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Backpack Day 3: White Spruce Harbour to Fishermans Cove
Wednesday, July 28
No rain and another clear morning greet us at White Spruce Harbour on the morning of our third day away from civilization. We remember the weather forecast, though, with its prediction of late day showers or thunderstorms, and we get ready quickly. By 7 a.m., we are pretty much packed up and ready to head out. Today we must tackle the trek from White Spruce Harbour to Fishermans Cove - a distance that on our map looks like only about ten kilometres. We are slightly wary because of the error in distance from yesterday, but nevertheless, it shouldn't take too long and we are confident that we'll get to camp well before any bad weather rolls in.
Breakfast, Day 3
Morning Prep, Day 3
White Spruce Harbour, Morning
The first stretch of trail north from White Spruce Harbour is quite easy, with sections of idyllic footpath cutting across tidy carpets of green moss. A short stretch of bedrock highlands is next, followed by emergence onto a long beach of rounded stones. We have arrived (quite quickly, given the super good trail) at the mouth of the White Gravel River.
Back out to the coastal trail
Starting off Smooth
Easy curves
courtesy JInnes
Fresh and Grassy
Approaching White Gravel Area
White Gravel Beach Ahead
White Gravel Beach
Coastline, White Gravel area
The actual mouth of the river is towards the north end of the beach, and after about roughly half a kilometre of somewhat tedious beach-stone walking, we arrive at its mouth. The White Gravel River itself looks dark and tea-colored and fairly deep, and perhaps twenty feet across. Normally this would mean a fairly troublesome ford, but we soon notice that a shallow barrier sand bar (more of a "pebble bar" given this beach's composition, but you get the idea) has formed, in a long crescent, across the river's mouth, and at no point does it seem more than ankle deep. It appears as if we will be able to cross the river without even having to hike up our pants much.
courtesy BConnell
Beach at White Gravel R
Beach at White Gravel R
Prep for Fording
A quick packs-off to change out of our hiking boots and into our water-footwear, and we begin our walk across the river's mouth-barrier. Indeed it is quite easy, and actually pretty cool, since the crescentic nature of the bar means you are curving some distance out into Lake Superior. As expected, it is never more than ankle deep and we all cross with ease. We take a nice long morning break on the far side.
Gino starts the Ford
Completing Wade
Chris and Jenn are next
Floating hikers?
Jenn completes ford
Post-ford Break
Water fill-up
As we are about to continue on from our break, a party of four arrives behind us, on the other side of the river. They look around as we do, sussing out the best path for fording - but strangely, they seem to get ready to cross the river itself, rather than on the shallow bar we used. We thought about shouting over to them, but then stopped ourselves, thinking that they might take offence to being told what to do - so instead, we held our tongues. We left before seeing what choice they ultimately made. I wonder if they really waded through waist-deep or deeper water instead of splashing across the bar....
courtesy JInnes
Heading north out of White Gravel R. Area
Lovely Mossy Forest
Getting a bit rougher
The next segment of our day's journey is a harder and longer one. There's no longer a preponderance of smooth, easy-walking path. Instead, various types of terrain are thrown our way, from rooty clefts to boulder-strewn ascents to ups and downs over bedrock highlands. Additionally, we are back to inland hiking: almost the entire distance from the White Gravel River to Fishermans Cove is inland from the Lake Superior Shoreline, although across the highlands sections one does get some (if distant) nice lake views.
courtesy JInnes
Fresh Boots
Rough-ish ascent
courtesy BConnell
courtesy JInnes
Mossy Ascent
Become steeper, rougher
Slab Break
courtesy BConnell
Brian and Lake Superior
Local highpoint
Hiking across bedrock highlands
Bedrock Slabs
Brook Crossing
Finally, after about three hours and just over seven kilometres of this sort of terrain, we descend steeply to Lake Superior shore level and then arrive at a junction. There is a super-rare park sign here, one that has an arrow graphic that denotes 'campsites to the left'.

It is only a few minutes' walk down the side trail before we reach Fishermans Cove. We are greeted with an excellent, wide, deep beach that abruptly transitions to bedrock at either end. There are a small group of hikers here who appear to be just taking a break, rather than camping. We see the first campsite, and note that it is labelled FC2. That means we still have to go a little farther along the beach to reach our FC1 site.
courtesy JInnes
Fishermans Cove Junction
Beach, Fishermans Cove
Main Beach, Fishermans Cove
We turn right and walk north along the beach, looking for FC1. We reach the end of the beach and the start of bedrock and realize that a little path leads up and over it. We follow this and discover that it is only a narrow finger of bedrock, and we immediately emerge into a little tiny mini cove, complete with its own perfect bit of beach. On this little strip of beach we discover the FC1 campsite. Well, super wow-ow! We turn around and look back out at the water, admiring this hidden little gem. It was like an urban-sized house lot, except on this lot you had a perfect little cove and campsite, perfectly private and perfectly ours. We were completely hidden and away from any folks occupying the larger beach or in the other campsite. Simply superb!
Crossing low rock rib
Beautiful mini-cove
FC1 campsite
We had gotten up early, left early, and kept up a fairly stiff pace. That, combined with a relatively short distance, meant that we had arrived essentially at lunch time, and now had the whole afternoon and evening to enjoy our little micro-cove. We set up our tents (not quite enough space to comfortably fit all of them, so Gino put his up on the beach). The skies above were still hazy and sunny; we seemed to have beaten the forecasted change in weather (either that or the forecast was turning out to be wrong).
Father and Daughter moment
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