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Inland Sea, Islands & Wreckage. Part 2. Manitou Day Trip

Posted Jun 26 2005 12:00am
Sometimes I feel
That I need to move on
So I pack a bag
And move on – d.bowie

Probably the single biggest single draw of the Inland Sea symposium in Washburn, Wisconsin is the guided tours. Being that the symposium is located near the Apostle Islands it’s no wonder that attendees want to get out and explore.

I spent my first day of the symposium on a day trip out to the Manitou Island Fish Camp along with 2 other guides; Jon Stackpole, who has worked with Living Adventures in Red Cliff for some time and is now at Rutabaga in Madison, and Laurie Levknect, who is an ACA and BCU coach with Black Parrot Paddling, as well as one of the organizers of the West Michigan Kayak Symposium. We had with us about 15 other paddlers for the day.

We took off from the Living Adventures landing right on Lake Superior and paddled north along the coast. We took a bit of time to explore the partially exposed wreck of the steamer “Fedora” and then made our first crossing northeast to Oak Island. After a short break we paddled along the bottom of Oak and then up the rugged eastern shore where years of storms and high waves have created beautiful sculptures in the sandstone cliffs. There were a variety of small waterfalls dropping into the lake and often bald eagles would fly by or perch overhead and we explored the island.

From the midway point of Oak Island we cut another northeast angle to cross calm protected waters over to Manitou Island. If you look at a map you can see that this crossing is protected from almost every angle. Only a slight roll hinted at the power of the lake. In no time it seemed the weathered little shacks of the Manitou Fish Camp emerged from the wooded shore and soon our kayaks were sliding up the cobblestone beach. A “fish camp” is a place where commercial fisherman built temporary shacks on remote islands near their fishing areas. The Manitou Camp has been restored and preserved by the National Park Service. We had a quick lunch on Manitou and could have slept the afternoon away under the warm sun if not for the infamous biting flies that soon discovered us on the old dock. Soon enough we were back on the water and heading south for a 5 mile crossing to Hermit Island.

It wasn’t until this long crossing that wind and waves cutting in from the southeast finally found us. Nothing too nasty mind you, just some small chop under a foot, but enough to make this crossing a bit of a work out. I’d much rather have bigger waves than that irriating windy chop! Since we were on a day trip my boat was empty. I missed the rock-steadiness provided by a fully laden boat. When my Explorer is loaded to the rims with gear it plows through small waves like an ocean liner and I need to do very little correction. However when empty I find myself edging and sweeping the whole way. As it was we needed to battle a bit through the wind and chop until we reached the protection of Hermit.

After a few minutes rest we again took off for “home”. We made the now protected crossing to Basswood in a short time and followed Basswood’s forested western shore south until we could see the sun reflecting off the distant roofs of the Living Adventures complex. From there we made our final crossing. In all we covered about 22 miles in a little under 7 hours (including stops).

More to come. . .

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