Lake Superior in the Nipigon Canada area.

Last Days of the 2017 Journey: 9/10/17

The End of the 2017 Journey

As many of you know, 2 Paddling 5 is now off the water. This post documents the last days of their 2017 journey as written by Peggy Gabrielson.

August 18

Still off the water, they are calling for 3 to 5, or 5 to 7 foot waves and high winds. It’s really nice to be home but we have a lot of miles to cover and if we can’t get on the water it’s not going to happen.

We are repacking our gear and planning to head our tomorrow.

August 19

Sad to leave but it’s nice that we can. Got a ride to the lake and were met by our friend April, the 3 of us headed out and no big surprise, the lake was unwelcoming again. After 5 miles April turned and headed back. We continued on and made it 5 more miles. We ended our day at Kadunce River. Made a call to Ramona Asher and she picked us up and took us to her home in Grand Portage. We had a beautiful view of a very angry lake all afternoon. Spent a warm and comfortable night in the guest house.

10 miles

August 20

Friends from the Grand Marais Paddling Club.Our wake up call today was several members of the Grand Marais Paddling Club showing up at Ramonas. They brought hot coffee and were ready to see us off and wish us happy paddling. The lake was still rolling pretty good so the plan changed, we had coffee and went out for breakfast at the Grand Portage Casino. The food was very good and the visit was more of what we needed.
The afternoon was spent at Ramona’s helping her with yard work and then working on our fb and website. We really do enjoy keeping in contact with everyone.

Brent and Ramona took us out for supper as a thank you for helping, we should have treated them for putting up with us… it was much appreciated. Our evening was topped of back at the house with root beer floats, such a treat!

August 21

Today was a great day! The lake was calm and we were able to paddle again, finally.
Joe had a couple surprises for me today. Our first stop was at the Witch Tree, (Little Spirit Cedar Tree) Joe has seen it but I had not. Local Ojibwa hold the tree sacred and leave tobacco offerings in hopes of safe travel on Lake Superior. It was perfect, just what I hoped it would be. My second surprise of the day was a few miles out of the way. It just as worth the time. We detoured on the Pigeon River and ended up at the Hole in the Wall. It’s an old emergency cabin with a picnic table and a dock. It’s a great place and receives many visitors, if you stop make sure you sign the guest book.

We paddled back up the river and into Canada, our greeting was a pair of Eagles. They flew out of the trees, crossed the river they flew back and landed again. Anyone who knows me will understand just how special this was.

Today we the big day, solar eclipse. We figured we would have a great viewing spot as we were on the water. We saw a bit of it but for the most part we had a lot of cloud cover.

Our day ended on a nice little rocky beach after 24 miles.

August 22

Lake Superior in the Nipigon area.Today was proof that things don’t always go as planned. Our first crossing changed direction about 5 times and finally we headed to the back side of the Nipigon islands and what a good choice. I’m glad Joe is our navigator! The wind and wave direction was pretty confusing, the lake didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do. Our plan was to land on Thompson Island at a safe harbor we were told had a sauna.

We did well in the back side of the islands as we were protected from the wind, at least until we needed to cross from one island to the other. As soon as we hit an open stretch the wind and waves were almost impossible. We stopped for about 4 hours waiting for things to improve. With 8 miles to our destination we set off again only to find that things had not changed. Just short of our hoped for sauna we gave up and headed for shore. It was great, 2 campsites up in the trees and they were really nice. Joe found a path and we went for a walk, found another stone path leading into the woods with solar lights along the way. We followed it and much to our surprise it took us right to Thompson Harbor and the sauna. Several boats were safely tucked into the harbor and the sauna was in full swing. The people were great and welcomed us in, even gave us a cold beer.

15 1/2 miles.

August 23

We were forced to stay on shore again today, the lake was still riled up. Several of the boaters visited our side of the island. We were asked if we were paddling and informed that the lake was wild and that boaters who had left turned around and came back.

We were able to talk to our new neighbors and get some good advise on where all the good places to stay were. We will have a few more saunas in our future.

August 24

Sleeping Giant sunset with kayaks in the foreground.We got an early start this morning but had to return and wait it out a bit longer. As soon as we hit open water we were facing an angry bay full of whitecaps. At 11 we set out again and were able to cross the bay. We met a fella on a paddle board, seemed a bit strange till we saw his boat tucked into a safe spot. We landed on a quiet shore just across from the Sleep Giant and decided to wait till morning to make our crossing. We had several warnings about the channel and the big boat traffic here.

We made 13 miles and ended our day with a very nice fire.

August 25

Porphyry Island Lighthouse.We had a cold night and the morning was much the same but it warmed up pretty fast. Our crossing was calm and we didn’t see and boat traffic at all, it was a 7 mile crossing that was a breeze.
Black Bay was another 7 mile crossing, we saw a few boats out with us. The area is pretty.
We stopped at Porphyry Lighthouse because we were told it was a special place. Very good advice, it’s a lava island and the buildings are so pretty and well kept. Finally had enough cell service to make sure our families knew we were alive and well.

We had a hard time finding a spot to land and when we did it was an ant hill but once it the tent that wasn’t a problem.
SailFlow tells us we are in for a rough day tomorrow but we are in a good position to make it to another island with only 10 miles of paddling.

28 miles today.

August 26

Lake Superior Spar Island sauna.The lake was already getting wild when we woke up. The ant hill didn’t seem like a good place to spend a day or two in bad weather so we got busy.
The lake was a challenge but we paddled past Sweed island and headed for the next one on our list. We landed at Spain Island, very small but it has a sauna. We were wet and cold so we got the sauna going right away and it was wonderful!

We weren’t alone on the island, a fishing boat joined us, Dan and Jim from Duluth. Really nice guys who they shared some of their fish with us and we were invited to their boat for a chat and a drink.

August 27

We were Island. Puns today, the lake beyond our bay was wild. We spent the entire day sitting in the tent, listening to the rain.
Yesterday I made friends with a mouse, a fat little guy like Gus from Cinderella. As we were settling in for the night we heard plastic crinkling so I checked our kitchen bag and found nothing so I brought it into the tent. I heard more noise so I checked again. The first time I checked I locked him in the bag and brought him into the tent. Joe helped him back out, I’m pretty sure he was the only creature on this tiny island.

August 28

Dock on the Pigeon River, Ontario, Canada.We paddled out this morning on 6 foot rollers, not hard to paddle, just big. Looked like the opening scent from Deadliest Catch. It was. Fun day and kept us thinking. We traveled from island to island with a destination on mind. We were told to stop at CPR Slip and we found it, it’s really nice. There is a cabin with bunks, full on bottom and twin on top, two of them. Grill on a table for cooking, fire pit and cooking ring, benches around the fire, picnic table and a very, very nice sauna.
The people we met at Spain were here also and it’s nice to actually be able to visit with someone more than once. We met a couple from Nipigon, Val and Loren also Mile from Iowa. We had a great time and a really nice visit.

24 1/2 miles today.

August 29

We spent last night in the cabin. Warm, dry and quiet…it was such a nice change of pace, it wouldn’t take much to adjust to that every day. Joe was able to visit with Mile and Loren before we left and get lots of advice on where to stop for the night’s coming is, they were so much help. We got selfies with new friends and left camp with good luck wishes and lots of pictures.
We headed out into fog and it lasted all day. We were told the area was very pretty but we weren’t able to see enough of it to know for sure. We had planned to visit Battle Island Lighthouse but the lake was crazy so we didn’t make it. We had a short break and headed. Ack out. Our plan was to reach the mainland but we fell short. We landed at Copper island for the night.

19 1/2 miles.

August 31

It was a cold night and an even colder start to our day. With the mountain between us and the sunrise we didn’t have the sun to warm us up. We crossed Nipagon Bay and were on the mainland, finally iutbof the islands. We stopped for the day just past Terrace Bay and Joe was able to let people know we are fine. My phone was dead and with no sun and lots of rain, clouds and fog we didn’t have a battery to charge it. Had to save the battery to charge batteries for the GPS.
The island is pretty with lots of beautiful round rocks. We have a railroad bed just behind us, I love the sound but it’s not Joe’s favorite.
Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t sound good so we need to be up and gone early.

21 miles

September 2017

September 1

Such a cold morning, frosty even. Joe started a fire to warm his hands while he cooked breakfast. The lake was flat at 7 but so foggy we couldn’t paddle until 8:30. The forecast was right on, the lake was a crazy mess. The farther we went the worse it got. The waves we at least 4 foot. I knew it was bad when Joe told me that if anything happened to make sure I kept a hold on my boat. We were fine but were not able to make our planned destination. We could see where we wanted to be, just 5 miles away but couldn’t get there.
We were in a deep cove. It it didn’t have much shore, we did however have lots of wood so we had a really nice fire all afternoon and evening. The waves continued to roll in all afternoon and as we went to bed the lake was still growing.

10 mile day

September 2

Last campsite Ripple, Ontario, Canada.It was a rough night to say the least. In the middle of the night we had to tie our boats up because we feared they would drift away. We could hear the water getting closer to the tent and even lapping the sides. By 6 in the morning we had to get up, we were in water, a wave washed into the tent, 3 inches of water inside. We got out and had to pull logs off of Joe’s boat. We moved a log pile so we could move the tent to higher ground and spent yet another day sitting on shore listening to it rain. Wet, cold and not paddling.

Bob and Marilyn Blake were set to deliver another shipment of supplies, both food and warmer gear when we reached Marathon Ontario.

We made a decision to call a stop to our paddling for the season. We are not making the progress we would like, the weather is worsening and we have a lot if totally inaccessible areas coming up.
The fact that we had our truck totaled and lost 5 weeks of paddling, the entire month of June. We have lost at least 3weeks to weather related shore time. This time of the year the lake is getting less and less predictable and the weather is not any help either. It’s just foolish to take chances when we know we can’t reach our goal. At this time we can accomplish more at home.

September 3

Last view of the 2017 journey near Ripple, Ontario, Canada.We made the call to Blake’s and told them to leave the supplies behind and grab the boat trailer instead. When we reach Marathon we would be done. They decided to drive up that day instead of Friday, 5 days away. We packed up all of our wet gear and headed out into the fog for our last day of paddling. The fog stayed with us all day, thank goodness for GPS, that is the only way we could find our way.

We landed in Marathon late afternoon and it was a sad ending.

We secured rooms and got a ride to the hotel. Settled in with showers and headed out for supper.
We are proud and happy that we were able to grow the awareness for Pediatric Brain Cancer and also some much needed funding for research. We hope to try to finish out in the future. We will keep drawing attention to our cause and hope to continue our mission.

21 miles

September 4

The Blake’s arrived at close to 1 in the morning. We said hi and goodnight.
We had our boats retrieved and loaded by 7:30.
On the road by 9 for the long drive back. We had no problem getting back into the US, we wondered if we would.
We arrived at Joe’s Moms home to get my car and our dog, spent the night and headed back home the next morning.


Click Here for more pictures from this part of the journey!


  1. Marilyn on September 30, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    I am amazed and proud of both of you for what you did accomplish with your problems along the way.

  2. Deb Rich Lyons on October 1, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Fun to have met you @ the mouth of the Amnicon River.

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