There are not many occasions where we cross our fingers for inclement weather but the Gales Storm Gathering is one of them. In the past we’ve hosted our Surf Superior Confluence here at the mouth of the mighty Michipicoten however we’ve decided to put that weekend on hold and partner up with the folks from Go Kayak Now and their gathering in Marquette this year. The plan is to turn it into a roaming gathering and we will be the host for 2012.
So if you are an intermediate paddler looking for some surf and crazy conditions, you should consider joining in on the fun. Here are the fast facts:
When: Oct 8, 9, 10 2011
Where: Marquette Presque Isle Park/Menominee
Who: Shawna and Leon are the Guest Coaches from Body Boat Blade.
Tons of Great Lakes Talent:
Sharon and Alec Bloyd-Peshkin
Doug Van Doren
What: Preliminary course offerings for the symposium are as follows.
Long Boats in Current 1 & 2
Open Water Navigation
Surf Kayak 1 & 2
Sea Kayak Surfing 1 & 2
WICKed (Women In Canoes & Kayaks) Rough Water Paddler
“The Slates” are a little island archipelago not as well known as some of the other bigger islands on Lake Superior, only about 14km off the north shore near Terrace Bay. Most of the land is protected as a Provincial Park however there are no facilities or user fees.
There are 2 main islands and a handful of smaller islands to explore. One of the unique features is the geology of these islands. Although not made of slate at all, the islands are a result of a meteorite crater impact and has one of the best known examples of shatter cones (located in McGreevy Harbour). Some other neat aspects of this trip include an almost-guaranteed siting of caribou (there are no predators on the island so the population keeps growing until it crashes naturally). There is also a lighthouse on the south side of Patterson Island.
If the weather is agreeable you can circumnavigate the entire archipelago but you have options if the lake kicks up as well. In between Patterson and Mortimer islands is a great sheltered channel with plenty of coves to explore. A number of human history remains can be found including the Devil’s Roost and the Come and Rest. Because of the proximity to shore, you will most likely see more people; kayakers, sailboats and others out and about than you would on some other sections of the lake. We take a boat shuttle out and back from the islands to save on doing the open water crossing.
Take this as a guided sea kayak trip with Naturally Superior Adventures:
When this trip is offered: Sun July 24-Fri July 29 2011. Meet at 2pm on Sunday
Cost: $1650 (includes: Full guiding and outfitting, meals, boat shuttles, one night accommodation. Note: registration is limited for this trip due to space on the boat shuttle.
Pronounced: Mish-i-pe-cotton. The floating “Mystic Isle” is aptly named since depending on the clarity of the atmosphere- the island does in fact look like it is floating. Some days it appears very close, other days far away and sometimes you can’t even see it at all. It can appear as one island or three and occasionally looks like it has amazingly tall cliffs.
We haven’t offered this trip in a few years since we have had difficulty getting a boat shuttle out to the island. We’ve got that sorted out for this year now but have to limit the number of participants due to boat constraints.
This trip is a good one to do as a guided trip since there are a few more logistics involved with getting out to the island and not everyone wants to do the 14km crossing. Here are a few reasons why this is one of my favourite trips to do on Lake Superior:
Every beach you land on is different than the last
there are 2 lighthouses (one has the only flying buttress on Lake Superior)
the cool history- abandoned fishing villages and the legend of the cursed copper mines
tons of caribou, beaver and other wildlife
shipwrecks and more.
It has everything all wrapped up into one island package
It’s located about 60km (40miles) off the shore from our base at Michipicoten. If you were to paddle out to it, you would travel west along the Superior Highlands coast until about Floating Heart Bay and make a diagonal crossing over to the East End Lighthouse.
Guided trip details: Dates are Sunday July 17th to Sunday July 24th.
Skill Level is set at intermediate since this is a very remote trip with no quick evacuation strategy. Participants need to be self-sufficient and having some experience wilderness camping will make your trip that much more pleasant.
Itinerary- arrive at NSA by 2pm Sunday for on-water training, stroke review, rescue review. BBQ dinner at our Rock Island Lodge. Monday morning boat shuttle will take the group out to the island for 6 fantastic days of sea kayaking around Michipicoten Island. The following Sunday the boat will pick up the group and head back to NSA.
Pricing- $1695 includes all taxes, meals, shuttles, full guiding. Sea kayaks and tents additional.
Get Out There Magazine (Canada’s source for endurance sports, outdoor recreation and adventure) has compiled a list of Reader’s choices in a number of categories. Naturally Superior Adventures is the choice for Best Adventure Operator in Eastern Canada. Thanks readers for all the votes. You can find all of the other category winners here.
Now let’s discuss why Lake Superior did not win the Best Place to canoe or kayak. Maybe it is because most of the Lake Superior lovers did not vote. Maybe it is because there is a greater population closer to Algonquin Park (the winner in this category). Here are 5 reasons why Lake Superior should win next time.
No portages (need I say more?)
You don’t have to reserve a campsite…ever!
You don’t have to haul in firewood if you want to have a campfire.
Sense of remoteness.
Never been to Lake Superior? You should at least give it a try, but if you are new to paddlesports- opt for going with a guide just to be safe.
Last week we had a storm hit Lake Superior that ranked #2 of the best-worst storms of the Great Lakes in history, according to The Weather Network. The #1 ranked storm was from Jan 26, 1978. Apparently the barometric pressure with this storm was the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, states one of their meteorologist. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of paddling going on here that day with winds clocked on our weather meter at 113km/hour. You wouldn’t be able to keep your paddle in your hand.
However, the day after, the swells had evened out and created a nice, albeit crazy, ride into shore. Perfect for kayak surfing. Here are a few shots of Conor Mihel, Ray Boucher and Ryan Siegel, from NSA getting trashed on Celery Beach (around the corner from NSA- see the map).
We hosted a Paddle Canada Level III Skills course here last week. Erik Oogard, from Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre was our instructor du jour. As part of the course requirements, the group headed out on an overnight journey on to Lake Superior. On their way home, they got to contend with some 20knot winds and over 1 meter waves.
The group did a fantastic job contacting our NSA base to determine the best landing spot for the group. NSA staff stood out on the point directing them in and helped folks surf into Government Beach.
Here is a video of Ray surfing in doing some cartwheels and back surfing along the way.
For the first time ever, we’ve added a component to our Paddle Canada Level II Sea kayaking skills program. We’ve brought in a BCU instructor to access the participants for their 3 star certification (which is very similar in skill level to the PC Level II course). David Johnston, of paddlinginstructor.com, and an instructor trainer with Paddle Canada, came up from the big city of Toronto to co-teach this course with Chicago’s Bonnie Perry, a BCU Coach 3 as well as an ACA (American Canoe Association) instructor.
Lake Superior has done its best to provide some conditions that would be suitable for the Level II participants to strut their stuff in. We’ve had great on-shore winds to create some waves. Joel Cooper, resident of Sandy Beach, took a few shots of the gang working their surf skills.
If you are looking at playing around in some surf- check out our Surf Superior Confluence coming up the first weekend in October.
Our staff have arrived and settled in, and have been preparing for what we hope will be a busy season! They’ve spent a lot of time out on the water warming up their paddling muscles and have also managed to test some new skills and equipment! Their dance skills have wildly improved in the last few weeks…
Mirinda showing off the newest dance craze, kayak ballet
Nate doing the front deck boogie (not to be confused with the back deck boogie – similar but much more advanced)
Carolyn attempting the front deck crab walk!
The staff were also able to demo some stand-up paddling equipment! They hated every minute of the sunny afternoon they got to take off work and spend paddling in the lake… life sure is difficult up here!
Our staff have become hooked on the paddling craze that is sweeping the nation! We hope they don’t decide to join the pro circuit and leave us in the dust!
It’s been a wonderful few weeks so far! More updates to come soon!
It’s a good idea to clean and store all of your paddling gear for the winter. Ideally before the snow comes and you start thinking about skiing and snowshoeing and whatever other winter activities you partake in that are decidedly more interesting than putting summer gear away.
Kokatat has some good ideas for storing your dry suit and dry top since they have components that age over time if not stored properly.
Protect your investments
Prior to storage wash gaskets with a gentle soap to remove contaminants (sunscreen, insect repellents, lotions). Treat latex gaskets every 4-6 weeks, inside and out, with 303 Protectant™. Rub it in and let sit for a few minutes before wiping clean with an absorbent cloth until gasket is dry. When using 303 Protectant™ avoid getting it on other parts of the garment.
Wash your garment. When washing, always follow sewn-in care instructions. With dry suits and dry tops Kokatat recommends using warm water, delicate cycle, gentle powdered soap (or Nikwax® Tech Wash™), with no bleach or harsh chemicals, and high water volume, in a front loading machine. Rinse well (which may mean running it through a second time, inside out with no soap OR use a warm shower). Line dry.
To restore DWR (Durable Water Repellent) or water beading to the outside of a garment, Kokatat recommends Granger’s XT Proofer Spray or Nikwax® TX-Direct Spray-On™. When using the Spray-On product apply when garment is damp. Line dry. Heat is necessary to set the DWR into the fabric (the bottle tells you to use a dryer). Kokatat recommends using an iron, on medium to low heat. Keep the iron moving. DO NOT iron gaskets or zippers.
Keep the garment clean, rinsed as needed, and hang dry. If the suit will be stored in a clean environment, the zipper should be left open. This will help alleviate pressure on the sealing elements. In dusty or dirty environments, store with the zipper closed. Store either hanging or loosely rolled. Do not store dry suits or tops in the same room with gas appliances or other combustion exhaust. Do not store dry suits or tops in excessively hot and/or humid locations or where latex gaskets are in direct sunlight. High heat and humidity, extreme dryness, exhaust fumes from cars or gas appliances and exposure to UV and ozone can destroy or shorten the life of gaskets.