Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Go Canoeing With the Cree

Here in Okmulgee, the leaves have almost all fallen and the geese are flying over everyday. My guess is that a taste of winter weather is right around the corner. I'm sad to say that my day job and other distractions have prevented me from getting out and enjoying the Fall color and higher river levels much. Just sneaking in a bit of sunset paddling after work is pretty tough with sunsets coming in at 5:30pm.

I did manage to get some reading in. I read Canoeing With the Cree by Eric Sevareid. This is the first actual book I have read, purely for pleasure, in years. My day job requires a great deal of reading, so I normally try to be more active in my off-time. Of course, I didn't make the big leap all the way into reading an actual work of fiction.

The story of Eric Sevareid and his friend Walter Port paddling through the great northern wilderness, way back in the 1930's, was inspiring, exciting and informative. I can see how it has managed to stay in print for so many years. Canoeing With the Cree is the non-fiction account of two recent high school graduates, novice paddlers, that planned and executed an historic 2,250 mile canoe trip from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay.

These young folks plotted the route, picked their gear and even talked a newspaper into funding this risky four month long adventure. Heck, I was impressed that they were able to talk their parents into agreeing to let them go on such a journey!

The newspaper stories that Eric Sevareid sent in about this canoe trip, not only earned him and his partner a cool $100, they also launched an impressive career in journalism. Sevareid went on to become a celebrated war correspondent and to appear in or on the CBS coverage of every presidential election from 1948 until 1976. He died in 1992, widely recognized as one of the most influential journalists of the 20th century.

Although this book will certainly make you long for your own personal canoe adventure, "Canoeing With the Cree" is also a story about growing up, facing risks and working together in the great outdoors.

Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery, and the best form of tenacity I know is expressed in a Danish fur trapper`s principle: 'The next mile is the only one a person really has to make.' - Eric Sevareid


The power of one person's story is often underestimated, an honest tale can give shape to the dreams of several generations. In 2008, two more teenage friends named Colton Witte and Sean Bloomfield recreated this historic journey in record time, you can read all about it here: Bloomitte Expedition 2008 Chaska to Hudson Bay.