Erik called Bearskin to say he made it to Grand Rapids on time for his daughter’s graduation and said he’d be updating his journal for the leg of the trip from Carlton to Grand Rapids when he had a chance. The Savanna Portage was a memorable segment of the trip.
Until Erik is able to update, this e-mail from Dawn Simula tells some of the story:
“I went to see Erik in McGregor last Monday at Savanna State Park. He was very tired, but in great spirits as usual. The beginning of the Savannna Portage wasn’t very nice for him. He and Kitigan had to “line” the rapids upriver, the current was strong, and there was a lot of deadfall to deal with. Some days he put in 12 hours.
At the east end of the river he set up camp just as it was getting dark, when he heard something in the brush. After watching and waiting, out came a mountain lion! He was 15 feet away. The cat looked and smelled Erik and Kitigan for what seemed forever. (He tells this story much better than I). When the cat decided to leave, so did Erik . He knew this wasn’t the place to camp. So, in between packing and listening, he managed to break camp.
Twenty minutes later the brush moved again. He waited and watched and out came the biggest black bear he says he has ever seen in his life. He swears that bear is a state record. Another face-off! The bear seem to be intrigued with this man and dog, and he was not frightened.
Needless to say, Erik and Kitigan got back into the canoe as soon as the bear turned to leave. He night-paddled until 3:30 a.m. That’s where he set up what he calls “Shiver Camp”. He went on to tell me that for the lack of sleep and the utter exhaustion, he managed to get a couple of hours of rest, only to be awoken by a “symphony” of Trumpeter Swans. He really thought this was a dream land.
After realizing where he was, he broke camp and started to paddle again. He began the 6 mile Savanna portage by “bushwacking” through thick brush. No modern portage exists on the east end. It took him 2 1/2 days to complete by double packing, so the actual mileage 18 miles on foot. He really has had an adventure.
As of Wednesday May 27, he departed the west Savanna River to Big Sandy lake and the Mississippi River on his way to Grand Rapids. “
Timothy George reported that there is an interview with Erik included in the Weekly News Review on Itasca Community TV The interview is midway through the review.
We also received this report from Bob Walker:
“Just wanted to pass along that I came across Erik and his Dad and dog by the Bigfork river. Everyone looked well and happy. The canoe seems to be holding up very well. Spirits are good and the water is up.”