A Trip Report from the Apostle Island’s with Living Adventures Inc., Bayfield, WI
Kayaking Lake Superior with Living Adventures Inc. s by definitely some of the best kayaking I have experienced. There I saw and experienced some pretty awesome things with my younger brother and my father. Looking back I really enjoyed every part of the trip and it turned out that there was only one bad part. That was when we had finished and had to turn in our paddles, PFD’s, etc. And say our good-byes. It was then that I realized that our kayaking trip had ended. On the way home all I could think about was going back to Living Adventures Inc. and Lake Superior. Not what had wanted on the way there.
I remember on the 8 hour long car ride to get there that I was pretty nervous about the whole trip and had many worries like; “Can I keep up with the other kayakers, after all I’m only 14 years old?” and “What if I flip over and get separated from the group?” and things like that. Once we arrived at Living Adventures, Inc., I did calm way down and worried a lot less. The first thing we did after checking in was going to sit in the circle of chairs in the shaded area that overlooked the lake. It was there that I met the other people going on the trip with my family and I. We joined up with a wonderful group of kayakers.
Shortly after we all had gathered, our two guides; Brian and Austin, came and met with the group. After everyone introduced themselves we then talked about our kayaking plan. Then the two guides told everyone that all their personal belongs had to fit into two large dry bags. This was a huge shock to everyone except my family because we have kayaked enough to know how to properly pack a kayak. We ran over and grabbed our two small dry bags each we had brought from home while everyone else rummaged through their carload of clothes and blankets for stuff that would fit into their bags.
Later that day we did get into our kayaks on the lake after a short shuttle to Hokenson Fishery Kayak Launch in Little Sand Bay. We trained on-land and went over many things and after about an hour of that we ate lunch next to the lake. We had burritos for lunch with pretzels and the best dip in the world. Then, after lunch, the thing I was still kind of worried about; going in the water.
I still remember feeling slightly off balance at first, going from my own Current Designs Kestrel 120 kayak to a Seaward Cosmo sea kayak, but I got used to it. Once in the water we started practicing wet exits and how to get back in after flipping. I was one of the last to go into the freezing waters of Lake Superior and when I did, the first thing I noticed is that I could not breath from the cold temperature of the water at first. Wow, I’m glad I did not flip over during that trip and that I had a wet suit on just in case! Once I got back in my kayak, we all went to shore and dumped the excess water out we started to pack up and get ready for our first crossing from the main land to Sand Island.
Once we were out in the lake I had forgotten all my worries and fears and they were replaced with good spirits. I remember during the trip my family and I would always have to slow down and wait for the others in the group to catch up. I guess we were used to a little faster pace when kayaking because once we got to Sand Island they all said, “What a workout”.
I remember asking our guide, Brian, “So when are we going back out.” He told me that we were done for the day and we were going to now set up camp. I watched all the other people with us lie down and rest while I said to my dad. “That’s it for the day?... Really?...I’m not even close to being tire!.” Later on that evening, when it was still bright outside the rest of the group went on a hike to the Sand Island lighthouse. I didn’t go with them, instead explored a little in the brush around the clearing where we had made camp. I didn’t find anything all too exciting, but I had fun nonetheless.
Brian and Austin prepared us some amazing white fish in lemon juice cooked in tin foil over the campfires for dinner. It was some of the best fish I have ever had and I loved it! We also had a couple side dishes and everybody thought it was great. After everyone finished eating the group stayed up by a campfire for a while and then later we all went to sleep, eagerly awaiting tomorrow’s adventure.
In the morning I woke up to the sound of rain hitting and dripping down my tent. I grabbed my rain poncho from my dry bag and went outside to see a tarp set up with everyone under it playing cards and drinking coffee and hot chocolate. I quickly packed up my sleeping bag and clothes and put them in the dry bags. Then after everything was packed up I put the dry bags in the corner of my tent. I left the tent and walked over to the tarp in the rain where I sat down just as the two guides started bringing food to the table where everyone was sitting. We had a great breakfast which was a nice pasta which was the best pasta I had ever tasted. After that we also had some eggs and salsa which was also delicious.
As we ate Brian and Austin told us that sadly, today, we were going to have to look at the sea caves from a distance because of the storm. The waves would push us into the caves and we would get stuck there. We all agreed, but as long as I could see the caves I was happy. We all quickly finished eating and started packing up and breaking down camp. Luckily for me I had already packed my gear just like my dad and brother. My dad took down his camping hammock and my brother and I took down the tent. We were finished packing inside of five minutes and then quickly put the gear into the kayaks. My family then went back up to the camp to see that no other tents were taken down yet. We kinda laughed and then started help Brian and Austin with the dishes, not a requirement to do on the trip, but that way we can get on the lake faster.
After I had finished helping with the dishes I went down to the shore where the kayaks were and got them ready for everybody. I pulled them all closer to the waterline as I got my brother to bring everybody's gear down to the kayaks so I could pack it. We had finished packing everyones gear in about four minutes and Brian and Austin finished packing their gear shortly after. They assembled everyone down on the beach and told us the plan for today.
That we were going to hit some waves was pretty much the only part that mattered to me. Yes, finally some waves! I was so excited that I was the first one in my kayak and out on the water. Shortly after that everyone else got in their kayaks and we were off. After about five minutes, I once again was in the front of the “pod” of kayaks as everyone had decided to call it. We then all grouped together and then Brian and Austin told us about the sea caves. On our left we started to see them and my dad then attached a GoPro camera on the front of my kayak and I pointed my kayak at the caves. That’s about when the waves picked up and we had to go to shore. Apparently we were going to do a surf landing which is where you ride the surf into the shore. We all went to shore and did a great job surf landing. Only one person fell out of their kayak when another wave caught it from behind and brought the rear of the kayak towards the beach. I positioned my kayak way up on the shore and turned it so the camera could record people coming onto shore. I left it there and then went to the big rock where everyone was gathering around.
Because of the bigger waves coming in, the new plan was that we where going to have to try and stay on the leeward side of the islands. This way we would avoid the bigger waves for as long as possible; although we would still have to make a large crossing right through an open area, but that would come later. So now that everyone knew the plan we all had a quick snack and got ready to go back in the water. What we had to do now to get the kayaks out was also new to me because with the waves coming straight at us we have to help the people into their kayaks then push them out into the water.
So Brian, Austin, and I first helped the two person (tandem) kayaks that we had in the group into the water by holding them steady while the people got in. Then after their spray skirt was fitted around the coming, we pushed the kayaks further into the water and deployed the rudder. After all the tandems where out, we put the single kayaks out in the water then the three of us went in on our own. After that we started along the side of the island and it was not long before we saw a bear really high on the hilly part of the island. It was one of the coolest things seeing this bear and it had no idea that we could see it. After we had rounded that last corner of the island we then made the large wavy crossing from Sand Island to York Island which was in one word, AWESOME!!!. It was just great with the massive two to three foot waves and the stormy, rainy weather we were in. I was pretty happy to have some fun waves and pretty sad when we made it to York Island-but I don’t think everyone in the group felt the same way I did.
Once we were in the lee behind York Island, we continued along the shore until we crossed back to the main land. We did this to avoid more waves and it would save time and energy as some of the group was getting tired. This crossing was shorter and a lot less wavy. Nothing too exciting but we did decide where we were going to camp which was on Oak Island.
Once we made it back to the main land we stopped for lunch. It was another great lunch and shortly after that we did dishes. Then we looked at the map and stayed on the beach for about an hour relaxing. I made a little dam on a creek which didn’t work out the greatest but still I had fun. After that we got back in our kayaks and continued our path. We then crossed in front of Raspberry Bay. This crossing was not that bad, but everyone was starting to get tired except my family and the guides. They told us that we had one crossing left and after that we would camp for the night. So we left the shore with a new purpose with great speed. We made it to Oak Island for a restroom break where there was a massive dock and a path to a restroom facilities. Shortly after everyone got back to the dock we prepared to go back out and go to our final destination for the night. On this final stretch following Oak Island’s shoreline, we saw another bear right along the shore less than thirty feet from us. It was pretty cool to see a bear that close and then it vanished into the woods like it was never there.
We continued along the shore until we reached a massive, beautiful sandbar we knew was the campsite. We all pulled up on the beach towards the end of the sandbar and pulled our kayaks ashore. It was still pretty early so we took our time hiking our gear to the campsite hidden by the woods. I was the last to leave the sandbar and go up to help set up camp. This was because I took some time to walk around on the shore and look out across the lake. Once I went up there I set up my tent with my brother and put my gear in the tent. I then laid down and relaxed for a while before I was called outside because dinner was already ready.
It was another wonderful meal along with leftovers from the other meals. This meal I ate a lot and afterwards I was very full. After this I went down to my kayak to clean the sand out of it as I watched the sunset. I walked back up to the campsite to see a campfire blazing along with lots of laughter. We stayed up late talking with the group. After many hours I was the last one to go to bed so I put out the fire and went back to my tent and I suddenly realized that tomorrow was the last day of kayaking.
I woke up to the sun shining through my tent onto my face. I packed up my sleeping bag and went outside to the smell of breakfast cooking. By the time I got over there they started serving another terrific meal. That’s one thing that surprised me the whole trip-the quality of food. It was excellent and better than any food I had ever had when camping. Anyway after I finished eating I helped do dishes and put the equipment away. After that we all quickly got our kayaks ready for our last leg of the trip. On this final day, we got to see two ship wrecks, which I thought was pretty cool. When we reached the first one it was a good forty feet below the surface but because of the clarity of the water, it was easily visible. You could see the whole ship and that was an awesome thing.
When we reached the second ship wreck, it was partially sticking out of the water. This one you could touch and that made it even cooler than the other one. After we finished looking at this they told us we were close to the end of our trip. I was more sad than I was happy about the ending coming up so soon. Then what seemed like seconds later, I was pulling my kayak up the padded ramp at Living Adventure’s base camp. After a wonderful weekend of sea kayaking the Apostle Islands, it was now time to say our good-byes. I said good-bye to the rest of the group and thanked Brian and Austin for such a wonderful weekend!
It was now time for the eight-hour car ride back home. I took one last look at the lake, thinking how different it was when I first came here only three days before, now I couldn’t wait to come back to Living Adventure!
Reviewed by Michael Anderson
Kayak Experience: 3 years