Joanie and Gary joined my Dad and I to make the 12 km crossing to Parisienne Island.

Although the waters were fairly calm, we needed to keep an eye on our compasses and GPS as the island was obscured in the hazy horizon. Along the way we could hear the chugging of a lake freighter that soon came into sight as the island began to take shape. With something to aim at we made quick time getting to the island, paddling over far out shoals and turquoise waters.

three people sitting on logs, enjoying lunch on a sandy beach

After a much needed break on the beach, we explored the peninsula noticing beach peas, wild strawberries, bull frogs, skimmers, and old abandoned lighthouse buildings.

We decided to take advantage of the great weather by paddling around the far west and exposed side of the island. We were rewarded with views of red sandstone shelves extending 100s of meters into the lake, perched eagles, flitting kingfishers and peculiar looking rocks. Floatsam was common along the shores with buoys and nets dominating the west side and docks most common on the north side. Storms had battered the rocks and boards into smooth and gentle surfaces. Amazingly, trees grew right to the edge of the shore, sometimes leaning over the sandstone edge like a trapeze artist.

close up of an interesting rock, smoothed over by wave action

The conserved status of the island and its remote location made us wonder whether the island had ever been logged. What a neat thing to see a forest untouched by harvesting. Would the trees be wide? Tall? Wizened with age? Great white pines with thick trunks reached into the sky while other conifers and hardwoods seemed smaller and bent to the winds. Arriving at our beach campsite for the night, a boom log serving as a bench reminded us that the shipping channel was not far away and many logging operations converged at Sault Ste Marie. Day 3 we head for Maple Island and depending on the weather, the Sandy islands.

kayak sitting on shore near a low rock ledge

By: Peter Greve