Friday, July 18, 2008

Part II, Day 6: 080702

This morning I first sampled from Hattie Cove, a narrow bay extending behind a peninsula for perhaps two kilometres, joined to the open water of Lake Superior by a channel between rocky headlands. Reeds grow in the soft sediment along the shore, and driftwood accumulates there. This driftwood harbours a large population of very large-bodied amphipods; at a guess these are a species of Gammarus. I lifted one log that was about 1.5 m long, and hundreds of 2 cm amphipods boiled out of the many cracks and holes in the wood. I collected a few more than I’ll strictly need, as these may be useful as “practice” specimens for sorting out some of the details of my laboratory methods.

Mist rising from the nearly-still waters of Hattie Cove, protected from the open ocean-like conditions of the main body of Lake Superior by a peninsula.

I also found very large Lymnaeid snails, much larger than I expected to find. There were some lovely gyrinid (whirligig) beetles, too, as well as larger-than-average gerrids (waterstriders). Perhaps the largest lake in the world also has generally large animals in and on it?

I returned to our campsite, but since nobody else was around I simply packed some fresh empty vials into my backpack and set out to visit the beaches and headlands of Lake Superior. Pukaskwa is perhaps the only place on my journey that I can sample more-or-less alone – Part I of this summer was of course in cooperation with Matt for mutual benefit, and Parts III and IV will be in polar bear country. In any case, the walk through the forest was lovely, the mosquitoes were tolerable, and the views from atop the high rocky headlands were spectacular.

The entrance to the bay upon which the third of three beaches resides, accessible by a modest but rugged walking trail from the campground. The pools in the foreground harbour a few gyrinids and the occassional dytiscid or hydrophilid beetle.

Most of my companions had set out to visit the suspension bridge over the mouth of the White River, about 8 km away on a somewhat-rugged hiking trail. They returned around 6:00 pm, having left the campsite around 11:00 am and therefore covering more than 16 km in 7 hours. Yesterday I bought the map and guidebook for the full trail, which is just over 60 km long. I would like to hike and camp the full length of the trail next year, perhaps in September, if everything else is going well. It has been a long time since I last undertook a backpacking trip, and I find Lake Superior’s shores inexplicably attractive.

Tomorrow I’ll have time only to clear my bottle trap and pack up before we start our long drive to the West and Winnipeg, which we need to reach before the end of business hours on Friday (July 4).


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin,
Let me know if you get a chance to hike in Pukaskwa, next year if your interested in company, Christa and I thought about it when we were in Ontario last but the distance made us choose Algoquin instead.


TheBrummell said...

Hey, cool Ben. Splitting the cost of getting there (14 hour drive each way from Guelph) and the boat ride out to the end or pick-up by boat from the far end would be great, plus of course the company.

How was Algonquin?