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Thread: Michipicoten River and Lake Superior Provincial Park

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Default Michipicoten River and Lake Superior Provincial Park

    We left lower Michigan, taking Trans Canada hwy 17 north from Sault St. Marie. There is a string of Ontario Provincial Parks along the way, Batchawana River and Bay, Pancake Bay, the huge Lake Superior Provincial Park, and Michipicoten Bay. Then hwy 17 turns inland, through Wa Wa, and across the top of Pukuskwa National Park.

    All of these we had visited on a previous trip, in 2004. This time we were returning to focus on Lake Superior Provincial Park. Here's their official map. The first two nights we stayed at Rock Island Lodge, on a rocky extension of the mouth of the Michipicoten River. Below the map is a space view of the Rock Island grounds.

    IMG by ezwater, on Flickr

    SuperiorAdventures by ezwater, on Flickr

    First, from our 2004 photos, a brief sample of what one sees in Lake Superior Provincial Park. Then I'll post pictures of my paddling trip down the last ten miles of the Michipicoten River. Finally, for those who are still around, I'll post pictures of more features of the park.

    The Agawa cliffs and the First Nations petroglyphs on them.

    nsuper18 by ezwater, on Flickr

    nsuper17 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Orphan Lake with Lake Superior in the background.

    nsuper30 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Patterned rocks along the Orphan Lake hiking loop.

    nsuper47 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Rocky coves along the coast.

    nsuper26 by ezwater, on Flickr

    nsuper24 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Falls on the Sand River.

    nsuper19 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Old Woman Bay

    nsuper27 by ezwater, on Flickr

    The never-ending coastal rock mill.

    nsuper49 by ezwater, on Flickr

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Atlanta, Georgia, USA


    Our first full day in the Park, the wind was too high for paddling anywhere. We pre-scouted the shuttle road to the put-in, but spent the rest of the day visiting bays and headlands on the coast.

    The second day brought low winds and cool, cloudy weather. We drove again to the put-in and I prepared to set out.

    IMG_5950 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Here's a map of the ten mile run.

    MichiRiverRunOverview by ezwater, on Flickr

    Note the glacier-gouged low ridges at the top and bottom, while the river runs through mainly flat land. The river has eroded and filled an estuary. At the extreme right, the put-in is just below a dam and generating station. Above that is a lake, and a ways upstream, another dam and generating station, and so on. Many rivers follow this pattern in the area.

    Note also the cut-off meander above the river, just west of hwy 17. Another meander is very close to cutting itself off at the neck.

    Finally on the river. It remained dark and cloudy most of the day, and while it didn't seem that dark to my eyes, my camera didn't deal with it that well, an ISO setting of 400 and a 2.8 maximum aperture notwithstanding. My editing has not been enough to remove the low contrast and low light level. Deal with it.

    IMG_5951 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Looking upstream, the dam, generating plant, and an easy rapid.

    IMG_0426 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Gravel beds channeling the stream. The flow was low but adequate to avoid scraping.

    IMG_0429 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Red-tinged grass lined the more stable gravel banks.

    IMG_0432 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0433 by ezwater, on Flickr

    There were occasional very easy class 1 rapids.

    IMG_0434 by ezwater, on Flickr

    The forest along the Michipicoten grows in a mixture of organic humus, sand, and pebbles. When the river undercuts the soil, the pebbles fall out and soon form a partial barrier against further erosion.

    IMG_0436 by ezwater, on Flickr

    The river cuts around a gravel bed.

    IMG_0438 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Sloping sand bluffs begin to appear.

    IMG_0439 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0440 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0441 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0442 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0443 by ezwater, on Flickr

    How were such deep sand deposits laid down? They could not have been created only by wind, because there is rounded river and lake gravel mixed into the sand throughout. The layering, as seen in the next picture, is also too horizontal for creation by wind. It is said that the river and the lake layered the sand and gravel, as Lake Superior dropped by stages after the last ice age.

    IMG_0446 by ezwater, on Flickr

    I stopped for a rest at the mouth of a large creek.

    IMG_0448 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0451 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0452 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Back on the water, I saw three of these birds, apparently raptors, sitting in trees high up on the bluff. I can only say that they aren't ospreys, aren't eagles, aren't Coopers Hawks, etc. Probably they are siblings from a brood hatched this year.

    IMG_0456 by ezwater, on Flickr

    At last, some blue sky!

    IMG_0459 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0461 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0462 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0463 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Bedrock appears along the left bank.

    IMG_0464 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Coming in sight of the hwy 17 bridge.

    IMG_0467 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Near the bridge on the left bank is this historical marker. The Michipicoten did serve as part of a portage route between James Bay and Lake Superior. The pool-drop nature of the Michipicoten made it more suitable for paddling, poling, towing, and portaging large freight canoes upstream to link with other rivers.

    IMG_5927 by ezwater, on Flickr

    There's a small bedrock rapid under the bridge. Bridge builders often seek exposed bedrock along rivers to gain firm footing.

    IMG_0468 by ezwater, on Flickr

    The sand bluffs resume.

    IMG_0469 by ezwater, on Flickr

    With somewhat improved light, I thought I should pick some flowers. These little violet blossoms caught my eye.

    IMG_0471 by ezwater, on Flickr

    There were several kinds of daisies.

    IMG_0474 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Lots of things I couldn't name.

    IMG_0475 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0476 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0478 by ezwater, on Flickr

    This may be the point where the river is about to cut through the neck of the cutoff meander.

    IMG_0477 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Project1 by ezwater, on Flickr

    More bedrock outcroppings.

    IMG_0480 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Orange lichen always welcome on a cloudy day.

    IMG_0481 by ezwater, on Flickr

    A red boat brightens things too.

    IMG_0484 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0485 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0489 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0491 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Stopping to stretch again.

    IMG_0490 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Back on the water, and passing the mouth of the cut off meander. Like many such on many streams, it is called the "Dead River."

    IMG_0488 by ezwater, on Flickr

    I'm now headed north, nearing "town," the hamlet of Michipicoten River. I'll skip pictures of the boat marina.

    IMG_0493 by ezwater, on Flickr

    In a side pocket on the north bank, the Magpie River enters over Mission Falls. Parts of the Magpie can be paddled, between falls and power projects, though in this August it was too low.

    IMG_0496 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Little rocky islands at the mouth of the Mission Falls pool.

    IMG_0497 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Grass and tiny flowers along one of the islands.

    IMG_0499 by ezwater, on Flickr

    IMG_0501 by ezwater, on Flickr

    The outlet from the last Magpie River power generating plant.

    IMG_0504 by ezwater, on Flickr

    A water blossom I'd never noticed before.

    IMG_0505 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Nearing the river's mouth.

    IMG_0508 by ezwater, on Flickr

    Rock Island on the right, where we were staying. The long sand spit of Michipicoten Provincial Park on the left. The buoy is sitting in the exit channel to Lake Superior.

    IMG_0511 by ezwater, on Flickr

    That's it for the 2nd installment. We would spend seven days in the Park, exploring rivers, inland lakes, and coves. More pictures later.
    Last edited by ezwater; 21st-August-2012 at 08:50 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Looks excellent.

    Just been following the canoe trail by satellite to James Bay. You can work it out fairly easily from 100 miles up, but it must have been a bit different on the ground hundreds of years ago. I find it quite interesting since its "development" from the 1770s was around the same moment in time that the Basingstoke Canal was built. A rather contrasting pair of "motorways" of their day!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    kingston on thames surrey


    a great looking paddle with as usual an informative blogg,,Jim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007


    Thanks for that ezwater.

    I particularly like the pictures from the shore of Lake Superior.
    It looks so much like the sea, it's hard to get my head around the fact that you could scoop that water up and drink it!
    Cheers, Pieface.

    "What's so special about the cheesemakers?"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Amsterdam, Netherlands


    looks like great place. thanks a lot for showing it so well!

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