Family Kayaking in the Apostle Islands

Before we left on our trip, we booked a few “big” activities, and this was one of them.  We booked a four day, three night family kayaking trip at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, on the northern Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior.  This trip was hosted by Wilderness Inquiry, and specifically for families.  Our trip included 19 people (about half of which were kids – but all older than ours), and four guides.  We camped at the Wilderness Inquiry base camp, and took kayaking trips each day, in addition to hikes and other camp activities.

The first day of the trip, we moved into our campsite (separate cabins for all the families, plus a cooking area and campfire) and “practiced” tipping over in the kayaks, I think it was so no one would be worried about it actually happening.  The guides assured us it was highly unlikely to happen in the course of our actual kayaking.  But it did leave us with wet kayaking clothes for the rest of the weekend!

The group was lots of fun, though our kids were the youngest, there were 2 other boys just a year or two older than A, so he had fun hanging out with them.  This was a nice break for him, since L and N tend to play together a lot, and still like toys and “pretend”, while A just wants someone to throw/kick a ball with.

One of the two tents for our family – L is not sitting on a rock or a suitcase – it is N. why? why not.

The first day we kayaked on Lake Superior to a shipwreck. I don’t have any pictures because I was afraid of dropping my phone in Lake Superior.  After the kayak, it rained, so our scheduled hike was cancelled for the afternoon, and we just spent a few hours in the cute little town of Bayfield.


Back at the campsite, when not avoiding rain, the group had fun playing soccer and hanging out at the campfire.

all kids – and C


The next day, the weather was nicer, but the waves on Superior were too big to do the big activity everyone wanted to do – kayaking into the sea caves.  Instead, we spent the morning doing a quick hike to a waterfall with the group.

A with some of the kids on the trip and the guides


In the afternoon, we kayaked in a small, protected wetland called Bark Bay Slough.  It eventually met up with Lake Superior, but was largely separated by a sand bar for most of our paddle.  As protected as it was, the water was still a bit rough, so I’m glad we weren’t on the “big” lake!  Feeling more confident about not falling in, and being able to not drop a phone, I brought one (C’s – not mine 😉 ) and got a few pictures.



The trip ended the next day at 1pm, but we were going to cross our fingers and hope that Lake Superior would magically calm down enough that we could paddle to the sea caves. As we wanted to paddle into the caves, the water had to be very calm in order to get in there and back out again without waves pushing us into the walls.  Amazingly, we woke up to water like this:

An amazingly calm day on Lake Superior

We got SO lucky!  And I got lucky that I was in a tandem kayak with one of the guides, who was doing all the work – so I got to take lots of pictures!


We paddled along the shoreline, which was gorgeous with the sandstone cliffs being shaped by the water.






We got to the first sea cave, and took turns paddling into it.

C, with L and N in the sea cave

With the guide in my kayak, she paddled us way in, and I got a good look at the narrowing cave and how far it goes back (too narrow to take a kayak all the way in)


After the sea cave, we headed through some arches.



Our next sea cave was “the garage”, so called because it was really big and kind of box-shaped, like, well, a garage.

the boys head into “the garage” cave


After this sea cave, we calmly kayaked our way back to the beach. Even though the day was really calm, rain was threatening so we wanted to beat the weather. In fact, the water was so calm, N gave up all pretense of paddling and just went ahead and slept!

Amazingly calm water – can you believe this is Lake Superior?  Where does the water end and the sky begin?

We loved this trip!  We got to experience things we never would have done on our own. We also met some really cool families and had a lot of fun hanging out with them and our awesome guides.

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