Once in a while on this job you meet someone who launches a project you wish you could join in on. Minnesota has so many talented and inspirational explorers. Polar trekkers Paul Schurke, Will Steeger, and Lonnie Dupre immediately come to mind. I've been lucky to have been part of some of those. In the course of developing this book on canoe country there are many historical and significant areas that demand coverage to offer the reader a complete perspective. Minnesota's GRAND PORTAGE in one of them.
Called the Voyageurs Highway, this string of lakes and rivers connecting inland waters to Lake Superior was a main travel route for trappers selling their wares. I spoke with friend Erik Simula last year as he worked on a birch bark canoe at the Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage, Minnesota. A skilled craftsman, Erik told me of a solo journey he was undertaking starting this Spring using one of his birch bark canoes. He was going to retrace routes taken by Voyageurs. A nearly 1,200 mile trip by himself and his dog, Kitigan. I wanted badly to ask to join along but with three kids in college and nearly three months gone from home didn't seem like a good enough reason to present the idea to my wife. So rather than scaring Erik with such a request, I settled for finding Erik on part of his journey and recording this for a portion of the book detailing the famed GRAND PORTAGE.
You can read all about Erik's jounrey on his blogsite: http://arrowheadjourney.wordpress.com/
You'll be able to read all about some of Erik's adventure in this new book to be published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in the Fall of 2010. Author Greg Breining, who also joined me for our last book, A HARD WATER WORLD, a humerous book on the culture of ice fishing in North American and Russia, will work his magic on the chapter detailing the Grand Portage as well as many others. Don't miss it!
One of the images posted here will never see ink, but was exciting nonetheless. While traveling to the back roads of Partridge Falls Road looking for Erik, my daughter and I stumbled upon five wolf pups playing with wild abandon on the dirt road. By the time I jumped out, grabbed the camera only two pups were still visible. We never found Erik that morning but the wolf pups made my day.
Take a moment and read some of his journal writing. He stumbled into some pretty incredible and frightening experiences.
Congrat's Erik! I'm proud of your efforts my friend.