Thursday, September 5, 2013


And so we come to the last section or our Canadian travels.... exploring Lake Superior Provincial Park. 

Our cabins at Sawpit were conveniently located only half an hour from the park entrance, and we were so entranced with its beauty that we devoted two (very) full days to hiking there.

Agawa Rocks

The first trail we arrived at was Agawa. "Agawa" is an Ojibwe word for "sheltered/sacred place", and Agawa Rocks is famous for its pictographs (dating from the 17th or 18th century).  This is one of the places I remembered pretty clearly from my childhood in Ontario.

The trail is rated as a moderate .5 km. With some steep and very rocky stretches we were enjoying the challenge and at times coaching the older two children through each step. Everyone passing us was commenting on our kids' hiking abilities, but we did choose to not take the two littlest ones out on the actual cliff face. 

Instead Clay gave Margaret and William each a turn going out along the lake to look at the paintings.

This is also the spot where we learned more about the "Mishepeshu", or Great Lynx -- the great spirit the Ojibwe believed controlled the waters of Lake Superior. The kids were fascinated by the stories the park guide told to them and they were talking and playing "mishepeshu" the entire rest of the trip. 

The depiction of mishepeshu is one of the most famous of the pictographs, and its figure is rather a haunting one. I didn't take the camera out with me along the cliff, but you can see a replica here:

This is where it is said that the Thunderbird got angry with Mishepeshu and shot lightning through the rocks:

And of course we had to get a "next generation" picture near the rocks:

A wonderful hike with gorgeous scenery...

Kathrine's Cove

This was recommended to us by a park guide for a nice picnic and swimming area for the kids. 

Margaret was so excited that it was named after her little cousin, she requested that we take a picture to document the fact.

We chose to hike all the way down the beach to a secluded rocky area for a more private and rugged landscape.


After a picnic lunch on the rocks, shared with the gulls, we all braved the Lake Superior waters. Except for Susannah, and William and Amelia didn't get past their waistlines. Clay and I got all the way in several times each but had to keep switching off to get warm in between romping in the water with Margaret. Margaret was in her element.



Another Ojibwe word, Pinguisibi means "river of fine white sand", and this trail follows the Sand River. It is rated as an easy 6 km, but this was our last hike on the first day so we made it up to the second large waterfall and then retraced our steps. This was the other trail that I vividly remember hiking as child. 


My hiking buddy:


It's hard to watch where I'm going when she's so cute.


 The 'shrooms of Sand River:


He's a lumberjack and he's okay, he sleeps all night and he works all day....

Crescent Lake

An easy 2 km trail starting at Crescent Lake and touching the edges of MacGregor and Mud Lakes. The kids enjoyed pretending to walk Indian file and spotting beaver signs around the lakes. A beautiful hike through hardwood forest, but beware of the mosquitoes in the shade!


Swimming at Sand River

After our shaded hike in the woods the kids were ready for some playing on a sunny beach. We decided to park at the Pinguisibi trail head and hike across the highway to the mouth of the Sand River.


It worked out nicely. The black water of Sand River swirled out into the beautiful clear water of Superior and the kids gravitated towards a protected pool right at the outlet. 

While Susannah slept in her carrier the older three started out practicing their rock skipping skills....

And log carrying skills....


And then started a vigorous game of "Mishepeshu" in which someone would take a turn being the great lynx and alternatively chasing and being chased by everyone else. Somehow it kept ending up being me against all of the kids.

Amelia is peacefully unaware of the great Mishepeshu lurking in the sand next to her.
William does his best Mishepeshu impression.

When everyone was worn out from that game, we ended the day with some sporting events.

The kids slept well after our adventures in Lake Superior Park.

Pancake Bay

We spent our last day in Canada at Pancake Bay, wandering around, finding live bear traps, and swimming in Superior. 

William and  Amelia had finally acclimated to swimming in the Great Lakes and were much braver in their water antics.

William was brave, it's true.... but it is so hard to get wet past the bellybutton. 

Whoops! Well that takes care of that.

And this is what happens after you go swimming in Canada:

Just a few minutes before this picture Margaret's lips matched her blue sweater.

We had a lot of fun playing tourists along Superior.

Enjoying the breathtaking scenery...


However, after two weeks of vacation everyone is pretty funned out; ready to settle back in at home with a steady daily routine. So we celebrated our last evening in Ontario with a delicious meal at the Voyageur Lodge and slept one last time in our little cabin. 

Next morning we woke up in the dark, packed sleeping kids into the van and headed south. 

We crossed the Mackinac Bridge just as the sun began to rise.

We got to enjoy it really well because we got stuck behind a huge super wide trailer with escort that drove 2 mph the whole way across. 

On the other side we waved hi to colonial Fort Michilimackinac. It was on our list of tentative things to do (another favorite old haunt of ours) but we just didn't quite squeeze it in. Maybe next time, eh?

Many, many, many long hours in the car later.... We made it back to Missouri! And celebrated by eating some Mexican food. French canadian one night, Mexican the next, we like to be cultured.

We were also in a rush to get home because the next morning our eldest started going to school!

All grown up, ready to head to Ozarks Academy for her two-days-a-week coursework there. I'm so enjoying teaching her the other two days (and getting involved helping at the school!). Another new, fun adventure. Which also partially explains why I am posting the last of our vacation posts a month after the vacation. Success at last!

And now our story is all told.


  1. I would have been distracted by those big, blue eyes too, Elissa!!
    I wish I could defend Canadian swimming... but I think you pretty much captured the essence of Lake Superior - let's call it invigorating!

    So lovely to see all these photos and to have this taste of the north. Mexican food sounds pretty good right now, too :)

    I hope to hear more about Margaret's (and your!) Ozark Academy adventures, she looks so pretty all dressed up for school!