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29 Sep 2017
Apostle Islands 2017

My 2017 annual outdoor adventure with the usual suspects was to the apostle islands: Wisconsin’s Paradise.

hyde-park-horse-track hyde-park-horse-track

The thing I didn’t know about the Apostles is that they are as much a paradise as the Florida Keys. Sure, the water is colder, but there are no sharks nor hurricanes, so really it all evens out.

This was my first overnight paddling trip and I learned as much as I learned on my first overnight hiking trip.

  • When I hike I hate being wet and I do a lot to keep myself and my gear as dry as possible. While kayaking, trying to keep everything dry is futile and will only lead to frustration. Just become one with the wet.

  • Paddle with your core.

  • Many small dry bags (10 or 15L at most). Yes you need dry bags because the hatches always leak (we put a man on the moon but NASA didn’t build this kayak so its hatches always fucking leak).

  • Paddling is easier than carrying, pound for pound, so bring the bottles of wine!

A few stories:

To do this trip you must pay an outfitter to loan you gear and train you on safety. I was expecting our outfitter guides to be Ranger Rick and Safety Steve, but instead we got Red Cliff’s rendition of Steve-O and his trusty partner.

“Sorry we are being such butt heads this morning,” were Steve-O’s first words to us after disembarking from his beat-up short bus that was filled with piles of wet suits, sea skirts, paddles, and bags. He was apologizing for one of several communication mix-ups, which had delayed our send-off by an hour or more. The pair were as disorganized as they were casual and I was immediately regretting shopping around for the cheapest outfitter. My regret only grew in strength upon seeing that the boats we had been issued were not the sleek fiberglass beauties like those being unloaded by summer campers nearby, but instead a pair of molded plastic bathtubs with rudders. However, after the safety seminar got underway I could tell that they could tell that we looked more prepared than their average clients. This greatly boosted my confidence, which had been quite low (I had read too many finger-wagging blog posts about underprepared paddlers written by type-A rangers). It all turned out great, though! We were fully prepared and capable just like our guides had guessed. On a windy day in five-foot Superior swells, we were actually grateful to be in untippable, molded plastic tubs.

Oak Island. Our site was remote, the only site on Oak’s north shore. My hopes of finally seeing a bear were rekindled by a notice stapled to our campsite’s picnic bench that read “Bear Active in Area” in a boldface font. Later while I was starting a fire I found that the last Oak Site 21 campers left us a present: three globs of tuna fish in our fire ring. Fish! In the site with the explicit bear proximity warning! Unbelievable. Almost as unbelievable as the yacht that decided to drop its anchor 250 feet from shore directly in front of our campsite right after the fire was lit. Rich folks.

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