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Wilderness Tripping: Swift-Water
Sand River Valley
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Wawa, Ontario, Canada
July 4-11, 2006
Highlights from an 8-Day,
Wilderness Canoe Trip
Lake Superior Provincial Park:
Inland lakes and the Sand River
By C. A. Susan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
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This was my first wilderness canoe trip with my new
solo boat (actually used, but new to me). I had purchased it 7 weeks before
the trip and (thanks to my expert friends) had gotten it into wilderness
tripping shape in that time: cleaned up; rigged to contain my portage
packs, bailer and sponge; seat modified; bow and stern drilled for the
painters; and, last but not least, that oh-so-important portage yoke,
complete with pads, thwart bag and water bottle holders!
My 13'6" "Sandpiper" by We-no-nah
Canoes is made from Royalex--I debated the Royalex vs Kevlar/carbon question
before buying, and after portaging, paddling, lining, and tracking (and
dragging in some places) through such rugged country for 8 days, I was
happy with my choice.
We paddled through inland lakes for three days until
we hit the Sand River, then after paddling upstream 2 kilometers to stay
at a campsite with which Michael was familiar (we were ahead of schedule),
we headed down the Sand for the remaining four days.
Making a transition from sea kayaking in years past
to canoeing on this trip, I learned a lot about wilderness canoe tripping
(not to mention portaging), and had a great time! Below are some of my
favorite memories from this Canadian wilderness trip.
- The anticipation and
excitement of (finally) putting my Sandpiper into, and paddling down,
- Working on my paddling
technique throughout the trip in an effort to become more efficient.
(I still need more practice, of course.)
- The quest for the portage
trails. Checking the map and looking for the portage signs (or remnants
of signs) as we paddled through the lakes was a fun challenge--like
a treasure hunt on each lake.
- Our first night's campsite
at the far end of Picea Lake. It was fun hanging out, setting up my
modified explorer shelter and eating dinner together at our little campsite.
- The Lakes. I loved them
all. I especially love the feel of first coming onto a lake that is
wild and uninhabited.
- Old Woman Lake. Checking
out the lodge again (having been there on a winter
trip in February 2005): reviewing the log book; meeting and chatting
with the current visitors/residents...then paddling across the lake
in the early evening to...
- Our campsite on the
east shore of Old Woman Lake. I liked sitting on the flat rock at the
water's edge and watching the sun set beyond the hills of Burnt Island.
- Retracing part of our
February 2005 winter-camping trip and remembering what it was like dressed
in snow and ice.
- Setting up the Z-drag
and pulling down the big tree limbs that blocked the portage trail:
good learning, good practice, good fun.
- Bowie-knife lessons
on clearing out the overgrown portage trail were too fun!
- Finally getting to see
and camp on Hardtime Lake. I had seen it on the map and thought I definitely
wanted a chance to visit a lake named "Hardtime." (Such a
great name--wish I knew how it came about.)
- Seeing the moose swim
across Hardtime Lake in the evening and trying to catch up to it to
get a closer view (yes!) and maybe a picture (no chance). Eating dinner
by the lake. The evening paddle up the lake narrows with Mary. The fog
on the lake the next morning.
- The Sand River! Worth
all the long, hard portages to get to it!
- Hanging out on the flat
rocks at our first eve's campsite on the river: eating dinner, taking
pictures of Mary reading and of Michael fishing for brook trout from
his canoe, and watching the moon rise over the trees.
- Wildflowers, wildflowers,
and more wildflowers
. (the list is long, including pitcher plant
and sundew, to name a couple).
- Following the shapes
of the lakes and the twists and turns of the river on the map (when
my attention wasn't occupied by other things while underway, like maneuvering
with that single bladed paddle!).
- Calwin Falls, and getting
our tarps up just before the rain started--yea! Eating dinner together
under the tarp; talking after dinner.
- While not exactly a
"highlight," or a "favorite," hunkering down in
the woods to wait out the 3-hour thunderstorm was certainly memorable!
- The "twin chutes"
of Lady Evelyn Falls, from above, from below, really cool from all angles.
- Our campsite below Lady
Evelyn Falls. (Have you figured out that I love every campsite we stay
at? Even if I don't love it at first, I become attached to it through
the evening and overnight--every time. I think it is the living in it:
choosing my tarp site, setting up, cooking and eating dinner, sharing
conversation with my campmates, scouting the area for a suitable tree
limb on which to hang my food rope, not to mention the fun of getting
the rope over the limb, often after multiple attempts.:) Mary's fire
on her elevated fire pan was awesome. Getting dry after being soaked
felt sooo good. Sawing firewood--I always like to do it. How did Thoreau
say it? "They warmed me twice, once while I was splitting them,
and again when they were on the fire."
- Playing in all the rapids
up and down the Sand River. From bumping through low water, to running
those rapids we could, to practicing forward ferries, backward ferries,
and eddy ins and outs! Fun, fun, fun. (With occasional frustration due
to inexperience: missing an eddy, banging into a rock I had seen and
hoped to avoid, etc.)
- Our final night's camp--always
bittersweet to have to leave the next day. Lying in the sun, hanging
out on the rocks, bathing in the open air, being mesmerized by the whitewater
flowing over and through the rocks, dinner together at our campsite.
Nightfall by the river.
- Throughout the trip, all the
sights and sounds and smells of the water
All of it makes me look forward to doing it again
View author's photo
album from this trip
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wilderness lies the hope of the world,
the great, fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness.
John Muir 1838-1914, Alaska Wilderness, 1890
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