Friday, October 4, 2013

Lake Superior Provincial Park - Wawa

Heading to the pictographs! Look at their innocent faces!  Little do they know what lies in wait for them.
 Lake Superior Provincial Park is a large park located on the eastern shore of Lake Superior just south of Wawa.  If it about a 40 minute drive from Pancak Bay Provincial Park.  Even though it is a large park (it takes about 40 minutes just to drive from one end of the park to the other), there are only 227 campsites spread out over three campgrounds.  They also have many backcountry camping sites throughout the park.
A pictograpgh that I risked life and limb to get a picture of.
One of the main attractions at Lake Superior Provincial Park are the Agawa Rock Pictographs.  The hiking trail that leads to the pictographs is short and interesting in its own right but the actual pictographs are the main event.  Their age is in some dispute but they are at least a few hundred years old and they offer a fascinating glimpse into Canadian history.  The Pictograph hike is labelled as moderate on the official website.  Let me tell you, they lie.  A lot.  The part leading up to the lake is fine, a bit rugged if you have any mobility issues but nothing that able bodied kids in good shoes can't handle.  Then you get to the lake and shit gets real. 
Guys?  This is the trail.  I kid you not. 
So, you get to the edge of the lake and you are all, "ooh, look at this rugged beauty, isn't that something, hey where are the pictographs? .... oh!"  Yeah, they are down some stone "steps" and then you just sort of shimmy and slide your way along sloping wet rocks that lead directly into the freezing cold water of Lake Superior.  Well, don't mind if I do!
My kids, clinging to the chain that has been installed along the slippery slope.  You know, for safety.
So, off we go, being the adventurous types.  About halfway along the "trail" the chain that you are supposed to cling to for dear life, just stops.  The trail doesn't end, there are plenty more pictographs further along, just the chain.  I guess after that point you can just... slide to a watery grave when you are done looking at the pictographs?  That would help ease congestion on the trail I guess.
They have installed a rope.  You know, in case you fall in.  Right by the rope and someone is around to pull you out.  May as well have posted a sign that reads "See ya, suckers!"
So, at this point. I am fretting, to put it mildly.  The view is beautiful, the pictographs are exciting and interesting but it is just too nerve racking with small children in tow.  
Me, about halfway down the trail.
So, I retreated to the safety of the rocky coastline with the kids while my husband went to see the rest of the pictographs.
My husband, not actually defacing a great historical site.
Besides the pictographs there are lots of other things to see and do at Lake Superior Provincial Park.  We rented a canoe and toodled around Crescent Lake for an afternoon.  You can canoe on Lake Superior too of course but it was quite windy the day we went and I am not the most experienced canoer (canoeist?) so we opted for the small, calm interior lake.  It was overcast and rainy when we went canoeing so the clouds were low in the sky which meant that we actually canoed right through a couple of clouds which was pretty interesting.
Canoeing on a cloudy lake.
We also tried our hand at fishing. Unsuccessfully, as usual, might I add.  I think my husband repels fish in some way that can't be explained by science.  Some sort of reverse super power.  We did catch a leech though which was oddly exciting to my daughter.  
Fishing on Crescent Lake
We visited Sinclair Cove which is just down a little road from where you rent the canoes.  It was a rocky little inlet that people use to launch boats but my kids loved clambering over the rocks. 
My daughter liked to pretend these were dinosaur eggs.
The Visitor's Centre is great.  When we were there they had a presentation on fungus which is one of my favourite things in the whole world.  
Checking out the fungi display!
The young woman who did the presentation was great.  Very enthusiastic about fungus which  I, for one, appreciate.  
My reaction when I find someone who loves fungus as much as I do.
They have some other displays at the Visitor's Centre as well including a movie about a five day canoe trip down Sand River, located in the park.  My daughter was so riveted by this little movie that she is now planning a five day canoe trip for our family (that will never happen, bless her!)

Old Woman Bay
We also visited Old Woman Bay while we were in the park.  My kids liked collecting shells and rocks along the beach. 
Checking out the big goose in Wawa.
Things to keep in mind:
  • If you have a valid Ontario Parks permit you can visit any provincial park.  This is handy in this area because Pancake Bay Provincial Park and Bachawana Provincial Park are both less than an hour away so you can check out any of the parks for the price of one.
  • Lake Superior Provincial Park rivals Algonquin Park in terms of size but with far fewer camp sites.
  • Lake Superior is cold. Seriously, not chilly, cold!  Don't count on being able to swim for any length of time even in the summer.
  • If you leave the park and head north thinking you will find a restaurant you will be disappointed.  The closest restaurants or grocery stores or anything really are in Wawa which is about an hour drive away.  They do have the giant goose though, so what the heck, eh?  

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