Posted by: esimula | May 1, 2009

Grand Portage to Grand Marais (4/22-30/2009)



4/22/09  –  Day 1             Paddled 4 miles          28-50 degrees F           5 mph NE Winds          Sunny/Cloudy          

Earth Day, wednesday, my son Ben’s Birthday.  Final pack out until 5 a.m.  Two hours sleep. Finished making Anna’s new snowshoes.  Dogyard chores on snowshoes. Three feet of snow still in woods.  My birchbark canoe completely buried in fresh heavy wet snow.  Left Arrowhead Trail Cabin on snowshoes with dog Kitigan in harness helping pull toboggan with outfit.  Soft snow made bad trail: hard work.  Assembled at Grand Portage National Monument picnic grounds “the Pines”.  Pitched canoe, said goodbye and launched. Hit submerged rock while loading, took on water within 1/2-mile, stopped and re-pitched at Grand Portage marina.  Paddled about four miles, camped at dark.  Lake Superior shoreline covered by ice in all shaded areas.  Heavily loaded canoe but handled well.  Severe cramp in right thigh when landing.


4/23/09  –  Day 2          Windbound          40 – 60 o F          E Winds 10 – 15 mph          Waves 1-4 ft          Thunderstorms/Rain     

Slept 16 hours.  Eagle in Tree above camp.  Put daily tobacco in water.  Repacked, trained Kitigan, cooked fish & wild rice, put dining fly tarp over tent, packs and canoe.  


4/24/09  –  Day 3         Windbound          30 – 45 o F          E Winds 10 – 25 mph          Waves 2 – 4 ft          Thunderstorms/Rain

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.


4/25/09  –  Day 4          Paddled 8 miles (12 total)         30 – 45 o F          S Wind 5 mph           Sunny/Cloudy                                                                                                                                                                                      (changed to S 10-15 mph, 1 ft waves, whitecaps)

Dreamt of black flies.  Awoke at 7:30 a.m.  Broke camp fast to get on water.  Water is c-c-cold.  Staying mostly within a 1/4-mile of shore for safety.  Paddled hard  against wind all day.  Sea Caves.  Water is beautiful blue-green.  Kitigan fascinated with watching bottom of lake, as am I.  Stopped twice to warm up fingers and toes.  Big voyageur paddle works excellent.  Many variations of mixed winds/waves/swells/rebound swells/currents and underwater hazards to navigate through safely.  The shoreline is spectacular.  Trolled with a spoon all day, no fish.  Talked to two friends on shore. Dropped below freezing at dark, stars out.  Changed from kneeling in canoe to sitting, much better.  Small seepage in canoe all day, not bad.  Kitigan cold and wet feet, will remedy with canvas canoe cover as dog raft on floor.  Gave her small wool dog blanket.  She’s a great dog: very calm, conforming, patient, and a good companion.  I take good care of her.


4/26/09  –  Day 5          Windbound          25 – 50 o F          NE Wind 0 – 45 mph           Calm  –  p.m. 6-10 ft Waves

Up at 5:45 a.m.  No wind, lake calm as glass.  Right arm and fingers tingling pain.  Grouse drumming.  Birdsong.  A quick morning coffee and breakfast.  Wind picked up to 10 – 20 mph by 8 a.m with whitecaps.  By 9 a.m. crushed ice piling up on shoreline, waves 1-3 ft.  At 1 p.m. NE wind 25 – 35 mph, waves 3 – 5 ft.  By 10 p.m. a Roaring NorthEaster, NE  winds 30-45 mph, waves 6-10 ft.     Had a good fire all day, hot coffee, cocoa and tea.  Pitched side seams on canoe, mended fish net handle with spruce root.  Found white eagle feather.  


4/27/09  –  Day 6          Windbound          35-50 o F           S Winds 10-20 mph          Waves 2-3 ft          Sunny/Cloudy

Right arm tingling pain, worse in mornings.  Rained all night.  Dreamt of ancient dwellings and giant beavers.  Fitted rope attachments for canvas canoe cover with wood pins under thwarts on outside of outwale.  I enjoy the rhythms and power of the Lake.


4/28/09  –  Day 7          Paddled 17 miles (29 total)       30-55 o F          Calm          p.m. N Winds 5-15          Sunny                                       

Up at 6 a.m.  Many loons and ducks, groups of 15 or 20.  Anchoring each end of canoe with ropes tied to rock anchors, to prevent canoe smashing on rocks while loading or landing.  Pitch is so delicate if struck by rock.  Talked with a Hovland fisherman on the water.  Made good time, paddled ’til dark.  Kitigan staying dry and warm.  Canoe with light seepage, I expect will be the norm.  Paddled by a whitetail deer at 40 ft, Kitigan growled low but deer did not spook.  Trolled all day, no fish.    


4/29/09  –  Day 8          Windbound          35-45 0 F             N Winds 10-25 mph          Waves 2-4 ft          Sunny/Cloudy

Reinforced a nice beach camp near 5-mile rock for coming storm.   Too rough to load or paddle.


4/30/09  –  Day 9          Paddled 6 miles (35 total/965 remaining)         40-45 o F           NE Winds 5-10mph        Swells 2-5 ft          

Up at dawn to smooth swells.  Good paddling, swells had no waves in a.m.  Just like surfing.  Difficult currents at big river mouths: I paddle far out from shore to avoid turbulent chop waves, and paddle hard and fast through them, ferrying where possible.  Caught no fish.  Weather worsened rounding Artist’s Point in Grand Marais to 1-2 ft waves and 10-15 mph NE winds. Fog made visibility 1/8-mile.  Landed safely at North House Folk School at 1 p.m.  I’ll lay over a day or two in Grand Marais to prepare for the next section (Grand Marais-Carlton) of this first of four legs (Grand Portage-Carlton, Carlton-Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids-Crane Lake, Crane Lake-Grand Portage).   My priorities are communications, minimal re-supply, rest, lightening-up my load & tightening-down my canoe cover for better seaworthiness.  My spirits are high, I’m in good shape, Kitigan is doing great, the canoe and outfit are working well and I’m ready to continue safely.



  1. good to hear from you. stay safe pray for you. Love aunt Bea

  2. Love hearing all the little details. Keep up the great work!

  3. Thanks for the post Erik looking forward to more stories of your adventure. Stay safe and warm. Give Kitigan a hug for me.

    Take care

  4. Thanks for posting your log, Erik. It will be great to to look over your shoulder as you paddle the remaining 965 miles of your dream.

    I hope Superior treats you gently, and look forward to seeing you pass through Duluth.

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