If you are looking for an adventure this summer you should consider joining me on Lake Superior as we circumnavigate the extremely remote, Michipicoten Island (map link).
The Michipicoten Island Expedition (as we've dubbed it) is being organized by Naturally Superior Adventures and is an 8-day sea kayaking adventure for intermediate paddlers looking for a challenge yet still want to be under the care of a guide.
The plan is to take a 60 kilometer boat shuttle from Michipicoten Bay out to the mystic Michipicoten Island. We will then circumnavigate the island, make the 18 km perpendicular crossing from Bonner Head to the mainland, then eastwards along the Superior Highlands shore before finishing back at the NSA base in Michipicoten Bay, a total of about 140 km over the eight days.
Michipicoten has a very interesting cultural history. Once shunned by First Nations peoples as a place of malevolent giants, Michipicoten Island became one of Ontario's most promising sources of copper and an easy access point to Lake Superior's seemingly endless bounty of fish in the early 1900s. Since then, the copper mine and fishing village have been abandoned. All that remains are old mine shafts, ramshackle buildings and flourishing populations of woodland caribou and beaver. Throw in a couple of lighthouses and a few shipwrecks, rugged shoreline and you've got everything all wrapped up in this island expedition.
For those who have always wanted to do a trip on Lake Superior but shied away from a fully pampered guided trip, this is the adventure for you. It's unique in that it's designed as a self-reliant expedition so all members of the group are responsible for their own food & gear. I won't be cooking for you but I'm quite happy to bring you a cup of my famous poor tasting and burnt coffee in the morning. My role in the as leader will be to provide logistical support, local knowledge, a safety net and completely made-up stories of my time living with a pack of wolves.
Because it's a self-reliant trip in a very remote an inaccessible part of Lake Superior participants need to make sure they have a strong level of both kayaking skills and wilderness camping experience.
Michipicoten Island is an amazing place and completely unique to the rest of Lake Superior. I had the opportunity to visit back in 2007 and have wanted to return ever since.
The dates of the trip are Friday, August 2-10th. There is a floating price scale depending on the number of participants so for example, if we have 3 people the price is $1190 but that price drops to $750 if we get six people onboard so make sure you get a buddy to come along. Of course taxes are not included in those prices.
Check Naturally Superior Adventure's website for all the details and feel free to contact me or NSA with any questions you may have.
It's going to be wicked awesome.
Google has rolled out a treasure map mode for Google Maps just in time for April Fools and I'm currently on my knees praying that this is becomes a permanent feature as it's terrific. Arrrrr.
They even released a cute video explaining the key features of Google Maps: Treasure Mode.
Good hunting people.
Don’t let the recent poor press steer you wrong. The Cook County Forest Preserve is still a family friendly place despite the occasional discovery of a dead body. Adventure awaits kids!
I'm totally on a paddling film roll these days but don’t worry, I will get back to other boring topics soon enough.
Last year at this time I interviewed Steve Weileman to shed some light on an expedition he was planning which would look for and survey Tsunami debris that has floated over from Japan and washed up on Washington state coastline.
Well, the kayak expedition happened and it was a complete success and Steve made a film out of it which was released earlier this winter. It did quite well at a couple of paddling festivals winning Best Environmental Film at both the Waterwalker Film Festival and the Reel Paddling Film Festival.
This past week Steve uploaded the full-length documentary, Ikkatsu: The Roadless Coast to Vimeo and released it free to the public.
In March of 2011 Japan suffered a devastating earthquake followed by a series of equally devastating tsunamis. As the waters receded, an estimated 1.5 million tons of debris was washed back into the Pacific - all of which was destined to land on distant shores.
In the summer of 2012 three professional kayakers, supported by a group of scientific advisors, undertook an unprecedented journey to paddle the roadless coast of Washington, and to survey the debris on some of the wildest shoreline in the United States. When they returned, they shared the data they had compiled with the scientific community and put together their story of adventure and environmental crisis in this documentary.
Steve is planning on going up to Alaska this summer for a month to survey that region and is hoping for your support. All the details on their expedition can be found here.
My friend Conor sent me this email letting me know about a new sea kayaking film that he discovered. I couldn’t have written the description any better so I just stole this from him:
Thought I'd share this great short film about sea kayaking in B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest--the same wild channels that could soon be plied by supertankers if the Northern Gateway Pipeline happens. The 8-minute film is excellent not for its technical proficiency but rather for the compelling story it tells. It doesn't focus on politics but rather the simple joys of being immersed in wilderness. It's well worth watching and sharing with others.
Walk on Water is a very inspirational whitewater kayaking film that you need to watch.
Here is the description on the Youtube:
When a skiing accident left Greg Mallory paralyzed from the waist down, he turned to whitewater kayaking to help him escape his wheelchair. Now he's an accomplished Class V whitewater paddler who finds strength, challenge and meaning in paddling rivers. This is his story.
Walk on Water was directed by Andy Maser who has shot several other whitewater films for both PBS and National Geographic. Check out his website where he has a very good documentary he put together about the largest dam removal project in the US. It’s called Oregon Field Guide Special: The White Salmon River Runs Free. If you are into exploding dams and huge flood water it will be right up your alley.
Thanks for Bryan for the heads-up.
The thing about taking vacation the day Canoecopia ends is that it takes you forever to get around to reporting in it when you get back. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.
The short report is that it’s a great event and if you don't go, you need to. It’s one of the few consumer trade shows that the owners and reps of various gear manufactures actually attend so if you can get the goods on new products straight from the horse's mouth.
I had the great pleasure of being invited to give two presentations this year so I showed up with laptop in hand to speak on, "The Search and Rescue Machine" and, "Paddling in Georgian Bay". The first presentation was a look into the technology, gear and history of search and rescue while the second presentation was about why Georgian is the second best freshwater paddling destination in North America behind Lake Superior.
Throughout the weekend I was mainly working in the Naturally Superior Adventures booth meeting people and giving them all the reasons why they needed to cross the border and do a trip on the Canadian side of Lake Superior. I'm super excited about leading a trip for NSA this year (more on it another day) so I spent most of my time telling people that they need to step up and register for the trip if only for the reason that I’ve already asked for the time off work and I really wanted to go.
Wandering around the show floor, I got to hang out with my buddies at P&H Kayaks who were selling kayaks like a flood was coming soon. I will admit that I ended up spending spend too much time sitting in the new Aries 150 and I kinda fell in love. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
For 2013, P&H tweaked the deck and outfitting of the Aries a bit by adding a day-hatch and recessed slots for a spare paddle. To make room for the day hatch, they replaced the rear oval hatch with a smaller hatch which makes sense as it’s a boat built for rough water and this should help keep the hatch from imploding in big surf.
Of course there was a huge pile of new gear on display at the show and by now you have probably read some of the very good reports by other bloggers of their Canoecopia shopping adventures. If you are looking for a solid report, check out Preston Ciere’s blog, portageur.ca. It’s super extensive and he has several great posts showing off some of the treasures he found along the way.
Two of the items that really interested me that were new this year included:
Kokatat has a bunch of new new lifejackets are on the market this year including the very cool Maximus. I tried it on and found it to be super comfortable and streamlined. I really like the small design features like the tapered foam edges which help bulkiness feeling to a minimum. Ticket price for this bad-boy is about $160.
Did you know Lendel Paddles are back? For 2013 they have released several new blade models including their Kinetik Touring line which is a fully carbon blade with a foam core. The construction looks really solid and I like their redesigned Lendal Paddlok ferrule that uses a titanium insert that is pressed out against the paddle shaft to lock the unit together.
I’m really keen to give the new Lendal Paddles a try this season to see how they feel in the water. When I was standing in in the Lendal booth I decided to take one for a paddle up and down the aisle and in the process almost took a ladies head off who was standing next to me. I still feel it was her fault.
I will admit that it’s a bit of a haul driving 12 hours for a weekend but it's a total blast hanging out with paddlers who I see only a couple of times a year. It reminds me of friends you might have had a summer camp when you were a kid. Even though you go months without talking, you fall back in the rhythm and pick up right where you left off when spending the evening figuring out how to change the paddling world over beers.
New kayaking strokes (let alone one that you can actually use) come along once in a blue moon but I think we might have a possible winner here with The Haghighi.
Taught to us by Leon Sommé from Body Boat Blade, The Haghighi is intended as a very powerful stroke when you need to turn your kayak downwind or if you need to quickly turn and catch a wave downwind to surf.
Leon explains the whole thing in the video below so take a look. I haven't played with it yet so I'm keen to see what you think about it after getting out on the water and trying it out. Post your comments below.
Cool history to this stroke, it was invented by Leon's dentist, Dan Haghighi.
These raft guides clearly know where the river photographer is...
Got a quick joke for you:
Q: What's a raft guide without a girlfriend?
NASA recently released a colourised photo representing the ocean salinity differences around the world.
I thought it was pretty cool to see how much of an influence the Amazon River, St. Lawrence River and the ice caps at the north pole. Makes sense when you think about it but I clearly hadn’t thought about it before.
This information comes from data captured by NASA’s Aquarius instrument.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory website explains what’s going on and why we should care about this:
Launched June 10, 2011, aboard the Argentine spacecraft Aquarius/Satelite de Aplicaciones Cientificas (SAC)-D, Aquarius is NASA's first satellite instrument specifically built to study the salt content of ocean surface waters. Salinity variations, one of the main drivers of ocean circulation, are closely connected with the cycling of freshwater around the planet and provide scientists with valuable information on how the changing global climate is altering global rainfall patterns.
The salinity sensor detects the microwave emissivity of the top approximately 1 inch (1 to 2 centimeters) of ocean water - a physical property that varies depending on temperature and saltiness. The instrument collects data in 240-mile-wide (386 kilometers) swaths in an orbit designed to obtain a complete survey of global salinity of ice-free oceans every seven days.
They also released a very cool visualization showing the ocean surface salinity changes from December 2011 to December, 2012.
Photo credit: NASA