updated on: April 13, 2017
Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie
A Wild Wilderness Ride Along Lake Superior's Coast
It's been said, if you ride a motorcycle you've a story to tell.
I believe that's because on a motorcycle you become part of the scene, unlike in an automobile sitting behind windows, observing it. Even the most barren of roads can offer up an adventure or tale when you're sitting amidst it on a motorcycle. And this particular tale of mine came about while riding along one of the most splendid, lone stretches of highway bordering the mighty Lake Superior -- the Trans-Canada Highway 17 South from Wawa's famous mighty goose monument -- to Sault Ste. Marie.
It's a ride of about 228 km taking the average explorer just under three hours to complete. It was the final stretch of highway rounding off my nine day Lake Superior Epic Motorcycle Tour. It rolled along like other segments of the lake's edge granting me an unbroken riding rhythm -- southward and through the Lake Superior Provincial Park -- as wild and as free as could be! This section of highway was among the most deserted, no, abandoned roads I'd been on in a long, long while. It was magnificently, nervously, isolated -- just me, the Triumph turning up around and over the postcard perfect Canadian North landscape. I was torn between keeping the throttle open and my urge to stop and capture the unspoiled scenes with my camera.
Riding on, I made an agreement with myself that at the next photo opportunity I'd not contemplate a stop; I'd just pull over and take the picture. It's easy enough to do on a motorcycle. However, the pace I kept the Triumph at required quick decisions; I rapidly put one scene behind me replacing it with another. And with these roads, their liberties, I couldn't stop myself from riding on! Years of motorcycling had developed in me a keen observing eye and tuned peripheral vision, therefore little escaped me. Deer in the wooded hills above me, a sand hill crane in ravine -- a turkey vulture picking at an old moose carcass -- likely an unfortunate victim of a shadowy night's truck encounter.
While I rounded out another blind hilltop, I detected something moving up ahead. It was brilliant, scarlet-orange and tossing about at the right side shoulder and quite a contrast amidst the back drop of the deep emerald forest greens. I arrived at it quickly; it was a fox! What was it doing here out in the open in mid-day I asked myself? I took my chance, turned the bike quickly onto the paved shoulder braking so hard the ABS (anti- lock braking system) kicked in. I switched off the bike, and hopped off while simultaneously readying my camera.
I turned to walk toward the fox but stopped in my tracks -- astonished to see it prancing along the shoulder toward me! I stood still as it moved closer to investigate. It was friendly and quite thin. It appeared young and had the most beautiful black fur stockings and vibrant flame red fur I'd ever seen. It had absolutely no fear of me! It stopped about half a metre away and I continued to take photos fearing this moment would quickly vanish. It sniffed at the air carrying the scent of the hot motorcycle and me, its rider -- likely hoping for food. I had nothing in my tank bag except for an orange, but I also knew wild animals shouldn't be fed. Then another fox, a shy one, came out from the woods and the tame fox pranced back to join it and play. It was fabulously amusing to see them romp and roll around with each other in the grass. As I followed along up the road to be closer, the shy fox scurried into the concealing trees. The tame fox returned its attention to me but then suddenly ran off and vanished along with its sibling. Beautiful experience I thought to myself as I climbed back on the Triumph and rode on.
Not far along, I spied the Agawa Trading Post on the north side of the road. I had to pull in because it was the last fuel stop before "The Soo". The place was bustling with activity -- the most action and noise of humankind I'd seen for hours! Tourists and wilderness enthusiasts stocked up on fuel, food and camping needs. There were beautiful items to be had -- hand crafted wood carvings and First Nation art and jewellery. But it was the hanging collection of red fox pelts which caught my attention and pulled at my heart strings remembering the little friend I made kilometres earlier. I hoped he wouldn't meet with the same fate. I know I was grateful for the special encounter, and the photos to share my story again and again! Yes, motorcycling -- part of the scene, part of the wild wilderness from Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie!
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