Our first Apostle Island sea kayaking trip of the season began with a gorgeous paddle in some sandstone sea caves near Meyer’s Beach. The sun was shining, the water was warm for swimming, and the waves were calm. We enjoyed the steep, golden cliffs and arches, and the beautiful red pines clinging to the edges.
Lake Superior was kind to us that day.
By the next morning, we had heard rumors of a big storm rolling through, and potential gale warnings for the following day. We carefully examined the weather forecast with a park ranger in the visitor center, and decided to press on to Sand Island before the wind arrived.
By the time we arrived at Sand Island about an hour later, our kayaks were being thrown into the sandy beach by three-foot waves. We quickly unloaded our boats and set up camp in anticipation of the storm. We were lucky to be on the protected side of Sand Island, so when the wind changed direction, East Sand Bay was beautifully calm, while the wind roared through the trees above. After a chat with the park ranger on Sand Island who gave us a detailed weather forecast for the next day, we decided to stay on Sand Island for an extra night. Strong winds were to continue into the night, and increase the next day. There was a gale watch as well. As Wolf Ridge leaders, we always prioritize safety over taking unnecessary risks in high wind and wave situations.
We were not bored even in the slightest. There are lots of things to do when you are windbound in a beautiful place! We did a sunrise paddle in some sea caves near our protected bay, played cards, set up Finnish Lawn Bowling, had splash fights in the lake, relaxed and read books, hiked the trail on Sand Island, burned pine cones that kept dropping from above in the wind, and toasted our lunch pitas over the fire. I can imagine no better place to be windbound and at the mercy of Lake Superior.
For the rest of the trip, the wind calmed just barely enough for us to paddle again. We made it to all of our destinations, including the beautiful lighthouse on Raspberry Island, although we nearly missed getting trapped in an angry thunderstorm on our way. The wind was exciting, and presented a great physical challenge and learning experience for everyone. Our Great Lake has a mind of its own, and can toss and turn you in any way that it chooses. It is a beautiful, powerful force, and I feel lucky to experience it. I look forward to my next opportunity to share Lake Superior with others.