Sunday, July 27, 2008

Round Gitchee Gumee

One of the most beautiful and spectacular spots on Lake Superior is the Rock Island Lodge, owned and operated by the folks at Naturally Superior Adventures. It sits on a rocky point at the mouth of the Michipicoten River near Wawa, ON, with sand beach extending to the south and the highlands of Mountain Ash Hill, Bare Summit, and Paugon Hill to the west. Naturally Superior is a superb kayak outfitter, teaching and instruction center, and workshop sponsor. Check out their blog and website. They are a quality business with friendly folks, a professional demeanor, and an accommodating philosophy of operation. I can't say enough good things and neither can the Toronto Star or National Geographic.

As we sat on the deck, right on the rocky edge of Gitchee Gumee, enjoying two fine porters, Summit Great Northern and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, we watched two paddlers headed our way from a long ways off. They crossed the tricky and steep water at the mouth of the river and landed literally at our feet. When I asked them where they paddled from they told me, "Thunder Bay". We had stumbled upon (or vice versa) Karl Wilson and Dave Mcgratten, on the last leg of their Big Water Expedition, a kayak circumnavigation of Lake Superior. We chatted a bit, pointed them toward the beach where they could set up their tents, and offered them beers when they got settled in. I'm sure they had put on serious miles (kilometers in Canada) that day and must have crashed because we didn't see them again until morning.

Paddling around the lake is something I've always thought about. Since the most vacation I've had in a row since I was 18 was 10 days, I think it may need to wait until I'm retired if I'm going to seriously consider it. In the interim, I have a map of Lake Superior on the wall of my office and add the stretches of shoreline I've paddled with a red pen. I would like to get those beers to Karl and Dave however. From the SPOT tracker map it would appear they are almost to the Sleeping Giant. I guess I'll need to look them up next time I'm up Thunder Bay way.

P.S. Be sure to check out a new (to me anyhow) magazine that is published by a couple in Thunder Bay, Superior Outdoors. It comes out twice a year, the photography and stories are excellent, and yes, I am now a subscriber.

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