It was 1:00 am on Stockton Island in the Apostle Islands. I awoke to the beeping sound of my watch alarm, and I reluctantly slid out of my sleeping bag to check on the sky conditions. I unzipped the door of my tent to find the sky bursting with billions of tiny sparkles of light. No matter how many times I experience this, I am still transfixed with awe at the sight of the glowing night sky. I stood there for a moment, taking it all in, and then went at my work packing my things away in preparation for a starlight paddle. My co-leader and I cooked up some steel-cut oats, and then awoke our participants around 2:00 to eat breakfast in the middle of the night and to pack all of our things into the kayaks.
We were on the water by 4:00. The rest of the island was still sleeping, and we silently paddled by quietly rocking sailboats in the bay. We paddled together closely as a group, making our way out of Quarry Bay and towards Oak Island. The reflection of the moon and stars glowed in the lake behind us. As we made our way along the coast of Stockton Island, the sky began to glow with sunrise light. The glow grew brighter, and the sun burst over the horizon when we were in between Stockton and Oak Island.
We stopped at a sandy beach on the eastern edge of Oak Island to stretch our legs and have a snack, and continued around the island towards our campsite for the night. By the time we arrived, Oak Island was just beginning to wake up, and people were just starting to eat breakfast and pack up their camps. We reclined on the dock, went for a swim, and enjoyed the sunshine while we waited. When our campsite was vacant, we unpacked our boats, set up camp, and settled down for an extended morning nap.
Although we were all exhausted, none of us regretted our decision to paddle in the middle of the night. Night is a magical and mysterious time, and I cherish every opportunity to experience it.
Our 8-day Apostle Island sea kayaking adventure was a dream. We journeyed from Little Sand Bay, to Oak Island, to Stockton Island where we spent a day cooking wild blueberry pancakes and exploring the island, back to Oak Island in the middle of the night, to Sand Island via Raspberry and York Islands, battling a stiff headwind along the way, and finishing at Little Sand Bay. We were given a fabulous tour of the historic Raspberry Island Lighthouse on the way. A final highlight to the trip was a sunrise paddle at the Sand Island sea caves on Swallow Point.
The Apostle Islands continue to fill me with awe. Every experience there is different, and magical in its own way. It was a fabulous conclusion to my time as a wilderness trip leader with Wolf Ridge. I look forward to my return to the beautiful Lake Superior country!