Day 8 was spent following the coastal trail and we chatted with many hikers along the way. We were surprised to hear from people that travelled from all over the country. We also talked with one group we knew from the Sault. The geology was spectacular, but we also enjoyed the fun of paddling in a building swell. When we were hidden from the swell we were able to enjoy the still waters between islands. The gap was so narrow at times, you might think that you were on a river.

Some parts had current or seiches that helped us along our way. We took some forks with dead ends, going with my instincts rather than the map. Although it was 3 in the afternoon, the lighting in the sky made it feel like 8. We paddled one of our longest days in this twilight zone, experiencing days worth of weather in one. There were no eagles to be seen, but we managed to spot 6 loons, most in singles or pairs. At our lunch break we observed an aerial show from two hawks. With an early start and short breaks we made it into camp for dinner, a swim, and small fire. Our fire was nested between perpendicular, vertical rock walls; perfect for backrests and to contain the heat from the fire. Today also marked our first clear sunset.

man posing for the camera with kayaks behind him

My thoughts on conserved places turned a bit sour for a while. I felt saddened to realize that these places are becoming more accessible for wealthy from far-away places and less accessible for those who call the lake home. It seems increasingly unlikely that a young person will be able to make the trip from the Sault to Wawa by paddling. With campsites being shut down or getting harder to secure, it seems like a dim future. Suddenly, I was not eager to explore and with the campsite within an hour’s reach, I plodded on with a vacant and defeated mindset.

As if the lake heard my thoughts, the sun poured down on us and the swell doubled behind us. I was reminded of the joy of riding waves—something that can be enjoyed nearly anywhere on the lake and my sense of joy, excitement and discovery was revitalized. Perhaps things would change and people would need to experience the lake differently. No place on the lake is truly wild or devoid of human impact. We can still enjoy feeling small, contemplative, and joyful next to the lake whether we are at Pointe des Chenes or Pukaskwa.

close-up of an old fishing lure found on a rocky shore

By: Peter Greve