Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 15: Stone Paintings And Sunsets

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The morning camp take-down was easy. By now, Natalie and I could do it in our sleep. I can literally start taking town the tent while she is in packing sleeping bags.  (To date, I have not actually rolled up the tent with her in it and stuffed it in the trunk.)    It would have been nice to check out the Visitors Center but the rain that had let up in the early morning hours had returned with a vengeance. 

Grumbling stomachs suggested the need for chow. With the town of Wawa around the corner (I’m not making up that name, by the way) only one restaurant seemed worth a stop. With a Viking theme, I immediately started crying about my boots.  (Not really.)  We settled in as the out-of-towners. This observation was re-enforced by the fact that almost everyone in the place (at least 40 people) was hugging and no one hugged us.  I have never seen such a thing.  It was really kind of weird. 

After crossing into Lake Superior Provincial Park, the South Old Woman River Trail is one for the books.  Requiring rock hopping to cross streams, careful foot placement over gnarled and exposed tree roots, this trail was simply awesome. Waterfalls. Flowers.  Birds (more of the same).  Sadly, the mosquitoes were the densest they had been on the entire trip.  With the trail one mile in length, we never stopped. To do so would have been death by blood-letting.

After checking in at the new and awesome interpretive center, we were encouraged to consider camping along the lake shore. Breezes would keep the bugs down and the first sight on the new day would be the lake. You can’t really beat that. 

Further encouraged by park staff, we took a short drive back north to the Agawa Rock Pictographs.  Long before the days of fancy paints or Photoshop, stories were told on these rocks by painting images with red ocher. Sadly, they are less durable that petroglyphs which were are carved into the rock.

The above image, as an example, shows what might be a sturgeon (left), giant prehistoric-like fish that still roams the great lakes.  The pictograph on the right suggests a snake.   But they don’t have horns or legs, so, in the end, these graphics are open to interpretation.   We may never know what they all mean or what they represent. That includes their age.  No one knows for certain their age.  Estimates range from 150-500 years old. 

One thing is for certain – you just might poop yourself trying to see them.

The trail from the parking lot is a delight. Down steps carved in ancient stone and walking between giant rocks walls, you almost feel like Indiana Jones. What a neat trail. It’s easy going, too, compared to the Old Woman Trail.

The final 100 feet is just silly as the photo below might show. 

Ignore the arrow for now. Note the ropes that are anchored to stone. In the foreground, just out of view, is a life ring (like you would see at a dock or on a ship). There is also a giant pole.  15 feet long, maybe? Notice the slant of the rocks. Notice the chilled waters of Lake Superior to the right.  The slant of rock tapers off to a edge which is maybe 3 or 4 feet off the water. The ropes actually dangle in the drink.

People have died here trying to view these images.  They have. Really.  The sometimes slippery slope combined with the occasional wave of the lake has taken people to their death.  The clumsy, ill prepared or the just stupid never made it back to their car.

A now-and-then proud member of the Club (clumsy, ill-prepared and stupid), I proceeded with caution.  Natalie never set foot on the rock.  She was only able to see the first two images (the sturgeon/snake due marked by the red arrow).  I made it this far….

Michipeshu may be the most famous rock art painting in Canada. Viewed by Indian culture as a feline with horns, he roams the lakes. Travelers would give him, the Great Cat, special offerings (tobacco, for example) for safe passage. Fisherman would do the same, hoping for a productive day.  (In this image, I am leaning with my left shoulder against the rock. My right hand has the camera and I am stretching out my arm to take the photo without looking.)

As I was little uneasy, I was prepared to give Michipeshu an unintentional offering of my own, if you know what I mean. No longer comfortable with the situation, I did an about-face and returned to the rocks were Natalie was waiting.  There were easily 10 more petroglyphs that I never saw. 

I suspect if I was a roofer, a fellow who spent a lot of time on ladders, or a member of the Falling Flying Wallendas, the walk would have been easy. But I’m not, so it wasn’t.  I managed.  I saw enough.

Returning to camp, Natalie and I had a quick meal (spaghetti again, but under more cool circumstances). Sadly, for me, I had reached the end of my rope.  The non-stop swatting and buzzing had taken its toll and I officially turned into a monster of my own.  Okay, maybe not a monster, but a supreme grump.

I need to defend myself here.  Imagine having a conversation with any random idiot.  Let’s say that they make a statement that is annoying.  For example, “Michelle Bachman would be a good President”.  Okay, you sluff it off. No big deal, right?  But you continue to hear it. Non-stop.  Your’re trying to find that bird but you hear it: “Michelle Bachman would be a good President”.  Every now and then, during this aggravating time, an invisible person pokes you with a tiny needle.  You hear it again: “Michelle Bachman would be a good President”.  Every now and then, something flies behind your glasses and makes you stop dead in your tracks.  You hear it again. And again.  You itch.  You get welts.  Eventually, the inane little comment, when compounded by physical interactions, becomes too much to deal with.  Mentally, I checked out. The only thing that kept me there was the lakeshore. If we were on one of the other loops in the woods, surrounded by hoards of six-legged biters, I would have shot myself got a hotel.

All my complaining aside, I managed what I think are two okay pictures.  One is the view from as seen from behind the tent.

This one is the sunset over Lake Superior.  Despite my grump-itude, I am grateful for the opportunity to take it.

The evenings sleep was about as good as it could get. The cool breeze coming right in the tent door was perfect.  After confirming the handsome bald guy did not leave the tent door open, we slept like babies.  

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