Posted on

Sig’s first BWCA trip

9/26/19 – How old were you when you first had the pleasure of experiencing the Boundary Waters? This week, at the ripe old age of twelve and a half months, Sigurd T. Shirley entered the BWCA wilderness for what is sure to be the first of many overnight canoe trips to come. Clad in warm fall clothes, an appropriately fitted life jacket, and a strawberry hat, Sig bravely ventured into the great unknown!

Sig fearlessly leading the Shirley family across Kawishiwi Lake

During the summer months, the Shirley family is almost always busy keeping Sawbill up and running. Getting out into the BWCA is a real treat, especially when the whole clan can make it into the wilderness together. Now that the season is beginning to wind down, the Shirleys were able to carve out an overnight at Kawishiwi Lake and experience what Sawbill patrons have had the fortune of enjoying all season – the great outdoors!

Sig reveling in the moment

The Shirleys were only able to make it out for a single night this time around, but they nevertheless fit a lot into their short time in the wilderness; Clare caught a fish off of their island site on Kawishiwi, Kit spotted a grouse near the latrine, and of course s’mores were eaten around the fire. No doubt, a worthwhile and memorable trip!


Kit focusing hard on her fishing technique
“A lovely smokey flavor…”
Posted on

Fall Equinox

9/23/19 – Happy equinox folks! While you wouldn’t know it by the warm weather we’ve had this week, fall is in full swing here in the north woods. Driving up the Sawbill trail from Lake Superior, the colors are nothing short of magnificent. Along the Sawtooth mountain range maple trees are exploding in shades of crimson and orange, and here on the edge of the BWCA we’re getting a show as well. While the birch leaves are turning a vibrant yellow, the white pines are dropping their excess needles, making a trip through the campground feel like walking through Oz on the yellow brick road.

White pines drop a large percentage of their needles every fall
Fall colors behind the crew house
A view of the canoe storage area from a canoe

The leaves aren’t the only change in color we’re noticing around here – small game season opened in Minnesota on September 14th, and we’re beginning to see hunters clothed in bright orange stopping by the Sawbill store. While some members of our fall crew prefer to stick to fishing during the fall months, others couldn’t wait to get their hands on a hunting license. Jessica, a long standing crew member, was one of the first to bag a grouse, much to the interest of Kit and the rest of the crew. Here’s hoping Jessica will make some of her famous grouse soup before the season winds down! -Owen

Kit shortly after deciding she wants to grow up to be just like Jessica

Posted on

Sawbill Ladies Night

Just before Katie, Amelia, Nora, and Mia went back to college, the Sawbill Babes had a night out on the town! They left Sawbill in the hands of Kit (who assured them that she would keep Sawbill running and the boys in line) before they headed into Grand Marais for an afternoon filled with shopping, fudge eating, and relaxing! Before heading back up the trail, they stopped to eat at the Angry Trout where they enjoyed a waterfront dinner outside on the deck! It was a night to remember for the Sawbill babes and there definitely wont be another one like it!


Left to right bottom: Jessica, Katie, Amelia Left to right top: Nora, Mia, Allison, Clare, Andie
Posted on

A seldom explored world

9/11/19 – There is a lot going on under our feet. Tree roots, insect colonies, pixie villages, and the mycelium network. Mycelium is the main body of most fungi. Here in the northwoods we don’t often see the actual fungus itself save for it’s fruit, mushrooms. Mushrooms range from mighty to tiny, from beauty to slimy. What we see as mushrooms are usually the reproductive strategy of the fungus and picking them does not hurt the living part of the organism.

With fall settling in some new specimens are poking up through the piney duff including some edible species such as Lobster and Chanterelle’s. Consult an expert and a mushroom guide if you are interested in identifying these delights.

Lobster Mushroom

Posted on

Round the clock Wilderness

9/9/19 – Have you ever seen the sun go down to the haunting call of a loon? Have you stayed up and watched an ocean of stars appear above and below your rocky lake view camp? Has the sound of a beaver slapping it’s tail woke you in the middle of the night?

“The days are getting shorter,” a simple phrase but does it hold true? With the sun setting earlier and rising later it is a great time of year to embrace that you do not have to stay up past 11pm to start appreciating the darker side of the BWCA. If you have a strong knowledge of where you are and an adventurous spirit try going for a night float. Something as simple as drifting in your canoe just off shore of camp can be a life changing experience. Just be sure to bring a good strong light and keep track of where you are so you can make it back to your cozy tent at night.


Setting off into the sunet
Alton Lake by twilight
Posted on

Labor Day Weekend

9/2/19 – Happy Labor Day folks! It’s been a busy weekend up here at Sawbill with everyone trying to get trips in before it gets too cold or having to return to school. Busy but good! A special thank you to those who participated in the annual fish n’pick weekend – the music was fantastic both nights. To accompany the music, campers and crew members gathered on the landing dock to see a good show from the northern lights on Friday night! It was truly something special. A great holiday weekend and introduction to fall!


The northern light dance on Friday, August 30th. Photo credit to crew member Brian Henry.
Musicians and friends alike gathered around the campfire in the canoe yard.
Posted on

Welcome to Autumn – Hours & Events

8/30/19 – As September approaches, it’s clear that the cool weather has joined it. We’ve definitely noticed a significant drop in temperature in the last couple of weeks! Even so, there have still been some beautiful and clear days. Be prepared if you’re taking a trip soon and bring layers along with a warm sleeping bag – and of course don’t forget your rain gear. With the weather changing, we’ll also be starting our fall hours this Tuesday, September 3rd. We’ll be open from 8 am – 7 pm daily.

In other news, labor day weekend has our campground completely full through today and tomorrow! There are options for campgrounds nearby though if you are worried about finding a site. Up here, it’s also known as fish n’pick weekend. A long time tradition, musicians come up to fish during the day and play tunes by a fire at night. All are welcome to join and listen to them during their jam tonight or tomorrow night in the canoe yard. Typically, they start around 8:30. Additionally, tomorrow marks the last US Forest Service naturalist program event of the summer! As always, they’ll be discussing Minnesota wildlife around a campfire with s’mores from 7:30-9. Plenty going on around here this weekend! Happy beginning of fall!


Sunsets are early these days, this one captured right after 8 pm on 8/28/19.
Posted on

75 Years & still Portaging

8/27/19 – Portaging a giant boat on your shoulders is a pretty impressive feat of itself, let alone when you’re 75 years old. Yet Frank & Roxy Janezich make it look pretty easy! These two have surely had plenty of paddling experience and are not letting age get in the way of their canoeing. Thanks for the inspiration, you two!


Frank and Roxy on their way to the Sawbill landing. Photo credit goes to crew member Brian Henry.
Posted on

Hiking around Sawbill

8/18/19 – Though we’re best known for the abundance of canoeing opportunities at Sawbill, there are plenty of other outdoor recreation opportunities nearby. We often get asked about hiking trails in the area and there are some great options! Eagle Mountain is probably the most popular choice, about a 40 minute drive from Sawbill down the grade. It is a moderate ~7 mile hike that summits at the highest point in Minnesota. The trail winds through forest, marshes and lakes before the relatively steep climb to the top in the last half mile or so.

A glimpse of the trek to Eagle Mountain.

A closer option to Sawbill would be the Carlton or Britton peak trails. The trailheads are just a few miles down the Sawbill Trail from Tofte. Britton peak is a short hike (only .5 mile or so), while Carlton peak is 3 miles round trip. Another option about 5 miles north of Tofte are the Oberg and Leveaux Mountain trails. Each trail is about 3 miles, both with amazing views overlooking Lake Superior and the surrounding national forest. These hikes can be extended for longer trips as they coincide with the Superior Hiking Trail, a 310 mile foot trail along the north shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. There are plenty of chances to hop onto the Superior Hiking Trail along Highway 61. If you’ve already done these hikes, don’t fret! The abundance of state parks on the north shore provide even more opportunities. I recently hiked next to waterfalls on the Cascade river and potholes of the Temperance river, both discovered on Highway 61 pulloffs. Wherever you go, it’s sure to be beautiful. Happy hiking!

One of the 9 scenic overlooks on top of Oberg Mountain.
Posted on

Something to brighten your day…

8/15/19 – If you’re having trouble pushing through to the weekend, hopefully this will help a bit. This is an appreciation post for the sweet boy that is Huckleberry. If you don’t know him, he’s the springer spaniel that belongs to Sawbill owners Clare and Dan Shirley. Looking closely, you can see that his name tag gives away his occupation: the official Director of Public Outreach. Unofficially, he is the store greeter, bodyguard, therapy dog, Olympic swimmer, professional snuggler, and Sawbill mascot. On behalf of the entire crew, we’re all happy we get to spend time with him while we’re here. Friendly reminder that he does have severe food allergies so please don’t give him any of your treats or snacks. He also loves to swim with folks on the dock, but practice caution if you have a fishing line in. The poor guy doesn’t understand the concept that bobbers are attached to hooks. Besides that, feel free to give him lots of love if you see him around the campground! Cheers to Huckleberry (aka buns, hucklebuns, bunners, huck) for being the best boy!


Huck takes his greeting job VERY seriously.
The happiest guy there is.
Taken in early May, anxiously awaiting for the ice to melt so he can swim.