“Humans have spent centuries perfecting the indoors,” notes my older son as he moves closer to the campfire. “Only for you to drag us all the way here to battle the elements.”
I know he’s only half-joking. This is the first night of our backpacking trip at Pukaskwa. We’ve just spent half a day hiking in the pouring rain, at times through ankle deep water and a good portion of the trail over slippery rocks. So I can see why our kids are not particularly excited about the whole endeavour. And while our younger son simmers quietly by the fire waiting for food, the older one launches into one of his philosophical arguments.
Once we get some chili into them and dry clothes on them, the mood improves considerably. But I can still feel spoken and unspoken doubts floating around under our green tarp, getting trapped in the criss-cross of clothing lines that spot everything from t-shirts to socks to underwear, wrapped in a dense coat of smoke courtesy of wet firewood. Eventually, we pack our edible stuff into the food locker and retreat into our tents. Maybe not the type of indoors our older son had in mind, but the best shelter for this particular moment. As I fall asleep to the fading beat of raindrops against the nylon, I start wondering what we are searching for on the wildest of Lake Superior’s shores.
We drive around another bend on Highway 17 and my heart cracks open: framed by the green hills, a canvas of the brightest blue stretches all the way to the horizon until it merges with the sky. This is not our first trip to Lake Superior, yet every time we come here, its power strikes me in new, unexpected ways. Every time I feel my brain, my eyes, my heart are too ill-equipped to embrace the immense beauty of Gi chi Gamiing. Everything is exaggerated here: dramatic views, overwhelming rage, fiery sunsets, deep calm painted in cotton candy colours, sudden mood swings. More than anything, Lake Superior is a study in extremes.
Lake Superior is a study in extremes: the rage, the calm, the immense beauty – everything is exaggerated here.Continue reading →
2018 had a lot going for it. It started with a magnificent sunrise from a hill-top cabin in Quebec. We travelled to California to spend time with my brother and his family. We visited many new parks, finally making it to Yosemite and Sequoia, and new cities, like San Francisco. We got to explore familiar places and see different sides of them. My essay about gardening appeared in The Globe and Mail connecting me with fellow gardeners and yielding a free bag of compost.
I grip the handles of my seat as the plane leaves the tarmac of Thunder Bay International Airport. Not that I am afraid of flying; just prefer to remain on the ground. That little niggle at the pit of my stomach is forgotten as soon as the frozen expanse of Lake Superior comes into view. The white is interrupted by the dark blue waters, smooth and serene from up here. Glued to the window, I glimpse the head and chest of Sleeping Giant, just as majestic from the air as he is from the ground. The plane dives into the cloud before I manage to say good-bye.
It is the season to tally up accomplishments over the past year and make plans for the next one. Our New Year resolutions are usually summed up with “camp as much possible, visit as many new places as possible, try as many new things as possible.” Putting together a list of 2015 best camping moments is a slightly more difficult task since there were so many of them. Nonetheless, here is my attempt to narrow the list to our 10 favourite camping memories of 2015 (in no particular order).
What do dinosaurs and volcanoes have to do with World War II and how is any of these things connected to Neys Provincial Park? Read on to find out!
Neys Provincial Park is located on the northern shore of Lake Superior not far from a small town of Marathon. It is considerably smaller and less famous than the other Lake Superior parks, like the nearby Pukaskwa, Sleeping Giant or Lake Superior Provincial Park itself, but it is in no way less beautiful or less exciting than its more well-known neighbours. We made Neys one of the pit stops on our return trip from Quetico and in the end we regretted not being able to stay longer to explore everything the park had to offer.
Sleeping Giant is one of our favourite Ontario Parks. It boasts some of the highest cliffs in the province that look like a enormous lying figure, hence Sleeping Giant (although to me, it looks more like a giantess). Add lots of amazing views of Lake Superior, over 100 kilometres of hiking and biking trails, swimming and canoeing, and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities and you’ve got Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. (Read my post on Parks Blogger Ontario to learn more about Sleeping Giant and all the fun things you can do there.)
In my previous post, I wrote about the first part of our Lake Superior Circle Tour, which included a train ride through Agawa Canyon and exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. After we left the Bay Furnace campground near Pictured Rocks, we made a few stops at various waterfalls and arrived at Porcupine Mountains shortly after sunset. The Lake was unusually quiet and perfectly smooth, and the transition between water and sky was seamless, almost invisible.
Lake Superior doesn’t need introduction or promotion. Part of the Great Lakes, it is the world’s largest freshwater lake in area and third largest by volume. The Ojibway called it the Gitche Gumee, which means ‘great sea.’ And that’s exactly what it is – a great, beautiful sea.
This week is National Paddling Week in Canada so I thought I’d dedicate to this post to canoeing. I have to admit that, while I enjoy all outdoor activities, canoeing is definitely my favourite. In many ways it reflects the life itself. It teaches you to keep your balance, to work together with your partner to move in the right direction. Sometimes you have to brave the waves making sure you don’t capsize. And at times it’s about staying still, going with the flow and enjoying the world around.
So here are some of our most memorable paddling moments.