Monday, June 25, 2012


Before we even hit the water, I had been told some morbid tales. Tales of death on the water, of being unprepared, or not respecting the cold depths of Lake Superior. If I hadn't been with my expert paddler friend Ian, I think I would have been really scared. As it was, I just hoped for good weather and knew that Ian would be able to help me out of any mess I got into.

From the Coast Guard - in case they found our boat with no one in it.
I managed to dump myself in the lake before even getting into my kayak. It's trickier than it looks! But I finally settled in, felt sort of stable, and we paddled out on beautifully calm waters to Sandy Island, just 4 miles off the mainland. The paddling wasn't nearly as difficult as I anticipated, but I kept going left as I couldn't quite get my strength balanced. We made it to island, set up camp, made dinner, and were invited to for smores with a nice family from Duluth.
Cooking on the dock to avoid bugs!
The next morning was glorious! Beautiful sunshine and really quite warm! A perfect day to be out on the water. We slowly made breakfast and got packed up for a day out on the water. We paddled over to the sea caves, and because the water was so calm we were even able to paddle through them. Our beautiful sunny day was quickly disappearing, with clouds rolling in and a growing breeze. We paddled on. We reached the lighthouse at the northeast corner of the island, and here the wind, which had previously been blocked by the island, came up. We were paddling directly into the wind, and in addition, the waves were all wonky because the way they were reflecting off the rocks. This made me nervous. When Ian asked what we should do, I said turn around. It was a long way around the island and i didn't feel comfortable in these waves.
A gorgeous morning on Lake Superior
I should explain why Lake Superior demands this respect. It's cold. Really cold. In the summer, it might get up to 45°F in the summer in shallow water, closer to 40°F in the rest of the lake. And that means hypothermia can set on quickly. This is why it can be so dangerous. If a kayaked cannot get back into his/her boat and is not very near shore, s/he will most likely die of hypothermia in less than 20 minutes. That's why were were wearing wetsuits, lifejackets, and spray skirts. And we had all the equipment we needed to get our boats back up in the case that we fell out. People are known to die on the lake on beautiful, warm, sunny days - even calm days - simply because they could not get back in their boat.

It rained most of the afternoon, and I spend that time curled up in the tent reading a book while Ian, the real ourdoorsman that he is, stayed outside and paddled around. With the exception of that one bit of rain, we had great weather and it was a beautiful, serene place to be. I was happy to go with someone who knew what he was doing, otherwise I probably would have spent the whole trip worrying about flipping the canoe.

Once we were back on the mainland and had the kayaks strapped back onto the car, Ian and I both ran and jumped into the lake, and let me tell you it HURT. I wasn't in for 20 seconds. Respect.

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