September 15 2017
Day 1 – Huntsville, Ontario to Pancake Bay Provincial Park (Batchawana Bay, Ontario)
We printed our FINAL itineraries, giving my mom a copy. We said our farewells and were on the road by 9:30am after filling up on gas in Huntsville. We were driving west through Ontario, intending on arriving at Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island as our furthest western point. But first, we had to get through Ontario! We drive straight through until 1pm where we stopped at a Tim Horton’s to use the bathroom and assemble sandwiches. We had canned salmon on bagels and each got an ice cap with our trusty gift card.
We drove through to Sault Ste. Marie and filled up on gas again and used the bathroom. I would have to get used to filling up twice in one day – I’m not sure I’d ever done that before. We hit a patch of absolutely torrential rain, so heavy that we had to pull over to what we hoped was the side of the road to wait for visibility to return. It didn’t take long and otherwise the trip took place under blue skies!
Passing the time was always an easy feat for my sister and I. We talked a lot about what we were most excited for, and most anxious about. We knew there would be challenges and we knew we may not always know how we would react to them. But our shared sense of humour and commitment to an amazing journey would, we hoped, keep us level.
It was about 5:30pm when we arrived at the campsite. We had to crash in a Provincial Park, which are especially expensive in Ontario, running about $42 a night for non-electrical tent sites. We were in Pancake Bay, which sits on Lake Superior. My first great lake experience and I loved it! Superior is mythical, so cold ‘she doesn’t give up her dead’, as in, bodies sink to the bottom instead of floating to the top because it’s too cold for decomposition. I can attest to this – it was among the coldest swims I’ve ever taken, but I had to and it was so worth it. The water was clear and crisp. It had been a hot day but because it was evening when I swam, I was pretty chilled. I couldn’t convince Christine to join me for a proper swim, but she got her feet in at least!
We’d set up our camp as soon as we’d arrived. We had two tents – I had my small 2-person Eureka, and Christine had a larger 4-person. Most often we set up both tents – I like having my own space, and I am a very light sleeper so it made sense. However, we were not prepared for these mosquitos.
Christine and I both grew up in Muskoka, where mosquitos are a fact of life. I remember spending every morning for months each year, pacing back and forth trying to out-run the mosquitos while waiting for my schoolbus. But this was even beyond that. We had a DIY all-natural repellant, but we were both crying for OFF! before long.
After swimming, we went to Agawa Trading Post. I bought Reeses Pieces fudge. They had many beautiful sweaters and other interesting things, but we were saving our souvenir money for another province. We returned to our site and ate dinner in the car because the bugs were so bad and at the time I was still enforcing the ‘absolutely no food in the tent’ rule.
We headed in to our tents fairly early, and on the first night of our trip, neither of us slept very well.