In the days growing up in Port Arthur, as it turned itself into Thunder Bay, I did lots of camping. This is in the middle of North-Western Ontario and camping was second nature.
I started with a tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and a hibachi which could all be loaded in the back of a car. Then moved on to a tent trailer towed by a half-ton truck, with a Sportspal canoe strapped in the back. Out to the trailer parks, competing with the large RV campers I did go.
As I worked my way up through camping level one, two, and higher, the gear piled up… and it seemed the actual camping got a lot easier. Am I really camping out or taking a rolling hotel room to a different campground?
So it came to pass that my camping group thought time to change it up into something much more wilderness centred. We started trekking further afield, to small carve-outs on northern lakes. I remember a number of trips to Obanga Lake about three hours north up the Armstrong Highway 527, where we’d park the trailer as close to the beach as possible, while always being aware of the warnings of bears and moose posted by MNR.
The most adventurous of my camp-outs was to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We followed what is now a hiking trail and built bridges out of fallen trees to drive our vehicles in.
No tent trailers on this trip.
We travelled completely around to the back of Nanabijou (The Sleeping Giant rock formation in Lake Superior that can be seen from nearly anywhere in the city) and made our way to a campsite on the edge of Lake Superior called Tee Harbour. From this location due east is Silver Islet, part of the legend of Nanabijou.
On the first morning, we began exploring. A hike along the rocky beach and into the woods, up the back of the giant, brings you to an area called The Triangle. There are bogs and marshes to circumvent in order to get higher up and look south, out across Superior. You could see the lake freighters passing in the distance.
While on this hike we came across a moose.
She was feeding in the bog some 80 to 120 yards away, frightening us at first sight. She stopped feeding, looked up, and stared directly at us.
Luckily she simply looked around, shrugged, and continued feeding on water vegetation, totally ignoring us.
We could not ignore her.
Huge. Majestic, even. And many colours of brown were her coat.
I can’t remember how long we watched her, but it was a long time. So much so, that we did not make the top of the Giant that day. We respectfully turned, and as quietly as we could, made our way back down to the beach.
We did not take the same route the next day, and did not see her or any other moose for the balance of our stay.
Many other stories can be told of that trip to the backside of Nanabijou.
But that moose is the most vivid.