After a great night of sleep in Hilton Beach, I peeked out the window to check the morning weather and it was looking grim. The dark clouds were already there and I knew the rain was coming in a few hours. As I headed west on Ontario 17 a sense of urgency was streaming into me. It's like your sixth motorcycle sense alarming your brain that you need to hurry up and beat the rain. The thing was, I had a long ride in front of me and I knew there was no beating it so the little urgency alarm in my head was becoming annoying.
That was until the road opened up and the trees disappeared on my left and I got my first real glimpses of Lake Superior. Even under storm clouds, it is an impressive sight and one that completely disintegrated any sense of urgency I had left within me.
The road literally puts you right against the edge of the lake and sometimes crosses over it with small bridges. The landscape of pine trees mixed in with some great curves take you in and out from one view to the next. The gradual hills were perfectly placed raising you up so just as you'd cross their crest a several-mile view of the Lake lay down below you. As I said, the urgency was gone.
Needing to gas up and take a break I pulled over at the most monumental full-service rest stop of the trip in Pancake Bay; Agawa Crafts. Make no mistake, before you ever get to Agawa Crafts you know it's coming due to the giant signs advertising it for miles and miles before. Sort of reminds me of Wall Drug in the U.S. This place had everything, an ESSO station to gas up at, a small grocery, Indian woodcarvers, beautiful artisan-made sculptures and jewelry, Canadian souvenirs, moccasins galore, and in the words of an infomercial much, much more. If you can't find what you're looking for here it doesn't exist. And since it was starting to rain anyway I took some time to poke around and buy a few things for my nephews at home.
After my Agawa Crafts excursion, I got suited up in my rain gear and got back on the road, but with so many scenic pullovers I stopped way more than I ever thought I would in the rain. Three notable pullovers to check out are Alona Bay Lookout, Old Woman Bay, and Magpie Scenic Falls. All three were impressive, but the one I'll remember most will be Magpie Falls. I followed a scenic overlook sign off the way to its location down a dingy dirt road. After not being sure if this road led anywhere and its conditions given the rain a sweet surprise revealed itself to me. The falls were booming, I could hardly hear myself think. With all the rain they were running at max-cap full capacity, absolutely incredible.
After a long rainy day of riding, I got a room at the Best Northern Resort. The rooms were nice, and the shower was hot, but the best part of the stay here was the food, specifically the bowl of borsch the European owners served me. It is the type of food that warms up your body and gets the cold rain out of your bones.
The next morning I headed into Wawa, only a short distance from the resort and saw the famous Wawa Goose. It is big, it is in Wawa, it's a goose, and if you need an Instagram photo-op this is your honey hole. But more than a photo-op it was cool to learn that "Wawa" is taken from the Ojibwe word for "wild goose", which really brings up a recurring theme in this trip. No matter where I went on the ride there was a visible weaving of Indigenous culture into each community. And as I rode further and further away from the hustle and bustle of civilization I realized why these people made these incredible surroundings their home.
Departing Wawa and snaking along Lake Superior I started hitting some bigger grade hills and even some small mountainous landscapes. Around every turn was another photo-worthy lake, cliff face, or bay, and to my delight, this particular route had its fair share of turns.
After another rainy day of unreal riding, I stopped at Terrace Bay and got a room at Drifters Restaurant and Imperial Motel. This was a nice little place that was recently renovated and contained a comfortable little bar and restaurant, plus I liked the name. It had a great location with a gas station, a post office, a scenic lighthouse that overlooks the lake, a grocer, a bakery, a liquor store, and a sporting goods store all within 100 meters of walking distance. There was even free WiFi all over the area.
Before I settled into my room though there was one place specifically I wanted to check out in Terrace Bay and that was Aguasabon Falls. Before I even initially started my trip around Lake Superior I had heard of their magnificence, so you can say I was pretty pumped to see them. They most definitely did not disappoint. I won't waste any more words describing them because you have to see them in person. This is definitely a must-see if you're in Terrace Bay.
The next morning I had the pleasure to have breakfast with Dean Main who is the Community Development Supervisor for Terrace Bay. Dean was full of all kinds of great information about activities in the quickly developing area. Specifically, he told me about Canada Day, because the whole town has a big celebration where they bus everyone down to the beach, provide them with wood for beach fires, and then shoot fireworks off all night. Pyrotechnics + beach fires + everyone in town = A good time. With kayaking, surfing, drag races, and a Lighthouse Festival that has an impressive beer garden Terrace Bay was a place that I'll be visiting again.
After breakfast with Dean, I set out on the second half of my great Lake Superior adventure that would see me move away from the lake and into the wilderness of Northwest Ontario.
Read Part 4 of Stephen Bischoff's epic 4-part journey: click here
Read Part 1: The Shameless Traveler Visits Ontario