My North Shore Vacation Adventure Part II

The continuation of the details of my adventure…
Part I covered everything up to Tettegouche.
Next up, was still within Tettegouche but isolated from the rest of the waterfalls was Illgen Falls. Rather than daring the long hike to it, I decided to take the “cheat” and head up the road to a shortcut. I had to bushwhack across a non existent path to get to them, but this allowed me to make up for my missing Two Step. I had not seen Illgen before, and I found it a charming waterfall.
Next up on our list was another waterfall, and as it turns out the last waterfall on the trip I had seen before in person–Caribou Falls. Not really a park, Caribou was found by a path that led from a wayside rest. It was a long, tough path, but I had my hiking boots on, and the snow wasn’t quite as bad as it was on the path to the Tettegouche High Falls.
Again, the Falls were impressive and the river was raging!
Returning to my car, I now really was entering virgin country. With the previous parks, I kind of knew what to expect. From here on out, I was all on my own. The weather was starting to turn a bit raw and rainy and I didn’t spend as much time on the next falls and area as I would have liked–the wild and wooly Temperance River. While the previous rivers had been raging, the not very well named Temperance River was a river in a narrow gorge that looked very *intemperate*. The falls were pretty neat, too.
I definitely want to see more of this gorge someday.
Next up? Cascade River. Unlike Caribou, there is actually a station in this park. But like Caribou, the way to get the falls is really by a wayside, and following the signs. A climb up into the gorge (still rainy) allowed me to see the epynomous cascades and a few small waterfalls that percolated their swollen banks. The trail was a loop, and a bit difficult to follow with the snow and bad signage. I did manage to make the loop successfully and returned to my car. The rain had come in earnest at last.
In the rain, I passed by a couple of possibiities for wayside waterfalling and kept going until I finally reached Grand Marais. I decided, with tiredness and aching feet and the weather, that I wasn’t going to get the other parks done today, and checked into my hotel. Perversely, the weather cleared and I drove into the town to find food.
My choices, limited, I went for Sven and Ole’s pizza. Something told me to get a whole pizza pie, rather than a few slices, a decision I would later be thankful for. I waited an interminable time for the pizza (no coal fired ovens here!) and brought it home to eat, relax, and then spend time in the hotel whirlpool.
I had a busy day in store tomorrow.
Saturday, the weather was cold and raw and I left the hotel in my heavy coat. The drive up and out of Grand Marais was pretty even with that cold weather, and I reached the park named after the guy responsible for a lot of these parks–Judge Magney. Home to the “Devil’s Kettle Waterfall”, the trail was hard, and the stairs were daunting. I never would have been able to make them yesterday evening had I gone here! The waterfalls were interesting, especially the Kettle. I liked the topography of it a lot.
But, time was wasting and I wanted to see more. I drove into Grand Portage, hoping to see the Grand Portage National Monument and cross that one off of my list of National Parks.
Unfortunately, the Monument was closed for the season! (A theme that kept cropping up). I took a couple of pictures of the bay, and kept on going to the border, where the last MN state park (or the first, if you are heading south) awaits: Grand Portage.
Grand Portage was fun, except for my inability to find the historical marker beyond the picnic tables–the snow and ice obscured the path completely. Daunted by this, I headed for the Falls–and met a couple who said that the spray would get me wet. The hike was tough, even with the boardwalk (ice and snow covered, natch) at the end of of it…but the High Falls of the Pigeon River were amazing. The sun had come out in full force, and I even saw a rainbow, a beautiful full bow. I hope the picture I took of it came out!
From Grand Portage, I headed to the border, talked with the border guard, and into Canada I went. I discovered the Canadian side of the park was technically closed, and I decided to postpone going down the snow covered path. Instead I took a detour to see the Middle Falls of the Pigeon River. Nice, but I am glad I didn’t take the long hike from the US side to see it.
From there, it was time to head north again. I drove through the pretty country of Ontario until I reached the stink and smell that told me I had reached the big city in the area–Thunder Bay (about the size of Duluth). I went to the Terry Fox overlook on the far northeast part of the city. The sun was blazing in a clear sky at this point and so I got some views of the bay and area. There is still ice in the bay. However the angle of the sun made it difficult to get good pictures of the statue. I got some directions from the tourism place about finding a grocery store in Thunder Bay and how to get to Kakabeka Falls.
In a Safeway there, I had a flashback to a jingle I remembered–and as a result bought a box of a type of cookie once available in NYC but no longer (Peek Freans). Out of the Safeway, I drove West on the Trans Canada Highway until I reached the tallest falls in the area–Kakabeka Falls.
Again, not really open for the season, I was faced with meters that did not take credit cards anymore, and I was caught without Canadian money. I dared to race around the falls, taking pictures, hoping I wouldn’t get ticketed.
Fortunately, I wasn’t.
I took a different route back from the falls south, since I decided I had enough of the stench of Thunder Bay. I saw some more nice views, and finally found myself at that closed Pigeon River Provincial Park. Here, I made a mistake. Not reading the maps properly, I took a long detour that took a kilometer of snowy path and in the end brought me to a spot that I could have reached easily, without ice and snow, and half the distance, just down the road.
Angry at myself, I kept going, through ice, snow, meltwater and bad paths all the way to the Canadian side of the Pigeon River. Honestly, I think the American side I had seen earlier in the day was a better view–even if there wasn’t a rainbow. I hiked around the loop, getting some nice views of the riverside. I had the wrong lens to capture a bald eagle in flight, much to my chagrin.
On the return leg to my car, I warned a couple of hikers in tennis shoes heading the opposite direction that the path was not accessible to light footwear, and I drove back to the border.
US Customs.
After handing over my passport and answering a couple of questions, Customs decided I warranted further review. They had me park, and come inside.
Over the next forty minutes:
They took my keys and searched my car.
They took my passport AND my Driver’s license.
They even searched my *wallet*.
They kept asking questions about me, the same questions, over and
over. I plugged the FRB and savings bonds several times. They weren’t
mean about it, one guy noted that I would be vested since this is my
five year anniversary.
Of course they didn’t find anything, but the delay was a pain. I
nearly didn’t make it back to Grand Marais in time to get something
from Dairy Queen (and in fact, it was too late for hot food–lucky I
had leftover pizza from yesterday).
I relaxed in the whirlpool afterwards, and finally headed to sleep.
Sunday, I awoke, had breakfast, and checked out. As I headed south, the weather got worse and worse. I made a stop at the Cross River to take a picture of a waterfall I had missed in the rain on Friday. I kept heading south, making one more stop at the lakeshore at Duluth to try and capture the raging Lake Superior getting ready for a storm.
From there, it was a drive in the rain all the way home at last.
The End! (until I get pictures)