A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a rare weekend away in Bayfield, Wisconsin , a beautiful little town located in northeastern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior and home to the pristine Apostle Islands. We chose Bayfield because we wanted to explore the Apostle Islands National Park, a collection of 21 islands and 12 miles of windswept beaches, cliffs and sea caves offering visitors the opportunity to hike, paddle, sail or cruise this stunning area. I had always heard about this amazing place but had never been there despite the fact it is only a four hour drive away from Minneapolis.
One of the main things we wanted to do was go sea kayaking and explore the sandstone sea caves along the shores of Lake Superior. We had seen them from above while hiking at Meyer’s Beach and knew that it would be something that cannot be missed. We were able to reserve an 8 am paddle on Sunday morning with Lost Creek Adventures launching out of Cornucopia near Meyer’s Beach.
It had rained and stormed the entire day on Saturday so we were concerned that our kayak adventure on Sunday morning would be canceled. However, when we rose at 6 am the sky was clear, the birds were singing and the sun was glorious. It was going to be a spectacular day!
We ate a quick breakfast and drove about twenty minutes to the other side of the Peninsula where we would be launching off that morning. As soon as we turned the corner around the tip of the Peninsula, we realized that the weather on this side was completely different. I was stunned to see that only twenty minutes away from Bayfield, the weather in Cornucopia was cloudy, exceptionally windy and cool. It was the unprotected edge of the shoreline and the winds were fierce. To our dismay, there was no way we would be able to safely go sea kayaking there because the waves were over four feet high making the situation extremely dangerous. We would have to go to Plan B.
Our guides at Lost Creek Adventurers told our group of 15 eager kayakers that given the conditions we had two options. We could either drive to an inland lake and nature preserve and kayak around there or else we could get in the van and drive back to where we came from, to sea kayak near Houghton Point in Lake Superior. We were thoroughly disappointed that we would not be seeing the famous sea caves but as a group decided that we still wanted to kayak in Lake Superior. We piled our sea kayaks on top of the van and set off to Washburn.
We followed Country Road C through the winding, forested roads to Washburn where we pulled into the marina and unloaded our kayaks. It was amazing what a difference the weather was! The sun was brilliant in the sky and the water as calm as silk. It was an absolutely stunning morning for a paddle.
We all had double sea kayaks except our two guides, and spent the first 15 minutes receiving a lesson in proper paddling techniques in order to save our backs from getting sore. I learned that I should use my entire upper body and core which would save me from too much shoulder and arm work.
We put on water skirts on, climbed into the kayaks and were off. Of course I had to sit in the front so I could capture our paddle on film. The views were extraordinary. The water was so tranquil and when we stopped talking and let our kayaks glide, it was serendipitously peaceful. A few birds were chirping in the neighboring trees and we watched sea gulls try to catch their breakfast in the calm, blue waters of Lake Superior.
We followed our guides and explored a few of the tiny little caves which paled in comparison with the enormous mainland sea caves on the other side. However, it was such a beautiful morning and the water was so peaceful that we felt at ease.
We paddled along the edge of the shore and the water changed color from a deep blue to an aquamarine and even a greenish hue. It was so pretty with the reflection of the trees across the water.
We reached Houghton Point and it was time to turn around. I was thankful as my arms are not used to Kayaking and I was worried that if I went too long, I’d wake up with a dreadful backache the next day. Surprisingly, I did not. I must have been doing something right!
Despite my utter disappointment to not be able to see and experience the sea caves, I am still grateful that we got to give sea kayaking in Lake Superior a whirl. I promised myself that we would be back next summer and this time bring the kids. Hopefully the winds and weather will work out for us to see the sea caves.