Angle to Key West: East Savanna River (9/7)


East Savanna River near Floodwood, MN – September 7, 2012

The East Savanna River is nothing more than a tongue of black water no wider than my boat is long. It barely moves, just stands still and dark, mirroring the trees hanging over it. I hesitate just outside the mouth and stare.

Somewhere deep down that black tongue is the portage to the Mississippi. I don’t know how long it is anymore. Some say six miles, some twelve. It doesn’t really matter because I have to get there first and the water’s low.

I try to tell myself there has to be way, that the voyageurs used this route, but I know that doesn’t mean much two-hundred years later. The voyageurs are all dead and they hated this portage more than any of them.

I stare and wonder if this is where I will fail. If this whole scheme will unravel here, on a still pool of a river that does not reach far enough.

The river could bottom out and disappear into mud, fork and braid away into a swamp, choke to nothing under a hundred deadfalls. I have no idea. I only know that I’ve never met anyone whose done the Savanna Portage. I’ve never even met someone who has heard of someone doing it.

No one goes back there.

It’s beautiful, in a way, staring at that water and not knowing. It’s the most exciting and terrifying thing there is, the unknown.

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