What fun to hear from you. Thanks for the comments and questions. You can find many of them by scrolling to the bottom of the screen. Read what folks connected with in my first salvo in blogville. Here’s the next installment, warts and all. First though, my friend, Bob Bovee of Bovee&Heil sent on this lovely paddling scene that, ukey as it is, strikes a chord with me. Some readers asked about paddling along. I’m all for it and I’ll you keep current on launch dates and where you can find me on the river throughout the trip. Several folks commented that the route I’ve chosen requires paddling upstream on the St. Croix. River. Point taken. I’ve since consulted several hydrologists that think we may, with the Army Corps of Engineers help, be able to reverse the flow for those first two weeks in May thus making that part of the trip far easier.
So, what does Lois have in common with the Native Americans, traders, and explorers noted in the last posting? They’ve all walked the portage between the Bois Brule and Upper St. Croix Lake. This roughly two mile overland path connects these two amazing water highways and is the reason that so many travelers have made that same trek over the centuries. No portage – no link for these two rivers – between Lake Superior and the Mississippi – the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, there are plenty of other water and land routes all well used by early travelers, but, this one is a dandy. Lois and I include a stop and walk along the portage on a cold Valentine Day’s road-trip in 2009. A cozy B&B, Fo’c’sle Inn in the harbor of Cornucopia, WI was our final destination but we visited the National Park Headquarters in St. Croix Falls, which oversees the Scenic Riverways, the portage near Solon Springs WI, several bridges along the Brule, and the mouth of the Brule River on Lake Superior. And speaking of food (oh, wasn’t I), we were bummed to miss the famed donut Festival in Port Wing by one weekend. We did however, feast on local fish at the Village Inn just outside Cornucopia but stopped short of ordering the whitefish livers.
The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution had the foresight to claim the portage between the Brule and St. Croix as national, sacred ground back in the 1933. Without that, it may have been forgotten or sold off for cabins as the portage itself became a relic of an earlier means to get around. The DAR got this one right – in – the parlance of their times. To find the portage, check your Wisconsin road atlas or mapquest Solon Springs WI. You’ll find the signage at the boat landing at the north end of Upper St. Croix Lake. Here’s a few shots we took along the way in on that lovely winter afternoon.
Along the portage you find markers for Du Luth, Schoolcraft, Cadotte, and others who traveled the same path.
As you near the end of the portage, there’s signage for the headwaters and for the trail system maintained by the North Country Trail Association . I was told the trails can be confusing with summer growth.
Caution! It gets a little heart-felt and touchy-feelie here for a bit.
Hallowed ground.? I believe it is. Portage – Portal – a Mid-Western wormhole across time and space. The ground is firm underfoot, frozen in fact, but time is less so. Picture Native American bands, following the north country seasons for trade and for sustenance, re-uniting with relatives around births, deaths, and celebrations. Wide-eyed explorers are about to take their first harrowing ride down the Brule’s canoe-wrecking rapids. Voyageurs are trotting along the worn path straining beneath the wealth of furs and trade goods. The conversations are in the Anishinaabe and Sioux tongue, in French, in English – jokes, curses, gossip. Now Lois and I, decked out in gore-tex and sorrels and talking of another, warmer stroll perhaps in the year ahead, this time with a canoe on my shoulders.
Now, thanks for the return visit. Let me know what you know and if you’ve been to this portage and made the trek yourself? Send me your comments, pictures, stories, whatever ya’ got.
Check out this link to a great .pdf for more on the portage, the Bois Brule and other Wisconsin rivers you may want to paddle. Explore Wisconsin Rivers More trail information from the local hiking chapter North Country Trail Association Map and Description Also, if you love the St. Croix River or want to find events and people who connect about the river on facebook? Here’s a must facebook link: St. Croix River public Facebook site On that same site, see my friend Gabe’s October muskie – 46″ plus – caught on a fly and quickly released somewhere? north of Maine on the St. Croix. St. Croix Muskie
…for something completely different. Okay, follow me. Here’s the connection. I’m thinking May, I’m thinking Lake Superior, cold water, and like, where else do they have cold water, oh yeah, Alaska, and where in Alaska have I been that by its very nature shouts out, “watch out, don’t do anything stupid in really cold, cold water.” Here we are in Cordova, Alaska where the Copper River undercuts the Childs Glacier. Sure it’s not a canoe, it’s a surfboard, but it is a craft of sorts. Okay, there’s no connection to Paddlin’ Madeline but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. Moms and Dads – caution – the s**t word is uttered by the camera man. Now, this surfer guy is one cool dude. Couldn’t they have found a part for him in The Big Lebowski?