I managed to execute my weekend plan to head up to the deer camp, Q Boat on the roof, to check out the winter deer kill situation, make sure the camp is still standing, and get in the first paddle of the year in Lake Superior. The first two elements of the plan were accomplished but I was unable to find open water to complete the third part. I was confident when I left home, even though I had not looked at a satellite photo since Monday due to thick, depressing cloud cover for most of the week. I should have known I was screwed when I came down the hill into Duluth and noticed the flags were all aimed due south from a steady north wind.
My first stop was the mouth of ReeferCreek and it not only was frozen in but there was a 20' berm of sand encrusted ice to prevent me from getting anywhere near the water with out an ice axe and crampons. No problem I thought, I'll just head down to the Port Wing marina and launch in the mouth of the Flag River. Things were a bit icy there as well.
Due to the volume of water, I figured the mouth of the Iron River might be doable but no luck once again.I headed east toward Herbster, WI and thought that might be OK, but........
I finally decided to give up on paddling, head out to camp and get into the hiking mode. I brought my uninsulated rubber swampers, thinking it would be sloppy in spots but pretty firm for the most part in the woods. Wrong again! There was enough snow to skate ski the trails, had I brought my skis instead of the kayak. We took a stroll around the property on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning and I took off back toward Superior, figuring I'd find some open water for sure in a couple stash launch spots I know near Superior. Once again I was dead wrong.
Even the Superior Entry was iced in to the point that I couldn't get in the water. I headed down to the lift bridge, reasoning that if the wind had been from the north and blown all the ice toward the south shore that I should be able to launch just over the bridge on Park Point but..........you can see how that theory worked below.
The ship canal was full of ice, but a vessel much larger than my kayak, the John D Leitch, a 730' Canadian laker that came to load coal at Midwest Energy, sailed right through the stuff. As interesting and fun as it was to watch, it would have been a lot more fun to get out for the first paddle of the season. On the way back I checked Snail Lake, scene of many an instruction session, and hallelujah the ice is off! With GalwayGuy scheduled to roll into town tomorrow, there could be some more rolling that takes place before the week is out. And I don't mean in chlorine contaminated water either!