[Pictures of the weekend]
Labor Day Weekend. I've been looking forward to it for quite a while: six of us heading up to Canada's Lake Superior Provincial Park to bask in the solitude and camaraderie unique to backpacking. On this trip: me, Jeff, Tom, Tammy, Javier and Jamie.
The below is paraphrased from Javier's description of the trail to our friend Jason (he didn't know I was attempting to transcribe his words as spoke!). This is illegal in 11 states.
<Mostly Javier >It turns out that not all paths are created equal.
This thing is insane in that on the eastern shore of Lake Superior there is a lot of elevation change, and they try to maximize your awareness of it as much as possible. Sometimes they have you rock climbing. Sometimes they have you climbing rock rather than walking trail. So when you're climbing you may or may not be moving forward. You're expecting from your experience with Colorado’s Rockies, Pictured Rocks, and Isle Royale, that you’ll do 1-2 miles per hour and in a full day you’ll do 9-11 miles. And here it' s just not possible. So when the ranger says it takes 4-5 days to take your planned route, you say yeah, if you're grandmas! If the Ranger hadn’t been Canadian her message would have carried more weight.
So there was a plan as we drove up. Tom got nervous about the whole thing, Javier was all gung ho. We compromised. but it turns out that even from where Tom wanted to start we wouldn't have had a chance. We started out early the second day, hit it hard, had a late lunch, and decided that there was no way based on our progress that we would make it. The decision was made to do the trail we'd just done back to our car and take it from there. Which worked out ok, we did it. We went out in 1 1/2 days and back. got all 6 of us (including packs!) in a Toyota Corolla and drove to the finish line. We camped there, and did a 2-hour packs off on Monday morning.
Turned out to be a nice trip. We saw a lot of things twice. The first time we were kind of rushed: we didn't take time to swim when we saw nice spot. On the way back there were plenty of stops. We found a sandy beach at one point. At another place there were these rocks that you could kinda sorta jump off if you were careful. It was neat.
It was crazy walking on all kinds rocks. and rocks of the same size would all be together. So you'd go from a field of gravel to a field of boulders. The worst were these bigger-than-softball-but-smaller-than-volleyball ones that looked like dinosaur eggs. You’d step on them and they’d either hold or or they’d move and you twist your ankle. When they’d move you'd be standing between two and they’d smash your twisted ankles above your hiking boots.
Also, the Cookhouse was good. The End. </Mostly Javier>
Speaking of food… "civilized" people eat inside wayyyy too much! Most meals we ate away from our camp site, out on the rocks. Watching the water, the sunsets, and filling up on hot food after a full day of hiking… there’s really nothing like it.
Life becomes simpler – or at least more straightforward - when you’re picking up everything and going somewhere else each day. It’s a great test of group dynamics to work together to get everything done – the food cooked, the water pumped, the tents set up, the bear bag hung, the tents packed up, the bear bag taken down, more water pumped, more food cooked. I love it when everybody just does something and somehow it happens. And it doesn’t hurt that you’re doing it all in the most beautiful setting possible! It almost makes you forget how tired and aching your body is! Almost.
One of my favorite things about this part of the world is the cairns. There’s something completely enchanting about a trail that requires following rock stacks to know where you’re going. In the woods there were little blue guy signs, but on bare rock, cairns were such a simple, artistic way to navigate the elusive, winding trail.
Another thing that just can’t be beat is Lake Superior itself. The weather was unbelievably perfect all weekend, and the Lake – which I usually associate with crashing and beautiful waves – was as calm and mirror-like as I’ve ever seen it. It made for indescribable views of underwater rocks and sunsets.
<more from Javier> Also, we had McDonald’s. The End. </more> (for real this time).