The falls and rapids leading out of Wolf Lake narrowed to about six feet with a big boulder at the centre. This is where I had to land, then jump to the other side.
The water rushing around that rock was intimidating, especially with a sore knee. But, I reasoned, if I fell in, the water was only a few feet deep and the rapids and falls immediately beyond were partially blocked by an old tree, which would keep me from going over. I had to show my son that his mom was up for it — so with his helping hand, I made it.
My son told me about Paradise Lagoon (situated just below Wolf Lake) last summer when he stumbled upon the series of rapids and falls while out RVing with cousins. Revelling in their discovery, they spent the day swimming below the main falls in the crystal clear warm water of the lagoon.
I started researching and learned about the “Save Wolf Lake” movement to protect the world’s oldest growth red pine forest. It’s a lovely, pristine area not easily accessed, although it’s only about an hour from Sudbury. Located near the end of Kukagami Road, off Highway 17 east, it is a few kilometres before Wolf Mountain, the highest point in the Sudbury Region.
Accessible from Silvester Lake by canoe and portage, it is part of the Chiniguchi River system (Chiniguchi Waterway Provincial Park) and one of the prettiest canoe routes in Ontario. Road improvements aside, the latter half of the trip is mainly for a four-wheel drive vehicles.
Finally, after a 20-minute hike over rugged, barely visible trails (GPS strongly recommended), comes the reward. Approaching the river, the roar of the falls and the fresh clean smell from the oxygenated air descends before several cataracts come into view — an enchanted spot, one almost expects to see woodland nymphs flitting about.
It was a warm, sunny, mid-September day. After a short rest on the sun-soaked rocks beside the river, we jumped across that boiling stretch of water and up the steep incline to the portage trail that connects Silvester and Wolf lakes. It’s a good path, though rough in spots.
At the end of it, Wolf Lake reflects the cloudless, pure blue sky. We didn’t get to see the main stand of old growth pines further up the west side of the lake, but next summer for sure.
In March 2012, Ontario reaffirmed Wolf Lake’s protected status, but it is still in danger. It is only partially protected under “forest reserve” status, so while logging is not permitted, mining is.
I encourage others to sign the “Save Wolf Lake” online petition. Google that title for more info and some gorgeous video.
It truly is a magical place, a spiritual place. And who knows, maybe there are spirits there, trying to protect the ones that can’t protect themselves. It feels like it.
Dale Mansfield is a freelance writer in Greater Sudbury.