The trail then descended in ledges and small downsteps to a tiny cove cut into Agawa Point itself, and we took our first good hiking break of the day. Although we had only covered about 5km, we were unconcerned, since we were now quite close to Agawa Bay and the campsites we were aiming for. Although once again, we were always conscious of where our party was relative to other southbound hiking parties (we were beginning to recognize them at this point). We didn't want to fall too far behind and risk getting shut out of campsites again.
Time for the final push to Agawa Bay. We were fairly sure that the terrain would flatten out completely at Agawa Bay, and that the next bit of headland Coastal Trail would be the last strenuous bit of our backpack. It seemed to go on for longer than we anticipated, and around every corner and after every descent from a little highpoint, we thought that for sure this time, we'd come out onto a flat, long beach. But the Coastal Trail wasn't quite done with us yet, and we had to surmount and descend quite a number of steep steps and awkward downclimbs before finally, at about 3:45 p.m., the terrain relented and suddenly became dead flat.
Not done with roughness
There were four marked backcountry campsites left along this, the most southerly stretch of the Coastal Trail, and we hoped to get one. Almost immediately, we came upon the first one - a mediocre site with not a great aesthetic and not that much space, but... it was free. We weren't taking any chances this time, and we dropped our packs and claimed it. I went on ahead to scout out the other sites, to see if there were other free sites that were nicer and better suited.
I walked, packless, along the easy flat path for quite some distance. I could only locate two more backcountry sites, and both were occupied. I was slightly rankled by a couple who had taken a really premium site that had two huge tent areas and had marked off one of them with a camping gas canister while they set up in the corner of the other area. The site would have easily swallowed all of our tents, yet we were stuck with a cramped site that wouldn't take all of us. I knew that they had every right to occupy the site they had reached, but, I don't know... The symbolism of that gas canister bothered me. It sent a message of "screw you, don't even think of using this useful space that would otherwise benefit campers - this is OURS". After giving the couple a few glaring side glances, I returned back to our site. Our site would do, clearly. Pu and I would put our small tents out on the beach and leave the small tent pad space to the others. It'd be fine.
One of the southbound hiker parties with which we had become familiar soon appeared, looking for a site. Seeing us in our site, they moved on. A reminder that our immediate snag of this available site had been the correct choice.
The Trans-Canada and the Coastal Trail were now once again in close proximity here (once again, we could occasionally hear traffic). And I knew that just a few hundred yards beyond stood one of our cars in the Awausee parking lot. Seeing that it was only 4pm in the afternoon, and looking to be efficient (Chris and I thought), why not send a few people over to the car, hop in, drive back north up the Trans-Canada to the Gargantua Parking lot, and fetch the two CR-Vs? That would make it very convenient for us the following morning. We wouldn't have to do a time-consuming shuttle before beginning our drive south back home.
I could see that a short bushwhack directly into the forest across from our site would quickly bring us to the highway. From there, it would be short five minute walk to the Awausee Parking lot and Pu and Alana's car. While the others relaxed on the beach on what had become a beautiful warm August afternoon, Pu, Chris and I headed into the woods.
Within a few minutes we stumbed upon the remains of an old logging road and that took us very quickly up to the highway. We then walked along it and crossed over to the Awausee parking area, which was clearly visible close by. Soon we were in Pu's car and heading north along the Trans-Canada highway.
Once at the Gargantua parking lot, Chris and I picked up the two CR-Vs and we all headed back up the dusty Gargantua Road to the highway. At the highway, we split: Pu headed back south to the Awausee parking lot and from there back through the woods to our campsite, and Chris and I took a little side journey north to the town of Wawa. We had the bright idea of quickly snagging a hot meal and maybe buying a few camp treats for the others from a local grocery store.
Chris and I discover that Wawa, Ontario after 6pm is a pretty dead place. We literally could find no open grocery stores or restaurants. In the end, we did find an open chip stand where we managed to get some (admittedly pretty good) burgers and fries, and we lucked out and found a McCain's Deep-n-delicious cake at a Circle-K corner store (as well as some cold beverages). Not a very successful mission, though.
Suprise extra Deep-n-Delicious
It took some time to drive all the way back down from Wawa to the Awausee parking lot, and it was almost 9pm by the time we bushwhacked back through the forest (with cake and cold beverages safely esconced in a cooler), to our campsite. By now everyone at camp had had their meals, a small campfire was lit, and contemplation of the gathering dusk was ongoing. We broke out the drinks and the surprise dessert and had a little mini celebration to cap off what was (essentially) the final real day of our Coastal Trail backpack.
Final twilight of the trip.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Backpack Day 4 - click map to view
Lake Superior Coastal Backpack day 4 - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet