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Lake Superior Perfection: Top 10 Pukaskwa Views

01 November, 2021 4 comments Leave a comment

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen RichardsonThis past August, as my husband and I explored the north shore of Lake Superior with our travel trailer in tow, we had the immense good fortune to obtain a serviced camping site for a week in a most amazing place that very few people have heard about: Pukaskwa National Park.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson Over the years, we had seen the sign for the turnoff to this Park on Hwy 17 between Wawa and Marathon and finally dropped in for a few hours in the summer of 2020, to check out the camping facilities.

We were so impressed by that short glimpse of the Park that we made plans to camp there this year.

Pukaskwa (pronounced PUCK-a-saw) has been a National Park for over 40 years and covers an area of 1,878 square kilometres (725 sq mi), protecting part of the longest undeveloped shoreline anywhere on the Great Lakes.

There are four large natural sand driftwood beaches in the Park, three of which are pictured here. (That is my husband John walking on a typically uncrowded beach.)

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

Our stay coincided with a week of hot, dry weather due to a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico pushing a warm front up our way.

Even though summer high temperatures along the shore usually max out at 15 C (59 F), we enjoyed a whole week of daytime highs of 24 C (75 F) and mild nights. There were no mosquitoes or black flies, but lots of birds and butterflies.

It was a glorious week; we swam, strolled the beaches, went for hikes, paddled in our kayaks, ate alfresco meals at our campsite, and generally enjoyed being out in nature in perfect conditions.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

There were four easy to moderate hiking trails surrounding the campground, all less than 4 km (2.5 miles) in length. A few of them took us high above the lake to viewpoints that offered stunning vistas such as those shown here. The trails were so awe-inspiring that we hiked them more than once.

The water is very clear, and the white sand bottom gives the water a turquoise appearance similar to Caribbean or Mediterranean waters. But the wonderful thing is, Lake Superior holds fresh water, not salt, so there was nothing to bite, sting, or eat us while we swam!

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

This lake is so vast, you think you are looking at the ocean when there is only water as far as you can see. It is the largest body of fresh water on earth, with a surface area of over 82,000 square km (31,660 square miles), and over 4,000 km (2,500 miles) of shoreline.

Karen Richardson at Pukaskwa National Park

We spent a lovely afternoon in our kayaks exploring the protected bay of Hattie Cove. (Our kayaks are too short to withstand the waves out past the islands.)

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

These photos show us with massive rock cliffs in the background. The bay was shallow and featured many interesting islands of varying sizes and shapes.

There is something about islands, even tiny ones, that always captures my attention. I'm certain the ones shown in this post will be featured in my paintings some day. 

Speaking of paintings, I wrote an article about my first six paintings inspired by Pukaskwa. Check out New Works: Nights on Fire.

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

To sum up our week-long experience, I think the Park pamphlet says it best:

Pukaskwa National Park, photo by Karen Richardson

"Pukaskwa National Park is a vast, wild, natural playground found on the edge of the world's largest freshwater lake. It's a place where powerful waves collide with rugged, towering coastlines; a place of endless sunsets over sandy driftwood beaches...A place where Lake Superior's untouched beauty can be seen, experienced and remembered by all who visit."

I agree wholeheartedly.

As in all National Parks, Pukaskwa has a pair of those iconic red Muskoka chairs installed, overlooking picturesque Pulpwood Harbour. What a lovely spot this was to rest after a day spent clambering over these magnificent rocks. 

I have a treasure trove of photos from our time in Pukaskwa, ready to inspire more new paintings. Stay tuned!

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Exploring Lake Superior - At Last

30 September, 2017 4 comments Leave a comment

Rossport Islands in Lake Superior

Over the years, our travels on the trans-Canada highway have taken us past the north shore of Lake Superior countless times. We always seemed to be in a hurry to get out to the western provinces to visit family, or to return to our home in central Ontario. We never took the time to stay in this wild and beautiful region of northern Ontario.

This summer, we finally planned a two-week camping trip to explore Rossport and Wawa on Lake Superior. The Lake Superior view above is from Nicol Island at Rossport.

Karen Richardson kayaking on Brownlee Lake, east of Lake Superior, Ontario

On the way there, we enjoyed several days in a private campground on Brownlee Lake (east of Lake Superior), which we were able to explore fully by kayak. That's me in the photo above.

Waterlily leaves and reflections on Brownlee Lake, Ontario

Water Lily on Brownlee Lake, Ontario

The leaves of the waterlily plants had started to change colour when we were there in August. These photos will make great painting subjects.

Mushroom on the shore of Brownlee Lake, Ontario

As we explored the perimeter of Brownlee Lake, we found many colourful mushrooms had recently emerged. This one reminds me of a fairy toadstool.

Karen Richardson in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park

High Falls, near Wawa, Ontario

Our hikes in the region took us to many scenic waterfalls. I am pictured above in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, east of Rossport. The second photo is High Falls, which is accessible via a commercial wild blueberry farm near Wawa.

Rock point, Rainbow Falls Provincial Park at Rossport.

The most scenic part of our holiday was spent at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park (Rossport), which has a campground right beside the beach. The park's rocky point pictured above is the subject of a sold-out watercolour workshop I am teaching in my Lindsay studio this fall.

Rossport Coastal Trail, Lake Superior

The view above is from the Rossport Coastal Trail on Lake Superior. The water is very cold and clear, so you can see the colourful stones on the lake bed. I am working on a stunning new painting, inspired by this scene.

Karen Richardson's travelling and camping rig

The photo above shows our truck, trailer, kayaks, and dining tent set up in Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, just steps from Lake Superior. This park provides water and electrical hookups. We have a furnace, air conditioner, hot water heater, fridge, stove, oven, three-piece bathroom, and a queen-sized bed. All the comforts of home. That's why people often call the RV lifestyle 'glamping', short for glamorous camping. (What, you pictured me in a tent, sleeping on the ground? Those years are long gone!)

Waves and Sand Beach, Lake Superior

Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water on earth, with a surface area of over 82,000 square km, and over 4,000 km of shoreline. One beach we visited near Wawa had lovely white sand, clear aquamarine water, and surf (shown above), just like in the Caribbean.

Colourful stones on a Lake Superior Beach

The beach at Rainbow Falls park was mostly smooth stones and pebbles, like the ones pictured above. I took over 100 'incredible pebble' photos. The colours and patterns within the stones are remarkably beautiful and varied.

 Sunset and moonrise, Lake Superior

All too soon, it was time to head home. The photo above shows the moon at sunset over Lake Superior, with a solitary person out for a stroll. The headlands in the distance are the Rossport Islands.

My usual habit, after we get home from a trip, is to print just the photos I think I will use for future painting references. After our Lake Superior trip, I printed almost 400 photos! I'll be very busy this winter making 'Superior art'.

Subscribe to Karen's Newsletter if you wish to see more travel tales, studio news updates, or notices of upcoming painting classes and exhibitions.


Kayaking on Sackville River

26 June, 2012 2 comments Leave a comment

We spent a week at the KOA campground near Sackville, NS, which is about a half hour north of Halifax. The campground is right on the Sackville River, so on our only sunny day there we finally had a chance to use the kayaks we hauled from Ontario. It was so great to get out into Nature. Here are some photos of us and some waterfowl.






John Kayaking on Sackville River






Karen Kayaking on Sackville River






Families of Canada Geese, Sackville River





Five Black Ducks on the Sackville River
(One upright and four bums-up)

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Surfing in Montana

25 June, 2011 2 comments Leave a comment

I bet you think I'm talking about surfing the internet in Montana, but I really do mean surfing as in surfboards and waves. And yet there is no ocean in Montana! What gives!?

Surfer on the Missoula River

We were exploring the excellent bicycle trails of Missoula that go through town and along the riverfront. They had these super cycling lanes right through the old downtown.

North end of John cycling south through downtown Missoula

The river was very high and moving fast, as have all the rivers been that we have seen this spring.

Missoula River - very high, muddy and running fast

We came upon this group of people taking turns surfing the curl of the rapids on their surfboards and in kayaks. Looks easy here but I photographed and videoed lots of failed starts before I got some good shots. I will include the videos in a later post as I am running out of time with this good Wi-fi connection.

River Fun - Surfboards and Kayaks

Missoula also hosts this tremendous skateboarding park. What a great place for kids to hang out and get some exercise. Maybe we can get something like this in Caesarea!

McBash Skatepark in Missoula, Montana

As luck would have it, there was a car show in the riverside park on the Friday night and all day Saturday that we were in town, so we enjoyed walking around the 50 or so cars on display.

Classic cars and vintage architecture in Missoula. What a great city!

John is on the left, admiring some of the classy automobiles on display at the car show.

I noticed a very eye-catching getup on this lady and she was nice enough to pose for me beside her car, which is in the style of a Rat Rod.

Tatoos and leopard skin tights. Hard to miss!

What a pair! (I do mean her and her car.)

There was a farmers market and craft show downtown on Saturday morning so we took that in as well and bought some local fresh produce.

One of the stalls selling fresh flowers and produce at the weekly farmers market.

The KOA campground in Missoula was very well situated, within walking distance of all the big box stores, so we were able to get a lot of errands done and do a little shopping. The campground was very well organized but a little crowded, unless you stay in one of the deluxe sites with patio set and fire ring.

On our way to Missoula, we saw this 'mobile home' on the highway. Not as aerodynamic as our Earthbound trailer!

Can you spell 'wind turbulence'?

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Turkey Kayaking?

06 June, 2011 0 comments Leave a comment

I found out our iPad does something really cool. We don't have network coverage in the US so we just use the internet while in campgrounds. But it turns out we can load an electronic map of the local area where we will be travelling that day, and the iPad saves the map and tracks our location on the map as we travel along, using its own GPS positioning. The scale of the map can be changed as needed to see anywhere from a whole state to the streets of a village. It's so much easier to use than a paper road map and it's all free! John also found a free app called that shows all the private campgrounds on a map of whatever area you are in, all without an internet connection. We are so lucky to have such great technology to make travelling so much easier.

I searched the internet on said iPad and found an interesting sounding campground called Skip-A-Way Resort in the middle of nowhere, Iowa. When we pulled in we were pleased to discover it was beside a small river and had lots of attractive, shady sites and a restaurant. It was also the cheapest campground so far ($29 with tax for water, hydro, sewer, cable TV and WiFi). We decided to stay two days so we could do some kayaking. Here we are exploring the Turkey River, which is a tributary of the Mississippi.

Kayaking on the Turkey River (campground in background).

The weather was very hot (high 90's and humid) and the current was fairly strong so we only lasted a half hour or so. Then we retired to the bliss of our air conditioned trailer and I worked on my blog!

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