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Superior Outdoors Free poster offer inside! pg. 72

m a g a zi n e

Once Around A circumnavigation of the big lake P.36

The Lake


National Marine Conservation Area What’s next? P.11

24Hours of Kamview A grind for a good cause P.30


Canada/US $4.95

Travel Live from the Rock Hike St. Ignace Island Paddle The Baptism River


features The 24 Hours of Kamview

A ride for a good cause

Hallowed Bones and Frayed Nerves


Flowing with the freshet on the Pukaskwa River by Conor Mihell

by Michelle McChristie

Once Around

A circumnavigation of Lake Superior by kayak

Big Impact


A visit to the Slate Islands leaves a lasting impression

by Cory Zyromsky

Conserving our Marine Heritage

A closer look at shipwrecks in the NMCA

52 66

by Michael O’Reilly


by Ryan LeBlanc

Intro 3

Adventure Travel 19

Letters 4

Routes 21

Weather 5

Arts and Literature 27

Superior Styles 7

Reflections 58

Sustainable Developments 8

Event Listing 73

The Food Chain 17

Perspective 76

Travis Novitsky

departments P.76 Alexander Skochinski


On the cover: Paddling in the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Photo by Š This page: Cory Zyromsky off the coast of the Grand Sable Dunes Photo by Rod Karhu

Superior Outdoors


Superior Outdoors

summer 08


Editor-in-chief/Design Darren McChristie Art Director John-Paul Marion Contributing Editor Michelle McChristie Copy Editors Nancy Ewachow, Wanda Ewachow Editorial Consultant Michael O’Reilly Business Manager Doug McChristie Contributing Writers Nancy Ewachow, Tiffany Jarva, Zack Kruzins, Cliff Langley, Ryan LeBlanc, Darrell Makin, Darren McChristie, Michelle McChristie, Conor Mihell, Travis Novitsky, Michael O’Reilly, Scott Parker, Scott Pollock, Graham Saunders, Carrie Slater Duffy, Cory Zyromsky Contributing Photographers Julie Besse, Craig Blacklock, CaribouExpeditions. com, Jarron Childs, Aarre Ertolahti, Margaret Evans, Andrew Haill, Gregg Johns, Rod Karhu, Zack Kruzins, Eric Kujala, Ryan LeBlanc, John-Paul Marion, Darren McChristie,, Conor Mihell, Charles O’Dale, Michael O’Reilly, Tarmo Poldmaa, Mary Richardson, Alexander Skochinski, Brian Stabinger, Louise Thomas, Travis Novitsky, Matt Trudeau, Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Ryan Zimny Publisher The Boreal Company Advertising Sales/Distribution Michelle McChristie Superior Outdoors is published twice a year: Summer (June) and Winter (November) Copyright © 2008 by The Boreal Company, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of any article, photograph or artwork without written permission is strictly forbidden. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. Editorial and Advertising: Submissions must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Superior Outdoors cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Published by The Boreal Company If undeliverable return to: Suite 242, 1100 Memorial Avenue, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 4A3 Telephone (807) 627-3017; Fax (807) 623-5122 E-mail:

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Disclaimer: the activities described and illustrated herein are performed by trained athletes and could result in serious bodily injury; do not attempt them without proper training, safety equipment, and supervision. The Boreal Company is not responsible for injuries sustained by readers or failure of equipment described or illustrated herein. ISSN Number 1913-444 Canada Post Publications Agreement Number 41497554 Printed in Canada on Acid and Elemental Chlorine Free, Post-Consumer Recycled Paper Superior Outdoors Inc donates 1% of all sales to 1% for the Planet

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intro Gregg Johns


pace. The final frontier. Beginning next year Virgin Galactic, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will start offering flights to space. For $200,000, would-be astronauts can experience six minutes of weightlessness while venturing 100 kilometres (62 miles) from earth. Those first to sign up reportedly include Captain Kirk himself (William Shatner aka “The Shat”), Sigourney Weaver, and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. These trips give a whole new meaning to travel and tourism. But isn’t it time we all came back down to earth to take another look at the unexplored opportunities close to home? Gas prices are at an all time high and there are no signs that this is apt to change. Despite the fact that gas is still cheaper than bottled water, its rising cost is leading people to rethink their lifestyles, including their vacations. A lot of people are sticking closer to home and planning trips that will be easier on the pocketbook. In the 1950s and 1960s, this was the norm and it was rare for families to fly to a destination. Most explored by way of their station wagon. Backyard adventures are back in vogue and people living near Lake Superior are fortunate because our backyard offers unlimited opportunities. This issue will introduce readers to the recently announced National Marine Conservation Area. We’ll explore the depths of Lake Superior and climb the highest peak in the region and cover scuba diving, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and environmental issues in the process. In response to feedback from our readers, we have expanded our geographical focus to include more of the lake and watershed. Space might be the final frontier but there are areas to explore that are a little more accessible than outer space. This summer, load up your spaceship and head to the great outdoors to experience a different kind of weightlessness - on the water. D. McChristie Superior Outdoors


letters portaits by Gregg Johns


GVORA by Tiffany Jarva

Portrait of a nature photographer


om Gvora is in his camouflaged sweat suit. On his head, pulled down to meet his dark sunglasses, is a Tilley-esque hat, a red bandana wrapped around it and two grey owl feathers poking straight up. It’s a late-August morning. Clouds are shadowing Lake Superior. Gvora sits on the rocks at Chippewa Park in Thunder Bay, immersed in sharing one of his many wildlife encounters, when suddenly he holds his hands out in front of him, an invisible camera in his clutches. He starts to make clicking sounds, re-enacting a scene where he tries to capture that pivotal, magical, quick-as-lightning wildlife moment. This time it’s a mama long-eared owl spreading her wings over her owlets. “Holy smokes! I couldn’t believe it,” recounts Gvora. The result: a photograph composed more like a painting, a fine piece of art selected for a European tour and subsequently featured in the book Slovaks in Canada: Through Their Own Eyes. “I’m always taking dictation from the wildlife. Many times you only have seconds to take the photograph. You have to work fast and think fast.” After a morning walk around Chippewa, Thunder Bay-based nature photographer Tom Gvora now sits in my kitchen, his watery-blue eyes wide, his signature saying “holy smokes” punctuating stories, his hands whirling as he describes how he came to a life of studying, documenting and photographing animal behaviour in this region. He begins his story by stating, “I am a ramblin’ man. I like traveling on the animal trails that people don’t go on. I like absolute quiet.”

Superior Outdoors


Wild for Gvora I enjoyed the article on Tom Gvora (“Wild Gvora,” Winter 2007/08), how do I get in touch with Tom? John Abrahams Duluth, MN

Kudos Congratulations on a Beautiful magazine. At last a magazine focusing on OUR part of the province. I find your articles very interesting, the photographs beautiful and the advertisements in line with the context of the magazine. A friend here in Manitouwadge dropped off 2 issues of your magazine. It is nice to know what goes on in neighbouring communities during the 4 seasons. I look forward to the next issues. Sheldon Plummer Manitouwadge, ON

Tom Gvora can be contacted at (807)622-6643 – Ed.

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Superior Outdoors

weather Julie Besse

Summer breeze A lake breeze is a common feature in spring and early summer. They are common around Lake Superior, although routinely take place at medium and larger lakes. The land heats up quickly on a sunny day. This heating creates a great temperature contrast with air over nearby water. The air over the water is cooler because lakes have been icefree only for a few weeks. The surface waters of Lake Superior have typically “warmed” only to 4 C (39 F) by June 1st. Water and land surfaces have different thermal responses. It takes about three times as much heat to raise a unit volume of water through the same temperature interval as most soils. As well, there is more water to heat because of mixing and sinking of the warmed-up layer on the surface. Especially in large and deep lakes like Superior and Nipigon, the water warms very slowly and does not change much during the day. The temperature of the air over the land often rises by several degrees per hour during the morning. This pronounced heating over land causes the air to expand and become less dense. The lighter air rises and colder, denser air nearby rushes to fill the void left by the ascending air (fig. 1). Where there is a cold lake nearby, this phenomenon tends to occur all along the shoreline, with cool air from over the lake moving inland from the shoreline. This mini cold front can travel many kilometres inland, especially if the land is relatively flat. A lake breeze is a local effect and special conditions are necessary for formation: 1) The land must be warmer than the water. This often happens by mid-morning in the spring, but occurs later as the summer progresses.

2) The prevailing winds need to be light. Moderate winds from a westerly direction could prevent an easterly lake breeze, or confine it to immediate lakeshore. 3) Sunshine is usually present but not always essential. One of the joys of sailing, especially in a race, can involve assessing of the above conditions to take advantage of wind changes. Larger islands can have personal lake breezes. Sailors who are alert and flexible can adjust to wind changes in archipelagos on Lake Superior or other lakes. The lake breeze front fig. 1 can be a trigger for afternoon showers. Cumulus clouds can build during the afternoon and bring showers, even thunderstorms, to inland locations. Along the shoreline, perhaps with a rumble of thunder in the distance, rain seems to threaten but doesn’t occur. Lake breezes occur next to various large lakes in the Northwest. Lake of the Woods, Lac Seul, Lake Nipigon and many other lakes can generate their own weather. The contrast in temperature between land and water declines as the water warms. They can still occur with very hot days in mid and later summer, but on these occasions the lake breezes are refreshing and don’t require a jacket as in the spring season. Graham Saunders Superior Outdoors


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superiorstyles Building Boats the Traditional Way His laughter is contagious. His personality is larger than life. His passion for his craft is inspiring. For someone who enjoys the obscurity of working for himself in his wood shop and exploring the bush, you wouldn’t think that Mark Hansen would enjoy working with so many people. It’s week number five, and Mark Hansen is teaching his third consecutive wooden boat building class at the North House Folk School – the Grand Marais, Minnesota based traditional craft school. Mark helped build the facility, shape the foundation of the programs, and now teaches at the school full-time. A half-dozen students hover over Mark as he demonstrates how to lash together their wooden kayak frames. As the students return to their respective work stations, each working on their own Greenlandic kayak, he chuckles and laughs, “I’m certainly in the dream’s such a positive environment.” There are no two identical kayak designs in the room. All are custom fit. In the most general sense, the Greenlandic kayak is perfect for Lake Superior. The traditional designs were developed on the west coast of Greenland and in the freshwater fjords of Norway. Each boat has substantial rocker and a proud bow sweep that performs well for riding out the closer fetches on freshwater waves. Each student’s size, shape and intention for the use of their craft is taken into account. Over the course of twelve days in the classroom, each student approaches the construction of their own kayak with this in mind. Some will build a kayak with a shallower draft, while others will build a wider cockpit and more volume for long distance trips. “Every boat I build or teach building is different. It’s really more democratic in nature. There’s so much enjoyment in building a boat that is fit for its use. A boat is about intention. I learned this working with a bunch of traditional boat builders. You have to take into account all your variables, from what outfit you’ll be using, the wind, the waves. And the other intention is the person in the boat. Most production kayaks are built for the ‘average’ person. People aren’t average,” explains Mark. Traditional boat builders knew this. Before tape measures and blueprints, all traditional boat building was done with human measurements. The length of one’s arms. The size of their fists. Each boat had a strong anthropomorphic quality. For Mark, it begs a simple question, “Who really wants to spend two weeks building a boat designed for the average body type paddling in average conditions?” This simple formula accounts for the success of Mark Hansen’s boat building classes at the North House Folk School. For the past 11 years, Mark has met the needs of hundreds of students, whether they were enrolled in one of his Norwegian pram boat building courses, Ojibwa-influenced toboggan courses or his Norwegian birch ski courses. None of Mark’s course projects have ever been exactly the same. “It’s [about] honouring the individual. There are too many places in this world that want us to be like the rest of the bunch. As people learn to build for themselves, do for themselves, they feel like

Darren McChristie

Mark working on a Norse pram while instructing a class at the North House Folk School

they have more control in their lives. There’s a great deal of meaning in that.” By combining this approach with the natural surroundings of the north shore, the North House Folk School attracts nearly 10,000 people a year in a variety of programs. From Ojibwa-style birch bark basketry to sailing Lake Superior, the school’s strong sense of ‘northern’ crafts is its appeal. “I think what we’ve got right here on Lake Superior is as good as it’s going to get. I’ve paddled coastal Greenland and sailed the fjords of Norway, but with the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior, Wabakimi, Lake Nipigon, Quetico, it’s more than I can enjoy and build for in a lifetime.” In fact, Mark has centered his passion for exploring the Lake Superior wilderness by leaving a social service day job, working from his home shop, Hansen Boat Works, and teaching just a few miles away at the Folk School. “You know, working on these types of projects, whether it’s my Prospector canoe or a fully self sufficient double-ended sailing boat that I can cruise the lake on, allows me to have a greater sense for my surroundings. Why not get out and enjoy them?” Scott Pollock began his career working with subsistence users and basket makers across interior Alaska. He is the Program Director/Communications Manager for the North House Folk School. Superior Outdoors




Superior Outdoors


Painted Giant

Greg Alexander

the comeback coaster There are few fish that embody a sense of wildness better than the brook trout. Historically, brook trout ranged across much of eastern North America, however its once enormous natural range is now diminished. The coaster brook trout of Lake Superior, once renowned for their abundance, enormous size and catchability, have almost disappeared due to over-fishing and habitat loss. It is hard to imagine that along Superior’s seemingly endless expanse of shoreline laced with innumerable silver rivulets, habitat could be limited or destroyed, or that fish would have nowhere to escape encroachment. Fisherman recognized early on that the big brook trout were most abundant and most often caught along the coastline of the lake, hence the name “Coaster.” However, coasters are morphologically, genetically, and taxonomically identical to any other brook trout. A coaster is simply a brook trout that spends a portion of its life in Lake Superior. Though not unique unto themselves, their migratory behaviour and sheer size differentiate coasters from more diminutive stream-bound relatives. Pressure on the coaster population began in the 1700s with the first Hudson’s Bay and Northwest companies’ outposts at the lower end of the Nipigon River. A dramatic decline was evident in the later 1800s and early 1900s, commonly believed to be the result of rampant overfishing (both sport and commercial), and habitat destruction. Angler E. F. Whitcher wrote in 1865 that it was possible to catch “...barrels of trout, averaging four pounds...” in a single day on the Nipigon River. So plentiful were trout on the north shore that fish not dried, salted and shipped south were used as dog food, or as fertilizer in local gardens. As early as the 1880s anglers and would-be conservationists were reporting the ruin of the once great and seemingly inexhaustible fishery. Today the barrels of fish are gone, and for the average angler a single four-pound fish in a year is a trophy worth bragging about.

The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the 1880s had a direct physical impact on coaster habitat as well as increased angling pressure. During the middle of the 20th century many north shore streams were used for transporting wood in massive log drives. Stream bottoms were bulldozed, dams were constructed and shorelines were straightened to better facilitate the flow of logs. The hydroelectric potential of the north shore, especially from the mighty Nipigon, was not overlooked. The first of three major dams was constructed at Cameron Falls in 1920. These impregnable barriers irrevocably altered the fish community in the river and the connectivity between Lake Nipigon and Superior that had existed for over ten thousand years. Current threats to the coaster are the same as in the past: exploitation, namely over-fishing and poaching, and habitat destruction threaten recovery. Barriers to migration, such as perched culverts at road and railway crossings that have gone unmitigated for decades, also jeopardize future rehabilitation. Climate change is a new threat appearing in recent decades. The highly variable nature of coaster habitat doesn’t mix well with extreme drought or flooding. In an alarming display of the north shore’s fragility, several large rivers dried up completely in the early fall of 2006. Today numerous governmental agencies, universities, angling and conservation groups are working together in the belief that rehabilitation can be achieved. It will be neither fast nor easy, and coaster populations will likely never reach historic levels again. A symbol of clean water and healthy ecosystems, the coaster has become a rallying point, the ‘Panda of the North’, motivating and demanding action. They are a poignant reminder of our excesses and of how we once regarded, and continue to regard, the natural world. C






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Superior Outdoors


Zack Kruzins

Minimizing the impact of camping in eco-sensitive areas will be one goal of the NMCA

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area: Encouraging Sustainable Multi-Use In 1995, the Minister of Canadian Heritage unveiled the marine conservation areas system plan “Sea to Sea to Sea” which describes 29 marine regions and several potential marine conservation areas. This plan was reaffirmed by former Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, when he committed to conserving Canada’s diverse marine ecosystems at the Congress of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The system of National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) is envisioned to represent ocean and Great Lakes ecosystems and include zones of high protection. Other areas of NMCAs are cooperatively managed and allow activities such as fishing and shipping but prohibit waste dumping, mining, and oil and gas exploration. Currently there are two operating NMCAs: Fathom Five in Georgian Bay, Ontario and Saguenay-St.Lawrence in Quebec. There are also four proposed NMCAs in various stages including Lake Superior. “What people need to bare in mind is that there is a difference between national parks and national marine conservation areas,” says Sharon Ostberg. “Parks are primarily about protection; NMCAs are more about sustainable use.” As Parks Canada’s new program manager of the Lake Superior NMCA, Ostberg, in consultation with board members representing community members and regional stakeholders, must finalize an interim management plan that outlines intended operations of the Lake Superior NMCA for the next five years. She hopes to complete the interim plan within the next 18 months. “Right now we have a signed agreement with the federal government. Once the interim plan goes to parliament and

is approved, then the NMCA will be officially proclaimed. At that point, a full-blown long-term management plan that covers the next 15-20 years will have to be developed,” says Ostberg. “There is much to be done.” When asked about the specific ways the NCMA will protect the ecosystem, Ostberg states, “It’s difficult to talk about specifics until we have an interim management plan in place.” Obviously, trying to minimize the impact of camping in ecosensitive areas would be one goal. “For instance, if while doing the interim plan we find out from a user group that there is a lot of camping by kayakers on a specific island we will take a look at whether or not we need to include pit privies or solar composting.” A new vision statement and NMCA website are in the works. Ostberg imagines that the Lake Superior NMCA will be managed very similarly to the Fathom Five NMCA; it includes some 20 islands and a deep subsurface ecosystem. It’s well-known for great scuba diving and the preservation of shipwrecks. But that said, Ostberg stresses the uniqueness of the Lake Superior area and the need for more in-depth research and analysis of the area. There are some concerns that as a result of the NMCA announcement, more people will be attracted to, and thus disrupt this relatively pristine area. Ostberg says that from her former experience as a manager at Pukaskwa National Park, these kinds of announcements generally do not bring out “hordes” of people. She believes that Lake Superior will continue to be a very special place unique to recreational kayakers and canoeists who are already very respectful of the area. And if there should be more people that want to visit the area, she says it shouldn’t be a concern. “Parks are for people. People are our customers. We expect them to come. Our job is to ensure that when they use them, they do so in a sustainable way.” Tiffany Jarva Superior Outdoors


1  1



Black Sturgeon River Provincial Park




Red Rock


7 1  1 1


y Kama Ba

Ruby Lake Provincial


La Grange Island

Vert Island

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Dog Lake

Dorion Nipig

Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park

on Str a

Black Bay


Silver Falls Provincial Park

Puff Island

S he s

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 

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Caribou Island

Thunder Bay

61  


Porphyry Island Provincial Park


Thunder Bay


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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Mt. McKay (1585 ft)

Edward Island Provincial Park


Stanley 130

Lasher I

587 Swede I

Kakabeka Falls 1  1 1 7 

Loch Lomand

Thunder Cape Pie Island

Le Pate Conservation Reserve Pearson Township Conservation Reserve

Flatland Island

La Verendrye River Provincial Park

61  

Thompson Island Nature Reserve

Pigeon River Provincial Park


Isle Royale

The Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Superior Outdoors


Pass Lake


Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

b B

7 1  1 1

Kaministiquia 102


Fluor Island

Isle Royale National Park

Spar Island

Shesheb Bay Conservation Reserve Brodeur Island

1  7

O N T A R I O Steel River Provincial Park

Gravel River Conservation Reserve

Fishnet Lake Conservation Reserve

Nipigon Bay

Rainbow Falls Provincial Park

Rossport Quarry I


an ne

Battle Island

Nicol I Healey I

Wilson Island

Schreiber Terrace Bay

Copper Island

Prairie River Mouth Provincial Nature Reserve

Jackfish Bay

Red Sucker Point Provincial Nature Reserve

Ashburton Bay

Neys Provincial Park



Wilson Chann

Vein Island


Mt. St. Ignace (1868 ft)

Simpson Island

Si mp

rait Moffit St

St. Ignace Island

Peninsula Bay

Cobinosh Island


Jackfish Channel

Craig’s Pit Provincial Nature Reserve

Pic Island

Mortimor Island

1  7



Slate Islands Island Provincial Park

Pic River White River Provincial Park

Pukaskwa National Park

Legend International Boundary LSNMCA excluded Highway River

Lake Superior

Lake National Park 0



Provincial Park

10 Kilometers


10 Miles

Base map provided by under licence from Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources copyright Queen's Printer of Ontario, 2008.

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sustainabledevelopments Zack Kruzins

The Lake Superior Research Group hopes to help form a risk management plan for the newly formed NMCA

University Students Focus Research on Lake Superior NMCA Tucked away in the basement of Lakehead University’s Braun Building, there is a small, yet much-coveted, office space with maps of Lake Superior adorning most of the walls. It is here that undergrad students Zack Kruzins, Aaron Nicholson and Jessica Johnson talk about the inspiration behind their newly formed Lake Superior Research Group (LSRG). “The goal of the LSRG is to create more interest and research effort on Lake Superior,” explains outdoor recreation student Johnson, “and the timing of the new national marine conservation area (NMCA) announcement couldn’t have been more perfect in terms of our goals,” adds Nicholson, who is studying geography and natural sciences. Stemming from their own personal love of Lake Superior and the surrounding communities, the three students were beginning to launch the LSRG last October, when Prime Minister Harper officially announced the broad support for establishing Canada’s newest and largest NMCA. The area spans from Thunder Cape at the tip of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in the west, to Bottle Point just east of Terrace Bay, and out to the CanadaUS boundary. “We believe that the NMCA announcement will potentially increase paddling activity on Lake Superior,” says outdoor recreation student Kruzins. “With this in mind, there is a heightened need to further understand the risks and hazards of the area.” As the first research effort under the LSRG banner, Kruzins, Nicholson and Johnson will be completing a six-week sea kayaking expedition into the Lake Superior

Conservation area this summer. The group plans to focus on developing a risk management plan, including safety guidelines for paddlers, a water trail guide with campsite analysis and the relationships between water trails, campsites and ecological sensitive areas. Research from the expedition will also be used for three separate Lake Superior thesis projects. “Our goal is to then pass on our recommendations to Parks Canada for review,” says Kruzins. Parks Canada Lake Superior NMCA program manager Sharon Ostberg welcomes the recommendations. “Of course we’re open to sharing with all community members,” says Ostberg. “This is new. It’s a learning process for all of us. I’m sure the students will gather helpful information.” Although the students are not originally from the Lake Superior area, all three students view the lake as a unique and beautiful paddling destination. “This area is special, and there is so much more that needs to be explored,” enthuses Kruzins, who has worked as a sea kayaking guide in the Rossport area, along with Nicholson. Initially, it was Kruzins who organized 19 people to go paddling on Lake Superior for the weekend, including his roommates Nicholson and Johnson. Needless to say they’ve been hooked since that first outing. Perhaps Johnson sums up the importance of this expedition best when she writes on her website bio: “The waters and shoreline of Lake Superior are beautiful, powerful and humbling. The many gifts I have received from this magical place inspire me to be involved and to deepen my connection to the area through this project.” more online

Tiffany Jarva

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the foodchain Love them, hate them, eat them, or slay them... they’re just dandelions It’s odd, when you stop to think about it, that a field of flowers is considered ugly - if the flowers happen to be dandelions and the field in question is a lawn. Do you know any kids who don’t like dandelions? I’ve never met a child who wasn’t fond of them, whether it’s plucking a whole fistful and making a bouquet for a favorite teacher or mom, or, if devotion isn’t your thing, there’s the supremely satisfying feeling of “beheading” the flower. Using only your little thumb, you reign destruction with a simple little pop. For the truly barbaric, there is a chant to be recited beforehand, involving a mama and a baby. Any kid can tell you the most scientific way of ascertaining whether or not someone likes butter is to rub a dandelion under their chin: if the chin turns yellow, that person likes butter. Then there are the puffballs. You blow as hard as you can, and each individual seed is borne onto the wind. Why, to a kid, that’s poetry, especially when the seeds land in a friend’s hair or tickle his or her face. Kids know what’s cool. Adults, on the other hand... Well, once upon a time they had it right. When the first European colonists came to America, they brought dandelion seeds with them. They did this for logical, staid, grown-up reasons that had nothing to do with blowing puffballs in someone’s face. For them it was simply about survival. Dandelions appear very early in the spring, and their greens are rich in nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, iron, and fiber – more so even than broccoli. They have more vitamin A than carrots- thirteen times as much. They have more beta-carotene than any other vegetable, and they contain numerous trace minerals - and that’s just the leaves. The official Latin name for the dandelion, taraxacum officinale, means “official remedy”. The roots are used to treat liver and digestive disorders, and also to make a caffeine free coffee substitute. The “milk” from the stems is used to treat warts. Dandelions can also be used to make dyes. The flowers produce – of course - a

bright yellow, and the entire plant, somewhat unexpectedly, creates a rich magenta. And let us not forget the most popular use of the dandelion: making delicious wine. Dandelions also attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs. In fact, they are the main source of food for at least 93 different bugs. Not only do dandelions have a multitude of uses, what most people who classify them as weeds don’t realize is that they are actually beneficial to the lawn and landscape. Dandelions’ deep taproots draw up minerals from the subsoil, and because their roots are so deep, they do not rob grass of nutrients, as is commonly believed. The roots break up compacted soil, increasing aeration. They also emit ethylene, a gas that inhibits the growth of nearby plants. In other words: that means less mowing! If a neighbour should look down his or her nose at your yard, talk enthusiastically about your mineral extracting, compaction decreasing, ethylene emitting, lawn-mowing reducing plan, and offer to share your dandelion seed. If you’re still not ready to do an aboutface and gaze upon dandelions with affection, don’t worry, you can get rid of them without resorting to using toxic products. The simplest technique is to set your mower blade at three inches. Longer grass shades the ground, and dandelion and other weed seeds can’t germinate if the sun doesn’t reach the soil. The trick to eliminating any lawn weed is to encourage the conditions that promote healthy grass and discourage the conditions that favor weeds. Dandelions thrive in compacted soil. Adding compost will not only decrease compaction, it will add beneficial microorganisms and improve water retention. Corn gluten meal is a natural, non-toxic “weed and feed” – it prevents weeds from forming roots and it is a slow release nitrogen fertilizer. Using one or both of these soil amendments will do much to improve your lawn. The results aren’t instantaneous, but over time you will see a big difference. Corn gluten meal can be used in the spring, when the soil reaches 50 F, and again in the fall. Both of these products are available locally at garden centers, feed stores and hardware stores.

Darren McChristie

To get rid of the dandelions you already have, dig them up with as much of the root as possible. This is easiest in the spring when the ground is still moist and the roots aren’t too deep. Special tools are available at hardware stores. Spot treating with nontoxic herbicides such as vinegar, or safe products like Burnout or Sharpshooter , are also an option. You might need to apply them more than once, and they work best on a bright sunny day. Adding a touch of clear dish soap will cause the vinegar to stick to leaves better. The five percent acetic acid vinegar works on seedlings; for mature plants use nine percent acetic acid pickling vinegar. Love them, hate them, eat them, or slay them... they’re just dandelions. The important thing to remember is you don’t cut butter with a chain saw, and you don’t need to kill fuzzy little flowers with hazardous, toxic chemicals that can seriously harm you and the environment. TM


Carrie Slater Duffy is the Safe Lawn & Garden Campaign Coordinator for EAGLE - more online Superior Outdoors


Explore Lake Superior by day Enjoy Sault Ste. Marie by night The Northern Explorer Package Northern Ontario is a landscape that is stunning in its extremes. Rocky cliffs emerge out of dense forest and give way to stretches of sandy beach along the coast of Lake Superior. Sault Ste. Marie is a vibrant city with a ‘just-right’ sized population of 75,000. With our two night “Northern Explorer” vacation packages, you can experience the best of both worlds on a great Northern Ontario adventure. Call 1-800-461-6020 or visit Remember to ask for your FREE 56-page Explorer’s Handbook 18

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The Two Harbours Kayak festival is a great place to demo a boat

Kayaking Festivals

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(clockwise from above) The festival grounds on the shores of Lake Superior, Expect an eclectic array of music at the folk festival, Early morning yoga, The Paju Mountain run

Margaret Evans

A yurt on the Banadad Ski Trail

Folk on the Rocks Each August the Town of Red Rock, Ontario hosts musicians, artists, and music fans for the annual Live From the Rock Folk Festival. With Lake Superior and Paju Mountain as a backdrop, the festival has a truly north shore atmosphere. The music covers a variety of genres and continues into the wee hours at a late night bonfire and jam session. The festival also features an artisans village and food vendors (don’t miss the wood-fired pizzas). If you would like to add another dimension to your weekend, check out the Paju Mountain Run. This is a challenging 11.2 kilometre hike or run to the summit of Paju Mountain. This summer will mark the 23rd anniversary of the run. Take part in the run on Sunday morning and dance all afternoon and night, it will delay the onset of muscle stiffness! For more info: Live from the Rock Folk Festival August 8-10, 2008 Paju Mountain Run, August 9, 2008 (807) 886-2284.

Margaret Evans

Given that the north shore of Lake Superior boasts some of the best sea kayaking in the world, it is not surprising that the area is home to sea kayaking festivals that attract paddlers from across North America. All ages and abilities are encouraged at these events and they provide a great introduction to the sport as well as an opportunity to meet other paddlers and try new equipment or techniques. The season starts with the Rossport Islands Paddlefest Symposium, June 20 – 22. This symposium takes full advantage of the scenery and shelter provided by the Rossport Islands and offers beginner, intermediate and advanced sea kayak instruction and tours of the Islands. The weekend will also include the Reel Paddling Film Festival and guest speakers Gary and Joanie McGuffin. A month later, the Wilderness Supply North of Superior Sea Kayak Symposium takes place at Chippewa Park on July 1213. This is the inaugural year for this event and festivities will include races, clinics, live music, prizes and a BBQ. Camping and cabin rentals are available on-site, only minutes from Thunder Bay. Between August 1 - 3, paddlers swarm to Two Harbors, Minnesota for the Annual Kayak Festival. The event includes races such as an 18 mile marathon, and five mile Betty’s Pies race (both ACA/Subaru sanctioned events), a tandem sprint race, youth races, kayaking tours and clinics. The shores of Burlington Bay will be decorated with boats and this event is a great place to demo a new model.

John-Paul Marion

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A Superior Biathlon

Zack Kruzins

paddle and hike to Mount St. Ignace September had been a rough month for weather on Lake Superior but this evening just couldn’t have been better. Aside from the fact that we were running behind schedule, we were excited about the prospect of kayaking to St. Ignace Island to climb its highest point. My paddling partner Darrell Makin had been raving about a trail to the top of Mt. St. Ignace (1868 ft.) since climbing the summit a few months earlier. Driving down the Trans-Canada Highway we looked out at the evening sun glistening off Lake Superior with intense anticipation. The pressure was on us in a race for the last bit of daylight. At 8:45 p.m. we put into a creek near the mouth of the Gravel River and it did not take us long to reach Nipigon Bay. At this point we began the six-kilometre crossing to Moffat Strait, which separates Simpson and St. Ignace islands. As skilled and experienced paddlers we were both physically and mentally prepared for the risks associated with paddling on open water at night and were equipped for a variety of situations. While paddling into (left) Darrell Makin and Zack Kruzins Moffat Strait the sky cleared completely, revealing a nearly full moon. A stunning echo greeted us while paddling through the strait and we couldn’t resist hollering. We failed to realize that there were hunters enjoying some wolves howling in the silence that we obnoxiously interrupted. Speaking with them a few days later, they thought we were only talking with the wolves. At the Southern edge of the Strait we took a quick break to enjoy chocolate-covered almonds and garlic-stuffed olives (a combination strongly recommended by experienced Lake Superior paddlers). After a truly enjoyable 22-kilometre moonlight paddle, we arrived at our campsite at the trailhead to Mt. St. Ignace around 1:30 a.m. We immediately slithered into our bivy sacks to sleep and woke the next morning to rain, which continued on and off throughout the weekend. After a quick breakfast we set off on the five-kilometre trek to the summit. This is not a trail for the average hiker. Originally a hunting trail, it sees only one or two groups a season, making it extremely rugged and difficult to navigate. Since it was Darrell’s

second time hiking the trail, he led the way. We were both determined to make it to the summit where (on a clear day) a panoramic view of the entire Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is possible. The first section of the trail led along a creek that occasionally moved underground exposing a dry rocky riverbed. As we continued along the creek through a small canyon, the trail led to two steeply graded waterfalls, both about 35 metres in height. Along the way we also observed signs of early mining exploration. St. Ignace Island has also been logged at least twice in the past century, but not in the past fifty years. Once past the second waterfall the trail led to the far side of a lake. Navigating the trail was difficult from here and required much map and compass work. After finding the trail again we followed it to a boggy clearing, and from there it disappeared. For the last 1.5 kilometres Darrell set a bearing to lead us directly to the summit. In the midst of bushwhacking, we discovered a patch in the forest where it appeared two moose had gotten into a tussle. There were bits of moose fur and spots of blood scattered about, with tracks and destroyed trees everywhere. We were glad to have missed the spectacle as our preparations fell a little short of having a method for dealing with two angry moose. After a short jaunt from the battle site we reached the summit amidst intense wind, light rain and thick fog. We ate our lunch and tried to relax in a poorly sheltered area while waiting for a brief break in the cloud and fog cover, only to see a small patch of Superior. Disappointed, we retraced our bearing to return to the boggy clearing, and then found the trail that led back down to our campsite. Our original plan was to paddle around the south shore of St. Ignace Island, but on returning to our camp the waves were rolling in with full thundering force. Lake Superior decided it would be wise to wait. The next day conditions worsened, requiring another stormbound day. We finally decided to return the way we came, up Moffat Strait. We spent our last night on the north side of Simpson Island before crossing Nipigon Bay to the mainland and following the shoreline back to the truck. Even though we didn’t see the view from Mount St. Ignace we experienced its grandeur. We look forward to a return trip, perhaps in July when there is a much greater chance to actually see something from the top. Zack Kruzins/Darrell Makin

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Seeing the light on the Baptism River The river was high as we paddled fast through wave trains and boulder gardens. Steep rocky banks towered overhead. Around the bend, a menacing horizon line came into view. A lone figure, dressed in a red drysuit, stood atop a large boulder on river right. He seemed to be in a trance, staring off the edge as whiskey colored water rushed past. It felt like a dream, as a familiar yet exciting feeling came over me. I thought, “Déjà vu? No. Was I here last year? No...sooner than that. Oh yeah, just a few months ago”. It is rare, as of late, to kayak a north shore river in September. We stood at the edge of Illgen Falls of the Baptism River, arguably the cleanest 30 foot-plus waterfall on the north shore. Back in the spring, slight traces of ice and snow remained in shadowy chasms of rock, leafless trees and pines rose up the steep river valley, and the smell of wet earth and cedar hung in the air. That same smell of life drifted from under the fiery cloak of autumn. It had been a wet autumn and we were taking advantage of it. My friend John Kiffmeyer, the lone figure known as “Kiffy”, walked back to the rest of the group. “Looks good to go!” he yelled from under a bushy beard, struggling to be heard over the falls. Originally we had put in as two separate groups to avoid any ‘traffic jams’, since there were about a dozen of us. Now we were together again at the brink! Moments later I was peeling into the current. My plan was to charge off the falls and melt in at a 45o angle or less. In April I had boofed (kayak slang for landing flat) the falls and hurt my ribs. I didn’t want to pencil (land vertically) the falls either, and risk getting pounded at the base, something I had experienced when running the falls at a significantly higher flow. Once in the current there is no turning back, so I took several powerful strokes to the lip of the falls, then the bottom dropped out and I was falling with the river, no different than the drops of wa-

Ryan Zimny

“...everything went dark with the impact - nothingness then light and the sound of thunder.”

Cliff Langley running “Illgin Falls” on the Baptism River

ter I could see for only an instant. Then everything went dark with the impactnothingness - then light and the sound of thunder. Seconds later I was popping up free from the base of the falls. I quickly paddled up onto some rock, grabbed my throw bag, and gave the thumbs up to let the festivities begin. The best part of going first is you get to watch everyone else, and it was a good show. There were lots of good lines and some carnage, though nothing too serious. One nameless paddler penciled down and disappeared for what seemed an eternity. He eventually popped up swimming and we quickly fished him out unscathed. Another hot shot paddler boofed the falls and hurt his ribs but we all survived with stories to tell. Downstream we paddled to a steel cable bridge crossing the river and portaged around High Falls, the highest waterfall entirely in Minnesota, measuring over 20 metres (60 feet) in height.

To this day High Falls has never been kayaked, although a hiker once went over the falls and survived with a few broken bones. In using a combination of probing and theory, it seems that the landing is a uniformly shallow shelf of rock, likely to kill or seriously break those bold enough to risk it. Cherishing the ability to walk, we portaged the falls along the excellent wooden stairs in Tettegouche State Park. As tradition demands, at the base of the falls we executed a “baptismal roll” in the foamy froth formed by the powerful falls. It was especially foamy that day. Cliff Langley is a freelance adventure writer, filmmaker, and eternal optimist. He can be contacted at: more online Superior Outdoors


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I’m eating dirt. I keep chewing my gum though. It’s intermingled with blood and dirt, yet for some reason I don’t stop chewing. I feel fine, only to find out later that I’ve seriously scraped the left part of my lower mouth, chin and chest. It ends up looking worse than it feels. Strangely enough, as is often with any downhill biking tumble, I feel pretty calm after nosediving over my handlebars. “Should have bought the full-face helmet” is all I can think. I quickly scan my mouth with my tongue to make sure I have all my teeth. I do. I then continue down the mountain, and it isn’t until I’m done my run that I start cursing the rock-drop which I’ve cleared successfully at least half a dozen times. “So much of downhill mountain biking is mental,” my downhill mentor’s voice from North Vancouver echoes in my head. “You need to look beyond the obstacle and see yourself completing it, continuing to move ahead and flow down the mountain.” It’s been five years since I’ve been on a downhill mountain bike. I have re-located from North Vancouver, BC to Thunder Bay, ON. I’m no longer riding amongst the towering trees on Vancouver’s north shore. Instead, I’ve traded my hard-tail for a full-suspension bike. It seems curious, almost insane at times, that I have moved from being a fairly cautious, mostly singletrack rider to what I’ve become - a new mother, riding a much heavier, full-suspension bike and attempting bigger drops, berms and tabletops than I ever did out west. “Is it new bike technology?” I wonder, “or has motherhood made me crazy?” Perhaps I can partially blame my craziness on a local bike shop for helping to convince me to buy a full-suspension bike. Within minutes of buying the bike, I went straight to Mt. McKay to ride with my friend Cheri and some other more experienced riders. After spending some time at the base practicing the berms and the tabletop, we pushed our bikes up to the top of the mountain: a good workout, which I learned to appreciate later on in the season. Yet, during that first push up, I was secretly cursing it and wishing for a lift. Riding that day reminded me why I was attracted to downhill biking in the first place: the personal challenge of pushing beyond my comfort zone and doing so outdoors with the camaraderie of other bikers. Many downhill bikers will tell you about “calculated risk” to help justify downhill biking as their choice of sport. Jeff Case, a forestry student at Lakehead University, rides more challenging and risky trails at McKay. Case has learned from the pros at Whistler’s Summer of Gravity clinic and he enjoys riding McKay. “McKay is an extremely accessible place. You can go any time. It’s a good size. Really easy to push up,” says Case. “I like that there’s been a lot of good trail building. It’s good to see progression with a small core of dedicated people pushing the sport forward.” With names such as Marky Mark, Skid’s Row, and Crazy Train, the trails range from a meandering “cross-country” downhill trail devoid of obstacles to more rigorous, technical trails. Many of these are adorned with man-made ladders, ramps, and gap jumps which are intended for more advanced

grebmortS sirhC

Dropping in on McKay

Clearing a rock-drop down Marky Mark on Mt McKay

riders. “Personally, it’s about pushing yourself hard but not too hard ‘cause you can really get hurt,” says Case. In the early 1990s, Mt. McKay was the site for downhill mountain bike races and many racers were introduced to the sport through the high school racing program. Later, in 2002, Brian Coutts, a local bike shop owner, led a crew to improve and expand the existing trails with the permission of the Fort William First Nation. The first run consisted of creating berms, with about 12 guys helping out regularly. The crew designed the trails by looking at aerial maps, followed by bushwhacking and flagging, shoveling, raking, and so on. “It’s extremely labour intensive,” Coutts explains. “Cutting three hundred metres in this area would take about two to three guys approximately 35 hours”. Even though it’s early evening, it’s still dripping hot on McKay. I’ve joined in on some trail maintenance. At the top of the downhill racing trail, maintenance crews are working on designing a new switch back trail as a safer alternative to the barrel-straight-down the mountain trail where a rider was seriously hurt. “Trail maintenance is so important” says Coutts, “the goal is to limit risk and keep everyone safe.” We hack away for about an hour before it gets too hot and we call it quits. Dedicated bikers and volunteers will return to work on this trail and others, continuing, little by little, to push the sport forward on McKay. Tiffany Jarva Superior Outdoors


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Makwa (the bear) Soapstone

Artist Profile: Mike Anderson When Mike Anderson sees a moose or deer antler, he sees a work of art. He has completed more than twenty antler carvings, each from a single piece and depicting a plethora of wildlife and spiritual images. Mike is a completely selftaught artist who has learned through experimentation. His first painting was completed in his late twenties as a means for him to express his feelings after the passing of a relative. Since then, he has continued to paint and sculpt - forms of personal expression that have helped him through life’s challenges. He paints with acrylic on canvass and sculpts antler, soapstone, serpentine and pipestone. Mike is a member of the Lake Helen First Nation and lives in Hurkett, a small community east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior. He was raised by his grandfather, a man who Mike considers to have had the most significant influence on his art. Mikes grandfather was a commercial fisherman and

together they spent many days fishing the waters of Lake Superior. He was also a carver and although Mike did not start painting until almost two decades after his grandfather’s passing, the Ojibwa teachings and traditions are evident in his art. Mike paints or sculpts every day and often works on multiple pieces simultaneously. His passion and pride in his work are evident and he has personal favorites. Recently, Louise Thomas, owner of the Ahnisnabae Art Gallery, contacted Mike about a commissioned painting for Ontario Nature. He willingly accepted the job and the painting took about a week to complete. His work titled Edge of Extinction depicts species at risk in northern Ontario. Mike Anderson’s art is available at the Ahnisnabae Art Gallery in Thunder Bay. For more information visit: or call (888) 739-5216. Michelle McChristie ,

Edge of Extinction 

About the artist Mike Anderson is an Ojibwa artist from the Northwestern region of Ontario. Born in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) in 1957, he’s a self-taught artist who has been practicing his style of art for over 30 years. He is one of the finest native sculptors from this region and carves spectacular images out of moose and deer antler. Recently he started carving animal images out of soapstone, serpentine and pipestone. Mike finds working with this medium very rewarding. Mike is also a painter, using acrylic as his medium. His paintings are animal images and address First Nations’ issues, such as suffering, healing and feeling good about one-self. To view more of Mike Anderson’s work go to Ahnisnabae Art Gallery, 7-1500 James St. S. Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6V5

Free! Species At Risk Poster

Receive an 17” x 34” poster, compliments of our friends at Ontario Nature, with a two-year subscription or renewal to Superior Outdoors. The poster features Mike Anderson’s painting and describes the species at risk in Northern Ontario. Visit for more details.

Ontario’s Northern Species at Risk Ontario’s north includes healthy mixed evergreen and deciduous forests, boreal conifer forests and taiga and tundra ecosystems. These vast landscapes provide diverse habitats for many species. Millions of songbirds, fish, and wide-ranging mammals rely on these forests, rivers and lakes. There are approximately 22 Species at Risk listed under Ontario’s new Endangered Species Act, 2007, that depend on these intact ecosystems for their northern populations. Our activities, from forestry to mining, road infrastructure to recreation, pesticide use to hydroelectric development have taken their toll on many species. There is hope though. Success stories like that of the Bald Eagle show us that we can help endangered and threatened species thrive again by changing our activities and reducing our impacts. Collectively, we must take responsibility for this change. Ontario Nature wants to play a leadership role in seeing these species thrive again in our province. Ontario Nature has developed this poster describing northern Species at Risk so that you can help us ensure that the species and their habitats remain protected. For more information, contact Ontario Nature at 1-800-440-2366.

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A Bit of a Legend in These Parts (softcover) by Neil McQuarrie

A Woman of the Woods Betty Berger Lessard was no ordinary woman. She lived on the shores of Namakan Lake, in the border lakes area southeast of Fort Frances, Ontario. Although she attended elementary school in Fort Frances, she spent the balance of her 82 years living independently in the wilderness. She trapped, hunted, piloted her own plane, guided anglers and big game hunters, ran a store, operated a tourist camp, operated a mink ranch and worked her own dog team. In his biography A Bit of a Legend in These Parts, Neil McQuarrie chronicles the life of a woman who never gave herself up to anyone or anything except the natural world. Independent, funloving and sometimes harsh and cantankerous, Betty Berger Lessard was a woman who lived “a boy’s life” while the outside world was changing without her. The book is engaging and McQuarrie vividly describes life on the Canadian Shield at a time when caribou were reduced to small herds; sturgeon were plentiful and their roe shipped to Chicago for caviar; ice was cut with

saws for refrigeration; and travel was non-mechanized and dictated by the seasons. Like many of our grandmothers, Betty lived through the profound changes of the 20th century. The photos in the book depict her in various stages in her life - a baby, a child, a teenager, a bride but what is most striking are the photos that show her working alongside men in occupations that even today are not typically filled by women. Betty Berger Lessard lived her life feeling safer in the bush than out of it. Over the years, Betty’s life attracted the attention of reporters from newspapers in cities such as Duluth and Minneapolis. At 43 years old, she was described by one reporter as “A legend in these parts”. The stories are testament to the Betty’s fortitude and strength. She was a woman who, at 67, spent her winters on her trapline in the company of a 120 pound dog. McQuarrie tells the story of a broken snowmobile that leaves Betty to walk home. During the walk, she awakens, scuffles with and then kills a black bear, losing part of her finger in the process, only to return to the same site the next day, fix the skidoo and take the bear home. The book is well researched and includes several stories that give the reader insight into Betty’s life. McQuarrie worked closely with Betty’s great niece and cousins and pieced together old newspaper clippings, magazine articles, family records and photos. He also interviewed Betty’s friends from the Namakan Lake area and the book presents Betty’s life with a level of detail that gives the reader a true appreciation of her accomplishments. Betty Berger Lessard preserved the life she had been given as a child, the freedom to live in the bush and to gain its knowledge. She resolved to live in the north woods rather than being swept aside by urbanization. Her life tells a beautiful story, all the more remarkable that she forged one of the last century’s changes – a woman’s freedom to choose her own role. Nancy Ewachow

Most people are surprised to learn that people surf on the Great Lakes and that some of the best surf is found between Duluth and Two Harbors, MN. This stretch of coastline has been dubbed “the fifteen mile miracle” and Brian Stabinger and Bob Tema have been surfing this shoreline for over ten years. The Lake Superior Surf Guide North Shore is a handy reference for surfers that are new to surfing or new to the area. Stabinger and Tema provide an overview of when to go, what to wear, and what kind of equipment they recommend. A map provides reference to nine “surf spots”, and the written descriptions provide directions, details of the style of break, difficulty level, and ideal weather conditions that produce the best surf. The book includes photos that, if it weren’t for the full body, hooded wetsuits, could be mistaken for the tropics. With optimal conditions in the coldest months of winter and the best surf happening during the worst weather, Stabinger and Tema advise to “be prepared to do battle with Mother Nature”. This book is not a coffee table book, but it’s one that a lot of people would like to have on their coffee table. After all, what is cooler than being a surfer? Looking and sounding like a surfer. The Guide is available online at, and includes an authentic Superior Surf Club sticker. - DM Superior Outdoors


John-Paul Marion

Twenty-Four Hours of Kamview a race for a cause



wenty-four hours doesn’t sound like a long time, but trust me – it is. It is when you’ve entered a mountain bike race with seven other ‘experienced’ mountain bikers; it is when you haven’t really trained; and it is when you realize that biking in the mud is not as much fun as when you were twelve. Before you get the wrong impression, let me say that the 24 Hours of Kamview is a great event. The race is efficiently run, thanks to a core of dedicated volunteers, and it is all for a truly worthwhile cause - to raise awareness and funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Our team was pulled together a few weeks before the event, a little too late for any meaningful training. Some of us were a little nervous about that, and most of us had low expectations for our personal performances – at least that was the image portrayed. In retrospect, some might have seen us as a motley crew of mountain bikers; amongst us Darren and Tiffany (teachers), Chris, Emily and myself (environmental scientists), Andy and Tiina (entrepreneurs) and Paula (social worker). All of us in our thirties, and completely lacking in experience or knowledge of what it takes to survive, let alone succeed in a 24-hour race. 30

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Les Stone - Greenpeace

Alex Skochinski

Kamview’s cross-country trails are hilly but not technical

“...I wondered if the seat post was As the event drew closer, our team lost a few members, due to mountain bikinginflicted injuries or scheduling conflicts. Undeterred, we frantically attempted to recruit replacements. This was tough, given that the weather forecast for the weekend was grim. We registered a team of eight and drafted a schedule in which each person was loosely responsible for a three-hour shift. The day of the race arrived and we had strategically positioned our VW Van as the “Superior Outdoors” headquarters. Our team was looking good with a nice combination of mostly Canadianmade mountain bikes and team shirts. The shirts were home-made the night before in our kitchen. The quote from


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H.G. Wells was key: “Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race”. Okay, maybe he has never seen a grown man slog through a rain-soaked trail at two in the morning. Chris was first to hit the trail. Our expectations of him were high because he had been biking to work and logging 40 kilometres a day; but he came back exhausted from his first 15-kilometre lap. That might have had something to do with the fact that riding on relatively flat and smooth pavement is not a substitute for riding on soft, hummocky trails with rolling terrain. Or perhaps his state had more to do with the fact that his seat post broke: “I heard a loud snap”

and “...lost time looking for the parts”. As a result, Chris had to bike the last half of the lap standing. Darren, the self-proclaimed team mechanic, swung into action and replaced Chris’ seat post with his own. “Well, I can’t ride until Chris gets back because he has my seat post.” Further examination revealed that Darren’s seat post was an imperfect fit, so Andy’s bike was dismantled. Something about this motivated Andy to hit the trail. He rushed for his seat post when Chris returned, and I wondered if the seat post was going to become our team baton. While the boys were swapping seat posts, Tiina completed her debut lap. We anxiously awaited her return, as

Alex Skochinski

John-Paul Marion John-Paul Marion

Headquarters - team Superior Outdoors

Eric Larson Collection

John-Paul Marion

The view at Kamview

Michelle returning from a few laps on day one

All smiles on day two

going to become our team baton.”

A short stretch of smooth skiing On July 1, 2006, Lonnie and Eric made history by becoming the first people in the world to travel to the North Pole in summer

Paula and I were interested in a woman’s impression. Tiina arrived and before she dismounted, each of us yipped “How was it?”. The response was abrupt and honest - the initial reports from the trail were not looking good. I repositioned myself in my lawn chair. After all, I was looking after my kids and was in no rush to leave my comfy seat in the sun. At some point in the afternoon we realized that we could log a lot more kilometres if we had two riders on the course at all times. This was probably a given for most teams, but we felt the need to ration our energy. It was a pretty comfortable scene back at the team headquarters: the kids were throwing beach balls off the cliff, sharing sippy-cups of juice

and establishing themselves as the next generation of hard-core mountain bikers. Paula was out next while Andy fed their baby dinner, changed her diaper, and tried to keep her out of harm’s way. Things moved pretty smoothly, although the massive thunderheads developing to the west were a growing concern, rumbling in the distance. Additional support in the form of Emily and Tiffany arrived in the evening. Each of them had agreed to participate, while making it clear that they could only stay for a few hours. Emily returned looking as though she had only biked to the port-a-potty. She rested for about thirty minutes and then completed another 15 kilometres. Tiffany

came in next, red-faced, expressing frustration with her borrowed bicycle. Her numerous attempts to tighten the seatpost bolt, to stop the seat from slipping down during her ride, had failed; and her rear tire was almost flat. I watched her struggle to fix the bolt and pump up her tires for a few minutes, and then in a stroke of genius realized that almost every bike shop in town had mechanics on site and were providing free support. She returned a few minutes later and was confident the repairs would expedite her second lap. The night shift was to be managed by myself, Darren and Andy. Paula intended to stay the night but had no plans to get back on her bike until daylight. After

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D. McChristie

“...massive thunderheads developing to the west were a growing concern...” going home to shower she returned in her pajamas, which I admit made me cringe at the thought of riding through the night with my prematurely sore butt. Andy was the last on our team to ride the 15-kilometre loop. Darkness had fallen like an ominous curtain and I headed out for the first trial of the five-kilometre lit loop. I’m pretty sure I had never mountain-biked in the dark and found this to be an intimidating, but exhilarating, experience. The course was fast, and seemed to be mainly downhill – it was fun. The lightning was an interesting effect, but I had complete confidence the race organizers would close the course if it was threatening the safety of participants. Andy was on the course again before I returned. He was racking up quite a few kilometres and this was a surprise to the rest of the team. Andy was fairly nonchalant about his participation, and does not appear to be a competitive guy – but something was inspiring him that night. While his wife and child slept soundly at home, (they had pulled up stakes at about 1:30 a.m. in favour of quieter, more comfortable accommodations) Andy continued to bike, either by himself or in the company of Darren. His tent had been inadvertently located in a low-lying area and assumed the appearance of a life raft when the sky finally opened to a torrential downpour. From his perch in the poptop of the VW van, Darren observed Andy returning from another lap. Fully expecting the van door to slide open and a soaking wet guy to come in seeking refuge, Darren was “happy to see him crawl into his tent”. Did I mention that Paula drove home with all of Andy’s clothes? Around this time, the organizers closed the course. We were advised by a knock on the van window and a woman’s loud voice that the course would reopen at 4:30 a.m. This may have been music to Andy’s ears, because surely being on a bike generating body heat would be better than trying to sleep in a slightly soggy tent. He was there for the 4:30 start (doing our team proud, no doubt) and logged a couple more laps before biking back to the van and stating, simply, “Darren. I’m done.” Andy was in need of a rescue mission. Darren and I quietly discussed how to get him home without having to untie the


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tarp between our van and our truck, or soiling the leather seats in our station wagon. Maybe that was insensitive, but he was really wet and really dirty. After dropping Andy off at his house, Darren swung by ours and picked up an extra blanket. Despite being wet and cold, it did not occur to him to get extra clothes. The blanket obviously provided the comfort we required because we awoke to Chris and Tiina discussing our whereabouts as we slept soundly in the van. While giving them the lowdown on the night’s events, Andy and Paula arrived and we headed over to the pancake breakfast. Chris and Tiina hit the trail while the rest of us scarfed down pancakes and sausages. Darren ate his in the comfort of the poptop...too tired from the night’s events to jump down to ground level. It seemed that the entire team was anxious to ride that morning but we were all too polite to fight over who would get to log another 15 kilometres. Andy and Paula had arranged for childcare for their daughter, so it was only fair they complete the race for our team. Andy’s contribution was 75 kilometres, not bad for a guy that had not biked further than five kilometres all year and, in recent months, had completely gutted and renovated a downtown building in preparation for a store-opening with Tiina the following Monday. Maybe the team achievement was mediocre, but as the instigator I am proud of my team-mates. Although a few people claimed they would not be back next year, I know they will. It won’t be because of the new and improved team t-shirts, but because there truly is something about a grown man or woman slogging away on a bike (with or without a functioning seat post) that suggests there is no need to despair for the future of the human race. The event gave us an opportunity to get together with our friends, exercise more in a day than we would in a month, enjoy some great food, and create memories that will spark laughter in the years to come. Michelle McChristie is a senior environmental officer with the Government of Canada. She also performs multiple tasks for Superior Outdoors when not chasing around her two kids.

125 Archibald St. N. Thunder Bay, ON

Live Clean, Ride Hard!

(807) 623-7221 Superior Outdoors



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A circumnavigation of Lake Superior

words by

Cory Zyromsky

photos by

Rod Karhu


woke to the rumble of the ground beneath my tent floor. It was our 45th night of an attempt to circumnavigate the largest lake in the world by kayak. Our home for the night was 30 feet up on a terraced rock strewn exposed shore. I lay there knowing I was safe, but something felt wrong. Gasping, I sat up wide-awake realizing that it was Lake Superior herself causing the deafening noise. The boats! It was little comfort knowing we had carried them from shore a reasonable distance that afternoon. I felt around on the floor for my headlamp. Putting on all the clothes I could find, my panic intensified as I realized that in fact I had been listening to this magnificent storm for quite some time in my sleep. I calmed down as I thought Rod had probably gotten up hours ago and moved the boats further up the shore. Rod was the kind of expedition partner that if something needed to be done it was, but I was already dressed and awake, so I took a look. Unzipping my tent door, my face got a blast of cold air that in July only the frigid waters of Lake Superior could produce. The moonless night was black as coal, making the headlamp a couple hundred yards down the shoreline instantly noticeable. I stumbled down the loose-rocked slope on the most remote shoreline of the entire lake. As I approached the spot where we left the boats I could feel the pounding in my chest growing. I looked down and saw Rod’s wooden kayak safe and sound. Mine was gone! I decided that 2007 would be the year. For nearly ten years I had been making multi-day trips paddling along the north shore while dreaming of seeing the entire shoreline in one trip. I had my boat, most of the required gear, confidence in my level of paddling skill - even a hesitant ok from my employer to take a couple months off. The only thing missing was someone to go with. There was only one person I would be willing to have as partner, long time friend and adventurer Rod Karhu – who met me one day for coffee and said he wanted to go.

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Sunday, May 27, was a dreary cool day at the Thunder Bay Marina. A strong offshore wind blew, making us wonder if we were really prepared for this. We said goodbye to friends and family at the dock and left the protected harbour in our overloaded kayaks, turning southwest towards Duluth, Minnesota. We hoped to return to this same spot in eight to 10 weeks. ur first day made us question if we had chosen the right boats for this venture. Neither of our kayaks had a rudder, so we battled to steer in a straight line while the 20-knot winds pushed at our starboard beam. We quickly got into the groove and were able to put in a full day’s paddle when the lake would allow it. Although the dense fog obstructed the view of the Norwester and Sawtooth mountain ranges, it made for calm seas that first week. We made our first resupply stop of many in Grand Marais, Minnesota. Quickly making friends with a group of paddlers, we stayed an extra day to enjoy their hospitality. The hot tub at the city campground may also have been a factor in our extended break. We left Grand Marais with replenished supplies, a list of names and e-mail addresses, and renewed excitement for what lay ahead. The lake remained damp, foggy, cold and calm. Paddling in fog is very tiring with no real scenery changes, and rescuing monarch butterflies helped pass the time. They lay everywhere in the water, as if the fog had somehow screwed up their radar. We scooped them up and onto the deck to dry. Without


Cory prepares breakfast on a foggy morning near Grand Portage Minnesota (above). The night skyline of Duluth, Minnesota (below).

Tom Gvora

warning, they would lift off and head straight for shore. Each day the lake would throw something slightly more challenging at us by way of wind, waves or fog. As we left the quiet town of Two Harbors, we knew we had a long, cold 45-kilometre paddle to Sand Point, Duluth. The weather was calling for two days of strong east winds, which meant the wind and waves would be funneling down into our corner of the lake. As we approached the city the waves started to build as high as our heads, but at this point it was nothing to worry about. Besides, we stubbornly thought, getting off the lake now would mean being stranded in the middle of the city with no place to go. Also, the tailwind and waves were helpful in pushing us forward at a good pace. The waves were slowly building as we approached the famous Canal Park bridge. We pressed on.


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Tom Gvora

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on “a perfect day” (above). Exploring sea caves near the Apostle Islands (below).

Soon the waves were eight feet high, and steep. We paddled with our heads turned at full attention to our left rear quarter, to time our paddle strokes with the breaking waves. A gurgling sound of white foam would give warning to brace right and lean away from the wave over the blade of the paddle - not a natural or comfortable feeling, but a necessity in a hard chine boat such as ours. There was little fear, just total concentration: paddle three fast strokes, brace right and lean, make a hard left stroke to spin on the top of the wave to keep your heading, and repeat. We hollered out a plan to paddle between the two 12-feet high concrete walls of the canal. This would put us on the leeward side, and I happily imagined the far side of the canal to be as calm as a millpond. Landing there would be easier than getting slammed up on the steep rocky shore in front of us. As we headed to the gap on a forty-five degree angle, I was horrified at what I saw as I rounded the end of the wall. I turned over to my left and shouted at Rod, “ NO! GO AROUND!” The lake was forcing the waves into the walls of the canal, creating a chaotic mess of reflection waves that I knew we could not paddle through. We had only one choice – turn our boats perpendicular to the crashing seas to cross in front of the canal. On the other side of the far wall lay a sand beach where we could attempt a surf landing without damage to our boats or ourselves. remember being surprised that when a wave slammed broadside against my kayak, it didn’t flip me over instantly like I imagined it would. Instead I felt the boat push only a little as the wave dissipated over the deck and around my body. As we rounded the other


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Tom Gvora

Contemplating the halfway point at the Grand Sable Dunes near Grand Marais, Michigan

canal wall with the beach straight ahead I knew two things for sure: we were safe for now, and we definitely chose the right kayaks for the trip. Our refuge was a house still over a kilometre up the shore, but we decided to lug our boats down the beach in our warm dry clothes instead of punching back out through the cold surf. That night we enjoyed a hot sauna and the company of our new friends, Bill and Katie Gooder. Friends of my parents whom we had never met before, they made us feel totally at home in the timespan of a handshake. ounding the Southwest corner of the lake and heading back eastward was like entering a new world. Wide tan beaches stretched for miles ahead and the icy black waters of the north shore turned green and warmer. The cool wind was the only reminder that we were not paddling in the Bahamas. This sandy playground for bald eagles eventually gave way to the sea caves of the Apostle Islands, where calm rolling waves created a symphony of sloshing, suction sounds and deep rumbles that were a little unnerving while we explored the mysterious depths. Small passageways connected several of the caves that as if by design you could paddle a kayak through to see another room of these ancient rock mansions. Heading into Michigan along the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park the days seemed to blend together. Life was simple. Wake up at dawn. Paddle with the shore to our right. Eat. Sleep. It was wonderful. Of course the lake would often give a reminder of who was really in control. The threat of



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weather seemed constant on the horizon and kept us alert. We learned to continuously monitor, predict and adapt to the changing weather. Listening to the marine forecasts on our VHF radio several times a day made for better decisions on when to make some of the crossings. There was always some nervousness in the pit of my stomach when making a five to 10-kilometre jump. We seemed to be making the right choices, even if that meant turning back part way. Paddling through the Keewenaw Waterway, which cuts through the peninsula with the same name, was a pleasant change. It’s funny how any change of scenery is welcome, no matter how breathtaking the view around you. After a good rest in Hancock, we were just as happy to get back onto the grand expanse of lake and nearing Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The giant sandstone cliffs rise 200 feet out of the water like soft twohundred-foot curtains of tanned velvet. The mineral-stained rocks reflect countless shades of greens, reds, and yellows. Our 42-mile tour of the park’s shoreline was on a flawless day of dead calm water, warm air, and bright sunny skies, and our cameras got a workout as we paddled under countless arches and waterfalls. The expanse of cliffs left few landing spots for paddlers if the weather turned bad, so it was as if the day was a gift just for us. t the far end of the park lay the Grand Sable Dunes. In all the research I had done for the trip about Lake Superior I had never once read or heard about them. What a wonder-

ful surprise. A steep sand dune, 300 feet high, bordered the shore for several miles, its magnitude difficult to judge next to nothing but open water and sky around them. This was also where we paddled our 1,000th kilometre. We were one month into our trip and halfway around the lake. Visiting the Mariner’s Museum on Whitefish Point was a grim reminder that the waters ahead of us are unforgiving, even for the largest of ships. The ship’s bell raised from the famous Edmund Fitzgerald freighter is displayed beyond the museum’s doors, and we gazed upon the gleaming brass bell for some time. The humbling experience of the Museum should have prepared us for what was ahead.


Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum on Whitefish Point

(clockwise from above) The aftermath of the storm on the Pukaskwa coast that nearly destroyed Cory’s boat; Pelicans at sunset in Black Bay; Cascade Falls, Pukaskwa National Park; German paddler, Max with guides Dympna and James, posing with Rod and Cory.


he paddle back to Canada through Whitefish Bay was a test in patience and perseverance; windswept water covered in white ribbons of foam for three days straight. We fought our way back into Canadian waters early in the morning of July 1, feeling a huge sense of accomplishment. After celebrating Canada’s birthday with hundreds of campers at the Kinsmen Campground in Sault St. Marie we headed north, with 800 kilometres of remote shoreline ahead. We enjoyed several days of good weather, calm water and warmer temperatures along the shoreline of Lake Superior Provincial Park. The pictographs of Agawa Rock, the rolling terrain, and the breathtaking view of Old Woman Bay from the water blended into a vacation-like week that made the whole undertaking seem easy. Maybe it was another gift from the lake in a section of shoreline that was meant to be savoured. After spending a night at Naturally Superior Adventures in Wawa with our new friends Scott and Lisa, we were

packing our gear in the still morning to start heading west, towards Pukaskwa National Park. Looking at the Michipicoten River and my packed kayak, and thinking we were ready to hit the water again, I turned to Rod to see how his packing was going – most mornings we had our paddles in hand ready to launch within minutes of each other. He had barely begun, and seemed lost in another world. When Rod suggested that we stay at the resort for another day, I didn’t need any convincing. We enjoyed another night at the lodge with paddling guides James and Dympna. The four of us stayed up until four a.m. playing guitar, harmonica and bongos. The next day we awoke to thunder and lightning and used the time to sleep off the fine Canadian-brewed beverages indulged in the previous night. That rainy start to the next 200 kilometres of exposed shoreline was a sign of things to come. The lake was relentless in its display of power. We seemed to fight for each kilometre we paddled. If the lake would let us launch at all, the

wind and waves usually forced us off by early afternoon. After waiting out the weather a day and a half on shore, we fought for a mere seven kilometres just for a change of scenery. We were running out of patience and food. At this point things went from bad to worse. That was the night I found myself running down to the shore in the storm and shouted at Rod “Where’s my boat!” – as if he had something to do with it. Rod looked up and pointed out to the lake. My heart sank. I slowly raised my head up towards the empty cold sea before us, then quickly saw the shine of my wet, black-hulled kayak. It was upside-down on the same rocky reef that allowed us to land earlier that afternoon. Without hesitation, Rod and I dove into the frigid water to retrieve the kayak. We picked it up and fought our way back to shore, then carried it up past the first and second rock terraces to the top level, as if to tell the lake this was not going to happen again. I couldn’t bring myself to look at what remained of the thin wood deck of my

Andrew Haill

Paddling near Neys Provincial Park after being joined by Andrew Haill (above). A new appreciation for geology (opposite)

boat. Instead we hurried down to bring Rod’s boat up to safety. After retrieving our cooking gear, which was completely underwater from the surge of the lake, we inspected the kayak. Luckily it was in one piece. I couldn’t believe it – it wasn’t pretty, but it was sea worthy. The next day was spent repairing the exposed wood with epoxy, and watching the remainder of the storm. I had built this beautiful custom Chesapeake 18foot carbon-fiber-hulled wooden kayak with the help of my father five years earlier. It would never look the same. The hull-to-deck joint had cracked in several places, the combing was gouged, and the deck had small chunks taken out. Even my paddle tether was reduced to strings of rubber. The sadness I felt for my boat was slowly replaced by relief, knowing that we did not have to make it to Marathon, Ontario, over 100 kilometres up the shore, with one kayak. e were lucky enough to meet up with guides James and Dympna once again, this time at Cascade Falls, one of the most picturesque sites on the whole lake. The waters of the Cascade River drop straight into the lake right beside a sand beach. It is a camping spot



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made in heaven. James and Dympna were heading the other way, guiding a gentleman by the name of Max, who had come all the way from Germany to paddle Superior’s famous waters. The five us spent another laughter-filled night together. I learned how to make beer bread in an outback oven, which after rationing our food for two days was a meal I will never forget. Max told us about kayaks he had built and places he had paddled, as well as a recent dog sledding adventure. Did I mention Max is seventy-two years old? He had been kayaking for over fifty-five years! Rod and I battled the last fifteen kilometres into Hattie Cove, the Pukaskwa Park headquarters. It was another cold, windy, rain-filled day. We had paddled less than 200 kilometres in the last seven days. We hitchhiked into Marathon for supplies, and fulfilled our week long craving for a hamburger and onion rings. This would be our last supply stop on the trip. Making sure we had enough food for the 400-kilometre journey home, our boats were loaded heavier than ever as we left the comfort of hot showers for the last time.

Our paddling group grew by 50% when a friend and fellow-paddler Andrew Haill met up with us just past Marathon. Andrew not only brought new conversation for Rod and I, but good weather as well. The three calm, warm days we spent together flew by as we paddled through Neys Provincial Park and the Rossport Islands. Andrew’s knowledge of geology kept us entertained as we made our way past basalt and granite rock formations. He opened our eyes to another dimension of the world around us. We told Andrew stories about all of the people who went out of their way to help us so far; like the retired school teacher in Port Wing, Wisconsin who drove me 25 miles up the highway to retrieve tent poles I thought I had left at the previous nights’ camp – only to find they were way up inside the bow of my kayak all along. Her only demand of me was to do something kind for someone else. There were so many similar stories to tell. People offered us their cabins to stay in. A man threw us the keys to his truck to drive into town for groceries, only seconds after meeting us. The many acts of kindness people showed us along

Andrew Haill

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the way was overwhelming, and remains some of the best memories of the entire trip. After parting ways at the foot of the towering Battle Island Lighthouse near Rossport, we were back down to two paddlers. Andrew was nice enough to leave more decent weather behind, and even more importantly, some valuable chocolate. On our way past the large islands of Simpson and St. Ignace, we became aware that we were near the completion of our journey. Paddling what many people refer to as the best kayaking on the lake - it was hard to disagree. As we neared the cottages on Silver Islet, we sighted The Sleeping Giant looming like a welcome sign on the horizon. It was only a day’s paddle from home. This was where it hit me - we were really going to complete the entire trip. The joy I felt at that moment was unforgettable. I had never really assumed the trip was going to be completed until this moment. The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is where I first started to backpack when I was

in college, where I got hooked on the outdoors. The backpacking trips led to winter camping trips, which led to canoe trips in Quetico Park; and canoeing led to kayaking, which eventually led to the desire to do a lap around Superior. We spent our last night at the foot of the Sleeping Giant on the beach of Tee Harbour, the very same spot I spent my first weekend wilderness-camping so many years ago. Awake and unable to sleep, I stood on the beach and watched the sun come up over the masts of some sailboats moored at our doorstep overnight. As we started our last day of paddling, we witnessed the magnificent sight of a bald eagle catching a fish breakfast in its talons only a few metres off our bows. Shortly after starting the day, we rounded the foot of the Sleeping Giant and caught our first glimpse of the city. The Bay was so calm, inviting us to head straight across to town. We jokingly discussed making the 20-kilometre crossing and being home by lunchtime, but we both knew we hadn’t made it this far by taking unnecessary chanc-

es. We proceeded to paddle along the shoreline towards the corner of Thunder Bay. With the entire bay looking like a giant sheet of glass, we decided to cheat the corner and jump across to Caribou Island. After a long day of paddling we arrived at the Thunder Bay Marina at the same dock we had launched from. In exactly eight weeks we had successfully circumnavigated the largest freshwater lake in the world. It made for a great sense of accomplishment to not only complete such a goal, but with good planning and good luck, to do it with so much enjoyment along the way. With a toast of champagne, Rod and I raised our bottles. He smiled and asked “Where to next?” Cory Zyromsky is currently planning his next paddling trip - around Lake Nipigon more online

Canada's Lake Superior: a jigsaw of parks & special places

Come paddle with us

Naturally Superior Adventures- Wawa 1-800-203-9092 Superior Outfitters- Rossport 807-824-3314


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3418-ACR Track to Adventure

All aboard for a truly unique 5 day/4 night getaway aboard the ‘Canyon View.’ Located on a siding in the world famous Agawa Canyon and only accessible rail, you can fish, hike or follow in the footsteps of the Group of Seven from the comfort of your own rail camp car.

January 23rd, 2008

The Algoma Central Railway also provides the outdoor enthusiast with year-round access to a variety of remote wilderness lodges situated along our line. From trout to walleye and pike fishing, wildlife viewing, a corporate retreat or family vacation - incredible lodge getaways are waiting for you along the line.

Contact the Railway for more info or check us out online. Algoma Central Railway Passenger Sales 129 Bay Street, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 6Y2


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Ryan LeBlanc collection



ver the past two centuries, many imperiled ships have met their fate on the rocky, unfeeling shores of Lake Superior. Once proud titans, their deteriorating hulks now lie as silent tombs beneath the icy grip of the unforgiving lake.


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X Black Bay Peninsula

Thunder Bay Edward Island


Isle Royale


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ONTARIO X Nipigon Bay St.Ignace Island Wilson Island


X X Slate Islands

Pic Island


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Ryan LeBlanc collection

ith the advent of scuba diving it is possible to visit shipwreck sites. Gone are the days when we W could only gaze out to the lake and visualize what a shipwreck looked like. These time capsules can now be explored with ease. But like most human intervention, there can be negative impacts. It is imperative for divers to consider the inadvertent damage they may be causing. Retired Ontario government marine archaeologist Peter Engelbert proposed “Low Impact Diver Guidelines”. TEN WAYS TO BE A LOW IMPACT DIVER 1. Become Comfortable in the Water. A good wreck diver must be competent, in control and at ease in the water. 2. Plan Your Dive - Dive Your Plan. Know the wreck and its environment so that you don’t become lost or disoriented. Don’t subject yourself to unnecessary hazards. 3. Learn Buoyancy Control. Stay off the wreck and the bottom. Good buoyancy control will allow you to avoid damaging the wreck and you will expend less energy. 4. Streamline your Equipment. Keep your gear close to your body. Dangling hoses and gauges can snag the wreck and disturb artifacts. 5. Look but Don’t Touch. Don’t pick up artifacts or brush off silt or corrosion on a wreck. Don’t hang onto a wreck. Every time you do these things you subject the wreck to further accelerated deterioration. It may not seem like much to you at the time but over the years with the thousands of divers that visit some wrecks these actions can cause considerable damage. 6. Don’t Kick up Silt or Sand. Stay high enough that your fins do not disturb any silt or sand covering a wreck. This covering helps to preserve the wreck and removing it will expose the site to further dete-

rioration. Get used to a heads-down-fins-up style of swimming. 7. Don’t Tie or Anchor Onto a Wreck Anchor damage is one to the leading destroyers of shipwrecks. Never hook an anchor into a wreck or tie a dive boat off on a line attached to a wreck. If you are going to use a wreck regularly put in a mooring block. 8. Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Bubbles. This is the motto of Save Ontario Shipwrecks, an organization that all concerned divers should join. Never remove anything from a wreck. Bring home any trash instead of littering the site. 9. Think About What You Can do to Preserve Ontario’s Shipwrecks. Concerned divers can exert considerable peer pressure on the diving community and help to stop the looting and destruction of our shipwrecks. Don’t hesitate to speak out in defence of our submerged heritage. Our marine heritage can not speak in its own defence so we must speak for it. 10. Promote Our Marine Heritage Divers are a privileged group. Most people do not have access to the archaeological sites, such as shipwrecks, which lie under the surface of Ontario’s rivers and lakes. Communicate your respect and concern for these resources to others and use your knowledge and experience to teach others about the unique and exciting sites on our provincial bottomlands.

It is not possible to control all of the natural factors which contribute to the deterioration, and eventual loss of submerged cultural resources. However, the interaction between divers and the resources can be controlled to a large degree. One of the most successful and cost effective ways to accomplish this is through educational programs and seminars aimed at providing the recreational diver with a better understanding and appreciation of the importance of our marine heritage. This knowledge combined with Low Impact Diving practices will go a long way towards protecting and extending the life of submerged cultural resources for everyone’s benefit, now and in the future. Ryan LeBlanc 50

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Hallowed Bones and Frayed Nerves

Flowing with the freshet on the Pukaskwa River words and photos by Conor Mihell


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The Pukaskwa River mouth on Lake Superior

’VE GOT 50 FEET. That’s the first thing I think as the canoe turns

into a submarine and I hit the water, rescue line in one hand, paddle in the other and flutter-kicking like hell for shore. The line, attached to the stern of the now overturned canoe, pays out behind me. If I run out of line before I reach the shore I will have to choose between being keelhauled by the canoe over a waterfall, or bidding adieu to our canoe and camping possessions. I kick and claw at the water as though my life depends on it – and being 50 kilometres from the nearest fringe of civilization, it does. The river is ice-cold but the waves are subsiding, and after I slither atop a bedrock pillow I grip terra firma and pendulum the canoe to shore. Downstream the river falls into a thundering, misty oblivion. It takes an hour of deep breathing in the warm mid-May sunshine to summon the courage to get back on the river again. Superior Outdoors


Colin above Koehler Falls on the upper portion of the river.

ACCORDING TO OJIBWA MYTH the term “Pukaskwa”describes the act of removing marrow from bone in a hot fire, but while canoeing Pukaskwa National Park’s namesake river, my trip mate Colin and I learned that this definition tells only part of the story. There are other ways to be de-marrowed on one of Lake Superior’s wildest rivers – like stumbling amid blowdowns on a nonexistent portage trail, PUKASkWA feeling the spray of NATIONAL PARK dicey whitewater, and turning into an eddy scant metres above the precipice of a thundering waterfall. In the end it was the ice-cold floodwater that de-marrowed our bones while drawing us powerfully downstream to Lake Superior. The Pukaskwa River carves a pool-and-drop course through the rugged and remote southern half of Pukaskwa National Park. At its source near Gibson Lake the river is narrow and creek-like. Over the next 80-odd kilometres the river picks up steam and features over 50 runnable rapids and countless chutes, cascades and falls that force all but the most daring whitewater boaters to rough and obscure portage trails. The Pukaskwa spills into Lake Superior at one of the most isolated places on all of the Great Lakes. Ninety kilometres of wild coastline separates its mouth from roadheads to the north and 54

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south. For whitewater paddlers, logging roads just outside of national park boundaries make the Pukaskwa’s headwaters somewhat less remote. Two hours of ruts and washouts on these roads circumvents three days of physical pain and suffering on the portage-intensive traditional route via Pokei Creek. Loaded down with 200 pounds of supplies we slide our plastic canoe into the Pukaskwa southeast of Jarvey Lake, 70 kilometres from Lake Superior. We’ve allotted seven days to run the river, and on the second week of our trip we will trace the north shore back to my home in Wawa. Day One involves threading our way through narrow, rockand tree-choked rapids and, more frequently, taking our lumps onshore when the river’s gradient gets too steep for comfort. After cursing the boulder gardens, logjams, seemingly impenetrable shoreline alders and equally profuse deadfall, we call it quits for the day in the middle of a portage after a scant six kilometres of downstream travel. The better half of the next day is a continuation of the first, portaging through leftover snowdrifts to avoid the hazards of paddling the steep and tumultuous river. By lunch our toil is rewarded with an ever-widening and more navigable waterway. Deep-water, large-waved rapids give us a taste of why the Pukaskwa is known as one of Ontario’s best whitewater rivers. From his seat in the bow Colin draws the canoe around obstructions while I follow suit with complementary strokes in the stern. We backpaddle to buy time and shout orders back and forth to ferry the canoe across the current when the

going gets tough. Things would be idyllic were it not for the ice-cold splashes of river that find their way over the gunwales.

THE HEAVENS OPEN UP WITH MONSOON FEROCITY on Day Three. Wind whips the rain across the river,

but once we get on the water we have little choice but to continue downstream. In a half-day of high-consequence whitewater canoeing we successfully run our first Class III rapid—typically the upper limit of difficulty for open tripping canoes—and countless other stretches of fast water. By noon we stop for the day and pitch camp on an exposed bedrock dome at Lafleur’s Dam. Although our tent site is buffeted by strong, gusty winds, it’s the only spot that isn’t pooling with rainwater. While our shelter weathers the storm admirably, I suspect it has something to do with the two deadweights huddled inside. When the rain tapers to drizzle, we wander through the wreckage of Lafleur’s logging camp. In the grass we find an old potbellied woodstove and rusty, square-headed spikes. We discover the rundown bunkhouse and watch the water pouring over the rotted- out sluiceway. The dam itself has long since washed away. Between 1917 and 1930 this place would have been bustling with Scandinavian and Irish loggers who lived here in the winter and spring. Spruce, fir and the odd white pine were axed, bucked and dragged to the river’s edge by horse. In the spring, at the peak of high water, the dam’s floodgates were opened and thousands of cords of wood flushed like matchsticks downstream. Between Lafleur’s Dam and the next campsite at another derelict logging camp five kilometres downstream, the Pukaskwa turns up the heat. A portage trail traces the slippery rocks at the river’s edge around the seething maw of Slab Rock Falls, and we nose into the flooded portage at Boulder Falls. The extremely high water gives us unorthodox alternatives to traditional river tripping: we paddle a slalom course through alder bushes to avoid canoe-eating waves and the pains of portaging. Still, it feels as though we’re tiptoeing on the back of a flame-belching dragon.

A chunk of sculpted ice

from top - Lafleur’s Dam in flood, tent bound on day three, portaging around Slab Rock Falls, sneak route around Gorge Rapids

DAY FIVE BEGINS INNOCUOUSLY ENOUGH. We linger at the spectacular campsite at Oxford Ledge,

waiting for the sun to dry the dew off the tent and studying the map of the route ahead. Today features the most challenging whitewater – on the topographical map a series of hash marks, brackets and contour lines cross the river, indicating four kilometres of continuous rapids and falls. While the water level is starting to stabilize, the river is still flowing frighteningly high. We successfully run a couple of drops with a combination of vicious backpaddling, shoreline sneak routes and blind luck. We bypass the bigger cascades by bashing through the bush on non-existent portages. By noon our confidence soars with the blue sky and bright sunshine, and before breaking for lunch we decide to run a questionable stretch of standing waves and swirling eddies ending barely 100 metres above a waterfall. With red-hot adrenaline rushing through our veins, it quickly becomes obvious that our open-decked canoe won’t survive this rapid. Time stands still and waves wash over the gunwales one by one in torturous slow motion. The canoe floods, lists to starboard and turtles. As we abandon ship I grab the rescue line attached to the stern deck. Superior Outdoors


Luckily we’ve capsized at the end of the wave train and our swim to shore, though bone-chilling, isn’t a long one. Colin and I both land on the same granite tongue. After catching our breath we right the swamped canoe and find all our gear intact. An hour later we gingerly ferry the canoe across the river to portage the upcoming waterfall. For the rest of the day paddling the calm water between gut-churning cascades offers brief respite from bootpacking canoe and gear over the most rugged portages we’ve encountered so far. After a quick dinner in fading lateevening light, it’s all we can do to stumble into the tent and fall unconscious for the night.


Pukaskwa’s is Ringham’s Gorge. Here the topography goes haywire, funneling the river over ledges and falls and into a rocky abyss. In low and medium water levels skilled whitewater canoeists can paddle the gorge by carefully running rapids and completing short leftovers where necessary – but in high water Ringham’s Gorge is suicidal. The trouble is, the carry around it is equally sketchy. From our campsite at what’s supposed to be the beginning of the portage, we load up with backpacks and wander aimlessly through a mass of alders to gain access to the 2.5-kilometre-long trail. We spend the better part of the day on the trail, each carrying two backbreaking loads. At one point, a sizeable pond forces us to dump our loads and retrace our steps for the canoe. The trail becomes easier after we rock-hop up a steep slope and find an old logging tote road, which an hour later takes us to the river’s edge. Back on the water we’re exhausted, barely able to float downstream in search of a campsite. After Ringham’s the Pukaskwa meanders a sinuous course, as if gathering strength for its final hurrah. Two kilometres from Lake Superior we pull ashore above Schist Falls, where the river plunges in double ten-metre drops beneath towering cliffs. For once portaging is easy. We make it around in record 56

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Schist Falls

time and lounge on the rocks at the end of the trail, gazing out at the open water of Lake Superior and back at the foaming currents at the base of the falls. Like the mist rising from the falls and blending into the fog over the Lake Superior, tension lifts. As we take our last strokes on the Pukaskwa and drift into the lake, the challenge of canoeing its open water is dwarfed by what we’ve

accomplished. With ice water flowing through our bones, we know the best is left to come. Conor Mihell is a freelance writer and sea kayak guide living in Wawa, Ontario. more online


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Keith Hatcher drops in to a nicely groomed, early morning peak Stoney Point, Minnesota photo by Brian Stabinger

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Alex Joseph Exploring the Claghorn area photo by Jarron Childs


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Bald eagle flying along Superior’s coast From Craig Blacklock’s book, Minnesota’s North Shore photo by Craig Blacklock

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White Pelicans Black Bay, Lake Superior photo by Aarre Ertolahti


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Conor Mihell surfing the Superior Confluence mouth of the Michipicoten River, Lake Superior photo by Tarmo Poldmaa

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Andy Lichtenheld carving through “Portage Down the Middle” Devil Track River, MN photo by Ryan Zimny


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Matt’s Trail Wawa, ON photo by Matt Trudeau

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Charles O’Dale and Eric Kujala

BIG IMPACT A visit to the Slate Islands leaves a lasting impression


by Michael O’Reilly

first heard about the Slate Islands through local stories and legends. People told tales about a circular group of islands in Lake Superior, formed from the impact crater of an ancient meteor collision. The stories mentioned historic logging and mining operations, an old lighthouse, great paddling and sailing, and caribou – always the caribou.

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The inner sections of the island offer protected waters (above). Shatter cones (below) are created by immense shock waves and are often found around meteor impacts, and nuclear explosion sites .

Charles O’Dale and Eric Kujala

his was back in the mid-1990s, and although I’ve now visited the Slates a number of times, their mystery and wonder remain. The waters surrounding the islands are now part of the newly-formed Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA). This ensures their continued protection for future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. My trusty old sea kayak was the first boat that took me out to the Slates. Departing from a gravel beach near the ghost town of Jackfish (just east of Terrace Bay), a small group of friends made the 12-kilometre open-water crossing in about two hours. This is faster than my typical paddling pace, but being that far offshore tends to inspire speed. Even before making landfall we spotted our first caribou. It was strolling along a precarious cliff edge, far above the water on Delante Island. The way it moved along the high rock wall reminded me of a mountain sheep – I had no idea woodland caribou were such good climbers. This is just one of the surprises the islands have given me over the years. Delante itself is one of the smaller islets that make up the Slate Islands archipelago. The whole structure includes two main islands, five minor ones, and numerous islets. The two main islands are Patterson to the south, and Mortimer to the north. These two create a circular barrier that contains the many smaller islands and protected waters. The inner section presents an “other-worldly” experience to boaters. One minute you are fighting the big winds and waves of Lake Superior, and the next you are gliding through calm, protected waters. Superior can be “blowin’ a gale” on the outside, but on the inside it can feel like a tranquil day on a small inland lake. The circular structure and high walls that create this oasis of protection are the result of an ancient meteor impact. According to researchers, a hunk of rock some 1.5 kilometres in diameter, slammed into the Earth many millions of years ago. Most scientists put the age at about 350 million years, but other research suggests the impact may be far older: as much as 500 to 800 million years. In either case, the meteor left behind a 30 km crater which, after millennia of erosion, now forms the islands we have today. It’s interesting to note that the Slate Islands are not made of slate, but of metamorphosed igneous rock. Jason Blier is Ontario Parks Acting Superintendent for the Slate Islands region. He explains the name comes, not from the rock type, but from the way the rock is structured. “From everything I have read and heard, the name is derived from the physical appearance of the rock,” explains Blier. “The rock layers and striations are oriented in a vertical manner and, as a result, are easy to break apart. These broken pieces tend to look like large, flat, thin pieces of slate.” Blier says this property is believed to have been caused by the meteor impact. The impact also left behind another distinguishing feature: shatter cones. These geological structures are created by immense shock waves, and are often found around meteor impacts and nuclear explosion sites. Typical shatter cones usually measure a few centimetres in length, but some of the samples discovered on the Slates are many meters in size. One officially documented Slate Islands


Richard Tsong-Taatarii Marilyn Stevens

Woodland Caribou are a common site on the Slate Islands

shatter cone is known to be over ten metres at its base, and “Come and Stay.” It is on McColl Island, one of the small there are strong indications of another cone being as large inner islets. Visitors are free to use any of the cabins when as 20 metres. These are some of the largest known shatter not needed by park staff. cones in the world, making the Slates and internationally As part of the NMCA development, waters surroundsignificant site. ing the Slate Islands Provincial Park are being transferred Shatter cones are not the only natural resource that has to the federal government (Parks Canada). Julie Sullivan is attracted people to the islands. The cold waters of Lake Su- Zone Planner with Ontario Parks. She says that a Memoperior produce arctic microclimates around the outer edges randum of Agreement has been signed between Ontario of the Slates. These microclimates aland Canada. As Sullivan explains, low plants such as Dryas Drumondii there are a number of prerequisites Delaute I and Polygonum Viviparum to grow that must still be met before the final Dupuis I Leadman Mortimer Island Islands where normally they would only be legal transfer can occur. Bowes I McColl I found in the far north. “One prerequisite is to consider Over the years miners have come Barnard Point Edmonds I park management plan amendments in search of gold, leaving behind for Slate Islands Provincial Park (plus Patterson Island two shafts that are still accessible other parks),” she explains. “We have for careful exploration today. In fact, to amend the park boundary so that Blier says the mine on Patterson Ispart of the park area can be included Sunday Point land was known as the “Golden Slipin the NMCA.” per.” Logging companies have also In the case of the Slates, the used the islands as both a source of changes will likely include the area timber, and a safe harbour for the assembly of log booms. surrounding the major islands, and will also take in the And there are two known prehistoric Native sites on the waters around Delaute, Depuis and Leadman islands. The islands. changes will likely not include the interior channels beIn more recent times the Slates have been used by lo- tween Mortimer and Patterson Islands. In all, about 1,800 cal people, with several cabins (camps) being built on the hectares are being considered for transfer. islands. Slate Islands Provincial Park was officially estab“Existing provincial park management plans must be lished in 1985 to protect the natural heritage of the islands. altered, boundaries must be formally changed, and consulThis means most of the cabins are now returning to nature, tations must take place with local First Nation’s communibut park staff maintain one that is affectionately named ties, agencies, interest groups, local politicians and adjacent LAKE SUPERIOR

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Denny Warner

property owners,” Sullivan explains. “Consultation [was] anticipated to occur in April.” Today the islands attract many interest groups, including canoeists, kayakers, sailors and powerboaters. People come for the great fishing, the camping, hiking, and paddling. But most of all, people come for a chance to see the woodland caribou. When populations are high (see sidebar) it is fairly easy to spot one of these ancient-looking beasts. Often they can be spotted swimming between the islands, climbing the high cliffs, or drinking along the shoreline. For those who like to hike, head into the bush just about anywhere on the islands, and you will encounter caribou trails. If you tread quietly, you will eventually meet up with one. When you do, note the ear-tags. The Slate Islands’ caribou are some of the most studied animals in the world. Of course, the Slate Islands are not just a place for paddlers. Bigger vessels, from 16-foot fishing boats, all the way up to large power and sailboats, find their way out to the islands each year. Since being bitten with the sailing bug, I’ve let the wind take me out to the islands many times. Each visit shows me something new and something remarkable. There are the wildflowers of Horace Cove, the caribou research corral, and the Arctic flora. Climbing (carefully) into the mine adits in Lambton Cove and near William point are always an adventure. Of course, there is the Slate Islands lighthouse to see and enjoy.

Anchored in Lawrence Bay

The many anchorages within the inner islands and in Sunday Harbour on the south side, offer plenty of places to drop the hook and relax. From there it’s just a short dingy ride to shore, where the hiking and exploration begins. According to Native legend there is a sawtooth backed, spiked-tail water spirit that controls Lake Superior. Known as Mishipishu, this fickle power reminds all boaters to travel these waters with respect and care. There is nothing like the feeling of sliding into the calm inner waters of the Slates after spending a day “playing” with Mishipishu. Michael O’Reilly is an accomplished sailor and freelance writer living in Thunder Bay.

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Guiding sea kayaking tours on Lake Superior since 1994

Michael O’Reilly

Richard Tsong-Taatarii

The Slate Islands woodland caribou are one of the most southerly herds in Canada. They also have the dubious benefit of having few natural predators. Until very recently there were no large mammals on the Slates, so there is little to keep the caribou numbers in check. This means the caribou population soars to 500+ animals, eats itself out of house and home, and then crashes down to less than 200. According to Jason Blier, Acting Superintendent for Ontario Slate Island caribou are one of the most Parks - Slates region, southerly herds in Canada the population currently sits at between 240 and 280 animals and seems to be going down. He also says there is evidence that a small group of wolves may have recently made it to the islands. Back in 2003 ice once again filled the gap between the mainland and the Slate Islands. “It looks like there is a small pack that roams the islands that crossed the ice during a freeze over,” explains Blier. “They don’t seem to be a significant factor in the caribou population as they would tend to kill the sick or weak anyhow. On the Slates, the sick or weak end up dead in a short time.” The average weight of a caribou is 140 kg for males and 115 kg for females. The average height of a full grown male is 1.3 m with the average life span being 11 years to 15 years. Caribou on the Slates are some of the best studied anywhere, and it is not uncommon to spot an animal with one or more research tags hanging off its ears. A caribou corral used to capture the animals can be found on inner Patterson Island near Edmonds Islet. It is thought the caribou arrived on the Slate Islands in the early 1900’s when Lake Superior froze over. There is some indication wolves also arrived at that time, but for unknown reasons, did not thrive. The lack of predators mean the caribou of the Slates are relatively unperturbed by close human contact. This, combined with their high population density (7-8 animals/ km2 compared to a more normal level of Caribou corral 0.06 caribou per km2) mean it is fairly easy to spot an animal. They can often be found grazing along the shores of the islands. Their dark coats let them blend in with their surroundings making it is easy to travel right past a caribou and never see it. Michael O’Reilly

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SuperiorOutdoors EventListing Paddling & Sailing July 18-20, 12th Annual St. Louis River Whitewater Rendezvous Slalom and Sprint Races, Carlton, MN Whitewater slalom and sprint racing action with free race clinics, music, food and fun for paddlers of all skill levels. Contact Randy Carlson (218) 726-6177, e-mail rcarlso6@d., June 20-22, Rossport Islands Sea Kayak Symposium, Rossport, ON Enjoy instructional clinics, interpretive tours, the Reel Paddling Film Festival and a presentation by Gary and Joanie McGuffin in this world class kayaking destination. Hosted by Superior Outfitters Coastal Kayaking Adventures and Naturally Superior Adventures. Contact David Tamblyn (807) 824-3314, e-mail, June 14, Grand Kam Canoe & Kayak Race, Fort William Historical Park, Thunder Bay, ON Come out and support the Children’s Centre Foundation by participating in either the 20 km competitive race or 5 km recreational tour on the historic Kaministiquia River. Participants are encouraged to collect pledges, a range of fabulous prizes will be awarded. Contact Diane Ambro (807) 628-4846,, www. June 27-29, Lightning Canadian Sailing Championships, Thunder Bay, ON The Lightning has evolved into one of the most popular and competitive one-design racing classes in the world. The Temple Reef Sailing Club is hosting the National Lightning Championships at Marina Park. Racers from across North America will be participating. Contact Lorrie Walsh, (807) 344-0430,, www. July 18-19, Thunder Bay Dragon Boat Race Festival, Thunder Bay, ON Free admission, entertainment, food, arts and crafts at Boulevard Lake. Contact (807) 7684407, July 11-13, Women on the Water: Sea Kayaking Adventure, Rossport, ON Come explore our inland sea. Home to the largest archipelago of islands found anywhere on Lake Superior, Rossport offers rugged beauty, incredible bird life and a protective harbour perfect for a sea kayaking journey. With a focus on skills and safety, Element of Adventure will guide you on a weekend of connection, exploration and wonder. Contact Sue Holloway (807) 473-4599, www. July 12-13, North of Superior Kayak Symposium, Chippewa Park, Thunder Bay, ON This will be the first annual symposium, hosted by Wilderness Supply and the event will include live music, demos, lessons, tours, prizes, a BBQ and much more. Camping and cabins are available on site. Contact (807) 684-9555, www.WildernessSupply. ca/Symposium July 24-27, North Shore Dragon Boat

Festival, Grand Marais, MN A paddling adventure and weekend celebration that welcomes outdoor enthusiasts and dragon boat paddlers. Located on the Grand Marais harbor, this event supports the work of three area non-profit organizations, www. July 26 , 14th Annual Canoe Regatta and Corn Roast, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, ON Celebrate the joy of canoeing at Rainbow Falls with a weekend of canoe instruction/ excursions and great activities. Enjoy a high spirited afternoon of canoe races and games, topped off with a delicious treat of corn barbecued in the husk. Contact (807) 824-2298 August 1-3 , 11th Annual Two Harbors Sea Kayak Festival, Two Harbors, MN This festival offers several categories of kayak races, local exhibitors, kayak equipment demos, beginning level instructional tours, advanced clinics, kids kayaking, gear swap, food (Betty’s Pies!) fun, and more. E-mail, www. August 3-8, Voyageur Canoe Musical Tour from Rossport to Red Rock, ON Join your fellow voyageurs in our roomy, stable, 36-foot-long replica fur trade canoe and explore the intricacies of Lake Superior’s Rossport and St. Ignace islands on your way to the Red Rock Folk and Blues Festival on this guided canoe trip. This year we will be accompanied by musician, songwriter, and playwright Ian Tamblyn. Contact David Wells (800) 203-9092, Naturally Superior Adventures, August 15-17, Women on the Water: Canoeing Expedition, Thunder Bay, ON An introductory experience designed for women with adventurous spirits but limited time. The days will be a combination of instruction, paddling and play with time to sit back, relax and savour. Contact Sue Holloway (807) 473-4599, August 21-24, Lake Superior Goes Greenland, Wawa, ON Join Naturally Superior Adventures for Ontario’s only Greenland-style sea kayak symposium. This event is perfect for firsttime and experienced Greenland-style paddlers alike. Registration includes the use of a handmade paddle, a beach campsite and hearty, home-cooked meals at Rock Island Lodge. Contact (800) 203-9092, www. August 22-23, Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival, Duluth, MN An annual fundraising event organized by the Superior Rotary Club and Duluth’s Harbortown Rotary Club. The race is held in the Superior Bay off Barkers Island in Superior, WI and includes a traditional dragon boat race as well as a host of other exciting and entertaining festivities. www. August 23, Women at the Helm, Thunder Bay, ON Boats of all shapes and sizes line up at

Marina Park to cruise inside the break wall for the “Irene Prezio Race for Hope - Women at the Helm”, a fundraiser for the Northern Cancer Research Foundation for cancer research, treatment and patient care. Contact (807) 345-4673,, www.ncrf.

Biking, Running & Hiking June 21, Grandma’s Marathon, Duluth, MN More than a 26.2-mile race, Grandma’s Marathon is a celebration of running with live entertainment, fabulous food, a health & fitness expo and activities for the whole family. Contact (218) 727-0947, e-mail, www. June 22, Dirt Spanker Classic, Mont Du Lac Ski Area, Duluth, MN Dirtspanker has been labeled one of the top race courses in the Midwestern States. With a five mile loop that consists of leg burning climbs, screaming descents and rolling singletrack, it challenges every rider. This course offers something for everyone, www. June 28-29, 10th Annual 24-Hour Mountain Bike Marathon for MS, Thunder Bay, ON If you and your friends enjoy mountain biking and having a good time, this event is for you. Help raise money and awareness to fight Multiple Sclerosis, eat great food, get exercise and have fun (tip: bring extra clothes). Contact (807) 344-2944, www. July 1, Canada Day Kakabeka 5K, Kakabeka Falls, ON Visit the village of Kakabeka and participate in the first annual 5-km run and walk through the gravel and paved trails of Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. The event will also include a kids’ fun run. Contact Michael OConnor, (807) 344-0402,, July 6, 3rd Annual Duluth Duathlon, Duluth, MN The race starts at Lester Park and consists of three legs, 3.3-mile trail run, a 20.4-mile road bike, and another 3.3-mile trail run. Register at or Contact Clayton Keim, e-mail sales@rollerskishop. com, July 19, Parks Day, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, MN Experience the beauty and spectacular views at Rainbow Falls. Hike the Superior Trail, the Back 40 Trail, or the Rainbow Falls Trail. Contact the park for further information on other activities offered for Parks Day, Contact (807) 824-2298 July 12, Thunder Bay Triathlon, and Duathlon, Thunder Bay, ON Held at Boulevard Lake, participants may enter either as individuals or as a team. There is also a “fat tire” category for mountain bikers (no slicks) and a family participation award for the family with the greatest number of athletes participating in both the Kids of Steel and Adult Triathlons combined. Contact Tom or Deb at (807) 7689243,, www.

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SuperiorOutdoors EventListing July 11, Kids of Steel Triathlon, Thunder Bay, ON Held at Boulevard Lake, this is a pint-sized version of the triathlon with distances and events tailored to specific age groups. This Triathlon is one of nine such events across Ontario. Youths that compete in one or more events collect series points. Contact Tom or Deb at (807) 768-9243,, www. July 26-27, Penn Lake Pursuit Triathlon, Marathon, ON Join the Freely Altered States Triathlon Club if: you don’t mind everyone wanting to know your name; you would like to swim in a clean spring-fed lake; you would like to ride a technical bike course; you would like a hill in your run course; or, if you are new to triathlon, or are a pro trying to break the course record. This race has all of the necessary potential for a good time. July 27, Inline Skate for MS, Thunder Bay, ON Be a part of Thunder Bay’s only inline skating race along scenic Lakeshore Drive. The race is a 1⁄2 marathon and the registration fee is waived for participants that raise more than $100 in pledges. Contact (807) 344-2944, August 9, Paju Mountain Run, Red Rock, ON This is a one-of-a-kind road race that covers 11.5 km from the Town of Red Rock to the summit of Paju Mountain. Don’t forget to check out the view when you stop to catch your breath! The event provides a challenge to all classes of runners and walkers and takes place during the weekend of the Folk Festival. Contact the Recreation Department, (807) 886-2284, August 16, Conquer the Dog Triathlon & Relay, Thunder Bay, ON This is not a typical triathlon, so come prepared to kayak or canoe, run and mountain bike. There are options to compete as an individual or team (relay). Contact Jennifer Thierault at (807) 933-4241 or Judi Vinni at (807) 933-4147,www.conquerthedog. ca July 27, Powder Monkey, Spirit Mountain, Duluth, MN Racers that make the trip up to Duluth for the Powder Monkey Mountain Bike Race will be treated to one wild ride. The race course is a single-track loop on mountainous terrain - a challenge for all levels of mountain bikers,

include a pre-race pasta dinner, 20-km Mountain Bike and 5-km Run, and Scenic Bike Tours. E-mail info@sawtoothchallenge. com,

photography, wood, painting, leather, and two and three dimensional mixed media. Contact Carla Tamburro (218) 428-1916, www.

September 5, Superior Sawtooth 100-Mile Trail Run, Two Harbors, MN No, it’s not a typo – this is a long run that starts at Gooseberry Falls State Park and finishes near the Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen. Contact Larry Pederson (507) 753-2240,, www.

July 1, Canada Day Celebrations, Pukaskwa National Park, ON The festivities include a Pipe Ceremony to open the Anishinaabe Encampment, Aboriginal drumming, raising of the four colours flag, bannock and berries at the Anishinaabe Encampment and a sunset ceremony. Contact (807) 229-0801,, pukaskwa

September 6, Superior Trail 50 Mile, Lutsen, MN The race headquarters is the Caribou Highlands Lodge and the course covers challenging terrain at Lutsen Mountains. Contact Larry Pederson (507) 7532240,, www. September 21, Cross County Round-up Mountain Bike Festival, Thunder Bay, ON This festival is the final event in Thunder Bay’s mountain bike season. Contact the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club for details on the location, (807) 624-4270, www. September 27, Hike For Health, Red Rock, Ontario Organized by the Land of Nipigon Waterways and Nipigon Rotary Club, this annual event benefits local and area charities. This is a family event that includes breakfast, free transportation to the trailhead and prizes. Contact (807) 887-3138, October 26, Kamview Half Marathon & Relay, Thunder Bay, ON In this trail run at the Kamview Nordic Centre, participants have the option of running the full distance or entering as part of a relay team. Visit for photos of last year’s event. Contact Al Cranston @ Fresh Air Experience (807) 623-9393.

Arts & Culture June 19-22, Echoes Drum Festival, Sault Ste. Marie, ON All night Drumming Circle, First Nation Drummers, women’s hand drum groups and drum-making classes. Activities and entertainment for all ages, displays by a variety of craftspeople, artists, and vendors. Contact Jackie Fletcher, (705) 253-381, e-mail, www.

July 27, Up & Down Relay Race and BBQ, Thunder Bay, ON This race is held at the former Mount McKay Ski Area on the Fort William First Nation. A BBQ, games (e.g. bike limbo) and draws will be held after the race. Contact the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club, (807) 624-4270,

June 20-22, Wooden Boat Show & Summer Solstice Festival, Grand Marais, MN North House’s biggest celebration of its educational mission. Harbor-side activities, music, Lake Superior chowder, demonstrations, workshops and much more. This year’s featured guest is John Jennings, author of Legacy of the Birch Bark Canoe. Contact (888) 387-9762, info@northhouse. org,

August 23, Sawtooth Challenge Mountain Bike Races & Festival, Grand Marais, MN This is a family-oriented festival celebrating fitness and safety, with plenty of opportunities to get out and ride in the unique wilderness terrain surrounding Grand Marais. Events

June 28-29, Park Point Art Fair, Park Point Recreational Area, Duluth, MN For 38 years the Park Point Community Club signature event has been the art fair. This is a juried exhibition of original, handmade work in clay, jewelry, glass, fiber, sculpture,


Superior Outdoors

July 5-6, Women of Fiber - Art Exhibition, Lutsen, MN This unique exhibition features the work of Debbie Cooter, Nancy Daley, Judie Johnson, Erika Mock, Jo Wood and others showing their work, with periodic demonstrations and live music. Contact the Last Chance Gallery (218) 663-7008, July 6-8, Thunder Bay Blues Festival, Thunder Bay, ON Enjoy the view of the Sleeping Giant while listening to musicians such as Wayne Shephard, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues, and more. The festival is held at Marina Park and has great music, a great atmosphere and great food, www. July 10-14, The Great Rendezvous, Fort William Historical Park, Thunder Bay, ON The Great Rendezvous celebrates the spirit of the Canadian fur trade with re-enactors from across the continent. The arrival of the David Thompson Brigade will coincide with the Rendezvous on July 12. This will mark the end of their 3600 km journey that began in Alberta on May 10. Contact Chaltrek/Ostrom Outdoors if you are interested in volunteering, (807) 473-4477. For information on the Great Rendezvous, contact (807) 473-2344, www. July 12-13, Grand Marais Arts Festival, Grand Marais, MN This is an outdoor event on the shore of Lake Superior. The weekend-long family event also features a juried art show with all original works, live music, food booths, a pie social, fiber arts demonstrations, and children’s activities. Contact (800) 385-9585,, www.grandmaraisartcolony. org July 23-27, FinnFest 2008, Duluth, MN This festival offers a variety of concerts, lectures, dance performances, tours and art exhibitions, and nightly dancing, www. July 31 – August 3, Fisherman’s Picnic, Grand Marais, MN This event offers a wide variety of activities, games, contests, live music, fireworks, and special food (fishburgers, of course!), www. or August 1-3, Blueberry Blast Festival, Nipigon, ON This weekend features various family events and loads of blueberries. Shuttles will transport pickers to and from blueberry patches. Come and celebrate and have a

SuperiorOutdoors EventListing berry nice time, August 7-10, 20th Annual Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth, MN This music festival features a variety of blues artists performing on three stages. Visit www. August 8-10, 23rd Annual Nostalgia Days, Neys Provincial Park, ON Celebrate the rich cultural history of Neys Provincial Park. This fun-filled weekend includes a Spirit Campfire, Games, Bannock Bread, a Scavenger Hunt and theatrical presentation the whole family will enjoy. Contact (807) 229-1624 August 8-10, Live From the Rock Folk Festival, Red Rock, ON A three-day festival celebrating the arts on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior, the event is held at Pul-a-log Park in Red Rock, and includes an arts and crafts sale, a variety of food vendors and camping on the festival grounds, August 8-10, Grand Portage Rendezvous, Grand Portage, MN Re-enactors from across Canada gather to camp and challenge each other to games and skills from our historic past. Music, dancing, craft demonstrations and hands-on workshops ensure an exciting weekend at the Grand Portage National Monument, grpo August 15-17, Anishnawbe Keeshigun, Thunder Bay, ON Experience Aboriginal culture with traditional dancing, singing & drumming at Old Fort William. Enjoy tasty treats & join in the bannock making contest. August 22-31, Pleine Aire Outdoor Painting Competition, Grand Marais, MN Art work created on location in Cook County following the European tradition of pleine aire outdoor painting. Artists’ reception, judging, cash prizes, public viewing & purchasing at the exhibition sale. Come paint the Natural Beauty of Lake Superior’s North Shore. www. August 28 – September 1, Nipigon Fall Fishing Festival, Nipigon, ON The town of Nipigon has this event perfected and 2008 will mark the 44th anniversary. The event includes activities for the entire family and thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Contact (877) 596-1359, edcoff@nwconx. net, September 5, Riverfest, Thunder Bay, ON Reconnect, discover and celebrate the River at the Kaministiquia River Heritage Park. Events include tours of the historic James Whalen Tug Boat, live entertainment and activities for the whole family. Contact (807) 625-2487, September 11-14, Bay Street Film Festival, Thunder Bay, ON This festival features local, national and international film and video, and provides a meeting place to share ideas and spark collaborations. September 27-28, Unplugged VII - The Northern Harvest, Grand Marais, MN

Help secure the North House’s future by participating in a weekend filled with fantastic music, slow food, an international guest artisan, thoughtful conversation and relaxation on campus. Contact (888) 387-9762,,

Environmental June, September through November (various dates), Lifelong Ecological Consciousness Community Learning Program, Thunder Bay, ON The focus of this program is on understanding ecological systems, our role within these systems and how these systems impact our lives. Dr. Tom Puk, Professor of Ecological Consciousness, will help you gain a new perspective on living, knowing that others are striving for the same harmonious future. This program is open to all citizens, contact (807) 629-6214,, June 5-8, Boreal Birding & Northern Landscapes Festival, Grand Marais, MN With a focus on sharing the excitement and curiosity of field exploration, time spent in the field is complemented by opportunities to relax and share conversation. Whether you are working on your “birding life list,” curious about rocks, or simply hoping to explore northern forests, participants of all ages and abilities are welcome. Contact (888) 3879762,, www.northhouse. org June 7, National Trails Day, United States (various locations) American Hiking Society’s signature trail awareness program, National Trails Day®, inspires the public and trail enthusiasts to seek out their favorite trails to discover, learn about, and celebrate trails while participating in educational exhibits, trail dedications, gear demonstrations, instructional workshops and trail work projects, events/ntd June 14, Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, Finger Point Trail Field Trip, Thunder Bay, ON This is a 5 km trail, moderate climbing is required on the last portion of the trail. The hike starts at the Ontario information building at Pigeon River, participants will meet at the Arthur Street Market Place (infront of the athletic facility). Bring lunch and insect repellant; confirmation of attendance is required. Contact Brian Moore (807) 3442986, July 5-August 30 (Saturdays), Sugarloaf Cove, MN Sugarloaf Cove is located on Lake Superior, 73 miles north of Duluth and 4 miles south of Schroeder. The interpretive center offers opportunities to learn about the natural and human history of the North Shore, with a State Scientific and Natural Area at its core. Contact (218) 525-0001, molly@sugarloafnorthshore. org, July 11-13, Lake Superior Sand & Sun Weekend, Neys Provincial Park, ON A weekend of exciting family programs by the Natural Heritage Education staff. Enjoy the spectacular Superior sand & sun while strolling down the beautiful beach. Contact (807) 229-1624.

July 14-19, Isle Royale Sailing Adventure, Grand Marais, MN Join the North House Folk School aboard their schooner and explore the rugged and isolated waters in and around Isle Royale. Contact (888) 387-9762,, www. July 20, Lake Superior Day, Lakewide The Lake Superior Binational Forum looks forward to a successful Lake Superior Day this and every year, and hopes each community will join the celebrations taking place around the lake. Contact the US Forum Coordinator at (715) 682-1489,, or the Canadian Forum Coordinator at (807) 343-8811, August 8-10, Festival of the Giant, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park , ON Join us for the 22nd annual Festival of the Giant. Hosted by the Friends of Sleeping Giant, this is a great event for the entire family that includes games, a corn roast, a sand sculpture contest, demonstrations and a theatrical program. Contact (807) 977-2526. September 1-6, Straw Bale Building Workshop, Nolalu, ON Come and learn about strawbale buildings and gain hands-on experience while participating in building a strawbale cabin. Contact (807) 474-3968, www. September 20-21, Wind Power Workshop, Nolalu, ON Learn about wind power and participate in the installation of a wind tower. This event is weather permitting, please call to confirm the dates. Contact (807) 474-3968, www. September 21, Beach Sweep, Lakewide Volunteer some of your time for this annual event to help keep Lake Superior’s shoreline clean. Contact your local information centre for details. September 24-26, Children’s Water Festival, Thunder Bay, ON The Thunder Bay Children’s Water Festival provides hands-on activities, discussions, demonstrations, displays and exhibits that challenge students to consider the importance of groundwater and surface water. Contact Joanne Wolnik, (807) 344-5857, www. September 26-27, Sault Ste. Marie Source Water Festival, Sault Ste. Marie, ON The goal of this Festival is to educate students about the importance of water conservation, protection, technology and ecology. Contact Christine Aasan, e-mail October 27-28, Minnesota Water Resources Conference, St. Paul, MN The Minnesota Water Resources Conference presents innovative and practical water resource management techniques, and highlights research about Minnesota’s water resources. Contact Sara Van Essendelft, (612) 624-3708,, www.

Superior Outdoors



Travis Novitsky

Manido Gizhigans Known as “Manido Gizhigans” to the Ojibwa people, the Spirit Little Cedar Tree (commonly known as the “Witch Tree”) has been watching over the waters of Lake Superior on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation for an estimated 300-400 years. The tree has spiritual significance to the native Ojibwa people of Grand Portage, and the land the tree lives on is considered a sacred area. Whenever someone crosses the waters of the big lake, the tradition is to pass by the tree before starting the journey and sprinkle some tobacco at the base of the tree as an offering to the Great Spirit in return for a safe journey across the big lake. The Grand Portage Reservation has protocols in place to protect the tree. Access is only permitted by taking a guided tour with a naturalist from the Grand Portage Lodge. Travis Novitsky


Superior Outdoors

Join us for the North of Superior Kayak Symposium at Chippewa Park July 12th and 13th Live Music • BBQ • Demos • Lessons • Tours and much more!

To reserve your tickets call 684-9555 or online at

244 Pearl Street, Thunder Bay © Photo: Mirella Girard

Call 1-800-MOST-FUN ext. 48 for your Free Visitor’s Guide

Superior Outdoors - Summer 08  

In this issue: Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, circumnavigation of Lake Superior by kayak, The Slate Islands, The Pukaskwa...

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