Archive for the ‘Arrowhead Journey’ Category
Erik Simula’s 1000 mile birch bark canoe journey across the Arrowhead continues. The most recent leg of his journey was hard on the birch bark canoe. He had one very close call when he felt fortunate that the canoe did not split in half. According to Erik’s father, Vern, the bottom of the canoe now has some serious splits. We have two more of Erik’s birch bark canoes here at Bearskin. We are wondering if perhaps at some point Erik will have to substitue another canoe.
Erik has not been able to reach a computer, so he mailed us pages from his journal to post on Arrowhead Journey.
According to local historian Larry Luukkonen, author of Between the Waters, the last officially recorded excursion to complete the Northwest Trail (Lake Superior to Mississippi River via Savanna Portage) in a birch bark canoe was made in 1878 by Minnesota State Geologist Newton H. Winchell, 131 years ago. Very few others have traveled this route since that time. That’s apparent when you read Erik’s journal — this has not been an easily passable route.
Many Bearskin Lodge guests who read this blog also frequently follow Erik Simula’s Arrowhead Journey online. Erik created the winter mushing program at Bearskin Lodge, which was a huge success last winter, primarily because Erik is so articulate and interesting. Summer Bearskin guests may have met Erik in his role as a Grand Portage National Monument park ranger, demonstrating the skill of building birch bark canoes for hundreds of visitors every year.
Long story short, Erik and his dog Kitigan ran into a little adventure on the journey going through Duluth. Links to the Duluth News Tribune articles, as well as a variety of blogs commenting on the story, can be found at Arrowhead Journey.
We have two of Erik’s birch bark canoes at Bearskin now, one hanging in the Lodge so you can see its delicate construction and another that will be available for guests to paddle this summer. (But you’ll be paddling on the bay of East Bearskin, not on Lake Superior!)
Erik’s canoes are beautiful works of art. History has established that a birch bark canoe is a sturdy mode of transportation. But when you’re just standing in the lodge under Erik’s canoe, peering at the sections of bark held together with pine pitch over a wooden frame, not many of us would be inspired to think, “I feel a strong need to paddle this 13 foot chunk of seamed-together bark down the world’s biggest freshwater lake, then against the current on raging, rock-filled rivers for 1000 miles.”
Erik’s journey is amazing. For most of us, a little paddle around the East Bearskin Lake bay will be enough of an exciting birch bark canoe adventure.
For those of you who are following Erik Simula’s 1000 mile Arrowhead Journey online, there are some great new photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/arrowhead journey/
Erik has also posted his daily journal entries for the trip between Grand Portage and Grand Marais on the blog http://arrowheadjourney.wordpress.com
A sample from 4/24: Waves crash. Winds Roar. Dreamt of Black Bear. 12 hours sleep. Filtering water daily. Good hot drinks and food. All my gear staying dry and organized. Kitigan doing great. It’s cold, but I’m staying warm. So nice no bugs. Wearing seven layers of clothes. Sore back and fingertips raw. Feeling rested and good. So beautiful.
On Thursday WTIP aired an excellent interview with Erik while he was stopped in Grand Marais. I was all ready to record the streaming audio on RealPlayer and then, for the second time, messed up the “save” when it was all over. It was bad enough that I goofed up the recording the first time he was on WTIP last week , but repeating the same mistake a second time is especially maddening. If anyone else recorded it, we would love to have a copy.