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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 2:42 pm 
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Location: on the edge of the big blue
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It was August 1st and we were about an hour south of Terrace Bay on Doug Caldwell’s shuttle boat as we entered the western end of the sheltered passage between the larger north (Mortimer) and south (Patterson) islands of this Lake Superior archipelago. Our Appalachian was balanced cross ways on a rack over the huge Honda outboard and we had an extra duffle on board containing all the necessities required for a comfortable camp.
Doug gave us a slow speed tour through some of the inner islands and dropped us at a dock at the western end of McGreevy Harbour. We had a welcoming committee of two canoeists in a double kayak who were pleased with it’s speed and comfort level in ten foot swells but were missing the freedom of an open boat.

Because it was late in the afternoon we ferried across to a nearby point and set up camp on the second best site in the park. A good fire pit, a rustic table and some fireside benches, a somewhat sheltered canoe landing, room for two tents and a level beach facing west. After a look at the blowdown in the vicinity we decided on the beachfront property and set up the tent with our feet pointed at Thunderbay.
Setting up the tarp was another matter entirely. I gave it a try and received a negative review from my partner, the Architect. The ropes came down and I dutifully followed her sometimes confusing directions. We ended up with a slightly sloping structure with 9 feet of headroom and a mid roof drainage system facilitated by a short bungee hooked to a couple of the tarp grommets.

The following morning we left camp with the intention of doing an outside circumnavigation by heading out to the east around the point and following the east and south and western shores and returning by the inner passage.
We started out with a slight tailwind and because we had set an optimistic goal for ourselves we left the comforting aquamarine of the shoreline and did point to point crossings over the black black water with the occasional glance over the endless blue where Michigan should be.

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After about 4 hours with half of that into a slight head wind we stopped for lunch in a bay with three small islands and discovered the best campsite in the park. Just you, your boat, and the Lake, with room for two tents.
After lunch we headed around the sheltering point into a rather brisk headwind coming from Sunday Point and the lighthouse. My partner wanted to DO IT, but
knowing it was early afternoon and the headwind would be present along the entire western shore, I had to assert my authority (also known as my trepidation) and deny her the pleasure. We discussed this decision all the way home which included a 2 hour sail made possible by the increasing afternoon wind and the heated conversation amidships..

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The fishing was good and with Jerry R.’s 1 oz. bottom bouncer rig I averaged a fish for every five casts, using a floating rapala when I wanted to keep and a barbless silver spoon when I wanted to release.

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You will probably bump into other people, and some of them will have boats bigger than yours.

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The highlights of the trip were the half a dozen caribou encounters, crossing between islands, following their shoreline trails and after giving you the once over, showing up for a campside visit.

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And all the irresistible rocks catching your eye everywhere you went.
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We had seven days of great weather. Only one night with some tent rattlin' wind and a couple hours of rain. Otherwise it was blue skies with cool clear star watching nights. We had a first ever moonless night with Jupiter leaving it's path on the water.
I think we saw three, maybe four mosquitoes.

Rangifer tarandus,
These animals, over three hundred in number, are habituated to the human presence and may have a small number of canine predators. Apparently because there is no need to defend her young, the female of the species has decided to ditch her usual headgear in favour of a svelter (I’m a cow and I’m okay) look.

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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 3:37 pm 
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Dammit, that's a nice place, I've got to keep this on my wish list.
Thanks for posting!


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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 4:38 pm 
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Location: on the edge of the big blue
Quote:
I've got to keep this on my wish list.

Don't wait too long Erhard, legislation is in the works,
there will be longgg waiting lists . . .

Here's another perspective
:wink:

A glimpse of Eden

Not what I expected- the Slates Islands.
A 14 hour drive west of Ottawa, a 12k shuttle from Terrace Bay,
a pulp and paper town on the north shore of Superior, half way between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay, the stink of mill effluent a l w a y s in the air.
We are here to commune with the caribou, Rangifer tarandus,
Santa’s reindeer. Mother Nature - 1 Man - 0.

A Motor Boat brings us across,
how can anyone predict the weather of Superior?
Others have made the crossing in open canoe, I don’t believe them,
neither does Mr. Shuttle, rolling his eyes.
The Lake Superior Experience to me,
is to stare out over the vast expanse of ocean.
nestled between some stunted pines, maybe a birch,
some semblance of shelter, against the fury of the BIG Lake.
We are delivered unto a safe harbour, complete with dock and 3 civilized campsites, resplendent with those fish cleaning pulpits and hammed together rusticana of camp furnishings . . . everything comes in handy.
Our setting: a point with 270 degrees of view, 2 beaches, a fish hole.
E v e r y o n e will pass by us here and we will wave at them all, the sail boats chugging out every morning, the Cabin cruisers with bikinied wives, party boats loaded with kids Nirvana's angst wafting over the waters, fisherman, even the ‘Queen Mary’ makes an appearance- alsmo with a bikinied wife, but hey, there’s room for everyone, Superior is an ocean of fresh water.

And what does one do on an Island? Well you circumnavigate, of course, right away. With provisions and a tarp, in case we become windbound we
set off out to the east, clockwise. Well those kayakers did it, so can we.
Now that’s more like it! OPEN SEA, Superior's indigo swells.
My husband is a point to point guy, I would be happy to crawl along the shore . . . never happens. We wonder how the kayakers did it as we watch the time as the original Plan for the day is dissolving, as now we can only estimate a trip to the lighthouse.
We made it to the 'Shell islands', one cove over from the Lighthouse and
Craig pulled the plug. I would have crawled along the shore to get there.
At this little group of islands the 'Camping' is more what I had in mind,
the 'Lake Superior experience' not the bucolic sheltered point we would dwell on for the next 5 days.
The Wind pushes us from behind, beside, in front, e v e r y w h e r e and we did the return in 6 hours, there and back.
We are in our Appy (whitewater tub) but I would rather be in a long seafaring boat, a Souris- 18 footer? perfect craft for this BIG lake thing.
I want a rig that knifes through those swells, but the ‘plastic tub’ knows what to do with the waves.
The tarp was used as a sail at times, I wasn't supposed to be able to see
ahead as I was holding it, (I have my own technique) nagnagnag.
I was supposed to just hold it up, like some slave? I don't think sooo.

We made our forays from this point.
Others were more ambitious and would leave early in fog, but still come back unable to have circumnavigated, blown back by the winds.
Somebody had their 80yr old + parents along . . .in their own boat!!!
The day we returned around the fishing point I declared: "Holy Shit"
there was a 70 foot yacht (67 feet) anchored in the little bay where the
dock is. We watched those people with amusement.
Old white haired man with bikinied wife.
Pharmaceutical heir. Wife No. 3. Shuttle guy: "Well that's their world"
Listening to their bilge pumps wasn't amusing.

I came for the Caribou, the big nature show but I leave with geology.
The visitor register books at all the cabins we enter talk about the ‘shatter cone’. We hear about it from other paddlers. I did not know anything about this. My husband plans these trips, I am just the cook ;-)
and want to be surprised.
At the MNR Cabin some googled pages describe the geological storyline and our shuttle Pilot fleshes out the details when Nasa and the US Army’s engineering corps descended on the islands in the 70’s
When the US tests their armaments or nuclear bombs
what gets left behind is a ‘shatter cone’ usually I meter high.
The Shatter Cone on the Slates Islands over in McGreevy Bay
is 10 meters high.
I had to go there twice to 'get my head around it'- the concept of
an Asteroid hit a billion years ago (or something insane like that)
32 km diameters in diameter and the Slates are the epicenter.
One can still discern these molten 'rib-like' things on the face of a
cone-like cliff face. There was and still remains much debate amongst geologists about this. I note that the strata of the exposed rocks on the islands have all been punched up to vertical.

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Where are the Caribou?
An encounter is guaranteed, it’s a promise, but when?
"You will" smacked Mr. Shuttle.
We’ve heard them, far away, swimming across the channel.
We’ve seen them, far away, swimming across the channel.
We even had one in camp but he kept ducking into the forest behind us.
We find their bones, on the beaches, in the forests.

Gitchee Gumee has planned it this way, one animal at a time.
Everyday someone new makes their presence at ‘our place’
Oh, they’re the same collection of Canadian animalia
critters that I know from other trips but I am out on an open island and every visitation is a gift.
What point does not have its very own family of ducks or grebes passing by?
15 little ones arrive every day from the island across the channel . . . . a feathered raft behind their mother going back again.
We had our spirit animal in camp too, a hare who loped about, nonchalant.

I am waiting for my caribou.
The land everywhere is crisscrossed with their tamped down pathways.
The forest is draped with the pale green lichen they will munch on-blowdowns in January blizzards.
On the fourth day, in the evening he presents himself to us,
in one of the campsite portals, very casually, full silhouetted antlered regalia. Dark Brown velveted beast.
Panic. Camera??? Carrots????
Into that bastard of a barrel I scramble, the carrots are in the bottom.
He doesn't like the whirr of the digital camera.

At one point he actually trotted towards me when I held out a giant carrot,
and then stopped (composed) himself, skidding on the pebbled beach.
Our eyes had met. It's an ancient relationship
those of us with eyes placed at the front of one's face with a spear in one hand and those, the beautiful ones, with theirs on the sides of their heads.
”OK, that’s enough now “ my husband chides.
I had brought 2 5# bags, just in case. What was I expecting- a petting zoo? Yes, yes, I know its wrong- J a n u a ry on an island.
but you just can't help yourself.
We sit and watch him move around camp.
and marvel his body and all the specialized features.
Those hoofs!! Those slender legs,
NO BUMHOLES, all hidden in fur. When they swim their little white stump
tails flying straight up.
Later that night he came by again.
The gabled end of our tent open to Jupiter’s planet beams on the water
the crunch crunch of his hoofs on the pebbles
that magnificent rack cruising past, so noble.

We also stood outside naked around 2:00 watching the sky for shooting
stars!!! the L-somethings Leonids??
The Big Lake all quiet.
Let the honeymoon begin.

A week later, In Belleville, at grandaughter Freyja's 4th birthday weekend
our son Aaron would re-enact her reaction to the birthday present several times, me buckling over in laughter . . .
The kids having gathered around a mechanical panda which, after being
filled with batteries, then humming with mechanical sounds and flashing eyes, one child asks: “Is that all it does?”
Opening our present she declares loudly: "A STICK!"
= a piece of driftwood with the hieroglyphic tunnelings of some beetle,
"Mum, read this!" after she put it to her ear first.

I weep for Eden.
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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 7:04 pm 
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nice report from the two faces of Kingfisher :wink:

We knewyou actually went canoeing.

Oh sigh, no style with an Appy..I have a 18.5 foot long sleek Odyssey that LOVES Superior.

Slates are definitely on the to do list. My list is now so long I dare not die.


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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 7:59 pm 
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That was some good reading..... 8)


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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 8:58 pm 
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How come you didn't come for a visit? Been a slow summer this year, always looking for excitement!


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PostPosted: August 21st, 2008, 10:09 pm 
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Great story-telling Kingfisher and Siren.

I had the pleasure of being there one winter, helicoptered out there for work, accompanying a scientist colleague studying caribou and island ecology. Stayed for 6 days in the (now condemned) “Come and Rest” cabin, cutting firewood, feeding the glowing woodstove, living the life, and snowshoeing around the big main island every day taking observations and notes.

At that time a few years ago, there was one wolf on the island. Two winters before, the lake had frozen over, and two wolves got to the island. We documented sign of only one wolf left. The caribou were quite skittish, and we could not get close to them in winter. The wolves had no doubt, renewed the caribou’s innate predator avoidance behaviour. I have not kept up with the studies there, but I think the last wolf is dead now, so it’s a predator-free environment again.

I hope to spend time there another winter some day. The channels have wicked currents caused by seiches, which keep some areas open all winter long. Some of the inner areas have ice thick enough to cross, but we drilled test holes to make sure of our crossings. From the beach of the cabin, I could cast into open water summer style, in what was almost a tidal surge open water zone the winter (never caught anything), but caught monster laker’s ice fishing through the safe ice, which was 1-2 foot thick. I released a giant that I estimated was 30-35 pounds!!!

That green arboreal lichen you see is actually not what the caribou eat too much of. It’s semi toxic to their system. They prefer to eat the black arboreal lichen in winter. The Slates have essentially no accessible ground lichen left, and the caribou have browsed an arboreal lichen browse line of the black lichen. If you look close you will see the line across the trees where no black lichen exists below the line. There is lots of the green stuff, but almost no black stuff left lower on the standing trees. They survive in winter on blowdown, where they can access unbrowsed black arboreal lichens from the tops of the freshly fallen trees. Since the Slates have not burned for a long time, balsam fir has invaded the understory (since it is shade tolerant), and it does not live long, and is usually killed by budworm. Dead balsam fir is a preferred substrate for arboreal lichens to grow on. Dead balsam fir blows down a lot, and that is currently what sustains the caribou there.

The Slates are the highest density of forest dwelling woodland caribou in the world, because they live mostly in a predator free environment. Global warming has resulted in the Lake freezing over less and less frequently, so wolves get there less and less often. It is one of the few places where woodland caribou are limited by food. On the mainland they are limited by wolf predation.

Ah winter........

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PostPosted: August 22nd, 2008, 9:17 am 
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HOOP,

The "Come and Rest" still has a few useful winters left. It's posted with a do not enter sign, but you can imagine my partners reaction to that. And the wood stove looks like a huge hungry beast.
The six inch eddy line we negotiated around the point was a surprise (thanks for the new "s" word)
They've also added a new small separate bunkhouse (that isn't posted) in the southwest quadrant.

RHaslam,

We might surprise you and take take you up on that invite.
How about a winter boat building bee?
If you're going to do the setup for one Qutback, you might as well do two.
I like the 42" beam.
How many board feet do we need?

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PostPosted: August 22nd, 2008, 4:33 pm 
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I think George Luste paddled across in an open canoe from mainland, many, many moons ago!

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PostPosted: August 22nd, 2008, 4:39 pm 
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Hmmm...probably 70 to 80 board feet of clear cedar....once I get the Pal done, I'll start thinking about the big one.....if I do it, it's always available as a loaner of you are up in the area.


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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2008, 8:30 pm 
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Wow. I really need to go there. What is the black striped rock in the picture above? I looks very cool.

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PostPosted: August 23rd, 2008, 8:59 pm 
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Hello Bryan,

The Slates is a rockhounds Disneyland.
It's littered with quartz. There is a spot on the south shore with a 2 feet wide by 20 feet high vein. The beach rubble has every imaginable colour and type. The black on white was a 30 pounder that ended up in our duffle bag. Maybe PK can take a guess at its mineral makeup, I brought my rock hammer but never had to use it.
We went through a weeks worth of food but came back HEAVIER than we were at our arrival.

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PostPosted: August 24th, 2008, 9:11 am 
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KF, It's real hard to do much petrology without first hand looking at it. In addition, I've never been to the Slates myself to have any historical reference.

But lets take a swing at this.... The Slates are a meteroite impact structure with the islands being shatter cones. So despite their name the islands are not made of slate. They are mainly sedimentary in origin with igneous material interspersed.

In the rock in the picture, the lighter rock appears to be the host rock, and the darker rock (we call that mafic because it's magnesium (ma) iron (fic) rich) has been intruded into it. Its likely that the entire cobble represents a breccia from the impact. The lighter color rock most likely would have been the rock at the surface, and the impact caused molton rock from below to fill in the cracks created by the impact. So I'd guess that the darker rock is a diabase. The host rock is even more difficult to identify. It looks like a relatively fine grained granitic based on the light color, and that similar colored and textured rocks appear to be granitic as well. But without I close-up or better yet, holding it in my hand, I could be way off.

PK


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 Post subject: from the missus
PostPosted: August 24th, 2008, 9:54 pm 
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Quote:
But without I close-up or better yet, holding it in my hand,


Rock dry
Image

Rock wet
Image

also-
Q:When is a Meteorite an Asteroid
or when is an Asteroid a meteorite?
:o

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PostPosted: August 25th, 2008, 7:10 am 
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Kingfisher,

OK, the bigger picture helps show more detail. Again, realize that I'm looking at what we call "float". It's not where it originally was, and it's not oriented.

But, I stay by my opinion that the black is an intrusion, and calling it a diabase is as good as I'm gonna get. The light pink rock on the top is most likely the host rock.. It's almost all quartz and potassium feldspar, so lets call that a granite. The white rock with the oriented black crystals is due to contact metamorphism, where the host rock is melted by the heat of the intrusion that created the diabase and recrystallizes. The composition of this band is slightly different than the host granite, so this change in composition is called metasomatism. Anyways, I'd say that this altered band looks the most like a gneiss due to the slight banding.

PK


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