Midwest Expedition: Day 3, Kayaking Lake Superior

July 2, 2011

A handwritten sign in big block letters greets us with a hearty salutation – “It’s a Great Day to Paddle!”  Yes, indeed.  The mid-morning sun sparkles on the placid waters of Lake Superior as we pull in to the gravel drive of one of Bayfield’s most popular kayaking outfitters, Living Adventure.  Owners Gail Green and Grant Herman have operated this thriving little business for the past 9 years.  Gail credits their success with the unique combination of her outdoor adventure experience and Grant’s education background.   “We were able to put our personal and professional passions out on the lake.” said Gail.   The bulk of their excursions put a tremendous focus on educating the guests about the local environment, where guides can “sneak it in under the umbrella of recreation”.

A crew of hard-core paddlers meets us at the lakeshore.  They’re decked out in calculated adventure gear including 3mm wetsuits.  It may appear a bit overly cautious, but respect for this giant body of freshwater – the largest in the world – is ingrained in the fabric of the Bayfield community.  Lake Superior has notoriously temperamental weather. Conditions on the water can flip-flop dramatically in a matter of minutes, where blue sky gives way to thunderheads and gale force winds.  Average temperature on the lake?  A zesty 42 degrees!  Fortunately for us, the morning is crisp and clear.

Rob gears up and plops his kayak in the water.  An avid paddler himself, he regards the unpredictability of the lake with the enthusiasm of a little kid.  He can’t wait to get out on the water.  The less “seasoned” crew opts to track the kayakers from the boat and capitalize on the great filming opportunities this vantage point will present.

It’s easy to see why people are so captivated by this place.  The wild remoteness of the Apostle Islands gels nicely with a community that values wild places.  Gail sums it up best.  The connection is found “in the rhythm of the water and the rhythm of people’s everyday lives”.


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