Hello/Hyvaa Paivaa/Boozhoo:

I greet you in English, Finnish, and Ojibwe/Anishinaabe, three intriguing languages and cultures which have influenced my life and upcoming Arrowhead Journey.  This is no ordinary canoe trip: it’s a special one.  I’m paddling my canoe to see my daughter, Anna, graduate high school.  I’m not out to set any record.  I’m celebrating life in my own way, a way which other people tell me they value, therefore, I will share parts of my journal.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, 2009, at noon, from Grand Portage State Park, I will begin my journey on snowshoes, with my sled dog, Kitigan, in harness helping me pull my canoe and outfit on a toboggan for about two miles down the still-frozen Pigeon River to Lake Superior.  When we hit open water, I will paddle around Pigeon Point and south to Duluth along the Shore. Portaging up the Grand Portage of the St.Louis River, I will follow the Old Northwest Trail over the Savanna Portage to the Mississippi River, and upstream to Anna’s graduation in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  On my return trip I will continue upriver to Lake Winnibigoshish, portage to Bowstring Lake, and paddle the Bigfork River downstream to the Border.  Turning east, I will follow the Border through International Falls, Voyageur’s National Park, Quetico Provincial Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), and down the Pigeon River’s Grand Portage, arriving back at Lake Superior on August 7th, 2009, for the annual rendezvous and pow-wow at Grand Portage.  It’s a long journey (1,000 miles), with big water, and dangerous river currents: I’ll use my skills to survive!  And, beautiful country, my homeland: I’ll use my camera and journal to share it with you!  

My outfit will consist of my hand-made, 45-pound, 14-foot birchbark canoe with canvas and birchbark cover, my two-year-old female dog named Kitigan with dog pack and harness, a food pack (food, dogfood, teapot and water filter), a camp pack (tent, bedding, clothes), a guide pack (daypack), a fishing pole, two paddles (ash, maple), and pitch pot (for resealing canoe seams).  My diet will not change from what I normally eat year-round: oatmeal, granola, berries, coffee, tea, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, bread, wild rice, dried vegetables, fish, and chocolate.  I plan to fish and eat fish nearly everyday.  I’ll double-pack, double-carry every portage, the longer ones in 1/2-mile poses.  I’ll navigate by instinct, map, and compass if needed.  For communication I’ll simply wait until I get to a village with a pay phone, knowing I will go long stretches without modern communications.  I’ll resupply food from prearranged caches when I go through Duluth, Grand Rapids and International Falls.

My pace will be comfortable, working with the weather and resting when it’s too rough to travel.  I will be cautious, respectful, and safe.  I intend to stop and visit friends and family along the way, and seek out my favorite “listening points” as well as explore a few other places which have been calling me (like Giijiikiikii and Lake of the Clouds).  I’ve dreamt of this journey for ten years.  Now, it’s time I follow my dream!



  1. Hello Mr. Simula,

    We met briefly at Nelson’s resort, when you were resting and writing post cards. We talked about your journey, and my son and I asked about the construction of your canoe. Good luck, safe travels, and good on ya!

    B.J. Kroppe
    Wyomissing, PA

  2. talk to you at Big falls mn at the big fork river . and got you coffee in the morning. so very nice to talk to you .

  3. Hi Erik,

    A friend who attended a talk you gave last winter heard about the trip and that it was in honor of Scott. She told us about it, but we didn’t hear more until reading about you in the Duluth paper about your travels through here a day ago. Sam Cook filled us in. Sure wish we would have known, we’d have loved to put you up overnight and hear your story. We’ll follow your progress and if lucky, maybe we can connect with you at some point and share some “granola!” What an exciting trip–Scott would definitely approve!! We wish you the very best!!

    Paul and Carol Anderson

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