Thunder Bay to Atikokan

After much contemplation regarding the route towards Winnipeg, I have opted to do the long, but verey scenic route along ‘mom’s way’, since this route has less transport truck traffic; considerably less traffic; I have never visited this part of NW Ontario, and I want to punish myself by walking a road many say is boring! In summary, my route will take me west along Highway 11 towards Emo, ON, then north on Highway 71 towards Kenora, ON and back onto Highway 17 into Winnipeg.

So far, this route has been a much more enjoyable experience, and the traffic is considerably less along the highway.  The less traffic has reduced my stress level, but ‘they’ say this highway is boring, however, ‘they’ are usually wrong.  This region has the full hand of wetlands on display: bog, fen, and marsh flush!  To top it all off, there is a scattering of small lakes throughout the landscape, which is set within the beautiful palm of the Canadian Shield.

Above. The beauty of boring Highway 11.

Above. More beauty.

Above. Just as I enetered Highway 11, a beautiful lunch location by the river was found.

There were some interesting watershed and time zone milestones I walked across, which included: the Arctic/Atlantic Watershed’s and the Central Standard Time Zone (Below).  Please disregard the hilarious graffiti!

I kept meaning to show the places where I lay my head each night, which for some reason used to be the most stressful part of my day; the uncertainty on where to sleep at night is something that I have never had to think about in my life.  Now that I am an old salty dog out here, the uncertainty doesn’t really phase me; however, I occasionally still get a little out of phase.

The trend appears to be schools, churches, libraries, and the odd municipal campground ($12 to $15/night) in the small towns; motels ($60 to $87/night) and hostels ($25/night) when in larger cities, or desprately needed; forests, designated rest stops (when allowed), and private campgrounds when walking between towns and cities.  My favorite spot to camp is within forest locations adjacent to a lake, since I have unlimited access to fresh water and scenic horizon; however, with forests you have to find that little piece of forest floor that is level, free of debris and roots to place the tent, which can take time to locate.

Honestly, after a day of walking 40 or more kilometers, I usually just eat, hydrate, hang scented bag (err), setup camp, stretch, and gaze out of the tent door until I fall asleep.  Usually, there is not much time to just loaf around camp, and although school sites are not the most scenic locations, they are the easiest, since you can setup your tent anywhere and a picnic table is always available to cook off.

Above.  My first night’s accomodations outside of Thunder Bay in Kakabeka Falls (Elementary School).  It was stormy that day, so having this covered area was nice to come across.

Above.  Camping location off the Highway.  Notice the beautiful lake in the background.

Above. On the shore having dinner and a tea after setting up camp — the storm quickly passed.

Above.  Watching the world and storm pass over the lake while having a tea.

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