Noodles for Breakfast - A North Shore Recap
Well....where do I even start? Last post we did was in Wawa and a lot has happened since. First, a HUGE congrats to Drew for his accomplished voyage from International Falls, Minnesota through the Boundary Waters and out of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage, MN. We can't wait to see our fourth brother again in just a few days for our biggest endeavor yet.
So we are 60 days into our trip so far and yes, it does feel like an expedition at this point. Since Wawa we have seen interesting weather, open water, food depletion, bugs, wildlife......you name it. First big endeavor and progression as paddlers was our 11 mile crossing to Michipicoten Island, the second biggest island on Lake Superior. This was the most exposure we have felt thus far along our journey. We spent two days and nights paddling around the island before returning to mainland to continue northwest. The island was spectacular and unique in every way but it was just a tease for what lied ahead.
Next was Pukaskwa National Park and this is where some of our wilder memories lie. "The Puk" is the most remote stretch of lakeshore on any of the Great Lakes where we were usually about 50 miles away from any roads or any sort of human habitation. Here, in my opinion, was some of the best scenery; from rolling, rocky hills to serpentine shaped coastline full of jagged rock outcrops and pleasant sandy beaches tucked into little coves. I could go on for days about this park (more to come in the future. We're limited by time and resources per usual.). Pukaskwa also offered another treat to us, a healthy fish community! We were finally able to get some protein via fresh trout into our diet! The weather in the Puk started out super nice and on day 2 in the park we started to see some heavy clouds over the horizon.
"What do you think we're in for?"
"Maybe some rain...." (Up until this point we were starting to believe that the so-called, gnarly weather of Lake Superior was a hoax.)
A half hour goes by and we start hearing thunder in the distance and see the system move towards us. Now we are certain we're getting hit by more than just rain. Soon the thunder and lightning gets us off the water and then, it stops. Well, that was brief..... We get back on the water and guess who's back, Mother Superior is. This time she brought her buddy - wind. Now the clouds sink down and it gets dark as night and the wind is still increasing. We are rounding a point and heading for a beach ASAP. Before we could land the wind is increasing to near gale force (40 mph) . Thunder and lightning are directly above us and we are racing for land. Before we can get to a sand beach, a squall hits us - a brief but highly intense wind storm. This wind sent Ryan and Karol behind a rock for protection and forces Jared into a cobblestone beach for landing (not ideal landing zone). Rumor has it that the wind gusts during that squall reached 60 mph. We were all safe from the weather now but the forces of a system over the lake can humble you, quickly.
The intense storm is over but it was the start of a 10(ish) day streak of rain and nonstop fog. Our clothes were soaked and not getting dry, our batteries were drained, and we still had a ways to go before our next town. We navigated onwards to Marathon and beyond to the Slate Islands all in the fog. The foggy 6 mile crossing to the Slates was slightly intense. The water was calm but the visibility was about 50 yards. We relied on GPS and compass bearing to make it, and we did! Now the Slates were incredible, let me tell ya. There are many freestanding rock outcrops, caribou, and giant spruce trees. We spent two days on the Slates and once again returned to mainland. This time we landed in Terrace Bay and got our first quality meal in quite some time at Drifters Restaurant. We made our stay brief and continued onwards. This marks the start of the Whale Tail.
As we approached Rossport we got our first views of the complex and impressive archipelago of the North Shore's outer islands. We were told we had to go to Serendipity in Rossport, and boy, we are glad we did. We made it last minute for a prime rib dinner and dessert and we cheered to our most Northern point of the entire trip. We met some more fantastic people and fell in love with this sleepy community tucked into a quaint cove due North of Marquette.
After waiting out a thunderstorm in the Serendipity we finally departed for the outer islands. We weaved islands, big and small, for 100-some miles. We hiked Mt. St. Ignace, found a few saunas, and met some local boaters. You could spend a lifetime exploring these islands due to both mass and quantity of them. For us, we explored as much as we could and saw some amazing pristine wilderness. Thank you to the First Nation and Nature Conservancy and whomever else involved in the protection of this vast archipelago.
Next we were getting to Sibley Peninsula, home of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The Giant reached 1000 feet above Lake Superior and was surrounded by 800(ish) foot cliffs. We hiked to the top and enjoyed the panoramic view from the Whale tail to the east and the massive Thunder Bay to the west. Might I add that at this point, we are very low on food. We had noodles for breakfast a few times and tortillas with watery peanut butter and cinnamon - it was like french toast, sorta, not really. After the long hike up and down we were ready to get to civilization once again. As we near Thunder Bay, separated by 15 miles of open water, a heavy southern breeze tells us we can't cross and we decide to follow the coast of the bay. After two long days paddling, we finally landed in Thunder Bay. After being deprived from quality food, it felt amazing to be reunited with a restaurant. Thanks to some friends we made along the way, we are staying on a sailboat in the marina, exploring the town and Lakehead University, enjoying live music, and continuing to learn about our mighty Lake.
So much has happened and many details I have left out due to time restrictions. More postings to come as we get improved access to modern amenities and same with the social media. Stay tuned and hopefully there weren't too many typos. Cheers!