|A Voyageur with items to trade for beaver pelts.|
An Ojibwe woman behind the birch bark canoe.
|Beavers are still plentiful in the area.|
Here is a tree one fell recently.
Just as I was getting comfortable for the show, they decided that I was actually telling the truth and stopped searching ... or, maybe they just didn't want to look through everything once realizing all I had stuffed in there ... or, maybe it was all of the national park brochures in my laptop case that tipped them off.
So, after doing a bit of re-packing, I was off to Voyageurs National Park. Besides being a wonderful park with all kinds of waterways, it's also a place full of history and adventure. Voyageurs were French Canadian traders who used birch bark canoes to transport goods for trade. Primarily they traded blankets, metal ware and tools, beads and jewelry for beaver pelts. The Voyageurs then canoed the pelts to Montreal to be shipped to Europe where beaver felt top hats were all of the rage. (If you read my blog post on the Grand Portage National Monument, this will sound similar.)
|Although I didn't see any, I'm told that|
moose are plentiful in the park.
Voyageurs NP is primarily a water-based national park. So, I took a couple of ranger-led canoe paddles. One was a reenactment, as though we were paddlers for the NW Trading Co. on a reproduction Voyageur birch bark canoe. The second was a nature paddle in a modern canoe along the shoreline.
Canoes aside, I don't think I've ever seen so many empty boat trailers in parking lots before, in my entire life. Every water access point had dozens of parked pickups with empty boat trailers. And the Saturday evening I left the park, 99% of the pickup trucks I passed on the highway were hauling a motor boat. Needless to say, boating is a major pastime here!
Although Voyageurs NP only has campsites on its islands, I found Woodenfrog State Park right on the water. It was a quiet campground, and somewhat central to the various places I wanted to visit.
What I think I'll remember most about Voyageurs, however, are the loons. Their eerie vocalizations seemed to be always around you ... some of which I'd never heard before. Their wails and yodels were especially confusing to me at first. Go to this Looney Tunes page to take a listen for yourself.
originally posted 9/10/10