Wednesday, May 20, 2015
It is the second day of Michael’s trip from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay. In this part of Canada spring is not yet visible everywhere. For the first time, Michael will have to spend the night in his tent. Read what he makes of that:
"After a good night sleep in a nice big bed I get dressed and head to the restaurant at 8 o'clock. Outside it is cold; everything is frozen. I'm very happy that I did not sleep outside last night!
The people in the restaurant a very friendly. I feel very much at ease. The breakfast is good and I engage in a conversation with another couple who just arrived after the owner proudly tells them about my tour. When I leave we take some photographs. I really enjoyed staying at this nice and cozy motel. It was a little dated in décor but that made it interesting at the same time. I highly recommend it to anyone who happens to come through this area.
Because this is such a beautiful place, I explore it a little further before I get back to my tour. I ride into the Batchewana reserve. It is gorgeous and unspoiled and you can see that not many people come here. I find some sacred places but you have to be able to recognize them since they are not that obvious. I turn around in the end because there are dogs barking and I don't want to have another dog adventure. I bike back toward the highway and just before I get there I stop at the water’s edge and enjoy a 15 minute rest here.
Once I get back onto the highway it's another game of climbing and descending. Because the weather is beautiful now everything looks magnificent and I am sincerely enjoying it. The temperature is has risen to around 13°C, and it feels a lot better than yesterday. I take a break when I reach the Agawai Trading Post where I was with my brother Melvin as well. I remember how beautiful it is inside.
When I ask a man to take my picture in front of a Teepee he tells me that he met a German cyclist yesterday who was also on his way to Vancouver. He met him in the Thessalon area and this guy was only able to bike 30 km in the cold yesterday. Apparently he complained a lot about the weather. Then I'm not doing too badly, I'm thinking. Before going inside I see a big crow making a lot of noise. Isn't that the same crow that was flying with me a little while ago?
After about half an hour I continue on; it is still about 40 km before I will reach Montréal River where I will face the infamous climb of Hwy 17. I ride through some extraordinaly beatiful landscapes, and notice there are still large amounts of ice in the lake. Very impressive and beautiful, but it also tells me that it is still very cold and has been very cold in the winter.
While I thoroughly enjoy the beauty of my surroundings, I keep wondering when this infamous climb is going to start. At a certain moment I am convinced that I have already started. It is fairly steep but mostly long. The big transport trucks slowly creep up the hill and so do I, not being able to go much faster than 6 km an hour which is really not that bad considering the degree of the slope...
Once at the top I feel victorious and am very proud of myself. When I see a french fry place further down I treat myself to some lovely poutine. I and up in conversation with a truck driver and understand that this was not the famous climb. It is the next one which is even longer. He himself has cycled this road between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. “But certainly not packed like you. Really, I have respect for you: unbelievable!” Now I am getting a little worried, because apparantly the worst is yet to come.
Unfortunately this man was right, but, just like the first one, I am able to conquer this hill as well. It takes a lot out of me, particularly because of the length of the climb, you end up exhausted. Nevertheless I feel proud of my accomplishment! My goal is to finish 80 km today so I will be able to camp in Lake Superior Park before I ride to Wawa tomorrow. If I succeed, I will be done with this gruelling part of my tour in three days.
The road to Lake Superior Provincial Park is even harder than I thought; probably because my legs have already gotten such a beating from climbing the hills around Montreal River. Although I know I have enough strength to make it, I have to be careful because of my knees. They appear to be my weakest link.
Just before five o'clock in the afternoon I arrive at Agawai Bay Campground and I am just in time to check in: $40. Wow that is quite expensive. It's because this is the only campground here that is open...
Once I have found a nice spot, I put up my tent and then start cooking. This does not make me happy. I really am on one of the most beautiful campgrounds in the world but what misery: camping simply is not my thing. It is very quiet and I miss my wife and children. Of course I miss them at other times as well, but especially at times like this. I enjoy the cookin' and after I have eaten I seem to find my groove. Then again, the showers are not really clean and only one is open. The toilets are just out houses and there is no opportunity to drop off my trash or to do some laundry etc. Considering that a nice clean motel room is only $20 more, this seems really ridiculously expensive!
The sun is still shining nicely and I fiddle around until about 8 o'clock when I notice that it's getting colder. I hang my foodpack in the tree to keep bears away. Maybe it is not necessary, but for my first night of camping I prefer to do it this way.
I hope it is going to stay dry tomorrow because suddenly there is a 30% chance of rain. We'll see, but I have to say that I am looking forward to a room with a bed and a clean shower in Wawa. I hope I am going to enjoy camping out a little more as time goes on. Being on this rather large campground with 200 spaces and only about 12 people, who are all in motorhomes and trailers is not much fun!"
Han Schomakers, editor
Translation by Sytske van der Veen