The Walk to Friendly Fort Francis, Ontario

My walk from Atikokan to Fort Francis was a relaxing affair, which I am thankful for.  As usual, I met a handful of interesting and nice people along the way, and traversed across some different scenery along the way.  During this section of the walk, I noticed that the majority of traffic on the road was comprised of pickup trucks with four-wheelers in the back, with a small to mid sized fishing boat trailing behind; the perfect combination for accessing the numerous and remote lakes that are smeared across the region.

Overall, Mom’s Route has been ideal, due to considerably less traffic volume; however, there are still the wood chip and log trasport trucks destined for the pulp and lumber mills along the way, but the traffic was sparse and the drivers of these big rigs are some of the most considerate drivers on the road.
The last few days were marked by encountering some ideal camp locations within the forest stands; locations with exposed bedrock and rock outcrops is usually an indicator of a forest floor that is level, relatively non-stony, and well drained — this description reminds me of my previous report writing style!

Although there was an overall absence of civilization for long stretches, the odd picnic table/rest area location appeared at the perfect times!  Most days I would see that enigmatic blue sign with a picnic table on it as I was thinking about lunch; just wanting to sit down and not be walking, or be on the side of the road.

As for the natural world along the way, it was mainly composed of the three wetlands: marsh, fen, and treed bog wetland, and the many associated lakes, rivers, creeks, and streams.  If you live in NW Ontario and you don’t own a canoe or motor boat of some description, you would be depriving yourself of some, if not the most beautiful and scenic element of the natural world.  Although my enthusiasm for angling is moot, I can definately see the enthusiasm for this sport after walking across the region.

Below are some pictures and a brief description:

Above:  These are my favorite camping locations: flat areas of exposed bedrock and grey/green reindeer lichen.

Above: In the evening highway traffic was almost absent, so I sat on the rocky ledge close to my camp site and watched the sun go down.

Above.  My stopping at roadside store resulted in being invited to a community breakfast by Jeremiah of the Nigigoonsiminikaaning First Nation.  I talked with a number of community members, and in one instance, a comment from someone actually opened my eyes about this walk: the absolute connection with the ground and people when one walks.

Above.  Shooting a few baskets before breakfast.

Above. Eating some breakfast.

Above.  The causeway leading into Fort Frances that runs across the expansive Rainy Lake.

Above.  Downtown Fort Frances.

I arrived in Fort Frances to pickup another package of food, etc., but I also needed a shower, since my scalp was in need of some serious treatment.  Before arriving I phoned the Nugget Motel to see if they had a room available for the day I was to arrive, where Kim (I think) answered the phone and I mentioned that I was walking, so after some discussion about my walk, etc. he offered me a very discounted room rate!  He was incredibly kind to me, and quite interested in my walk and the gear I was using.

Above.  Kim plays the guitar behind the front desk of his pawn shop/motel office.

Above.  The laundromat was across the street, so I cleaned my clothes for a couple of dollars.

Above.  While having a coffee and writing at a local coffee shop, someone was kind enough to give me some money, so I spent a portion of the money on a Walleye lunch at a local restaurant (The Lighthouse), which served the best fish lunch of my life.

Above.  While waiting for my lunch at the restaurant, an older gentleman sat at the table beside me, and we both chatted for a short time about this and that before an acquantience of his, a middle aged man, arrived.  The middle aged man’s wife arrive shortly afterwards, and a lively conversation marked with a string of funny comments and anecdotes initiated by this older gentleman, who is quite the character!

Anyways, the wife of the middle aged man is a member of the Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Club, and asked if I was interested in paddling with the club in the evening, which I definately was, so paddling I went.  You might not know this, but the paddling technique is not the same as a canoe, and with a small amount of instruction I sorta got the hang of it, however, there is still room for improvement.

Above.  Me paddling after paddling around Rainy River.  Unfortunately, this picture doesn’t reveal the ‘A-Frame’ position I was told countless times to do!

Above.  After the paddle.

Above.  Walking back from the marina I saw the town jail.  Not much to say, except that I never visited the inside while in Fort Frances.

Just as I am starting to settle and be at ease with my simple, carefree, and liberating way of life, the closing act of summer is almost here: September.  To let ya’ll know, a couple of days before September 19th will be the end of season 1 of My Walk!  Although I won’t begin walking again until next year, I will continue moving across Canada on foot, but at a faster rate: running, where I will join my two friends I met outside of North Bay some months ago (J.C. and Michael from Cours Pour Ta Vie) to run across B.C. in October!

It will be exciting to be part of and see J.C and Michael (Cours Pour Ta Vie) acheive their goal of running across Canada to promote an active lifestyle.  After running to Vancouver, my transition from walking to running to being in one place for a period of time will begin, and maybe, just maybe, November will my month of less walking and running?

2 thoughts on “The Walk to Friendly Fort Francis, Ontario

  1. That’s awesome that they have a dragonboat club there! I’ve been paddling on a woman’s team for 2 years now and love it. I can help set you up with a team if you’re interested when back in YYC.

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