The Rains of Gogebic

Written by Iona in Ironwood.

Since our departure from the Lac Vieux Desert Indian Reservation on Wednesday afternoon, the weather hasn’t treated us entirely kindly, though perhaps we should be grateful for the respite from the oppressive heat that we have been dealing with for much of the trip. However, the rainstorm that met us on Wednesday night and Thursday morning did cause some obstacles. Most significantly for me, an imperfect installation of our rain fly led to a leak in the tent that submerged my phone and could have made it permanently inoperable. But I am happy to say today that after a treatment of a day’s isolation among rice in a sealed bag (good thing we hadn’t yet eaten all of it!), the device appears to have been saved. Besides that, we arrived in Wakefield soaking wet, but had the chance to change clothes, rest, and utilize internet at a friendly café called Ma’s Place. Furthermore, supportive connections for the past two nights (Tom of, and Bean & Pan of chance encounter by the Wakefield library) gave us shelter from the elements that we are quite grateful for.


In search of our host’s house on Thursday evening.

Our canvassing for the past four days has been varied. One new experience has been ski resorts; Line 5 passes through three of them in Western Gogebic County, two of which we visited on Friday. Neither one had much going on during the off season, but at the first of these (Indianhead Mountain), we were able to hand off a few pamphlets to an employee at their office. Like always, we encountered people both supportive of our message and those critical of it. In the latter category, we spoke yesterday with a man who had an overall very negative impression of “tree huggers” and who felt that asking for Line 5 to be shut down to be too extreme of an ask, though he agreed with many of the safety concerns that we expressed. In our longer conversation with him, we touched on our fears that the risks posed by the pipeline to the Great Lakes are quite extreme, as well as our hopes for a world where our dependence on fossil fuels is significantly curtailed. Though there were deep philosophical differences between us, it was great for this chance to speak with him and to understand where he’s coming from, sharing our own message in the process. On the other hand, we met people in this area very sympathetic to our trip’s goals. In my opinion, some of our best interactions might be not only with the people whom we canvass (who usually have some familiarity with Enbridge, receiving PR materials from them regularly), but with the people whom we encounter by chance off the route, such as the elderly party in the café today who weren’t previously aware of Line 5. I was happy that we have enough extra literature these days to pass on to people like them, which they read and promised to share, before wishing us luck on the remainder of our trip.


Admiring the view from a ski slope on Friday afternoon.

By the way, the main reason we came to Steep Creek Café today was to utilize their WiFi for participating in a virtual panel that took place at Power Shift 2016: Midwest, in Detroit. This is one of several regional yearly conferences bringing together youth organizers to organize for climate justice, against fossil fuels and for renewable energy. Chalk and I were represented on a panel on “pipeline journeys,” together with organizers from Love Water Not Oil (a canoe and horseback journey along the proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 pipelines) and Sacred Water Sacred Land (a walk along Line 66). These other pipelines are also all the work of Enbridge, and speaking at this panel allowed me to better understand our own trip in the context of the broader campaign against this corporation, and by extension, against fossil fuel infrastructure overall. And in eight days, we will join these other travelers in a final joint “End of the Line” event in Duluth, with live music and food to celebrate our ongoing collective resistance.  We hope you can join us there, and otherwise, until our next blog post! 🙂


Preparing to virtually participate in Powershift 2016: Midwest, in Detroit, on Saturday morning.