Superior Circle Tour: Waterfalls Internationale

Pigeon Falls, which I once confused with International Falls

As miserable as the weather was on our pre-trip ride to the start of the Circle Tour, it was simply spectacular on our first official full day on the road. The skies had cleared, and we left April early Monday morning, but not until after she insisted on fixing a hearty breakfast for us.

We stopped at the co-op in Grand Marais for sandwiches that we planned for a picnic at Grand Portage State Park, on the border with Canada. The ride was beautiful, the sun brilliant with the lake reflecting the sky’s unique crisp northern blue color. Our spirits resuscitated, we chattered on our helmet intercoms about the adventures ahead.

The first was to visit Pigeon Falls on the international border. Poldi had been there twenty years back, when it was just a rough trail through the woods to an overlook. Now there was a visitor center, picnic grounds, dog park, and the trails were paved, with guardrails even.

I did not recall ever being to Pigeon Falls, but as soon as it came within view, I recognized it. When I was ten, my family had taken a trip to northern Minnesota. I recall visiting a twin waterfall, which I understood to be “International Falls” because Canada was on the other side. I remember my blurry black and white photos from that trip that I had shot with my Brownie camera, but always thought they were taken at the city of International Falls MN. Now, five decades later, I know this is wrong; we were here at Grand Portage and the Pigeon River.

Like Niagara Falls, which also straddles the same international border, there is a “U.S. side” and a “Canadian side”. And sure enough, we could look across and see the overlooks on the other side of the river. And just like Niagara Falls, there is debate about which has the better view. We did not have time to explore the Canadian side, so we will have to remain silent on that topic. I know the U.S. side is spectacular; I’m guessing the Canadian side is as well.

The border crossing was only a quarter mile from the park. We headed to the customs check point, where we were the only vehicle. I was surprised, since the last time I had crossed into Canada was on my 50th birthday, and the traffic was backed up for miles. Of course that was in the years immediately following 9-11.

We were asked a few simple questions: “How long will you be in Canada”, “Do you have any alcohol or tobacco products?” “Do you know your license plate?” (I didn’t and had to move the bike to show it to him). The agent was a motorcyclist who had done the circle tour himself, so after showing him our passports, he wished us well and waved us on.

Our next destination was Kakabeka Falls, perhaps 50 kilometers into Canada, approaching Thunder Bay. After a few missed turns we arrived and found it to be yet another spectacular display where it seems like the edge of a lake has been removed, and all the water is gushing out of it. This time we were able to view it from both sides and we can clearly state that “the Canadian side is better”.

Kakabeka Falls

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2 thoughts on “Superior Circle Tour: Waterfalls Internationale

  1. Pingback: Superior Circle Tour: Getting To The Start | Thor's Life-Notes

  2. Pingback: Superior Circle Tour: Paths Silently Crossing | Thor's Life-Notes

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