“A foreboding settled over the members of La Salle: Expedition II as their canoes moved under the Mackinac Bridge and into Lake Michigan. The teenage boys and their young leaders moved from island to island over open waters, exposed to unpredictable winds and swells. Danger was a constant companion; November was the deadliest month for lake travelers and on Saturday, October 23, 1977, the water was already near freezing.” - C.P. Howard
In Hard Rivers, author Craig P. Howard recounts the harrowing journey of La Salle: Expedition II, a reenactment of the 1681–82 voyage of La Salle from Montreal to the Gulf of Mexico. The crew, made up of sixteen teenage boys and seven adults led by one charismatic teacher, set out on August 11, 1976, from Canada and arrived on April 9, 1977, at the Gulf, 3,300 miles later. Lake Michigan and Midwest rivers froze solid in record cold, forcing the teens to march 500 miles, first from Chicago to St. Joseph, Michigan and then across Indiana and Illinois. Despite temperatures of twenty-seven below and wind chills of seventy-eight below, near fatalities outside Green Bay, and a truck accident in Indiana that hospitalized four, they achieved something that had never been done before and will never be done again.