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Archive for October, 2013

Drive to Lake Superior

Just before the fall colours peaked in Central Ontario, I checked the weather forecast and decided to head up north, to the northeastern shore of Lake Superior. After a brief evening nap on Wednesday night, I packed up the camera gear, some clothing and food, and at 2:00am I left my home. The traffic at night was very light, the roads were dry, all moose were hiding safely in the woods and at the dawn I arrived in Espanola with just over 400km under the belt, a good spot to refuel and get some coffee. This was Thursday, and it was going to be a nice sunny day. As I was driving northwest on Hwy 17, I passed a small lake with mirror-like surface and beautiful reflections.

At The Dawn

Driving along the Spanish River, the colour changes in the trees were getting more noticeable, and I took a few shots along the river. The little tree clinging to the rocky islet, leaning in the direction of the current, was an interesting sight.

Lone Survivor on Rocky Islet

Now, the colours started to get really vibrant. So many trees, each section with a different color palette, it was hard to pick the best place.

Colorful Tree Along Spanish River

As I was taking in the colours and looking for a nice composition, suddenly I noticed a bald eagle perched on the top canopy (see the tiny black dot in the left third near the top). It was quite far on the other side of the river. Fortunately, I had a 70-300mm lens already mounted on my camera, so I managed to get a few shots of the eagle across the river before he took off.

Eagle between the reds and yellows

The sun stayed up all day, the temperatures continued to rise, I kept stopping to take more shots, and slowly I made my way towards the Lake Superior Park. In the summer, the road must be quite busy with many cars, RV’s, and even cyclists, but at this time of year the traffic was very light which made it easy and convenient for driving, frequent stops, and countless U-turns. I enjoyed the journey, and couldn’t help comparing it with the overcrowded roads at the Algonquin park at this time of year (for the benefit of international readers, Algonquin provincial park is about 3 hours northeast from Toronto, and Lake Superior park is almost 800km northwest from Algonquin Highlands).

Driving on Trans-Canada Highway

Finally, by mid afternoon, I arrived at my destination, and spent the rest of the day exploring the rocky beaches and cliffs just south of the Lake Superior Park.

Colorful Lake Superior Pebbles

On Friday, it was raining, so I caught up with sleep, and in the afternoon I ventured out towards the park. I stopped at several scenic spots and took some photographs in the rain.

Trans-Canada Highway is the main route for transport trucks

Small Island With Tall Trees

Red Leaves on a Maple Seedling at Agawa Bay Beach

On Saturday, I had a mix of sun and clouds, even some brief showers, so I was able to capture all kinds of weather conditions and light. I drove northbound through the park, and made it all the way to Wawa.

Pebble Beach and Rugged Cliffs

The famous 28ft tall, and now slightly rusty Wawa Goose

Last shot of the day at the Katherine’s Cove

Sunday was my last day at the Lake Superior. The day was sunny and unusually warm, and the big lake looked very calm. I was planning to take a short hike on the Lake Superior coastal trail, so this would be the highlight of my trip and the best day for photography.

The entire trail length is about 87km (54 miles) and the recommended hiking time is 5-7 days. The trail is quite demanding and the terrain varies from forested sections, sand and pebble beaches, boulder gardens, granite slabs to steep and exposed cliffs. In several  places, I had to lift or lower my camera bags first, before I could climb or descend using both hands to pull myself up and unencumbered without the heavy load. However, the scenery and wide views were absolutely breathtaking. Fresh lake air and fragrance of pine needles, plentiful mushrooms and fallen leaves added even more to the overall experience.

Clear waters and rocks

The coastal trail follows the coast, and where the cliffs become impassable, it veers off the coast and turns into the forest. This is indeed a rough trail, not an easy boardwalk. In places like shown below, if the wind blows from the lake, the waves could spill over the boulders and pull you in, or you could slip on wet rocks.

An easy section of the trail

Walking on the uneven terrain, especially when passing through the boulder gardens means you are constantly stepping up and down, and have to watch your every step.

Boulder garden with a hiking trail sign

Colorful rocks and boulders in every size and color

One wrong step and you could easily tumble into the deep and freezing water

By the end of my hike, the slight breeze changed into cold and intimidating gusts, calm water turned into white caps, and the lake looked quite ominous. The weather can change very quickly at Lake Superior.

Still, it was hard to leave this incredible place. I used every opportunity to make yet another stop, both on the coastal trail and then on my drive back along the lake. Finally, at the dusk, I took the last pictures at the eastern end of the lake, and headed back to Sault Ste Marie. Drawing on the day’s experience, overstimulation, and charged-up energy, I drove through, and by 3:00am Monday morning, after four splendid days in the north and two nights and 2000km on the road (and about as many images), I arrived safely home. I still haven’t finished processing all the pictures.

To see more pictures from the Lake Superior trip, please visit my (still evolving) stock image site at http://www.advantica.com/stockphotos/ (you may have to paste in this link into your browser)  or  at http://www.les-palenik.artistwebsites.com?tab=artwork (few pages down or search for “Lake Superior”)

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