Bruises, burns, and brrrrrr.

29 Jul

A timeline of my thoughts regarding the overnight kayaking adventure I had –

Before the trip: Holy shit.  I’m nervous.  This could be scary.  Am I ready for this?

Going to bed in a tent while it’s raining on an island after paddling all day: This was a good experience but I don’t think I need to do it again.

Today:  It was great!  Maybe I’ll go for two nights next time.

Sara and I drove north of Bayfield to the outfitter where we would meet our guide and group.  It was freezing with high potential of rain.  Great kayaking weather for Lake Superior, right?  We were handed wetsuits and PFDs.  We met our guide and our group.  Our guide, Jose, was awesome-sauce.  The group was also awesome.  Sara and I had gone over worse case scenarios before we arrived – who the worst group members could be.  None of that was realized.  JP, a history teacher from Chicago, was crazy in a ditzy, fun way.  Ryan and Casey, a couple from Chicago, were fun and energetic.  Sue, a retired woman with lots of paddling experience, had traveling stories of trips to all seven continents and 49 states.  Great group with whom to spend the next 30 hours.

We talked about the Ws of paddling – wind, weather, water, etc.  We learned paddling strokes on land.  We learned what to do if our kayak tipped in the water, ie how to do a wet exit.  And then we had to practice wet exits.  In 50 degree temperatures.  In the cold, Lake Superior water.

Sara and I were in a tandem kayak.  When it was our turn, we leaned to the left and plunged under water. We hugged the boat, hit the bottom of the kayak to let our fellow kayakers know that we were okay [you know, except being in an overturned kayak in freezing water] and not unconscious.  We each pulled the “oh shit” loop on our skirts and slid out and to the surface.  That was the easy part.  Then we had to get back in; a process by which I ended up under water a second time after getting in the first time and gained a bruise the size of a dinner plate on my leg.  [I’m not exaggerating.  The bruise is the size of a small dinner plate.]

All of that behind us, we ate lunch on site and then packed our kayaks for the night.  Our destination was Oak Island and we made it there in under three hours of paddling.  The weather held out until our last 45 minutes or so.  As we fought waves and 10-15 MPH wind, it started to rain.  Awesome.  But we made it.  And it turned out those waves wouldn’t quite compare to what we would face the next day.

We set up camp, ditched the wetsuits, and walked the beach.  Jose began making dinner – grilled whitefish, rice, hot veggies, warmed bread, and warmed brie.  Brie warmed in tinfoil over the fire.  This is my kind of camping.  When the outfitter promised gourmet camping meals, they weren’t kidding.  We played a little apples to apples before the sun went down, ate s’mores, put all of our food and smellables in the bear box, peed in the woods*, and went to bed.   [*We peed in the woods even though there was an outhouse on the island.  We peed in the woods because Sara saw a mouse there.  I’ll take woods over mice.]

Coffee and breakfast burritos the next morning.  Taking down camp and packing up kayaks.  Then we waited.  To go back to the outfitter, we had to pass through a channel where there was no land protecting us from the wind.  And it was windy.  Jose had us hold off, hoping the wind would decrease.  We waited and I’m not sure the wind actually did slow down but we had to go.  Two to three foot swells and waves.  We faced them head on.  My mouth was dry the entire  trip across the channel.  That I don’t need to do again anytime soon – but we all made it.

After that, the rest of the paddle was a breeze.  We saw bald eagles [Jose loves birds so he would be mid-sentence and suddenly yell and point, “Bald eagle!”], shipwrecks, and the red cliffs characteristic of the Apostle Islands.  The sun graced us with its presence finally; long enough to burn the side of my neck and back of my hands.  It was also fun just to see how much all of us improved at handling our kayaks.  The first day when Jose had us gather together, we’d be running into each other and floating away.  But before we arrived back at the outfitter, Jose gathered us up to give us final instructions and we were awesome.

Would I do it again?  Probably.  Still love kayaking.  But I might be more apt for river and smaller lake paddling.  Those two to three foot waves are not my friends.

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3 Responses to “Bruises, burns, and brrrrrr.”

  1. sara July 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Love it. Very accurate account of our travels. Well done, Stolen. I’ll be your 2nd in a Tandem any day. 🙂

    • Lindsay July 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks, Stenstrom. And I’d be your 2nd in a tandem any day too – we make a good pair, if-I-don’t-say-so-myself.

  2. Don December 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

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