Day 40 – Wawa to Agawa Bay, Lake Superior Provincial Park.
I know that many of you will have seen this beautiful David St John poem, posted in comments by my mum, but it’s been on my mind today and I thought it might be nice to post it properly here on the blog to kick things off today. I identify with the feeling of being no-one in a great expanse, and I think I’m missing my two lads. Susie too of course, but I think that’s another poem. Suggestions? Absent loved ones, far away?
In the High Country, by David St John
Some days I am happy to be no one
The shifting grasses
In the May winds are miraculous enough
As they ripple through the meadow of lupine
The field as iridescent as a Renaissance heaven
And do you see that boy with his arms raised
Like one of Raphael’s angels held within
This hush and this pause and the sky’s lapis expanse?
That boy is my son and I am his only father
Even when I am no one.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): 55/87
- Time in saddle: 4h 20
- Max/min temp (°c): 47 (must be a glitch!)°/15°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 2324 / 2673
- Calories used: 2942
- Cafe time: 1h 32
I woke very early and decided to get myself together without too much delay, making coffee on my stove outside the motel room door so as not to set off the smoke alarm, and eating bagels. I was glad to see the back of the Highway 17 Motel (do avoid it, fellow traveller, if at all possible) and handed in my key to a last, farewell “See you, Buck!”. After only a kilometre or two I passed this sign which gave me an idea as to why he was so keen that this should be my name:
I was heading straight in to the Lake Superior National Park, and checking my online maps I knew that I was going to be climbing/descending all morning to cross over to Agawa Bay on the other side of Cap Chaillon. I was originally thinking I’d go further today, to Sault Ste. Marie (aka The Soo – thanks for that, Mayta!), but after yesterday I decided that most of all I needed to enjoy the day, and it didn’t disappoint:
At the bay I made my first stop, for a very squashed but delicious muffin and the inevitable trail mix:
Then, as I left the coast and headed to the inland hilly section, I met a Dutch chap, called Jacob. He appeared out of nowhere next to me on his very nice titanium road bike, which I duly admired, (Chris King headsets and parts always look the business, eh bike-fanciers?) and we hooked up and chatted for while as we climbed. He’s crossing Canada too, but has a support vehicle driven by his wife with a neat mini-caravan towed behind for sleeping in. To see such a nice bike with so little carried on it did give me pause for thought, and as is often the case he didn’t ask about my touring set-up. I find road-bike types (and that would include me really, in the past), from Jacob to the chap who runs the local bike shop at home where I’ve bought a couple of bikes, generally have absolutely no interest in non-speed machines, even if I built it myself like this one and would happily talk about it for hours! Maybe that’s why they avoid the subject…
His support vehicle (I shouted “Soigneur, soigneur!” as I passed) was waiting for him at various stopping places along the highway. To be honest, I didn’t quite get how his trip works, because I think he hopped in the car at one point far ahead of me and sped off. Maybe not, Jacob, please put me straight!
A couple of signs for you all – now what are the chances of coming across a lake named after my father, with a lake right next door to it named after my mother? These incredible coincidences just keep happening on this trip:
Being in the Lake Superior Provincial Park was such a pleasure after the grottiness of Wawa that my spirits soared like the mighty eagle. I kept my bow tight, my arrow sharp, and I put not one penny into showbusiness. Some long hills followed, then I descended to Katherine Cove, where I stopped to eat my packed lunch. It was absolutely stunning, and I planned to take a video-clip of a lake swim as I’ve done before on this trip. It turned out to be so shockingly cold and shallow that I just sort of splashed myself instead, whilst the only two people for miles around strolled curiously past my iPad:
As it was Friday, the weather was clearly improving, and last night’s motel experience being still fresh in my mind, I thought that getting to the campsite early was possibly the only way to guarantee a spot. Once the US finishes their 4th July celebrations, the local wisdom is that they all head off on a loop of Lake Superior. I’ve met loads of people from Michigan (Green Bay, Grand Rapids and lots from Chicago), so Canada has been filling up with Americans this week (Hi Dawn and Mark – how’s the loop going?! Thought of Mark’s Dutch roots today when I met Jacob) This spurred me on up the hills, which wasn’t the plan today at all, but I can’t help it.
I’m now blissfully set up in amongst tall pine trees, a stone’s-throw from the beach where I’ve just had an early-evening swim and rinsed out my clothes before cooking some supper:
…as people gradually arrive for the weekend at this superb wooded campsite right on the lake. I’m going to be jealous of campers staying on when I leave tomorrow, but at least I’ve had a great long afternoon of it today for once. Here is a tribute to an earlier tree-post (ha!) on the blog from Vancouver Island :
I’ve been thinking about my new Canadian cycling persona, Buck Torn, and wondering if I might perhaps be related to the late great US actor Rip Torn, so wonderful in the Men in Black films and, best of all, as the director in Garry Shandling’s US tv series from the 90s about the world of the chatshow, The Larry Sanders Show (I miss it! Make some more). I tried so hard to find a Rip Torn / Sanders clip that wasn’t Parental Advisory (I even tried his infamous fight with Norman Mailer in the 60s – unusable!), but failed. Instead, let’s enjoy a bit of a young Rip, in the Steve McQueen movie The Cincinnati Kid, with Edward G Robinson:
Just a couple more signs that caught my eye
This painting by JEH MacDonald, one of the illustrious Ontario artists known as the Group of Seven, was part of a display board, set up on an easel as if just painted this morning, amongst the trees beside Katherine Cove. This location on the lake was the inspiration for this imagined scene.