Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lately, I always seem to be on top of a rock

The trail to Finger Point starts in the bush. You access the trail from the Ontario Tourist Information Office right at the Canadian border, so park your car in the lot. At the beginning of the trail, the uprooted trees weren't too bad, but as we got further down the trail,
they become a serious impediment. At times, having to skirt around, leap over, limbo under, and break our way through the fallen trees, we momentarily lost the path. From all the cracked bark and broken branches and trunks, the aromatic scent of balsam and spruce permeated the air and was quite delicious. Have you ever walked for kilometres with the scent of balsam filling your head? Then you know what I mean. The air was healing.
However, the blown down trees made going down the path so arduous, and the creaking and groaning of tall skinny old trees swaying ominously in the wind threatening to crash down at any moment spooked us, so we decided to walk along the shore instead. I had stopped to take photos of the trees but my son shouted at me, "Are you crazy? Don't you hear the trees? Look at them swaying! We have to hurry up and get out of here! This is not a photo-op moment." He was right. No time for photos in the bush.

The shore, however, was terribly windy. I stopped to re-wrap my scarf that used to be a poncho I bought in Cuetzalan but which I cut up to make it more practical. I wrapped its soft black cotton weave tightly around my head and ears and crisscrossed it around my neck to protect against the fierce wind. On the shore we scavenged for some driftwood poles to use as walking sticks. I found one that was just like a cane with a curved handle. Perfect! With my huivi (scarf) and my keppi (cane), I am sure if anyone crossed our path, he or she would think an old lady gnome just stepped out of the forest.
After awhile, we had to give up walking along the shore, not only because it was quite difficult to navigate the hundreds of odd-shaped rocks, so you have to walk the whole way with your eyes to the ground, but also because the trail begins its climb towards the mound through the bush. So, it was back to battling blowdown.
When we got close to the top of the lookout, I turned around and noticed that you can see the mouth of the Pigeon River from this height of land. The US is on the left, Canada on the right, and the bay is Lake Superior. The sun was shining right at us, so it was difficult for me to get a photo without any glare.
As I mentioned in my last post, to get to the of the Finger Point lookout, you have to spiral along the edge of the path, which at this point is millions of pieces of shale rock. Earlier, where the path dips, there were huge rocks shaped like immense chairs that had broken off a cliff face. Patterns often repeat themselves, and I noticed the spiral designs in the iron artwork that wraps around the bench repeats the spiralling of the path to the lookout.
There are actually two mounds at the top of this lookout, like two hills or two breasts. One is bigger than the other. My son is sitting on the smaller one; the land just falls away behind it, which is hard to capture with a camera. The entire lookout is a magical place because it is not visible from the highway, yet it is just off of it. On the right, you can see a line that crosses the bush just below the horizon; that's Highway 61 cutting through. Yet few people realize as they speed down the highway to the US that there is a beautiful lookout on the other side of the trees. You can't see this bay from the road, but it is merely -- or should I say, literally, given the scores of fallen down balsam, spruce, birches and poplars on the path -- a hop, skip and a jump away.
On the way back, to avoid the worst of the fallen down trees, we got back onto the shore as soon as we could. Coming around a rock outcropping. we met a man with white hair, thin, older than us, with a camera in one hand and a cast on his other hand. He asked us how much farther to the lookout, whether the fallen trees ease up at all, and should he turn back? We told him that he's almost at the end, only about 20 more minutes, and that when the land begins to climb, there is less blowdown. We wished him well as we went our separate ways. A few steps later, my son and I wondered aloud why anyone with only one good hand would go on a hike through the bush. Never mind, I said, why would anyone risk hiking by themselves in the Canadian bush? What if you met a bear? a wolf? A tree fell on you? You tripped on a root and hit your head on the edge of a rock? You slid on the shale and tumbled down the ridge?
At the end of the trail, we decided to cut across the beach at the bottom of the bay. It is full of thousands of pieces of driftwood and logs that have collected here over the years. They are smooth as silk and have been bleached a pale grey by the sun.

The hike took us much longer than we anticipated due to the blowdown, and so we arrived home in the late afternoon. I do not recommend hiking this trail until next spring when the fallen trees have all been cleared. Then you can do the 5 k in a breeze.


Merche Pallarés said...

Another interesting hike! How dangerous for that man with a cast! no less...trekking alone. You're right anything could happen to him... Hugs, M.

northshorewoman said...

Indeed, I can't imagine the thought of going by myself on a hike....well, on second thought, I did go down the trail to High Falls once by myself two years ago. It was a lovely day, and I did not give coming across a bear a thought, but in hindsight, that was foolish of me.

But this guy with only one working hand!