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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


BirchBark canoes
Thursday, August 06, 2009


What a whirlwind few days! On Monday I went paddling in Wisconsin's North Lakes with Hailey Thompson and her mother Jean. They are an inspiring family who love being outside and canoeing, but find time to be kind, generous and environmentally conscious. We paddled on 3 of their favourite lakes, portaging between them. It's a really pretty area with clear water, sandy beaches, lush trees and the occasional loon. Hailey confessed to actually ENJOYING portages because it makes her appreciate paddling on the next lake much more when she gets there. Her and her mum were enjoying escaping to the area where they both learnt to paddle as they've had a busy summer traveling around America and Canada while Hailey competes in canoe slalom competitions. This will probably be their only chance to paddle here this Summer as the whole family is preparing to go to the World Championships canoe slalom competition in Europe in a few weeks time where Hailey will be competing in the US senior team. So much talent and such a nice girl too.

Early on Tuesday I drove north to Grand Marais, near Grand Portage to meet up with Erik Simula, who is nearing completion of a 1000 mile journey by birchbark canoe around the Minnesota arrowhead. Accompanied only by his dog Kittigan, Erik has taken 102 days so far on this impressive journey which links up many traditional paddling and portaging routes. I filmed him on his last paddling leg down part of the Pigeon River, portaging down the impressive Partridge Falls and then on to Fort Charlotte. He took his canoe off the water at Fort Charlotte for the last time and all that stands between him and completion of his adventure is a 9 mile portage down to Grand Portage. He plans to arrive on Friday in time for the annual rendezvous at Grand Portage on Friday. Thank you very much to Quinn and Bob McCloughan of Bearskin Lodge who made it possible for me to film Erik. Quinn came with me to meet Erik and provided a tandem canoe and paddle so I could travel down the river with Erik and film him. He stayed overnight with us by Partridge Falls and was a great sport, powering the canoe right, left, back and forwards as I asked him to for filming! I spent last night at the beautiful Bearskin Lodge, which is a luxurious lodge on the Gunflint Trail, right by a great lake for watersports and in the middle of moose and bear country. It will be a shame to drag myself away!

Today I drive south to Minneapolis airport for a flight to Edmonton and tomorrow I head north to Norman Wells With Canadian North airlines for my trip down the Mountain River with Blackfeather.



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