The Apostle Islands in Lake Superior are spectacular natural marvels. In July 2016, we took a kayaking and hiking tour with Wilderness Inquiry at their base camp in Little Sand Bay, WI. The group began to gather at Site 4 early on a Thursday afternoon. It was sticky and hot. The sun shone relentless as we made for the shade and found trusted new friends. Two by two we tipped, signaled, and escaped the boat. By the time Tatiana was parking Jade behind the Warehouse, we had become a cohort. A cell. When we circled around the fire that night, we were ready for its alchemy and became like embers and smoke. We sputtered. We sparked. We got into our clothes.
Our first paddle was to Meyer’s Sea Caves. We almost learned how to keep our pod together and we went boat by boat, forward and back, through the mind boggling rock, water, and moss formations. Waiting for our companions and dodging the wakes of bigger boats gave us plenty of opportunity to learn our about our kayak, the lake, and ourselves. Before we got on the water, the boats and gear had to be off-loaded. Everyone pitched in. I was shooting some B roll and got involved carrying one of the 100 lb + kayaks down the stairs into the water. I had stuffed the camera into my pocket just before hoisting the boat up and off the trailer. When stepped into the water to float the boat, I forgot it was there. The water was fairly shallow, barely wet the camera, but that was enough to bring water into the dry bag. The video quality degraded throughout the trip and the camera quit altogether just as we visited the last caves. It recovered as it dried out.
The group split that afternoon, then reformed at the Creamery in Bayfield, WI. Our faction went to Houghton Falls and got swarmed by black flies at the point across from Madeliene Island. The hike along the creek revealed a series of falls, pools, and rapids all the way to the rocky shore of the Great Lake. It was cool from the moving water and the dark shade, then gave way to heat and sun bathed rocks near the point. The flies drove us back into the trees and the urgency of a cool drink drove us back into town.
Morning came with the clang of opening camp stoves and the practiced murmur of chronic early risers. Eyes closed and ears open, in the tent we clung to sleep. I disowned my bladder and tried to listen for the sound of coffee being made. Eventually, it was all too much and the day began with a meal. Soon we were unloading the boats and paddling over a shipwreck while we dodged the wakes of bigger boats. We crossed to an island and ate our fill of sausage, salad, and bagels. Foraged a few thimble berries, then ran back to the casino landing to pack up the boats.
In the afternoon we hiked to the Meyer’s Beach Sea Caves. Reconnecting with the Keyhole while looking down. The Park Ranger dissuaded us with stories of forecasts and fallen trees, but we we persistent. The rain did not come until 3 AM the next morning. Approximately 15 seconds after Gulin left the tent to use the composting toilet and a half hour before it poured. By morning it was clear and cool. Perfect for a hike along Lost Creek to the falls.
Last lunch at the Wayside. Grilled cheese and well water. Hugs and goodbyes.