Wednesday, June 29, 2016

From the Nose of Our Kayak: Chapter 5 Returning to Michigan's U.P.

Hello and welcome to the JLB Creatives Blog, where you'll find an array of creative features from a hand-picked group of creative geniuses. 

Wednesdays on the JLB Creatives Blog are set aside for our blog book, "From the Nose of Our Kayak." JLB Creatives CEO, Janet Beasley, and her husband, Don, have been kayaking for nearly 10 years. Together they are excited to share with you, their awesome experiences that they have encountered. In this Wednesday feature you'll find kayaking stories, scenic nature photography from their outings, and some helpful tips when it comes to maneuvering your "butt sleds" (aka kayaks) on your journeys.

So if this is a topic that interests you, you'll want to be sure and become a follower of the JLB Creatives Blog, and stop in on Wednesdays each week for the latest chapter in Don & Janet Beasley's adventure blog book, "From the Nose of Our Kayak." 


Previous chapters can be found in our blog archives, we began the series on June 1, 2016.

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From the Nose of Our Kayak
Don & Janet Beasley
Chapter 5 Returning to Michigan's U.P.

The time had come to return to Michigan's U.P. We decided we wanted to try a longer jaunt this trip, so we chose the Tahquamenon River, starting at the mouth off of the highly respected Lake Superior. 

Kayaking Michigan's U.P. holds its own challenges: weather, cold water temps that average a whopping 52 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of summer, big wildlife, and some of the most extreme "middle of nowhere" feelings to be had on the water.

Kayaking the big, open water of Lake Superior calls for a different kind of kayak, a far different one than you see we are using in our photos here. It also calls for a different set of advanced skills as a kayaker, and a much different set of equipment to be carried on board for starters.    

Weather in the U.P. can change in the blink of an eye. Even on a river, and not the open water, if you're paddling with the breeze you may find heat to be a factor, but when you turn and go against the breeze it can relentlessly "drop" the temperature on your front-side, by sometimes up to 20 degrees. You may start out with great intentions on a warm, sunny summer day, and end up your kayak trip dawning your winter gear because a nor-easter has decided to blow in.

Kayaking the open water of Lake Superior is something only Don has done on a short guided tour, (that story will come later). I have yet to get the nerve up to paddle those waters. 

I spent a lot of weeks on the shores and water of Lake Superior for much of my summers as a baby, a kid, a teen, and an adult. I've seen (and experienced) the "big water" going from glass to mayhem in minutes more times than I can count. I was raised to respect and heed the warning signs that the trees and sky so graciously give. Don had not been traveling there nearly as long, and figured "a lake was a lake." But after his many years joining the family every spring, summer, and fall, on Lake Superior, he has since learned that not only weather conditions can wreak havoc, but hypothermia is yet another concern on the big water. 

Lake Superior can go from this....


Don on the beach at Whitefish Point, Michigan
Lake Superior
...to this in a matter of minutes. (Same location: Whitefish Point, Michigan)



video

Video by Janet Beasley


Keep in mind, Whitefish Point is the home of the haunting Ship Wreck Museum where you can come face to face with pieces of the Great Lakes freighter, the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in some of Lake Superior's deepest waters during the hellish storm November 10, 1975. It is in the waters off of Whitefish Point that the Edmund Fitzgerald broke in two and violently plummeted to her rest on the floor of Lake Superior...one half laying upside down. 
































There are six theories as to how the Edmund Fitzgerald actually met its doom that November. If you do a google search, you will find several articles that will help you come to your own conclusion. 



The Algosteel sailing the rough waters at Whitefish Point  August 25, 2011
Photo by Janet Beasley

When you watch the You Tube video of Gordon Lightfoot's song below, you'll begin to understand the seriousness of what Don and I are trying to imply regarding the dangers Michigan's northern-most shores. 




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What would be Janet's dream shot of a bull moose
Wildlife in the U.P. is very different from the familiar "critters" Don and I encounter in Florida on a weekly basis. Michigan's U.P. offers up some very nice birding with its ducks, herons, and cedar waxwings. But it also brings bigger and badder wildlife such as bears, moose, badgers, wolves, and bobcats to name a few. All I ever wanted to capture was that amazing shot of a bull moose standing chest deep in the river with water running off of his majestic antlers...but Don and I have yet to actually see a moose while kayaking. As always it is wise to keep your distance and not antagonize any wildlife you may encounter while paddling on this vast liquid terrain.


That small dot in the middle of the pic is us
Kayaking alone is never recommended. Keeping your first aid kits well stocked, and a selection of clothing for "all" seasons should become a "no-brainer" when you're heading to the Michigan's northern territory to kayak. Hypothermia is a real concern. If the wind kicks up and you go over before you make it to shore, you need to know how to reenter your kayak from floating in the deep icy water. 
Paddling along

When we set out on our first trip on the Tahquamenon River, we took my sister along with us. She followed us by driving her jeep down the dirt road that winds alongside the river. She was able to keep an eye on us, and we were able to communicate. It was "big water" compared to the calm, pristine waters of Silver River in Florida. And knowing that Lake Superior laid only a short ways behind us made me a bit uneasy, but once we rounded the bend and Lake Superior disappeared out of sight I was much more at ease.

Following are some more photographs taken by my sister, as well of some of Don's and my photographs we took as we paddled our maiden voyage on the Tahquamenon River that beautiful blue-sky day in the summer of 2009.


Making headway



YIPES! That water's cold!




From the Nose of Our Kayak on Tahquamenon River



Janet and Don take a break to coast (Janet in pic)



The mouth of the Tahquamenon River
Lake Superior at our bow



Back at the dock safe and sound



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Kayak tip of the week: Be smart when you kayak. Make certain you have the right kayak, gear, and skills to match the water and elements you will be facing.

Happy kayaking!

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JLB Creatives Editor Dar Bagby (L) and JLB Creatives CEO Janet Beasley (R)