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Lake Superior Water Trail

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    Lake Superior Water Trail

    Anybody done this? Any last parting words as I contemplate this for next summer? 150 portages...really big water.

    I lived in Duluth for a spell and have spent many vacations up there however have a hard time visualising any craft smaller than the SS Edmund Fitsgerald on ole Gitche Gumee. Oh yeah...that 730 footer sunk and my craft is somewhat smaller.

    I have paddled Superior several times. Three in Lake Superior Provincial Park for five days each and three between Marathon and Wawa. The south facing cliffs are scary ( I worried about Point Isacor for days and when we paddled by it we lucked out . Twice there were waves but nothing horrid save the reflecting wave unsteadiness. Once we could actually touch the cliffs.)
    Also for a few days out of Rossport. The weather was dismal and we weren't having fun so we bailed for the Apostles which were a good 20 F warmer.

    However I had never heard of the Lake Superior Water trail. Google gave me this.

    I might have a next summer trip! Thanks!

    We have done Superior by canoe and by kayak. The kayaks with their lower seated position and deck are so much easier as you feel more stable and can actually relax and look around if the seas are just mildly bouncy. i.e. less affected by wind and waves. That said good weather reading skills and always knowing where you are and where your safety exits are are paramount. As the ole Kenny Rogers song goes " Know when to hold 'em and know when to fold".. You probably will be able to get NOAA weather radio (unlike Pukaskwa). Heed even if it turns out to be wrong.

    Surf landings are always an exciting skill or in my case a non skill. I always get soaked. With dry gear this is not a problem. And they are inevitable as lots of times the wind is from the south.

    Best to go forth with a PLB or INreach even though Hwy 61 is close. And best to not go alone for your first foray.

    If you are in canoe a spray skirt is helpful even a partial. If using a full practice dumping before hand so you know how to get out of it without entanglement. In canoe be extra conservative.

    The one thing that can be fatal is a schedule. Leave a LOT of room in yours for layby days.


      Thanks yellowcanoe for your thoughts. I called the park system to send me hard copies of the 4 maps and sometimes pull them out for brief moments however anxiety takes over so shove them back into the envelope and then into the bottom drawer. Just getting through the Duluth/Superior harbor is concerning being an industrial quagmire. One good thing is the lift bridge probably won't need to ring the bell for us and another being navigation should be a no-brainer..."Keep shoreline just off port bow "

      No doubt weather is everything and imagine most all that consider this trip watch for those elusive good-weather windows and then jump...which concerns me being designated camp sites are the rule unless one has wealthy friends with summer "cottages" along the North Shore.

      A big Yes to not doing this solo but a Kayak won't be an option as those ergonomics don't work with my lower back. With that said, I have to be honest that I prefer not to surf in a canoe either.

      Maybe the writing is on the wall to re-think this one or at least reel it back and pick away at it by day-tripping.


        I have been out to Isle Royale on the ferry many times,took a canoe on board too, paddled around in some of the protected harbors, coves and inland lakes. My favorite thing to do with Lake Superior is to stand on land and admire "the big sea water" from the safety of the shore. Everyone should have on their bucket list at #1) Circumnavigate Lake Superior by (car, bike, foot) at least once in the Autumn.
        "All I had were a few flies tucked into the band of my hat and an a old beaten-up Heddon rod, that had been on many trips." Sigurd F. Olson


          I agree tangling with large barges and container ships is not my favorite past time. Nothing says I have to start in Duluth!
          I can't recommend what others might like but after dipping a boat some 10 times overall in Gitchee Gumee I am hooked. However there are workshops titled the Gales of November etc for a reason. In late Oct I will stay on land and attend photo workshops.I did one some years ago at Naturally Superior Adventures in Wawa. Magnificent colors and gold tamaracks.


            Paddling L Superior in a canoe equipped with spray cover... rough water included.



              FT that reminds me of our camp on White RIver where mice drank 3 l of wine sequestered in a bear locker. At least they did not F*** with my coffee! That vid makes me want to go back now.. Now.. ( not advisable!). This year was laden with hip replacement and all the medical stuff involved in getting vetted for that. Now I am biking and hiking and swimming and getting ready! I could easily do a portage trip.
              But the sickness beckons.. Superior.
              PS the lens will not fog if you nest it in foam. Down on the bottom of the boat bare nekkid it will.
              Interesting conditions=Kakabetic wind.
              OMG Pocket Cocktail?
              A couple of errata. Cap La Canadienne is between Hattie Cove and Michipicoten and in LSPP Cap Chaillou is a problem potentially. I was fortunate never to have an issue with either. Nothing is guaranteed.
              Last trip from that old abandoned lighthouse to NSA we had broadside six foot seas without warning. Interesting.
              We were grateful for showers.


                Excellent YouTube video !

                Thanks for linking it Frozentripper !

                Keep your paddle wet, and your seat dry !


                  Holy drunk and disorderly rodents... mice are capable of drinking that much wine... I can recall wishing those mice would eff the hell off as well, esp when I felt their cold, damp feet on my face. And since they will pee and take a dump almost anywhere, that makes that sensation even more ghastly.

                  Best wishes for quick recovery with the hip replacement, Kim... biking around helped a lot, much more interesting than running, also a pocket camera for photos whenever they occur.

                  YW Jim!


                    I hope to watch that video tonight to see how a potential trip sits in my gut. Superior sure does beckon. Kind of like a mythical Siren...alluring with an alterior motive involving freakish death.

                    That whole Duluth North Shore environment is amazingly dynamic. A real outdoor playground. Where else on earth can one skip class...go net 6 coolers plumb full of smelt...clean them in the dorm bathroom...throw the putrid mess of heads and guts on top of the girls dorm roof & watch, at minimum, 40 bazillion seagulls swarm in the feeding frenzy of their lives! I say No Where!!

                    Oddly that rant makes me feel lighter.

                    On to the video!

                    Thanks everyone.


                      I did a week+ trip out of Rossport. We were in an open canoe. The recommendation for extra time for bad weather is spot on. Our weather was not bad, but with the open canoe we needed almost perfect for some of the crossings. Was a little eerie paddling past remnants of shipwrecks. Out of the island shadows and into the lake proper one could really feel the power of Superior.

                      My journal of the trip, with photos and video:


                      "There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go." -from "The Call of the Wild" by Robert Service My trail journal: DuctTape's Journal


                        Just finished the video (that frosentripper referenced) and kudos to them for not manufacturing drama for the camera as I bet there were many more tense moments than what appeared. Very well done and sweet! I aspire to be Canadian...

                        Considering myself somewhat of a minimalist in the woods I get a tad overwhelmed thinking about all the gear. However having no portages frames that differently. For me a trip like this would need to be almost entirely outfitted.

                        27 km in 4.5 hours with fierce headwind and 2.5 ft swells in that broad boat?!? Does that seem like a helluva push to anyone else?

                        Last edited by mwaalen; 11-03-2019, 08:01 PM. Reason: Clarified which video


                          that distance in that time while very good is not herculean. We met up with Mike Ranta off LSPP and drifted talking for 30 minutes.. There was no wind dead calm. We drifted backwards an entire kilometer in half an hour. There are actually currents in the lake!

                          You can take as much or as little as you like. If you have canoe tripped before you probably have almost all you need.

                          Now if you wish to hike get thee to Ontario. Both Lake Superior Provincial Park and Pukaskwa have Coastal Hiking trails. Multi day each
                          in Puk you can get a water shuttle to where the trail dead ends some 60 km down and walk back to your car.
                          Casque Isles Trail between Rossport and Terrace Bay.


                            Thanks for the link to your trip journal DuctTape. Lots of info there so will dig into it after this weekend. Passing over a shipwreck would be unnerving for whatever illogical, psychological reason no doubt.

                            Ooooooooh the Adirondacks you lucky soul! I traveled out there (between Wilmington & Lake Placid) for work during a 2-year project and made darn certain to schedule the contractors in such a way so was "forced" to layover the weekends. Climbed a few peaks, cliff jumped into the Ausable etc. Why I live in the middle of corn fields I'll never figure out.


                              Micah, the voyageurs used to travel on L Superior in open canoes... looking forward to reading Duct Tape description and TR. And so did Bill Mason, you've probably seen his film Waterwalker... there is a scene with him swamping in cold water and swimming to shore.


                              And here is another of his earlier films I hadn't seen until this morning, on Pukaskwa... there isn't much canoeing in it but still, it has some of that very Canadian National Film Board atmosphere from fifty years ago running through it. Them were the days.

                              Last edited by frozentripper; 11-06-2019, 09:19 AM.