Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 12

Q - What is one river trip that will always stand out in your mind and why?

A - An unforgettable river trip was when we paddled along Lake Superior’s north shore from the Pic River in Pukaskwa National Park to the Michipicoten River. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, and one of the wildest! It can be a hair-raising experience because the weather and waves can change very quickly from calm and enjoyable, to extremely rough with high waves and life-threatening situations.

I will never forget when we were trying to beat a big storm that was brewing on Superior and we were paddling hard to get off the lake and enter into the mouth of the Michipicoten River. We were riding huge waves coming in off the lake which were meeting a fast and hard current coming out of the mouth of the river, and it all came together to create massive haystacks directly in our path. I remember turning around in a state of extreme anxiety, to see what my husband was doing in the stern. I’ll never forget the big smile on his face - he was in a state of bliss, but we were riding on the crest of waves that were so high I couldn’t even touch the water with my paddle. I won’t repeat what I said to him, but it was basically, get me out of here – now!

Meanwhile a group of people were watching us from shore as we navigated these huge waves, and all were amazed that we made it in to shore unscathed - but I was shaking in my boots. That night the wind was so strong that it broke two of our tents right down to the ground around the ears of our sleeping paddling partners – but fortunately our tent was spared.

There were many close calls and terrifying moments, like the time when in broad daylight a bear raided one of our tents and ran off with some apparently tasty shampoo. Also, an incident where we didn’t read the rapids quite right, flipped the canoe, and the two of us ended up in the river frantically grabbing for our belongings as they floated by. Thankfully our paddle partners came to the rescue.

There is nothing so unforgiving and powerful as the water, rocks and waves. When paddling, you learn to respect the power of water.