Biking Across Canada Day 30—Kenora to Caliper Lake: This Summer I Went Swimming…

…This summer I might have drowned
But I held my breath and I kicked my feet
And I moved my arms around
Moved my arms around

“Swimming Song”, performed by Kate & Anna McGarrigle, written by Louden Wainwright III.

Today I finally caught up on all that swimming I’d been missing out on in the mountains and prairies, as the glaciers left behind lots of lakes and swimming holes to choose from. The McGarrigles’s Swimming Song has been a favourite of mine for a long time, and each summer I try to check off as many of the lyrics as I can: swimming in the ocean; a resevoir; informally; in my swimming suit.

Swimming spot #1

I knew I didn’t have a lot of distance to travel today, so I slept in a bit. I was also dependent on a boat ride off the island, so a late morning helped there (though I guess I could have taken a canoe into town). I still managed to hit the road before nine.

R-L: My cousin Shannon, her husband Phil, Uncle Bill, Aunt Eleanor, and me

The roads were beautiful today. Winding, slightly hilly, with no shortage of trees and rocks to look at. I stopped at Graphic Lake for a swim, where there a was a little campsite and trailhead right off the highway. The weather was warm enough that I didn’t need to towel off; I just threw my clothes on and hopped on the bike, knowing I’d dry off as I rode.

An early-morning rest stop. Sadly, the plaque was missing from the obelisk.
Graphic Lake

I reached Sioux Narrows in the afternoon where I rode over what used to be the longest single-span wooden bridge in North America, but has since been reconstructed as a steel bridge with wooden cladding to preserve the original appearance. While I was there I stopped at Iron & Clay for a latte and homemade whoopie pie. It’s the sort of cafe where more people arrive by boat than car.

Sioux Narrows Bridge: note the wooden cladding
Iron & Clay’s scenic dock

Nestor Falls was next, followed shortly by Caliper Lake campground, where I went for another swim and set up camp for the night. It was there I met Jeff, a motorcyclist from Winnipeg on a zig-zag tour of northern Ontario, an annual trip for him. We shared dinner, drinks, and a campfire together, chatting until dusk. I confirmed my long-held suspicion that motorcycle and bicycle tourists have a lot in common, looking for the same types of roads, and using similar gear (case in point: we were both wearing merino wool shirts for temperature and odor control). After riding alone all day, we both enjoyed having someone to talk to.

Nestor Falls
Caliper Lake: swimming spot #2

Today’s Distance: 129 km

Cumulative Distance: 3255 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle