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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

Picture from

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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

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1/4/2005 – Another New Years at Sawbill has come and gone–the serenity of the winter woods temporarily shattered by a dozen or so current and former Sawbill crew members, friends, etc. Here are a few of the highlights:

Emily, Adam, Clare, Lida, Carl, Dave, Belinda, Bill, Kari, Nathan, Pat, Eric, Sonya, Jessa, Max, Laura and Jeff (with his glow stick glove) anxiously await the New Year in sub-zero temperatures on Sawbill Lake.

Bill, Lida and Clare enjoy some fine Champagne.

Earlier, at a warmer location, Bill, Emily and Max found some time to talk about their favorite BWCA routes.

Meanwhile, not far away, Frosty tells it funny while Adam looks on.

Oh yeah, Christmas. iPods anyone?

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December 2004

12/24/04 – The most common question we get from visitors in the summer is "What do you do in the winter?" Among many other things, I am the substitute trail groomer for the the Sugarbush system of cross country ski trails near Tofte. One of the regular groomers has been out of town, so I have been working on the trails nearly full time this week. Normally, I drive a Pisten Bully which is a huge snow cat like you see at alpine ski resorts. The Pisten Bully has been broken down though, so I’ve been driving a snowmobile dragging different sorts of heavy grooming equipment. The weather has been brutally cold with high winds on top of it. Ironically, the snow mobile doesn’t do very well in deep snow conditions. You have to stand while you drive and constantly throw your weight from one side to the other to keep it from tipping over or veering off the trail. Along the trail there are deep ditches and steep drop-offs waiting like clever traps that suck the 400 pound machine off the trail and hopelessly bury it on its side in deep powder snow. As a result, I am sore in every muscle and I’m sporting a fairly large frost bite burn under my chin. The trails are in great shape though and ready for the flood of holiday skiers. I also saw a lot of wolf tracks and scat on the ski trails.

We will be joined by our family for Christmas and many current and former crew members are coming up for New Years Eve. This is my favorite time of the year. Happy Holidays everyone! – Bill

The Sawbill Store is buried in snow!

12/14/04 – Sawbill has been buzzing with activity and the snow keeps falling! Last Thursday was Carl’s 15th birthday, and the family celebrated by finding and decorating this year’s Christmas tree. Carl also placed 10th out of 60 skiers at the Ely Classic Invitational ski meet last weekend at Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik, Minnesota. Today he passed his driving permit written test. That is right, Carl can drive, accompanied by an adult of course! On top of all that exciting news, Sawbill received 18 inches of snow over the weekend. It started snowing on Saturday night and kept on snowing until Monday morning. The trees are caked with snow, and the ski trails are in great condition. – Dave

Carl gets ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake, which Cindy crafted in the shape of two CDs to go with the CDs she made him for his birthday!
Carl chilling out before the start of the ski race at Giants Ridge last weekend.

Clare, Carl, and Cindy mourn loss of a broken candy cane .

Bill, complete with reindeer antlers, helps Clare string lights on the tree.

12/5/04 – The lake is perfect for skiing right now and the forecast is calling for more snow! Today, Bill and I walked the ski trail one last time to clear windfalls and get it ready for grooming. Hopefully there will be enough snow to groom the trail soon. I am heading over to Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge for a 5 day camping trip on Tuesday. I am going dog sledding! I am going dog sledding! Seven months is just too long to go with out harnessing up a dog team! As you can probably tell, I am pretty excited.

Walter, a crew member from last summer, sent several photos that he took on a trip this summer. Walter is a freshman at Perdue University in Indiana and from the sounds of it he is working hard and having fun, but he is looking forward to getting back to Sawbill, as I am sure many people are. We have heard from several other Sawbill crew members lately. Adam, spent the weekend visiting the Ter Beests in Omaha this weekend. Laura Smith, and Jeff Green e-mailed last week from the west coast where they are visiting friends they met at Sawbill, of course. They are doing well and will be heading back this way soon. Molly is in Illinois working hard writing grants for the Wilderness Classroom. And Alison, Sawbill’s famous mellophone player, recently learned that she will be heading to Nashville with the rest of the U of Minnesota marching band for a bowl game in a few weeks. What is the rest of the crew doing? Well, your guess is a good as mine, but hopefully they are preparing for another summer at Sawbill! – Dave

Storm on Alton Lake by Walter Booker

This photo was taken in the middle of October, one of the last times the crew housing was buzzing with activity.

12/2/04 – Cold temperatures and a little more snow have put us in a winter mood here. Dave and I skied over to Alton on Tuesday. Sawbill Lake was completely frozen over with no sign of thin ice except near stream inlets and in the narrows. Alton was still more than half open though. The lake got slushy on Wednesday, so neither skiing nor skating were possible (sigh). Today looks good though. It was 1 degree F last night with an inch of fresh snow. I plan to ski up Sawbill in the dark this evening. – Bill

Bill examines the open water where the stream from Alton Pond empties into Sawbill Lake.