Brief bit of coastline hiking
Path south of Simons Harbour
Adjacent to Simons Harbour
The coastal trail descends down to another indentation known as Simons Harbour, where there's a trivial brook crossing and then a slightly less trivial bedrock slab to traverse - one that is steeply sloping directly down into the lake waters. There's a handline here, but grippy boots and sure-footedness are helpful. This might require more reliance on the handline in wet weather!
The warm day draws on, and the rugged trail continues. Its beginning to wear on us, and we keep checking our progress against the park map that we have. We notice that our progress seems to be a little out of sync with our odometer distance.
The trail winds up through some pretty bedrock highlands, staying close enough to Simons Harbour to give beautiful views down over its waters, inlets, and countless islands. There are some additional costal hiking sections here, too, making it feel a lot more coastal-trail than forest-trail.
Hiking above Simons Harbour
A bit of coastal scrambling
Coastal Scrambling, Simons Harbour
A brief walk along a pebble beach marks the northern end of Simons Harbour, and we leave the coast and begin another inland stretch through a shady notch in the bedrock. We are happy to be beginning this stretch, for it means that the next coastal section we encounter will be the one containing our camp location - White Spruce Harbour. At this point we're pretty sure that the ten-and-a-bit kilometre distance implied by our map just has to be off. We are definitely going to be a good chunk beyond that distance.
We've continued to notice a complete lack of trail markers. As in, no blazes, no markers, no signs. Over bedrock slabs there are frequently cairns, but it is impossible to know if these are hiker-generated or park-generated. At the transition points from coast walking back into the forest, this lack of signage is especially problematic, as it is often not obvious where the trail heads back into the vegetation. We did notice that at many of these points, a bright piece of random plastic flotsam was stuck on a branch or pole, in lieu of some official trail signage. Perplexing!
Pebble Beach, Simons Harbour
As if to give us a little reprieve after a longer and rougher day than we expected, the last half-kilometre of forest trail to White Spruce harbour is surprisingly smooth and flat. Then we suddenly pop out onto a sandy beach, disorienting us a little until we realize that our designated campsite is only a few metres further along. Joy!
Arriving, White Spruce Harbour
We stroll into our White Spruce Harbour campsite at about 5pm - quite a bit later than we had expected. Making up for it, though, is the beauty of the place. It's perhaps even nicer than the North Swallow campsite, with a picturesque harbour laid out before us with calm, sheltered, sandy-bottomed water. The tentsite area itself is tidy, soft-floored, and very spacious. The outhouse and the bear box are clearly indicated and in good shape and easily located. Very nice. And, to top it off, we are once again completely alone. There is only one backcountry campsite at White Spruce Harbour, and we have it. Another super-scenic private beach for us!
White Spruce Harbour hiking
We were convinced that the elapsed distance from North Swallow to here was two kilometres over what was indicated on our hiking map. As I sit here now with the cleaned up tracklog, it was actually only about 1 kilometre over (at 11.5 km) of distance. Not hugely over, but still fairly significantly over.
The beautiful environs quickly dissipate any annoyances, as does the fact that we are relaxing on a sandy beach instead of toiling over rough trail with a pack. It is another lazy, still, warm day, and soon, the call of the fresh, clear water had most of us spending some time dip time in it, cooling and cleansing off.
We had been listening to the weather forecast on my 2-way radio, however, and we learn that there is an increasing chance of rain and even a thunderstorm for later in the day tomorrow. That has galvanized us to get up early and start early, with the intent of finishing our walking and putting up our tents before any droplets start to fly. As a result, and also because there were a few more bugs here at White Spruce, ultimately we chose not to make an evening campfire or to stay up late. Gino elects to participate in the evening camp chat from the behind the safety of his tent's bug screen.
Dusk at White Spruce Harbour
Interactive trackmap with photo points - North Swallow Harbour to White Spruce Harbour - click map to view
Pukaskwa National Park Day 2 - North Swallow Harbour to White Spruce Harbour - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet