One of the hardest things about the Pukaskwa Coastal hiking trail (besides the actual hiking) is the logistics involved with planning the trip. Thisertk 60-km trek is considered one of the toughest in the province and it is recommended that you take 5-7 days to complete one way of the linear trail.
Perks for going with a guide:
They dehydrate and organize all of the food
Sharing of group equipment
They come equipped with safety gear like Sat Phone or SPOT messenger
They cook your meals (and do dishes too)
They organize the one-way boat shuttle to (or from the trail)
Adventurers Dave and Deb from The Planet D recently hiked this trail with Naturally Superior Adventures – you can read about their trip prep and planning here on their blog.
Northern Ontario’s Agawa River is hardly a hidden gem amongst adventure seekers. At the turn of the 19th century, legendary Ojibwa guide Towabanisay canoed the Agawa’s 200-metre-deep (600-foot) gorges with Stewart Edward White, an outdoors writer from Chicago. White’s 1903 book, The Forest, portrayed Towab as a mystic and described Agawa River highlights like Burnt Rock Pool and 25-metre (85-foot) Agawa Falls.
It’s thought that White’s book turned Group of Seven painters A.Y. Jackson, J.E.H. Macdonald, Lawren Harris and Arthur Lismer onto the Agawa. The artists accessed the region via the Algoma Central Railway between 1918 and 1922. They spent their days sketching from canoes and high rocky vistas and then compared notes while camped out in boxcars on chilly spring and fall nights. MacDonald’s “Solemn Land”, Lismer’s “Somber Hill, Algoma”, Harris’ “Algoma Hills” and Jackson’s “First Snow, Algoma” are the notable results of this definitive era of painting.
Macdonald’s assertions that the Agawa was “the original site of the Garden of Eden” and “a little Yosemite” still ring true today. Many tourists are familiar with the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which ushers fall colour enthusiasts on a day trip with a brief layover the old station house at Mile 114. Whitewater canoe fanatics, however, get a more intimate experience with the wild Agawa. Each May, Naturally Superior Adventures offers a long-weekend outdoor adventure combining whitewater canoe instruction with a two-day wilderness canoe trip on the Agawa River.
After a day of training on the Michipicoten River we load our canoes and board the same passenger train that carried Jackson, Macdonald, Harris and Lismer. After a two-hour ride, we disembark at Canyon Station and set off downstream. Novice- and intermediate-level rapids punctuate the Agawa’s 25-kilometre (15-mile) descent to Lake Superior; we’ll also portage around an old logging dam and spectacular Agawa Falls. En route, we’ll overnight at a wilderness campsite in Lake Superior Provincial Park within ear- and eyeshot of the cascading river. The whitewater thrills continue the next day, as the canyon walls slowly peel away from the river and steady current pulls us steadily to trip’s end at Lake Superior’s Agawa Bay.
We had a trip get back from Michipicoten Island a few days ago, and upon arrival we were told they’d seen an albino caribou! How amazing is that? Albino caribou are very rare, and we’re told this particular one has only been seen a couple times. Michipicoten Island is home to one of the southernmost populations of woodland caribou so it’s no surprise that there were others wandering around as well, but the albino was a lucky catch! Check out the photos below! Sign up for our Michipicoten Island trip next year and maybe you’ll see the albino caribou as well! I’d say that’s incentive enough….. 🙂
“The Slates” are a little island archipelago not as well known as some of the other bigger islands on Lake Superior, only about 14km off the north shore near Terrace Bay. Most of the land is protected as a Provincial Park however there are no facilities or user fees.
There are 2 main islands and a handful of smaller islands to explore. One of the unique features is the geology of these islands. Although not made of slate at all, the islands are a result of a meteorite crater impact and has one of the best known examples of shatter cones (located in McGreevy Harbour). Some other neat aspects of this trip include an almost-guaranteed siting of caribou (there are no predators on the island so the population keeps growing until it crashes naturally). There is also a lighthouse on the south side of Patterson Island.
If the weather is agreeable you can circumnavigate the entire archipelago but you have options if the lake kicks up as well. In between Patterson and Mortimer islands is a great sheltered channel with plenty of coves to explore. A number of human history remains can be found including the Devil’s Roost and the Come and Rest. Because of the proximity to shore, you will most likely see more people; kayakers, sailboats and others out and about than you would on some other sections of the lake. We take a boat shuttle out and back from the islands to save on doing the open water crossing.
Take this as a guided sea kayak trip with Naturally Superior Adventures:
When this trip is offered: Sun July 24-Fri July 29 2011. Meet at 2pm on Sunday
Cost: $1650 (includes: Full guiding and outfitting, meals, boat shuttles, one night accommodation. Note: registration is limited for this trip due to space on the boat shuttle.
Pronounced: Mish-i-pe-cotton. The floating “Mystic Isle” is aptly named since depending on the clarity of the atmosphere- the island does in fact look like it is floating. Some days it appears very close, other days far away and sometimes you can’t even see it at all. It can appear as one island or three and occasionally looks like it has amazingly tall cliffs.
We haven’t offered this trip in a few years since we have had difficulty getting a boat shuttle out to the island. We’ve got that sorted out for this year now but have to limit the number of participants due to boat constraints.
This trip is a good one to do as a guided trip since there are a few more logistics involved with getting out to the island and not everyone wants to do the 14km crossing. Here are a few reasons why this is one of my favourite trips to do on Lake Superior:
Every beach you land on is different than the last
there are 2 lighthouses (one has the only flying buttress on Lake Superior)
the cool history- abandoned fishing villages and the legend of the cursed copper mines
tons of caribou, beaver and other wildlife
shipwrecks and more.
It has everything all wrapped up into one island package
It’s located about 60km (40miles) off the shore from our base at Michipicoten. If you were to paddle out to it, you would travel west along the Superior Highlands coast until about Floating Heart Bay and make a diagonal crossing over to the East End Lighthouse.
Guided trip details: Dates are Sunday July 17th to Sunday July 24th.
Skill Level is set at intermediate since this is a very remote trip with no quick evacuation strategy. Participants need to be self-sufficient and having some experience wilderness camping will make your trip that much more pleasant.
Itinerary- arrive at NSA by 2pm Sunday for on-water training, stroke review, rescue review. BBQ dinner at our Rock Island Lodge. Monday morning boat shuttle will take the group out to the island for 6 fantastic days of sea kayaking around Michipicoten Island. The following Sunday the boat will pick up the group and head back to NSA.
Pricing- $1695 includes all taxes, meals, shuttles, full guiding. Sea kayaks and tents additional.