The Giant and its natural defences
Thunder Bay Travel Blog› entry 74 of 96 › view all entries
I finished writing monday's blog and headed off in search of the KOA, there were no signs that I could see heading up from downtown Sault Ste Marie, so after a frustrating time finding the place I eventually rolled onto the site. And then it hit me why I don't stay at KOAs, they're like a overly commercialised interpretation of what camping is like if you lived in a fake plastic world where everyone had game-show host teeth. Its a carnuba wax-polished plastic vacuum packed experience and its not for me. Besides you really don't fit in there unless you turn up with 5 kids and a gargantuan R.V.
Rather then continue this façade I turned the car around and headed up the coast to pancake bay provincial park. Its a park with a strange layout and a somewhat non-intuitive one way system. I wanted a gritty outdoor experience and I got one! Almost all sites had roads on both sides, giving no protection from passing cars kicking up the pebbles and dirt, but apart from that it was a nice park, the beach was incredible!
The next morning I Headed up the 17 to my next major destination: Sleeping Giant! This was a longish drive (5 hours ish) from the Soo (Sault Ste.
I booked in 3 nights stay at sleeping giant, so that I could take in the sights and see a little of Thunder bay as well. So on wednesday I drove the car a few kilometres south of the park entrance to the head of the Kabeyun trail which follow the southern end of the peninsula round to the foot of the giant. From there the trail gets quite tricky, I grabbed a couple of stout sticks and climbed my way up, through endless switchbacks finally to emerge triumphant at the top. Only this is where It got confusing, I was confronted with a sign saying:
“You have reached the top of the Giant, this point is 228 metres above lake superior.
Ok now I'm confused, since when did 'top' not mean the highest point? I must have missed a summit meeting where they changed its meaning.
I followed the trail to the cliffs for a fantastic view, sat down and had lunch. Time was getting on and it had already taken me about 3 hours to get to that point, so I did a little more exploring of the trail and then made my way back down.
Every large land mass such as this has a galumphability* factor. This is a unit measured in stumbles, the lower the rating the better the galumphability. For example a wide grassy slope with an incline of about 30 degrees offers a really good galumphability, maybe a 1 or 2. My return down the hill was not very galumphable, hence a rating of almost 10 stumbles.
Once I reached the forest at the foot of the hill, I followed back past a small lake and through a patch of ferns. This is where I was once again viciously attacked. A thing started at some distance in the undergrowth, I could plot its direct course towards me by seeing the ferns pushed asunder as it hurtled through. A medium size and terribly irate wild partridge shot out and started pecking madly at my boots. Entirely subconsciously I let out a primal war cry that bellowed off the surrounding hills. This stopped the partridge in is tracks and it cowered up at me and then retreated back along the path. My heart was pumping ten to the dozen, and I only managed to calm down over the next 5 or so kilometres, when another one shot out of the bushes! I had to use a stick to keep this one at bay! no one warned me that the Giant was protected by a lethal band of attack poultry, trained in the arts of beak to foot combat! With raw nerves I timidly retreated to the car, jumping at anything that moved.
On Thursday drove over to The Fort William historic site, and had a tour around this renactment style living museum, still aching from the 23 odd kilometres I'd hiked the previous day. The tour guides were great, as were all the other staff in period garb, who kept in character despite provocations.
Fort William was an outpost of the Northwest company, used in receiving furs and transporting them east for export. The fort as it stands today is a modern day replica, with many buildings built from scratch, but maintaining authenticity. Its quite a cool place to visit.
* - Galumphing – a crabwise motion, used for descending hills at a increased pace, taken from Jabberwocky: One, two! One, two! and through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead, and with its head He went galumphing back.