It was a delightful August morning. We left from the Nipigon Tourist Information Centre to set out for our kayaking adventure in Rossport. The highway drive along the way offers stunning views and glimpses of Lake Superior, making the 44 miles (71 km) trip there fly by. When we pulled into Superior Outfitters at the Rossport Dock we were greeted by owner Dave Tamblyn and Such a Nice Day (S.A.N.D) Adventures operator and guide Zack Kruzins. We got fitted in our tandem kayaks for any adjustments, put on our life jackets and kayak skirts and prepared to get out on the water.
I’ve been kayaking before in small lakes and rivers though I have never been out on Lake Superior. I won’t lie, the absolute vastness and unpredictability that I know Superior to be was a little intimidating. Zack assured us that we would be staying close to the protection of the islands and gave us a handy map of the archipelago. The Rossport Archipelago is the largest group of islands on Lake Superior and offers ceaseless opportunities for exploring the pristine waters of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.
Once we were all settled into our kayaks on the water, we started paddling past Nicol Island. The weather was ideal for me. Not too hot with a gentle breeze. Gliding across the lake was so peaceful and serene. I immediately felt the impact on my state of mind that being out on the water provides.
Our paddling destination was Quarry Island, one of the closer islands in the archipelago. Our knowledgeable guide told us that limestone harvested from the island in the early 1900’s was used to make cement to build some of the prominent structures in Thunder Bay including Thunder Bay’s former courthouse, now known as the Courthouse Hotel. As we continued, we could hear the persistent shrieks of a pair of peregrine falcons, probably defending their nest embedded into the cliff face overhead. When we rounded the corner of Quarry Island the gentle waves helped take us into a bay. Once we reached the shore we piled out of our kayaks and prepared to explore.
Zack told us about a hike that would take us to a lookout overlooking the whole village of Rossport. As someone who might not be the most avid hiker, I found the ascending trail to the top not too strenuous and relatively short. As we continued up the trail, I was immediately struck with the feeling that I stepped into a story book. Spongy moss carpeted the forest floor and clusters of mushrooms so perfect they almost didn’t seem real. Streams of sunlight poured in through the trees casting spotlights throughout this magical and nearly untouched place.
After a few breaks to catch my breath and snap some photos, we reached the top of the trail. If I thought the hike along the way was beautiful, nothing could prepare me for this scenic view. We reached a clearing where the forest turned to stone and opened up to a breathtaking vista above Lake Superior and Rossport. I could have stayed for hours marveling at the scenery. I know I will return to Quarry Island again in the future for when I am in need of a mind, body and soul retreat enveloped in nature.
On the way back Zack suggested we take a different route back to the marina. We went along the other side of Nicol Island to the beach. We then made a short portage over the beach to paddle through a corrugated steel tunnel under the road that connects Rossport to Nicol Island. Echoes of our giddy laughter reverberated as we paddled our way through.
Once we returned to the marina and recovered our sea legs, we decided to travel 12.5 miles (20 km) east to Schreiber for a bite to eat. The Golden Rail is a chip stand renowned for their gourmet burgers and fried fish so it was the perfect place to stop after working up an appetite. After ordering we sat at an empty picnic table to enjoy our meals and recount the day. I opted for the fish and chips, it was delicious, and the portion size was large enough to satisfy my appetite and then some!
The experience was so unique, and truly had a positive and energizing effect on my well being as a whole. I know I will go back to further explore the Rossport archipelago and I highly recommend anyone paddle the area if they get the chance. Whether you’re a novice (like me) or seasoned kayaker I think having a guide to show you the ropes and hidden gems enhances the experience.
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