Snow may have descended on the Sault area – but that doesn’t mean fall is over. True northerners know the potential for water sports doesn’t really halt till Superior is frozen enough to proceed with winter activities. So put on your wet suit (and multiple layers) and you might be surprised how pleasant weathering the conditions for a good kayak ride can be.
At Naturally Superior Adventures, guides accompany novice and experienced kayakers onto Lake Superior’s North Shore year-round. David Wells, owner of the adventure company was a forester long before he took a trip on the Pukaskwa Coast, near Pukaskwa National Park. The coastal tour in close proximity to Marathon set Wells on a different life course that would see him certified as a Sea Kayak and SUP instructor-trainer, ACA level 4 Coach and BCU 4-star paddler.
“We run our tours from our bed and breakfast, Rock Island Lodge,” says Wells, whose venue hosts a number of events from yoga retreats to kayak and canoe adventures, corporate meetings to weddings. A large number of kayakers venture north each year to stay in one of the four rooms at Rock Island Lodge – all of which overlook Lake Superior.
“It’s the perfect place for kayaking – right at the mouth of the Michipicoten River near Wawa,” says Wells who purchased twelve acres of land there in 1994. The Ojibwa people descended the Michipicoten River by birchbark canoe in springtime to reach the rapids of Sault Ste. Marie and Wells often retraces their kayaking path in a 36-foot Voyageur canoe – a historical tour of the area.
“I recommend for kayakers to explor the Mijinemungshing Lake – called Mijin Lake for short – in Lake Superior Provincial Park,” says Wells. “You can’t beat the clean air, the fall colours, the purity of nature there.”
Ken Hopper, owner of Bird’s Eye Adventures in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, also promotes fall kayaking, noting that safety precautions have to come first and foremost. The initial step, obviously, should be to check the weather. “Make sure you wear lots of layers and chart your path,” says Hopper. “Weather can sometimes be unpredictable too – so make sure you carry rain gear. And always travel with another person – that’s safety rule number one.
Hopper says one advantage to the fall water is that it can hold the warmth from the summer months. “If you compare the water temperature to spring, there’s a huge difference,” he says. For places in the Soo area, he recommends heading eastwards, rather than west towards the plant. “When you head east, you will see the full range of fall colours. Go towards Sugar Island and way past Bellevue Park – that’s the sweet spot.”
He says that Saultites often take for granted the cool kayaking experience of kayaking through the locks. “We take people through the Sault Ste. Marie Canal Historic Site. It takes about ten to fifteen minutes for the locks to lower down, but it’s just a really neat experience. There are rarely any freighters there.” The Locks connect to White Fish Island near Sault Mill.
“It’s an experience of a lifetime – something every Saultite -from the Canadian or American side – should do at least once.
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