After thanking Dave and his crew of guides for putting me up and saying our goodbyes, I was finally back underway again, entering into Lake Superior Provincial Park. Todays paddle took me past more towering cliffs, scenic protected coves, beaches with turquoise coloured water, some nice cobblestone beaches, a little bit of everything. Camp tonight was on a protected little beach at Brule Harbour with a great view of some cliffs I would be paddling past early on during tomorrows paddle. Rice & veggies along with tuna for supper rounded out the day. Felt great to be underway again.
The next day brought more great weather and mainly calm conditions out on the big lake. I cut directly across Old Woman Bay and past some impressive cliffs, partially obscured by the morning fog. The area around Cape Gargantua was especially spectacular with beautiful rocky islands, rugged cliffs along the lakeshore and plenty of cobblestone beaches. Tonight’s camp was on Devil’s Warehouse Island, setting up camp on a beach of small stones before starting up a nice campfire and relaxing as darkness took over and the stars gradually filled the sky. Yeah, this is pretty good! This was followed up the next day with more beautiful scenery, long, pristine beaches and epic scenery all around. Camped out tonight on a sandy beach running between the main shore of the lake and a tiny, rocky island. As it turned out, this would be my campsite for the next night as well as the lake started acting up overnight and the wind and waves were shall we say “Ridiculous looking” the next morning! It looked as though I’d be spending a 3rd day here as well but, fortunately, the winds started easing up late in the afternoon and the lake settled down enough for me venture back out on the lake for a short paddle of maybe 2 hours before landing & setting up camp in Sinclair Cove, arriving just before dark. It wasn’t much but it was better than nothing.
Once underway again the following morning, I paddled out of the cove and made my way the nearby site of the Agawa Rock Pictographs, an aboriginal site of rock drawings on a cliff along the shores of the lake. The site of these pictographs in the early morning was a perfect way to start the day. It certainly made me feel very small and insignificant. Sitting in my canoe at the base of these cliffs, gazing out at these ancient pictographs under a clear, crisp morning sky with the gentle swells of Superior rolling underneath the kevlar hull of my tiny craft. After taking several photographs I reluctantly paddled off, heading in to Agawa Bay and the visitor centre there at the campground. Here, I checked out some of the interactive displays inside and looked over some of the many fine exhibits before making a couple phone calls to friends and family. While here I made arrangements with a good friend, Linda, back in British Columbia to have a new tent sent out to my next food drop, up in Cache Bay Ontario on Lake Nippissing. It will be good to finally replace my current tent, one that has given me nothing but problems since the start. With fall approaching with it’s longer nights and colder temperatures, a new tent that does not leak will be a huge plus for the remainder of my trip. I ended the day camped out on a beach of small cobblestones at Mica Bay, setting up the tent just a short distance from the Tran Canada Highway.
While paddling the next afternoon I met a sea kayaker from Sault Ste. Marie, Rob paddling his beautiful cedarstrip Redfish kayak. What a beautiful piece of w ork this kayak was! I ended up camping alongside Rob and his wife Vicki and their good friends Glen & Janice. A great meal followed by dessert and then coffee with Bailey’s ended a really good day. The campsite at Pancake Bay Provincial Park was surprisingly full considering it was already September the 9th.
On Friday morning, I was late getting underway but as not overly concerned about that. I only had a relatively short paddle for today. One of the backpackers, Jean, whom Id met back in Pukaskwa National Park had invited me to spend the night at their house when I arrived in Sand Bay, near the eastern end of Lake Superior. This was only about a 30 to 35 kilometres paddle away and would not be a big deal. Getting there, I did an open water crossing of about 8 or 9 kilometers across Batchawana Bay, angling up along the far shoreline towards Sand Bay. The crossing went well and the view was beautiful.
Soon, drawing near to Sand Bay, I stopped for a short lunch break and to double check the map Jean had drawn for me on how to find her house. Well…it was meant to be a short break! Just as I was finishing my lunch I met Ray who lived in one of the houses along the beach I’d stopped at. Actually this entire section was quite built up with houses. I’d stopped where I had because I saw a tandem sea kayak sitting on one section of beach and figured….”Ahhh…kayakers! I’m sure they will not mind me having a lunch break on their beach!” Anyways, Ray was the son-in-law of the people next door who owned the kayak. He invited me in for some refreshments and I accepted. We all ended up talking for a couple of hours, Ray, his wife and their kids as well as the people Ray’s wife’s parents from next door. Getting close to dark by now, I got back on the water, completing my paddle to Sand Bay in the dark, guided into Jean’s house by the flashlight she was waving in her backyard. Luckily for me I had thought to call her just before leaving Ray’s place, letting her know where I was and when to expect me.
My timing was great! After coming inside I was offered a cold beer and we then watched the remainder of the Gold Medal hockey game at the World Cup of Hockey, a game between Canada and Finland. Canada went on for the win and it was great to be able to watch it live on TV over a couple of cold drinks. Like I said, the timing was perfect! A short while later we all jumped in the hot tub for a relaxing soak. Nothing like sitting in the hot tub, having a drink with some good people and looking out over Lake Superior on a beautiful night. On my way here, I also witnessed one of the nicest sunsets of the entire year. Yeah, not a bad day at all I’d say!
Heading out around noon the next day, I was starting my last full day on Lake Superior and was somewhat sad about having to leave the big lake behind. At the same time however, I was also looking forward to the lakes and rivers that are still to come. The St. Mary’s River, Lake Huron along the North Channel and Georgian Bay, the French River, Lake Nippissing, the Mattawa River, The Ottawa River…still so much to see!
My plan today was to simply get down to the end of the lake, or as close as I could and still be able to find a place to camp. This would set me up for going through the Lochs the next morning and through Sault Ste. Marie & onto the St. Mary’s River. I had not counted on a major thunder and lightning storm though. Made for some interesting paddling as I rounded Gros Cap with increasing winds, flashes of lightning and the booming sound of thunder all around me. Not to mention the torrential rains! I ended up camping along a section of sandy beach on the outskirts of the city, setting up camp just before dusk during a bit of a lull in the rains. A short while later, I was watching lightning flashes behind me, on the Canadian side of the lake. A couple kilometres away, in Michigan, there were also flashes in the sky. These however were not lightning flashes but fireworks in rememberance of the Sept. 11th incident of 2001.
So that is it for my adventures upon Lake Superior, the largest lake in the world and the highlight of my entire trip thus far. Tomorrow I’ll be going through the man-made locks at the Sault and entering into the St. Mary’s river which will then take me to Lake Huron over the next couple of days. But that is for the next report.