Visiting Northern Vistas
Our longest camping trip this summer was a four-week exploration of northwestern Ontario: Manitoulin Island, the North Channel, Lake Superior, and Lake of the Woods. During this trip I amassed many wonderful reference photos to inspire future paintings.
As I was reviewing the best of the best photographs to share with you, it struck me that my final selections, the ones that truly captured the sense of place, were stretched panoramas. The lakes and skies up north are so vast and wide, it's hard to take in all the beauty on display.
We spent the first week camping on Manitoulin Island, which is a very laid back place with a rural vibe and lots of historic barns. These Sandhill Cranes crossed a country road just as we approached in our truck. We see cranes like these every summer we travel in the north.
My husband and I (back) were accompanied by our long-time friends Carolyn and Roger (front), pictured here at a lookout on the famous Cup and Saucer Trail. We had no trouble finding daily excursions like this to keep active and search out beautiful scenery.
Shown above is a view of the North Channel near our Manitoulin Island campground, with the Ontario mainland in the distance. I love the patterns the wind and currents make on the intensely blue water.
Hoping for more photographic opportunities, we took a day cruise from Little Current harbour to the village of Killarney and back. Shown above is one of many 'paint-able' rocky points we cruised by. This type of rock reminds me of Georgian Bay, which is not surprising since the North Channel leads into Georgian Bay.
At Killarney, we saw many lovely summer homes on the rocky shore, but this humble cottage embodies that old-time Georgian Bay nostalgia.
As we cruised back to Little Current that afternoon, the sun came out and sprinkled diamonds on the waters of the North Channel, while a thunder cloud poured rain on Manitoulin.
After a very relaxing week on the Island, we journeyed north-westward to Lake Superior, camping at Wawa and then stopping at Terrace Bay to show our friends Aguasabon Falls and Gorge. There is a generous parking area, large enough to turn around and park our travel trailers, and a very short boardwalk hike that took us to this stunning view.
In the words of the town, "With a beautiful ferocity in the spring and a serene grace in the summer and fall, this spectacular 100 foot waterfall cascades into the Aguasabon Gorge—flowing along a 2.6 billion year old rock face." If your travels take you through Terrace Bay, watch for the signs to the Gorge and take a look at this natural wonder.
We camped for several days at Nipigon to attend the Live from the Rock Folk Festival, an annual music and arts festival held on the shore of Lake Superior in Red Rock. While there, we hiked up to the lookout over Nipigon Bay to view the islands of the Lake Superior Archipelago. The hilly shapes remind me of paintings by the Group of Seven. I love the grace and power of this place.
While our friends departed to spend time with family, my husband and I headed for Lake of the Woods, pictured above. We spent a glorious week there, visiting family and enjoying lakeside living. The weather was favourable and we spent an entire afternoon boating through a tiny section of the lake, which is an enormous body of water - 137 km long and 91 km wide at its widest point.
Lake of the Woods has a shoreline of just over 100,000 km if you count the shoreline of its many islands as well as the mainland. That's more than Lake Superior! There are 14,522 islands in Lake of the Woods.
And gosh, do I love painting those islands and points with their iconic twisted pines! Our visits to this lake have inspired dozens of paintings.
As we journeyed homeward, we made a point to camp a few nights at Marathon so I could visit my favourite Pebble Beach.
As is often the case, the weather was cool and foggy while we were there. I have only seen this beach once on a calm sunny day, and the rest of the time conditions have been misty or raining. But the mist adds a sense of hushed solitude that makes for very compelling paintings, and also makes the beach stones look more colourful than they do when dry. I like this shot above of my husband bending for a closer look. I had to lay flat on the stones to get the shooting angle I wanted.
While in town, we heard about a flat rock beach and searched it out. We were amazed at the great slabs of rock we found there along the Lake Superior shore. It felt very other-worldly.
Now that we know where this place is, I'll have TWO beaches to stop at every time we travel by Marathon. Thank goodness for a patient husband! I would love to see this landscape in sunshine, when the lake looks sapphire blue.
By the time we reached our home base in Lindsay, my husband and I had travelled 5,000 km on this month-long adventure. We came back with happy memories of fun times, a renewed appreciation of this remarkable province, and so much painting inspiration, I hardly knew where to begin!
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