In the land of Nirivia:

Sea kayaking Nipigon to Rossport

Guiding a five day sea kayak trip from Bowman Island to Rossport with Such A Nice Day Adventures in July 2022.

Shot on Fuji Superia 200 film.

Early one morning mid July, myself and clients Mike and Denise met the Anica Lee at the marina in Nipigon. After strapping our kayaks to the roof of the old fishing trawler and loading 5 days worth of food and gear, we settled in for the slow four hour trip out the Nipigon Strait to Bowman Island.

After unloading our boats and a large pile of gear at Bowman Island Lodge, we packed our kayaks and paddled west across the Nipigon Strait towards Fluor Island. Along the south side of Tisdall Island is one of my favourite features on the lake, a narrow gap that’s been carved out by thousands of years of wave action. Paddling through the gap after coming across the wide open strait feels like entering another world, a sheltered slot canyon that cuts you off from the rest of the lake.

We set up camp on Spar Island, and after a brief encounter with a friendly porcupine were treated to a colourful sunset. We woke up early the next morning to an overcast day with rising winds from the northeast, but Mike and Denise were keen to get on the water early and cover distance.

With a quick stop at the abandoned Lamb Island lighthouse, we hopped back across the Nipigon Strait, making our way for Agate Island in a light rain.

We arrived at Agate Island and got camp set up just as thick fog set in, wind came up and the temperature dropped. We put up a tarp, threw on some dry clothes and hunkered down with hot drinks.

The next morning we were greeted with sun trying to push its way through the thick fog, illuminating the misty cobwebs that blanketed every tree. We got on the water early and set our bearing for Talbot Island, expecting to see it rise up in front of us out of the dense fog after about 30 minutes of paddling.

In true Lake Superior fashion, the fog broke soon after getting on the water, and bathed us in warm sunlight just as the Talbot Island cliffs appeared ahead of us.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Lake Superior if it didn’t change its mind every 10 minutes – as we paddled into Duncan Cove we quickly found ourselves once again navigating through pea soup fog by compass, virtually unable to see the bows of our own boats.

Staying close together in the light swell and thick fog, we carefully rounded Fraser Point and entered Armour Harbour, despite being unable to actually see any of the islands around us. Nearing the painted cliffs of Armour Harbour, the fog once again burned off and we paddled lazily into Nirivia.

We settled into our campsite on the point and stoked the sauna. After dinner, a beer, a hot sauna and a spectacular sunset, we were in our tents for the night.

The weather forecast on the VHF radio was calling for possible strong winds, so we were once again awake and on the water early in the hopes of getting across Moffat Strait before the waves got big.

Despite our early start, the crossing proved to be somewhat spicy, with mid sized breaking waves kicking up from the northwest as we paddled across the channel towards Simpson Island. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we rounded the first point on Simpson and found some shelter from the waves funnelling down the strait. After taking in the unique columnar basalt formations, and realizing we were making good time, we stopped for a hot lunch break before moving on to our last campsite of the trip, a small sandy cove neighbouring an agate beach in Morn Harbour.

The Battle Island Lighthouse appeared in the distance as we departed Morn Harbour, welcoming us into Rossport. We stopped at the lighthouse for a quick break, then surfed our way down Wilson Channel to end the trip.

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