Posted by: esimula | June 23, 2009

Rainy River to Crane Lake 6/11/09 – 6/23/09

6/11/09     Day 51     Rainy Lake     60-70 o F     Clear/Sunny     S Winds 5-10 mph

Left Rainer and paddled to Camp Koochiching and then to Earnest Oberholtzer’s Mallard Island.  Camped on nearby Gull Island.  Shared the small island with a bald eagle.


6/12/09     Day 52     Camp Koochiching     50-75 o F     Sunny/Clear     W Winds 5-10 mph     Thunderstorm at 9 p.m.

Returned to Camp Koochiching and talked with camp staff about adventures on the trail.  Camp Koochiching has an 85-year history of canoe tripping and has a very talented, dedicated staff and beautiful facility.  Also stopped by Camp Ogichiidaakwe (sister camp to Camp Koochiching) to have lunch and visit with girls staff.  Thank you Camp Kooch for your hospitality!  Paddling south through Rainy Lake, visited with Charlie Bergstedt, who took me in on his island to avoid a quick approaching thunderstorm and intense winds just before dark.  Slept on his red, white and blue, homemade houseboat.  Thanks Charlie!


6/13/09     Day 53      Voyageurs National Park     55-75 o F     NW Winds 5-15 mph     Sunny

Visited Rainy Lake Visitor Center of Voyageurs National Park.  Paddled southeast through Black Bay and up the Kabatogama River, over Gold Portage and onto beautiful Kabatogama Lake.  Camped at dark.  Made 12 miles.


6/14/09     Day 54     Kabatogama Lake     65-90 o F     Hot/Sunny     W Winds 5 mph

Beautiful country, but the park is managed for motorboats, not canoeists.  Passed over 100 large motorboats while paddling through this lake, eating the wake from each boat.  Never saw another canoe on the water.  Made 14 miles.


6/15/09     Day 55     Ash River Visitor Center      65-90 o F     Hot/Sunny  W Winds 5 mph

Passed another 100 large motorboats and huge houseboats.  A few fishermen/women are very nice, respectful or even inquisitive to a bark canoeist, however, many are indifferent and/or rude.  Noise from motorboats and floatplanes non-stop.  I am thankful that the shoreline has been protected from development.  Ash River Visitor Center a very well-restored old lodge, worth visiting.  Camped at first unoccupied campsite I saw in three days in the park, at Namakan Island.  Made 6 miles.


6/16/09     Day 56     Namakan Lake     70-90 o F     Hot/Sunny/Calm

Up very early to eagle chirping.  Made 5 miles in morning before a thunderstorm forced me off the water.  Rained hard all afternoon.  Slept on a pine needle bed under big white pines (a relief from chronic hip and back pain from sleeping on the hard ground all spring/summer).


6/17/09     Day 57     Sand Point Lake     60-85 o F     Hot/Sunny     S Winds 10-15 mph

On water by 6 a.m.  Crossed largest section of Namakan Lake during early morning calm.  Passed through Namakan Narrows and nearly swamped by a park ranger’s motorboat wake (too fast, too close).  Camped on beautiful Stoneburner Island on Sand Point Lake, a dinasour-looking humpback island of bedrock, with an active eagle nest very close by.  Finished re-reading ‘Distant Fires’, by Scott Anderson.  Active evening of loon calls, mosquito hum, frogs chirping, and owls hooting.  Made 12 miles.


6/18/09     Day 58       Crane Lake     65-90 o F     Hot/Sunny     S Winds 5-20 mph

Paddled through Harrison Narrows and King Williams Narrows, a water metropolis of fishing boats, houseboats and floatplanes.  Made Crane Lake by mid-day.  Camped at mouth of Vermilion River at the site of the old 1790’s trading post known as Barrasse’s Post, at the suggestion of long-time local guide (and birch bark canoe builder) Butch Egan.  While paddling up the mouth of the Vermillion River, dozens of northerns (fish) escorted me along through the reeds and lily pads, surfacing and playing all around and in front of me, leading the canoe as dolphins lead a fishing vessel on the ocean, while nearby were many fishermen/women in large motorized fishing boats, trolling or anchored and casting, and not catching much at all.  Made 14 miles.  


6/19/09     Day 59     Vermilion Gorge     55-85 o F     Rain/Clearing/Thunderstorm      NW Winds 5-15 mph

Rained heavy all night and morning.  Hiked Vermilion River Gorge Trail with friends Rachael and Jonas.  Met Dawn at Voyagaire Lodge.  Camped at Echo Lake.     Made 3 miles.

6/20-24/09     Days 60-64     Layover at Crane Lake     65-90 o F    Calm/Thunderstorms 

Resupplied with final foodpack.  Attended Bois Forte Traditional Powwow and camped at Lake Vermilion.  Updated online journal.  Picked up BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) Wilderness Permit and repitched canoe.  


6/25/09     Day 65     Departure from Crane Lake

Headed out on final leg of Arrowhead Journey!  Kitigan and I are both healthy and in great spirits.  The challenges now include surviving the summer heat and the many upcoming portages.  I so look forward to this section of the trip through the canoe country wilderness.  Home Stretch!  I will continue to travel safely and respectfully.  “Thank You” to all of you who have supported or helped me thus far.  Allez! Maajaa! (Let’s Go!)

Travelled 700 miles to date.  Still 46 portages and 300 miles to go!



  1. My brother Brent In International Falls keyed me into another media hit of Erik on his Rainy-Kab trip. It is at the Daily Journal at the link below
    Nice picture

  2. Erik, I stopped in at Voyager Lodge on Crane Lake Sunday June 20th to see if you were nearyby. I spoke with the waitress who met you and she showed us some pictures she had taken. She said you had already left so I figured you had continued on your jouney. I was camped at
    Lake Jennette down the trail from Echo lake.
    Safe travels on the rest of your jouney.
    Steve & Kathy Simula

  3. Hi Erik,

    Wonderfull journey!
    Following you thanks to internet from Europe. Wish you all the best for the next leg.



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