls, and paneling.

How many crew members does it take to move a
safe? Three of Sawbill’s "most senior" ex-crew declare
it "M

We had our traditional annual pumpkin carving
party with the usual participation of the Winter/Dornfeld family
from Owatonna, MN. Carol Winter is a former Sawbill crew member.

Betsy, Natasha, Max and Beth attack their
pumpkins with vigor. And, the frightening results.

10/18/01 – Late breaking news from Steve and Kate

Our little addition to the family has finally arrived!  Kate
gave birth to 7lbs 12 oz and 20.5 inch William Ferguson Surbaugh
at 1:40 AM this morning.  Mother and baby are very healthy
and the father is very proud of both of them.  Kate was the
star of the floor last night with all of the nurses bragging that
she waited until she was 8 centimeters dilated before going into
the hospital and giving birth with no medications.  


William Ferguson
Surbaugh with his proud parents, former Sawbill crew members Kate
and Steve Surbaugh

10/18/01 –

Ed Dallas, Sawbill’s Poet Laureate, sent this
poem this morning:


Drab green
two shoulder straps
heavy with to much stuff,
at portage trails when I lift it
I curse.

Here are some current pictures of the
construction project.

A cement deck and retaining wall will support
the new screen porch. The walls start to take shape over the new

I got a call from Jack Blackwell, grandson of
Alec Boostrom. Jack said the cabin pictured below was actually
built by someone else in the early ’70’s. Alec’s cabin was
located near this one. The cabin pictured was a few courses of
logs and then had a tent erected on top of the logs. Jack spent a
lot of time in the woods with his grandfather when he was a
teenager and has many great stories about life in the wilderness
during the first half of the 20th century. – Bill

10/10/01 – Max and I had a wonderful one day
canoe trip yesterday. We visited the remnants of an old trappers
cabin deep inside the wilderness. We were lucky enough to have a
beautiful day and saw three moose – including a magnificent bull
(sorry, no pictures). There were only a few logs of the tiny
cabin remaining. We were careful not to disturb the site, but the
artifacts on top were mostly pretty modern. Alec Boostrom was a
Native American who had a string of these small cabins along his
extensive trap lines up until 1967.

The old trapper’s cabin with an air tight wood
stove, and old bucket and other artifacts, including a Converse
tennis shoe.

Some old fish hooks.

10/08/01 – Progress on our construction project
slowed to a crawl today as some apprentice block layers were on
the job.

Cindy pursues her new trade. Homer and Jack
supervise the job.

10/6/01 – We closed the front doors of the store
building today to pour footings and nature rebelled by pelting
snow off and on all day.

Yes, that is snow pelting down on the
construction site. The canoe are covered with a light layer this

The basement portion of the project is done and
was immediately taken advantage of.

Cindy, Beth, Rick and Lance (cement
contractors) play doubles in the new, underground Sawbill tennis


10/1/01 – After several years of planning, our
big construction project is underway here at Sawbill. We are
adding several additions to the store building and will be
extensively remodeling the inside of the building too. The
equipment rental will be back in the store building, just as it
was before we built the Dome in 1974. The Dome will still stand,
but will be used for "back of the house" functions.

The cement crew works overtime on the new
basement tonight. Picture taken from near the shower house.

Posted on

September 2001

9/28/01 – I’ve been remiss in failing to call
your attention to Big
. Former Sawbill crew members Dave Freeman
and Eric Frost, along with their partner Mike Clark, are paddling
the entire length of the Mississippi River. Many of you will
recall Dave’s epic trek across the length of the BWCA Wilderness
last winter. Big Muddy Adventure is a similar educational effort
with school kids participating via the web. You can see their
daily journal at the link above.

Dave Freeman and Eric "Frosty" Frost
in obvious pain and suffering as they explore the Big Muddy.

9/24/01 – Our annual used equipment sale has
begun. Check out the Used Equipment For
page for some great deals on used gear.

Sawbill Outfitters is a proud member of Northeastern Minnesotans For
which is working to organize the many people who
support the wilderness and happen to live in northeastern
Minnesota. Visit their site for more information on BWCA
Wilderness issues and what you can do to help protect the BWCA

Posted on

August 2001

8/30/01 – We caught these two giant crayfish while fishing
with our super sized Shad Rap yesterday. (Thanks to our
mysterious Massachusetts benefactors for providing us with lots
of entertainment).

Giant crayfish invading northern Minnesota
lakes? Is skinny dipping still safe?

8/28/01 – Eight days and counting of almost perfect weather.
Every returning canoeist is raving about how beautiful the
weather has been. Beyond the obvious blue skies and light winds,
there seems to be a clarity to the air that refreshes and renews
with each breath. This is truly a golden moment in time, when we
are reminded each moment of the deep and intense beauty provided
by this unique, spinning blue ball. – Bill

8/23/01 – Ed Dallas, the Poet Laureate of Sawbill, writes

summer night downpour
a soggy sleeping bag bends
a small spruce tree

8/22/01 – We’ve been enjoying a visit from Ulrika Larsson, a
student of eco-tourism from near Helsingborg, Sweden. Ulrika is
on a two year course of study in eco-tourism. She has been in the
United States since June, visiting with eco-tourism businesses
and land managers. She spent several weeks in Hawaii before
coming to Minnesota. While in Minnesota, she has spent time with
the National Park Service at the Grand Portage National
Monument., went on a week long work trip with Forest Service
wilderness rangers in the BWCA Wilderness, went sea kayaking on
Lake Superior and finally ended up at Sawbill for five days. She
will ultimately join the eco-tourism industry in Sweden in some
capacity. She has been very helpful to us in the absence of about
half of our regular crew who have departed for school. Besides
being a hard and willing worker, she is pleasant to visit with
and has a great accent 🙂 We wish we could keep her, but she is
bound for Montana before her return to Sweden at the end of

Ulrika Larsson

8/16/01 – The black bears have been pesky from time to time
this summer. Right after the 4th of July there were suddenly
bears everywhere. For about ten days virtually every returning
group had a bear story to tell. Then, just as suddenly, they
disappeared. It is no coincidence that the blueberries began to
ripen at about the same time. A couple of weeks ago the bears
began to reappear in camps. There are only a few areas where they
seem active right now. Beth Lake is a hotbed at the moment. One
family returned from Beth last week claiming that they had five
bears in their camp – at the same time! They had their food
adequately hung out of reach so the bear gang wasn’t successful
in stealing any food, but it unnerved then enough to force a
lake change. They said it appeared that the group consisted of
two adults and three two year old cubs.

It is great to have an animal as beautiful and spectacular as
the the North American Black Bear in our wilderness. They are
smart, resourceful and fascinating. Occasionally, they ruin a
canoe trip by stealing all the food. Fortunately, they are
friendly to a fault and have no interest in harming humans. It is
a challenge for all of us to learn to coexist with these
magnificent animals.

8/10/01 – Jan Moravec, long time Sawbill canoeist, sent this
along today:

Well, our annual trip to the north was once again a fabulous
time and great
reuniting of this crazy group. We are now in 6 different states
since I
recently moved to Tucson.

I thought I’d send along this photo to illustrate the newest look
in camping
togs. The chiffon pareos started out as a joke from one of the
girls but she
got the last laugh because we all ended up wearing them during
the day after
swimming! Quite a fashion statement I must say. We decided that
if anyone
approached our campsite and saw all these larger than life women
in chiffon
pareos, they would surely think we were the sorriest bunch of
campers up
there! Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Thanks again for your hospitality and we are already planning for
next year.

Jan Moravec
& the BWISBS

BWISBs (Big Women In Sports Bras) 2001

I took a short run on the Superior Hiking Trail last night in
the blessedly cool air. The wind was tossing the tops of the
shaggy barked maples. At one point I had to duck under a leaning
cedar. More than any other tree, the cedar strikes me as alive
and sentient. How does it perceive the world with it’s roots
anchored deep in the soil and its top shaped by thousands of
seasonal changes? Is my passage registered as a blink of
activity? Or, am I too ephemeral to even register in the cedar’s
slow sense of time? If you have ever held wood cut from a living
cedar, you know it feels disturbingly like flesh. In spite of
this, I live in a cedar house, the wood as dry and light as
bones. The wood is the legacy of the living tree and inspires one
to leave a similar legacy. As I ran down the damp, winding trail,
I breathed a thank you to the folks who conceived and built this
beautiful trail for my enjoyment. Their legacy and the cedars’
are serving me well. Finishing the run, I stripped off my t-shirt
and gloried in the feeling of cool air against my skin. Do I
smell a hint of Fall in the air? – Bill

8/6/01 – Ed Dallas, Sawbill’s Poet Laureate writes:

It has been a real joy to read all the last lines, for my
haiku that was
posted on the newsletter, that have been submitted by the readers
of the
newsletter. I got a real good laugh from the suggestion of
"canoe graffiti"
by "Rube" Rubinstein. The mental picture of gangs of
teenage boys roaming
the BWCAW, ramming their canoes into rocks at portage trails and
just to leave their marks was just too much! As you know a haiku
is suppose
to capture a moment in time for the reader and with that I would
like to
thank Wally Neal and E.M. Schroeder for their suggestions as I
have combined
theirs into the following:

modern rock paintings
red green silver marks scraped from
the hides of canoes

Their entries made be recall a canoe trip my family took on Great
Slave Lake
up in the N.W.T. of Canada, back in the early 90’s. We had been
looking for
an old portage trail for several hours and when we did find it we
also found
a long forgotten birch bark canoe repair kit, that was lying up
against a
spruce tree. there were several pieces of birch bark wrapped
around 5
hand-carved cedar ribs and three hunks of harden spruce sap, used
to melt
and seal the seams. You could still see the small holes along the
edge of
the birch bark where spruce roots were used to lash the pieces of
bark to
the thwart of the canoe. I could just imagine the care that guy
must have
took not to run aground with his canoe. Do the modern day
canoeist take that
much care? Do they have the time and knowledge to repair their
canoe? Thanks
guys for bringing back that canoe trip for me. Thanks to all who
suggested a
last line. I will do this project again. Now if all of you will
suggest ways
to break this heat I will be grateful.

Have a good poetry day

PS……. I caught only one fish on that canoe trip, a 35lb. lake
trout 53"

8/5/01 – Wanted to pass these thoughts
along, reflecting on our past week up in Gods country.
What a study in contrasts!  Starting with thunderstorms in
the night, the first three nights, culminating with the
outrageous storm at 1:40 am on Wednesday, August 1st.  The
storm lasted until 4am  and pounded us with supposedly 80
mph winds, 2 inches of rain, and a sound and light show that even
Steven Spielberg could not match.  Talk about
surround-sound!  Our thoughts ran from whether our tents
would hold…with us in them; would the trees stay in the ground;
and would the canoes be there in the morning.
Then to have the skies clear on Wednesday afternoon, and enjoy
the next three days of near perfect weather, with clear nights, a
nearly full moon and lakes like glass mirrors in the morning, was
really wonderful!
Experiencing these contrasting conditions made for a very
memorable trip!
Hugh, Mary, Tyler and Graham Norsted


How about;

Modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by
awestruck paddlers’ boats

or (my preference)

Modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by
spellbound pilgrims’ craft

I enjoy hearing about Sawbill and the adventures that others are
experiencing. It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a BWCA trip,

hopefully I’ll get a chance to experience the magic again soon.

Guy Jodarski
Neillsville, WI

8/4/01 – More suggestions for the last line of Ed Dallas’,
Sawbill’s Poet Laureate, unfinished haiku:

modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by

From "Rube" Rubinstein,
former Sawbill crew member (from the last century):

My line for the haiku hack…
"canoe graffiti."

From E M Schroeder:

I Propose:

Modern rock paintings:
red, green, silver. Marks ripped from
the hides of canoes.

8/2/01 – Wally Neal writes:

Suggested last line for the haiku
  "……..wind-pushed scraping hulls."

    I never was much into poetry, as you can

Liz Aicher contributes:

modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by
artists tries:

modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by
the finger of God

This reminded me of Charleton Heston in The Ten Commandments,
when he walked
down from the mountain, and holding out the two tablets said,
"Carved by the
finger of God."

From Carol Roe:

,How about:
       Modern rock paintings
green.silver marks left by,
and kayak.



Have fun… I do enjoy
your submissions to the Sawbill newsletters, Ed.
  sincerely CAROL ROE

Last, but not least, from Dave Minnich:

Hey there,

I was just reading the newsletter entry for 7/31, and had the
suggestion for Ed Dallas:

modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by
today’s voyageurs

I appreciate reading the newsletter, and look forward to our next


8/1/01 – Earlier this summer, I was on Ogishkemuncie with a
brisk west wind. I was headed east, quite nice. The day before I
coasted across Kekekabic running with two-foot rollers. It felt
like a dream. The day before that, the wind blew me lickety-split
from Kawishiwi to Beaver Lake. Prior to the trip, I could not
decide where or how far to go. From the start, the wind had clear
intentions, so I followed along. In wilderness, the weather rules
supreme, each variety of weather governing with a unique charm.

Charming indeed to travel with the wind for three days, as good a
companion as any to help the miles ease by. I experimented with
various sail ideas and decided to use the most rudimentary wind
catches I had: my pack and body. Propping the pack as high in the
bow as possible provided considerable push from the wind. I
leaned back, paddle hooked under my arm as a rudder, and let the
pack and sides of the canoe perform the work of propulsion. It
was a delight riding the miles of Kekekabic this way: listening
to the white caps, feeling my insides tickle with the lifting
stern, and gazing up at cumulous clouds in rows to the horizon.
Across Ogishkemuncie I put my back into it, standing up into wind
stronger than where it drags along the water. It worked well,
t-shirt plastered against my back and my legs adding a bit of
sail, too. To steer, I rigidly held the paddle blade out to the
side where wind would catch it and, through the axis of my body,
force the bow around. The view and speed felt like ski-skating on
the lakes in late winter. It was such fun. I stood all the way
across Ogishkemuncie, amused and carefree, glad to be moving
through the country.

I entered the calm waters of the Louse River and was without the
company of the wind for a day. I woke on Malberg the final day to
discover the wind suggesting a different course than that which
my schedule allowed. I bucked the wind all day. At times the
blowing was so fierce, the wind seemed to be pleading with me for
a new direction, to keep my company a while longer. Alas, I
ignored that hearty invitation, returning to the rhythms and
plans of my town life. I’ll get with Wind again soon, and
someday I’ll pay an appropriate visit—go for months,
better acquaint myself with Wind, Sun, Moon, all of them. OB

Posted on

July 2001

7/31/01 – Ed Dallas, the poet laureate of Sawbill, was here
with his wife Julie for a canoe trip last week. He sent the
following email this morning:

Here is the list of things that I had in my trash bag, found
at the
campsites we camped at on the trip:

1 shotgun shell
3 lead sinkers
1 penny
1 fishing lure
3 rubber body Mr. Twister Tails
27 twist ties
24 inches of nylon utility cord
12 cigarette butts (all found at one campsite on Kelso Lake)
18.4 yards of fishing line
7 gum wrappers
2 rubber tips off of something
1 broken ear piece from a pair of sunglasses
1 weedless fishing hook

It might be interesting to know the list of things others find
while on
their canoe trips.

You remember the haiku I was telling you about that I was
having trouble
coming up with the last line (5 syllables)? Well, do you think
you could post
it on the newsletter and see if the loyal readers might come up
with that
last line? It came to me as I saw the different colors on the
rocks near
portage trails and campsites.

modern rock paintings
red, green, silver marks left by

I need that last line, I have thought of many but none seem to
say what I am
looking for.

Have a good one and try to stay cool,


7/29/01 – Our old friends from the First Congregational Church
of LaGrange are here in force this morning. The Zackley Youth
Group from the church have been canoeing through Sawbill for more
than 30 years. We are now well into second generation Sawbill
canoeists and may soon be seeing a third generation.

Former Sawbill crew member Laura TerBeest Strubbe was just up
for a short visit. She brought along her baby daughter Tori for
her first Sawbill experience.

Laura and Tori

7/27/01 – Adam and I just returned from a short sea kayaking
trip in the Suzie Islands on Lake Superior. The Suzies are just
off the easternmost point of Minnesota near near the Grand
Portage Reservation. We spent three relaxing days exploring the
rugged islands in this great inland, fresh water sea. We caught a
few lake trout, explored an abandoned turn of the century copper
mine, and tested our paddling skills in the powerful Lake
Superior waves. One night, we practiced self rescue from an
overturned kayak. The 40 degree water sure does motivate you to
get back in the kayak as soon a possible. On the last day we
paddled 18 miles down the shore to the small community of Hovland
where we mooched a ride back to our car in Grand Portage. It was
a fine little father-son trip before Adam leaves for a year of
study in Kenya. – Bill

7/25/07- If you are heading to the Boundary Waters soon, get
in the water. It
feels fine, fine as cherry wine.

At a constriction in the river, I found some cool water repose. I
been paddling on the North Brule River under an unforgiving sun.
bottom of the canoe was burning my feet. I took off my clothes
with sweat and lowered into the river: instant relief. I sighed
smiled, my body tingling as from the embrace of a loved one.
into a crevice in the rocks, I was treated to the full force of
current. Water pummeled and rode over my shoulders, big sprays of
fanning over my head. I braced my feet and the current conformed
to my
back, holding me like a chair. There I sat. At that level, where
river is frantically navigating through a maze of rock, the water
never quiet. It roars and cheers, a din that blocked the sound of
voice. In that capsule of cool and sound, the surrounding forest,
cumulous clouds and hot sun were distant, like on a movie screen
encased at a museum. The water was everything, and when I
submerged my
head and closed my eyes there was in the dull roar a dual
sensation. At
once, the experience was as comforting as the womb and as
uncaring as
the age of the earth and stars.

I stayed in the water as long as I could. Though the water
is gorgeous, it eventually made me shiver. I stayed a little
hoping the cool would deeply penetrate where it might be stored
sustain me during the paddle home. I rose pruned and clammy and
sprawled across a hot rock. The residual water on my body pressed
against the rock felt like steam. My backside rapidly baked dry
the sun. A breeze passed through the hair of my body, and the
evoked dreamy images of the beach and then a wheat field. The
scents of
the tannin water and my sun-dried skin commingled in a pleasing
bouquet. I lay there wondering if there were any activity I would
rather be doing – thought of nothing. I considered my recent
and concerns – they seemed petty. I thought, just keep doing
this, pile
on this kind of experience. The rest will fall into place. OB

7/20/01 – We received word this morning that the fire ban will
be lifted at midnight tonight. In the blow down area, fires will
be allowed between 7 p. m. and midnight only. Everywhere else,
fires will be allowed in the fire grates any time.

7/17/01 – We received this email from Steve Gendron today:

Hello Sawbill Friends. Having just completed the 2001 Loon
survey for the
DNR I thought you might enjoy my findings of the seven lakes that
my son
and I counted.

1) Sawbill- 8 adults, 1 juvenile
2) Burnt 4 adults, 2 juveniles
3) Flame 1 adult, 2 juveniles
4) Smoke 2 adults
5) Fourmile 1 adult
6) Richey 2 adults
7) Fox 0

Interestingly, last year’s survey produced the same total,
although we saw
one more juvenile this year. I was a little perplexed to see only
one adult
with the juveniles on Flame lake, but perhaps the absent parent
was over at
another lake visiting or at the Sawbill store checking out your
And Bill, the Minnesota II I bought in March worked great,
especially after
I added 40 pounds of rocks to the bow to compensate for my 8 year
rather thin frame. Thanks and take care.

We also took the infamous Sawbill crew picture today. It is
always a big project to get all of us together in one place at
one time. We also had the annual Sawbill crew Dome Dance last
night. As he has many times in the past, Terrence Smith, dance
caller extraordinaire from Duluth (and father of current crew
member Laura Smith) kept us all swinging, circling and dosey
doeing until the wee hours of the morning. Pine Wilson, mother of
current Sawbill crew member Beka Wilson also called a few fun
middle eastern dances.

Sawbill Crew 2001

7/15/01 – The pervasive dust has been replaced by puddles this
morning after an all night soaking rain. It is just in time to
quell the mounting fire danger and provide the blueberries with
their last shot of moisture before ripening. The lightning
associated with last night’s storm will keep the Forest Service
wary for a couple of days, but the soaking rain should have
quenched any strikes.

7/11/01 – Fire Ban in BWCA Wilderness. We just received the
following from the U. S. Forest Service:

In response to abnormally dry weather and extreme fire danger
levels in the
Arrowhead Region, the Superior National Forest, Minnesota State
DNR, and
local authorities will soon implement measures to reduce the
potential for
wildfire starts in the area. The area of concern extends beyond
blowdown. Specialists at MIFC are closely tracking fire

Posted on

June 2001

6/17/01 – Red and Sis Tabor are back for their umteenth
vacation in the Sawbill Lake Campground. They came up here after
spending the weekend at Bluefin Bay Resort in Tofte celebrating
their 50th wedding anniversary with their family.

Sis and Red Tabor after 50 years of matrimony.

Our last new employee for the season arrived this
week. She worked for two days and then trekked to the Twin Cities
to register for the University of Minnesota. She is back now and
learning fast. Shannon Grace has just graduated from Duluth East
High School. She is an experienced BWCA Wilderness camper, having
traveled widely with her parents since she was a small child.
Welcome Shannon 🙂

Shannon Grace

6/16/01 – All is well with the telephone system now. Thanks
for you patience if you had trouble on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I just returned from visiting my daughter, Ruthie Hansen, at
her new apartment in the Hyde Park section of Chicago. She is
continuing her education at the University of Chicago and
working. Many of you will remember her smiling face around
Sawbill over the last 19 years. She is adapting to city life very
well and will be visiting (hopefully) in September.

I also visited briefly the First Congregational Church of
LaGrange. This large suburban Chicago church has been a faithful
Sawbill client for more than 30 years. It was fun for me to
finally put a concrete mental image to a place that has been a
part of my life for so long. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to
visit any of my many LaGrange friends. – Bill

6/12/01 – We will be down to one telephone line here at
Sawbill for the next 24 hours or so as we move our microwave
equipment to the new tower. It looks a lot like the old tower.
Please be patient as all phone calls, Faxes, credit card
purchases and Internet use must vie for time on the old radio
system. Other than that, the weather is beautiful here, and I’m
looking forward to entertaining myself this evening by climbing
one tower and shouting over to the other one.

6/7/01 – In 1996 a fire burned some of the country near South
Temperance Lake. The fire traveled southeast, eventually
extinguishing near Homer Lake. I went to Vern Lake the other day
to explore the burned area. From a distance, floating in the
canoe, the density of regeneration struck me. Spring colors
painted every nook and cranny. I had visited the same area two
weeks after the fire when everything was black or the white of
scorched granite. Now, the green under the wispy dead trees was
thick, like a mat of curly hair. Near where I beached my canoe,
several spruce trunks were stripped clean of their branches by
the fire. Stretching long and pointy into the sky, they were
stunning, seemed like totem poles erected in mute testament to
the conflagration. On closer inspection, I found their charred
skin polished. Small seams of old sap laced the trunks. The
sap’s various shades of amber embedded in the inky black
were brilliant. Nearby, a lone jack pine, completely burned, was
covered in fire-opened cones. It looked like a tree in bloom.
Fanning out from its base was a sea of small jack pines two to
four feet in height. A pair of small falcons, American kestrels,
flew around the area perching on dead treetops. Their rapid,
shrill calls: “kli, kli, kli, kli, kli” were the only
sounds accompanying the wind. As I walked, I came to a growth of
aspens suckering up from the roots of their burned forebears.
They sprawled like a field of mature corn, and I was soon
enmeshed, a bit lost. I exited the aspens and crossed a sloping
hill colonized by blueberries. Judging by the heavy set of
blooms, it seems a good berry season is in store. The
blueberry’s enthusiastic pollinator, the black fly, attacked
me, so I headed for the canoe. I drifted with the blessed wind,
which felt cool and clean sweeping the black flies from my neck,
back to their blueberry duties. I lay down in the canoe, letting
the sky pass by. Two bohemian waxwings perching on a dead spruce
were hawking for insects. Very high in the sky an eagle was
looking around. I stayed in that corner of regenerating forest
all day, my senses aroused and brimful. There is so much going on
in the woods. What a relief to be among it all. – OB

Posted on

May 2001

5/28/01 – The new Sawbill crew members are arriving in batches
now. Jeff Green and Bhupesh Pattni are also from Virginia, MN.
Bhu and Jitesh (below) are brothers and Jeff is their good
friend. Jeff just finished his freshman year at Bemidji State
University and Bhu finished his sophomore year at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison. They’ve had a hectic introduction to
Sawbill during the busy Memorial Day weekend.


5/23/01 – Another new employee has arrived. Jitesh Pattni is
from Virginia, Minnesota and has just finished his freshman year
at Lewis and Clark College in Oregon. Welcome Jitesh!

Jitesh Pattni

5/19/01 – Summer is getting underway. The leaves are about
half out. The black flies appeared today, but haven’t started
biting yet. The dogs (Homer and Sunnie) have been swimming three
times today and now are napping in the office giving off the
robust aroma of wet dog. It is busier this weekend than last.

We have another new employee. Beka Wilson is from Decorah,
Iowa and is a student at Humboldt State in Arcada, California.
Welcome Beka 🙂

5/14/01 – It was a major break with tradition to have an
opening of fishing weekend that was actually good weather.
Typically it is cold, rainy and windy (if not snowing). This year
it was sunny and warm except for a brief shower on Saturday.
Fishing was generally slow, as it usually is this early in the
year. The notable exception was Smoke Lake, where several limits
of walleyes were taken. Two large bass were caught on Alton by a
group of dental students from Milwaukee. Steve Geving and his son
Garrett, from Duluth, caught one small northern on Alton. They
saw a moose on Kelso Lake. Steve has been camping and fishing at
Sawbill for more than 50 years. Jon Heinzen, from Tofte, caught
quite a few walleyes on nearby Crescent Lake. Louise Trachta, who
works at the Northshore Market in Tofte, caught a large Muskie on

5/8/01 – Sorry, I forgot to mention that all the lakes in the
Sawbill area are now clear of ice. I assume that all the lakes in
the entire wilderness are ice free. It has been warm, windy and
raining – a deadly combination for ice and snow. Several years
ago, we skied on Sawbill Lake on May 9th. Last year, the ice went
out in the second week of April. – Bill

5/7/01 – This just in from the Forest Service:

Campfire Restrictions in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCAW)
and Surrounding Areas

As of midnight, Wednesday, May 9, 2001, the Superior National
Forest is
restricting the use of campfires, charcoal, and wood burning camp
stoves to
the hours between 7 pm and midnight in the blowdown area on the
Propane and gas camp stoves will be allowed at any time of the
day in the
restricted zone.

A written description, lake lists, and maps for the restricted
area is
posted on the Superior National Forest website
available through any Superior National Forest office or BWCAW

These restrictions are part of an overall strategy to reduce the
risk for visitors and surrounding communities while still
allowing for safe
use of campfires. The need for these restrictions is due to the
effects of
a severe windstorm that blew down trees across a large area of
the Forest
on July 4, 1999. As a result of this large amount of fuel, the
risk is
significantly increased for a large wildfire that would start
spread faster and be difficult to control. The Forest Service
will continue
to monitor conditions and as fire danger levels increase,
restrictions will
also be increased.

Visitors are urged to take care in the use of campfires.
Approximately 50%
of the wildfires in the BWCAW start as a result of human
activities. Most
of these wildfires are from campfires that are not managed
Please be sure your campfire is "dead out" before
leaving it unattended.

All visitors are encouraged to bring camp stoves so they can
respond to
changes in campfire restrictions. Visitors can find out about
restrictions by checking our website,

or contacting any Forest office or BWCAW permitting office.

In the Sawbill area, this means that the routes roughly west
of Alton Lake have no fire restrictions and everywhere else does.
So far, the restriction means that you can’t have breakfast or
lunch fires. For most people, this isn’t much of a hardship. –

5/3/01 – Its official! Sawbill Lake lost its ice early this
morning. A brisk north wind kicked up after several days of
steady south winds. When the ice sheet shifted, it just broke up
and sank out of sight. Natasha Warner was the winner of the
betting pool. The traditional opening of the Sawbill Beach Club,
which means a quick dip in the frigid water, has been scheduled
for Saturday when former crew members John "OB"
Oberholtzer and Paul "Lundie" Lundgren can be here to
participate. Also on Saturday, we will send out a reconnaissance
mission to check the ice on Alton and other nearby lakes. – Bill

5/1/01 – Sawbill Lake’s ice has become too flimsy and
honeycombed to actually measure. It looks like it will go out
tomorrow or the day after at the latest.

Sawbill Lake 1 PM, 5/1/01

Our third new crew member arrived today. Molly
Heekin is from Evanston, Illinois and has been working for the
last year at Active Endeavors, and outdoor store in Evanston. She
is headed for graduate school in New York this fall. Welcome

Molly Heekin, ready to tackle unwrapping the 52
new Mad River canoes pictured behind her.