When I picture the perfect summer day in Superior Country, I think of the sun high in the sky, temperatures in the low 20s, and just the right amount of breeze drifting off Lake Superior to keep the blackflies and mosquitoes at bay. I picture afternoons on the trail with good company. On the very best of days we find ourselves at beautiful locations with delicious snacks and cold cocktails. One day this past summer, I had the absolute perfect day hiking the Kama Cliffs trail along the north shore of the lake.
We had the windows down and radio cranked loud as we pulled into the parking lot at Kama. It was the most glorious Saturday with a high sun and wide open blue skies. Four of us made the twenty minute drive east from Nipigon and hopped out of the car with huge smiles and windswept hair. We threw on our day packs. They were loaded with snacks and a bottle of wine to share. It was a day for celebrating. A day to be happy and feel light.
We skipped across the highway to the clearly marked trail head and set off. At Kama, you are immediately welcomed by the warm embrace of the forest as you walk into a heavily wooded area. You can see the sun fight through tree branches and feel a wonderful combination of tender warmth and a gentle breath of wind through the thick cover of boreal forest.
Cheerful conversation filled the air. Stories, laughter, and excitement from a group of close friends catching up and feeding off the wondrous energy that nature can provide. It is amazing how connections are strengthened in the bush. It brings us together in a profound and meaningful way. As the dirt moves beneath our feet, we transition into a state of flow and relaxation. We pay attention to the beauty, challenge and exhilaration of our surroundings. The beautiful thing is that we can also reflect on these experiences later, and feel joy. Ah, man! Remember that time we…
The trail at Kama Cliffs starts with a steady incline, so our cheerful approach was also a sweaty one. Heading upward, the chickadees were singing on tiny branches and squirrels and chipmunks chirped, argued, and played. It was easy to tune into the world around us, between the delightful bouts of chatter.
We had a bit of a reprieve from our climb as the trail settled down into a quick decent that leads to a creek. It is the perfect place to stop and dip your feet on a hot day. It is also a fun feature to try and navigate across without getting a soaker. Today, the water was low and bare rocks showed themselves and revealed a clear, dry path.
After crossing the creek, the real climb began. Up through the marked trail along the switch backs we went until we peeked out near the top of the cliff. You get the most wonderful view as you pop out of the forest, and Lake Superior reveals herself through the trees. This spot is perfect for a quick pause, to grab a sip of water, catch your breath and build some inspiration to continue to the lookout.
We continued on the trail with glimpses of Lake Superior and the world below. It is incredible how a little peek through the trees can build excitement as you continue onward. The anticipation of seeing a clear uninterrupted view and the reward of being able to sit with great friends while enjoying delicious treats in the most beautiful place.
As you approach the lookout it always feels like the world slows down, just a little. You walk out onto the rocky ledge and the world reveals itself. The Kama Cliffs lookout has such a distinct view. The shoreline reaches out into Lake Superior like a great arm. It points into Nipigon Bay and the islands of varying sizes. Today, Lake Superior was a vibrant blue, and the sun was sparkling off of the surface. It is so incredibly magical that it leaves you breathless.
Often, when we set out for a hike, we pause at places. Stop for a few pictures, a sip of water and maybe a granola bar. Today, we planned to stay for a good visit. We spread out blankets and set up our little feast. Berries, fruit, cheese, scones, and white wine. All of the most delicious things. We basked in the sunlight sipping beverages, relishing our glorious surroundings and enjoying each other’s company. We laid back and watched clouds drift and listened to the life of the forest on the cliff edge. It was heavenly. The hours past and it felt like an impossible place to leave. How can you disconnect from such joy and beauty? But eventually real life called us. We packed up our feast and made the trek back down to the parking lot with joy in our hearts and gratitude for the incredible afternoon we had together.
There are days outside that stand out for us. Days that we come back to and reflect on with such incredible positive energy and happiness. Kama Cliffs is a perfect location to pause and hangout. It is just over a 5 km round trip to the first lookout and the climb up is a great workout. Whether it is hiking up for an afternoon on a beautiful summer day or snowshoeing up in the winter to watch the sunset and have a little fire, it is a gorgeous spot to connect with nature, the people in your life, and dial into the things that produce the ultimate happiness.