Pukaskwa and Lake Superior: oh my heart!

From Sleeping Giant’s very satisfying days, we made it to Pukaskwa National Park.

It was an afterthought kind of stop.  We were aiming for Lake Superior Provincial Park but the day seemed to be vanishing so when I saw the sign for Pukaskwa, I thought we should go check if they had a site. Fortunately for us, they did.

 Boardwalk to the beach, Pukaskwa.

Boardwalk to the beach, Pukaskwa.

We arrived and we were efficient at setting up camp and eating dinner. After dinner, we rode our bikes around the park to get the lay of the land. We rode a boardwalk to a beach but I didn't know it actually went there. I could not have been more awe struck by the beauty at the end of that boardwalk. The sky was at the hour where the sun had just set, leaving streaks of glowing colors across it. The little islands out in the water looked purposeful, as though someone placed them there for a Tom Thomson painting. The occasional lone tree leaned over from the wind with the branches thinned on one side looked like the perfect subject for the Group of Seven. It was no wonder Parks Canada had this location listed as a National Park.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

We were only staying for one night but I could have easily spent several. I hadn’t anticipated this level of beauty.  Maybe it was just the timing of the sundown but I was quickly developing a true love for Northern Ontario’s landscape.

 Van and Sophie, enjoying the evening at Pukaskwa.

Van and Sophie, enjoying the evening at Pukaskwa.

The thing is, many people warned me about Ontario. That it was long and boring. It is in fact long, but I did not find it boring. I can see, however, that if you were driving it just to get across the province as quickly as possible, the highway could feel long and boring. But the area itself, if you love lakes, camping, hiking and the outdoors in general, is a place to explore. I was overwhelmed by the number of parks that were at my fingertips. There were so many places I wanted to stop and see, but time wasn’t on my side. When I set out on this drive, I thought I had lots of time but now, I was feeling pressure to keep moving. Instead of two months, I could easily use four.

 Ellie managing the driftwood on the Beach Trail, Pukaskwa National Park.

Ellie managing the driftwood on the Beach Trail, Pukaskwa National Park.

The next day, we got up and I loaded the van ready to go. I’d fallen in love with our evening the previous night and since I had no strict plan, I decided that we should explore the park further. The kids and I hiked for four hours until we found the red “share-the-chair.” I thoroughly enjoyed the coastline walks. I was truly feeling inspired to paint again.

 Pukaskwa National Park, #sharethechair

Pukaskwa National Park, #sharethechair

After our awesome day at Pukaskwa, we drove to Superior Provincial Park where, luckily, we were granted a site for two nights. We set up camp and had dinner just on time to walk down to the beach with a box of cookies to admire the sundown.

 Campground at Lake Superior with a piercing sun.

Campground at Lake Superior with a piercing sun.

 Sundown on Lake Superior.

Sundown on Lake Superior.

Another beautiful sunset in Ontario.

We rode our bikes through that park and walked along the shorelines. We visited their excellent Visitor’s Center and chatted with the naturalist. We did laundry and enjoyed a night by the campfire. The next morning before packing, I was greeted by a black bear on my way to the bathroom. My guard is always down for bears when I’m not in the Rockies or in Fernie, but we’d seen four already and this was number five saying good morning!

 Pedal along Lake Superior.

Pedal along Lake Superior.

Lake Superior Provincial Park was amazing and again, I could’ve easily spent more time there. The park had so many hikes, lakes, and beaches to offer and we covered a very small portion of it.  But alas, the east was calling so we moved on. I was coming to terms with the fact that I had to make choices because it was impossible to see it all.  We could easily do this trip again, hit different campgrounds and see an assortment of other memorable landmarks.

One thing that is certainly clear, Ontario has its provincial parks dialed. They are so extremely well cared for and thus far, even their picnicking stops were a cut above. Well done Ontario!

But for now…back in the van.

 

A few more pictures from Pukaskwa National Park:

 Sophie and Ellie, riding wild animals.

Sophie and Ellie, riding wild animals.

 La barbe à papa...hiking and being silly.

La barbe à papa...hiking and being silly.

 Pukaskwa- making friends!

Pukaskwa- making friends!

 Eek!

Eek!

 Me + 3 (Van, Sophie, Ben, and Ellie) Hiking the Manito Mikana trail.

Me + 3 (Van, Sophie, Ben, and Ellie) Hiking the Manito Mikana trail.

 Sophie hiker.

Sophie hiker.

 Wondering what this is...Ellie guessed a unicorn horn. (The visitor centre informed us that it was a commissioned piece of art for Canada 150)

Wondering what this is...Ellie guessed a unicorn horn. (The visitor centre informed us that it was a commissioned piece of art for Canada 150)

 Hiking the Southern Headland Trail - Pukaskwa National Park

Hiking the Southern Headland Trail - Pukaskwa National Park

More pictures from Lake Superior Provincial Park

 Walking to the Lake Superior Provincial Park's beach.

Walking to the Lake Superior Provincial Park's beach.

 Learning about the beach grasses and critters with the naturalist at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Learning about the beach grasses and critters with the naturalist at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

 Laundry day!

Laundry day!

 Feeling the water at Lake Superior.

Feeling the water at Lake Superior.

 Sundown on Lake Superior.

Sundown on Lake Superior.

 Finding trails.

Finding trails.