SKOAC: Trip Reports - Silver Islet To Rossport 2003

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Trip Report by Brock Hunter

This year's most ambitious SKOAC club trip, paddling 80 miles of Superior's most remote shoreline, between Silver Islet and Rossport, Ontario, was blessed by good karma. As you may remember, we attempted this trip last year but seemed cursed at every turn. The combination of a car fire, unusually rough paddling conditions for that time of year (6'), heat (in the 90's), BUGS (swarms of flies and mosquitos), and the varied skill levels within our group conspired to end our trip before it really even began. Undeterred, we were back this year with a small, seasoned group (Jerome Rausch, Bill Newman and I) and were blessed with all the good karma that last year's attempt lacked.

Initially, this year's trip seemed as doomed as last year when Bill Newman's kayak trailer blew a hub just after dropping our boats and gear in Silver Islet. Silver Islet is a tiny cottage community without electricity or phones. It lies at the tip of the Sibley Peninsula, 25 miles from the nearest service station. Good Karma interceded at this point in the form a Sam Holloman, an 84 year young local stud. Sam happens to be a retired metal shop teacher and tool maker with a fully equipped shop and a lot of time on his hands. He single-handedly saved our trip and then treated Jerome and I to a cold Guinness as Bill took off to pre-position our car in Rossport. Dave Tamblyn of Superior Outfitters in Rossport shuttled Bill back to Silver Islet where Jerome and I had the boats packed and ready to go.

We spent our first night in Finley Bay, positioned to cross the temperamental Black Bay Straight first thing in the morning. Minutes after we finished pitching our tents a massive thunder storm rolled over us. Still in our wetsuits, we cowered in the woods for a half hour as lighting struck all around us and rain swept down in sheets. The storm was gone as fast as it came, though, and we were able to dry our gear get a good night sleep.

The following morning we crossed a mirror-calm Black Bay, lunched on Porphrey Island, then paddled on to Number 10 Island where we enjoyed a fog-infused sunset from our campsite at the base of an old lighthouse. Later, we built a small camp fire on the rocks at water's edge and Bill started in on his supply of cognac.

Day three found us on Swede Island around noon, having paddled a short six miles from Number 10 that morning. Discovering Swede (and, more importantly, its sauna and cabin) was deserted, we decided to settle in for the night and take advantage of the facilities. As always, we left the cabin and sauna better than we found it, sweeping the floors and replenishing the wood supply.

After the our sauna session on Swede, we set our sights on CPR Slip, 27 miles away, for day four. Paddling to CPR would make up for our pitiful six miles of progress the day before. More importantly, CPR Slip boasts the best sauna in the area.. Again, karma intervened in the form of southwesterly winds with 3-4 foot waves that surfed us a good portion of the way to CPR. Even with the help from Mother Superior, we arrived at CPR cold, wet and tired. Karma answered in the form a friendly Canuck power boater who met us at the landing with cold bottles of Labatts and an invitation to head straight up to the already-raging sauna. Within minutes of setting foot on land we were soaking up the heat and working on our second of many power boater-supplied beers that evening.

Nursing hangovers in the hot sun we spent day five cruising calm waters on to Woodbine Harbor, seeing some amazing Columnar Basalt rock formations along the way. Fog rolled in that night and I awoke to morning mist and Newman's shouts as he landed a three pound lake trout from a nearby point.

After a breakfast of flame broiled trout and French roast coffee, we set out in near zero-visibility fog on our way to Battle Island. Hugging the coast of Simpson Island we made our way to the point closest to Battle. With fog limiting our visibility to a few feet, we relied on our compasses and GPS's to make the eerie three mile crossing to Battle Island.

Newman caught another fish (this time a five pounder) as we cruised into the harbor on Battle and we enjoyed grilled trout for supper before hiking to the Battle Island lighthouse where we witnessed another amazing sunset.

Day seven was a short paddle into Rossport from Battle Island. A Westerly wind pushing down Nipigon Bay provided some waves to play in along the way. We ended up finishing the trip a couple days early, not needing any of the built-in weather days.

We highly recommend this trip to any paddler who is ready to tackle it. This portion of Superior's shore is much more exposed than Minnesota's North Shore or the Apostles, and light winds can generate sizeable waves. The channels leading from the main Lake up into Nipigon Bay create currents that also must be respected. For the prepared paddler, though, this remote, pristine coast is the best Lake Superior has to offer. Page not found – SKOAC Superior Kayak and Outdoor Adventure Club

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