Michipicoten River & Naturally Superior Adventures

Saturday Aug 28 – Friday Sept. 3, 2004

When I arrived here at Naturally Superior Adventures, the sea kayaking/canoeing outfitters in Michipicoten River, near Wawa, I’d only intended to drop by for a few minutes, maybe an hour or so to talk to some of the guides and so on. After talking to the owner Dave Wells however, I decided to just kick back and take Dave up on his offer to set up my tent on their beach, hang around the lodge for a few days and just relax. Plus the offer of some good food up at the lodge was too much to say no to!

After setting up camp I went off to the lodge where the chef, Vince, served up helping after helping of delicious lasagna. While talking, Vince told me of his plans to paddle from Rocky Mountain House Alberta to Montreal in his Necky Looksha IV sea kayak. This evening, after another great meal at the lode, Vince and I headed into Wawa for a couple beer and some chicken wings at the local pub. These were the first wings I’d had since leaving Kamloops BC and did they ever hit the spot. Actually, the beer was not half bad either! All in all, it was a pretty relaxing day and I enjoyed hanging out, getting to know some of the guides. Back in my tent tonight, I slept great and was looking forward to another relaxing day tomorrow.
The weather was perfect again the next day, warm, sunny and calm seas. Would have been a perfect day for putting in some big distance. Instead though, I hung out up at the lodge and talked to the guides instead. After lunch, Vince loaned me his Necky sea kayak and I went out for a day paddle with Jean and Laura, two of the guides. Felt great to be in a sea kayak again and I really enjoyed the conversation as we paddled.

After supper, Vince and I went out for a paddle for a paddle up the Michipicoten “River to check out the site of the old Hudson’s Bay fur trade post. Next we headed further upriver to the waterfall where the Magpie river comes tumbling down into the calm waters below. Back at the outfitter’s beach, I spotted Vince as he practised a few rolls in his Necky kayak before we pulled our boats out of the water just before dark.

Back in the lodge for a snack before bedtime, Dave Wells (the owner) and Conor, a guide from Caribou Expeditions in Sault Ste. Marie arrived back at about 10:30 PM, having headed out yesterday just after I arrived. In tow, they had brought back the shattered remains of the kayak that the two Russian paddlers had rented from them for their ill fated trip that I talked about in my last update. Well, Dave and Conor looked exhausted. I guess it was quite a job towing that broken hull back behind them. Dave had been paddling a Seaward Quest and Conor was paddling his Nigel Dennis Greenlander Pro, a very beautiful British sea kayak. He was also using a greenland paddle and from what I’d been hearing the last couple of days, Conor is a very skilled paddler!

On Monday, I was debating whether to head out on my way or to backtrack a ways and check out Dennison Falls on the Dog River. I’d passed on the short paddle up the Dog River last week and the 2 kilometer hike through the bush to the falls. Everyone at the outfitters however had been convincing me that I should take the time to go back & check it out. Eventually I decided I would backtrack and go see the falls. by now though it was late enough that I would put it off until tomorrow. It worked out well this way too as a guest and friend of Dave’s showed up this afternoon and put on a slide show tonight on a recent canoe trip down the White River back in Pukaskwa National Park. It was a good presentation and was enjoyed by everyone present. Dave followed this up with a slide show of his own on Lake Superior and added his very knowledgeable commentary on the area, also touching on some local environmental issues concerning the lake.  The slide show double bill left me pretty excited about my trip back to check out Dennison Falls and the Dog River.

Tuesday morning came around and, rather than making an early start, I had a good breakfast at the lodge and then made a few phone calls before packing up to begin the paddle back towards the Dog River. On my way to Michipicoten River a few days back, I’d stopped at a beautiful sandy beach/ campsite at McCoy Harbour. At the time I thought that if I was ever back in this area, I’d be sure to camp here. It was that nice. Well, at the time I did not expect to be back quite THIS SOON. I ended up camping here anyways tonight, only about 7 kilometers from the mouth of the Dog River. I had a great night in camp, having supper on the rocks next to the beach while watching a great sunset. The next morning, I knocked off the 7 kilometers to the Dog River, paddled upriver as far as you can get. From here I did the 2 kilometer hike up to the waterfall. Well, these falls were great, certainly worth coming back for. The view from the base of the falls was spectacular. After scrambling up the cliff along the falls, the view from the top was also impressive. I set up camp tonight on the cobblestone beach at the mouth of the river, setting up camp early and then doing a short paddle back up to False Dog Harbour, detouring into Dog Harbour on the way back and then relaxing in camp until just past sunset when I retired for the night inside my tent.

The return paddle back to Naturally Superior Adventures the next day went well, paddling with a moderate wind and seas of 4 to 6 feet for most of the way back. After setting up camp again, I relaxed up in the lodge before having supper with the guides. Ice cream for dessert followed by sitting down and reading a good book in the lodge while looking out over Lake Superior through the large windows of the lodge. I’m glad that I decided to hang out here for the last week, it was time well spent and I had a great time getting to know Dave and the guides. Tomorrow though, it will be time to once again be on my way.

I was up early the next morning, having a hot shower and a shave before breakfast. Soon it was time to break camp, load up the Clipper canoe and then start saying my goodbyes to the folks here at Naturally Superior. For anybody reading this and interested in a sea kayaking experience on the pristine waters of Lake Superior, I can highly recommend Dave Wells and his very friendly and professional staff. They’ll take good care of you and you’ll have a great time. Of all the paddling outfitters I’ve seen over the years, these guys are right up there at the top of the pile. Great people and a truly world class paddling location. Check them out!

My next update will cover the section from Michipicoten River to Sault Ste. Marie where I leave Lake Superior behind and enter the St. Mary’s River en route to Lake Huron.

Cheers…Joe O’Blenis