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Kayaking Adventures in 2014: My Paddling Year in Review

It’s January 2015 and I thought I should look back at 2014 and see what fun I had kayaking and canoeing. 2014 was a busy year for me otherwise. We bought a house that needed (and needs) lots of work. My kayaking company, North Shore Expeditions, hired its first full-time guide other than myself and my photography business was busy, busy and more busy. That left very little time for personal kayaking and canoeing. I actually didn’t get the canoes out once this year. Kayaking this year was mainly work for me. I paddled very little for personal reasons and when the season was over, I didn’t paddle at all after September. I was so busy this year that something had to give. It was kayaking and canoeing.

2014 was also a waning year in my interest in paddling. I enjoyed the time I was on the water, but I wasn’t motivated to get out, I wasn’t motivated to write or think about paddling. I just felt burnt out on paddling and what energy I had needed to be spent on photography. That said, I did get out for some outings. Here’s my year in review in pictures.

Winter Kayaking

I love winter kayaking, and have written about winter kayaking often. In January, before Lake Superior started to freeze up, I went to Tettegouche State Park to paddle through the caves. It was awesome. I made a couple of really fun pictures and the one on the right won me a kayak in a Wilderness Systems contest.

In March, I spent some time in Florida and paddled on the Gulf of Mexico. I took picture below on that trip and it was published across two pages in Ocean Paddler.


Speaking of articles. These are the 6 written for the navigation series so far.

After ice out, back on Lake Superior, I went winter paddling with some friends. It was a good time.

Here’s me trying out a helmet I won in Canoe & Kayak Magazine’s People Choice Photography Award. It doesn’t really fit right.



I also won a drysuit in that contest, and since I use a Kokatat Meridian drysuit, I got a new suit for my better half. Here she is on a club paddle on Lake Superior. I built her the kayak shown in this picture. It’s the Iggy free kayak plans.

Here’s the kayak I won from the Wilderness System’s photo contest. I tried my hardest to get them to let me trade the Focus 155 for a Zephyr 155, but they wouldn’t go for it. I ended up getting rid of this kayak. It’s too bad about the Zephyr, because it would have probably ended up in magazine photos. Such is life.


I spent the summer guiding trips on Lake Superior, on lakes in the Superior National Forest and into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The toughest trip I guided all summer was into Johnson Falls. The participants wanted to use a tandem, so we had to lug the 120+ pound kayak across 2.5 miles of portages and paddle 12 miles. It was brutal! Here’s our description of the trip:

Johnson Falls in the BWCA is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area, and to get there we traverse several lakes including East Bearskin, Little Alder, Alder, and Canoe Lake. There are portages. At the end of Canoe Lake, we hike the portage trail to Pine Lake and then hike up to Johnson Falls where we’ll take a dip in the pool below the falls to cool off and eat lunch. We reverse the trip on the way out. This trip takes 8 hours usually. It involves approximately 12 miles of paddling and 2.5 miles of hiking. We consider this to be difficult and you’ll want to be in good shape for this BWCA kayaking trip. Meet at the U.S. Forest Service campground boat ramp on East Bearskin Lake.

Needless to say, I didn’t take too many pictures on that trip. Here are a few from trips this summer. Check out the crazy metal cave we did on one trip.

The middle photo in the last row was from a crazy storm. The forecast had been good when we left the beach, but something didn’t feel right to me, so I left my radio on and I’m glad that I did, because a special marine warning was announced. The people on the trip must have thought I was crazy when I said that we needed to get off the water, because the sky was clear, blue and beautiful and the water calm with no wind at all. I was guiding a committing advanced beginner/intermediate trip that is mainly against 15 to 20 foot cliffs. There are no good landings and the landings have no ways out. I landed them on the best of the three cobblestone beaches — just barely big enough for our kayaks and a little space under a 30-foot cliff to sit. I tied our kayaks off and waited for the 60+ mph winds, t-storms and hail to hit. Luckily, it didn’t hit us directly, but this cloud blew over. It was rotating as it did. The participants were glad to be off the water and so was I.

My sister came for a trip and I took her paddling.


I was invited to speak at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium in Grand Marais, Michigan. It’s the largest sea kayaking event on the Great Lakes, in the North and in the Midwest. I also taught a few classes there. Unfortunately, we had just closed on a house and the seller’s agent messed up the paperwork, so I had to leave early. Other than speaking about my Port Huron to Home trip, staying up late and drinking moonshine with friends, the highlight was guiding a trip to Grand Island. There were a bunch of great people on the trip. It’s hard to pick out the best part of that day trip, but I’d have to say that raising the flag was one of them. The other was tossing one of the other guides off the side of a cliff while he was in his kayak. Pictures are below.

The Coast Guard also demoed a rescue during the symposium. That was awesome to watch. And the presentation they gave about the rescue was great. I feel like I know much more about what to do during a Coast Guard rescue than I did before that.

And this gull took up kayaking with me.



And that’s my 2014 in paddling. I paddled a little, but not as much as I had in the past.

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