Found a Friend in Pukaskwa
By Mady MacDonald
Time of Hike: July
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Length: Day Hikes to Two Weeks (linear trail = 60 kms)
Group Size Allowed: Max. 8
What you might see: Woodland caribou, wolves, moose, black bear, loons, deer
Other Features: Water access campsites; water routes (lake and river with some whitewater)
 
 
  Called bagwaji-gaamiing (wildshore) by the local Anishnabe people, Pukaskwa park lives up to its name and is not for the faint of heart.Venturing into this wilderness area requires preparation, a little bit of research and a reasonable degree of fitness. If you're planning on entering the park via canoe or kayak make sure you're up-to-date on the local weather — wardens recommend paddling only in May, June, July and the first two weeks of August — as well as building four days into your trip due to the possibility of being sea, wind or fog bound. Also ensure you've brushed up on hypothermia precautions. Lake Superior won't be messed with and even being what may seem easily within the reach of shore is an entirely different matter once submerged in the four degree waters.
But don't let these warnings scare you away from Pukaskwa. It's a park worth the lengthy drive (no matter what direction you come from, you're guaranteed at least three hours of transport) and the planning time. Also, make sure you bring someone into the park who is up to the challenge of Pukaskwa. The Coastal Trail requires a solid, compatible partner. With its rough terrain, frequent crags and sometimes innocuous trail markers it is best to stay within visual distance. Having a similar attitude on what’s worth a beauty-break makes any trail more pleasurable. There’s nothing worse than feeling pressured to continue rather than stopping to take a photo and then resenting your partner for the duration of the day.  
Joe and I prefer a casual pace with numerous beauty-breaks. I’ve heard people say the Canadian Shield starts looking like one big, continuous rock, but we tend to disagree and find fascination in the smallest detail (yes, I spent too much time looking at the innumerable species of moss and lichen that, at times, we literally walked on).
 
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