Ready, Set, Go!
Yes, You Can Paddle Michigan
If you live in the midwest, you’ve seen the Pure Michigan campaign enticing you to visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Maybe you’ve even seen Kid Rock celebrating the area in his ‘Born Free’ video. Well, it’s time you take Pictured Rocks off your bucket list of places to visit, and get there!
My girlfriend and I decided to do just that. Luckily, we live less than an hour’s drive from Pictured Rocks but neither of us had experienced their beauty as part of a Paddling Michigan kayak tour. The park is amazing, but having the chance to see the rocks from the water is incredible.
My smart friend nabbed 2 for 1 tickets when they were on sale. (They have some awesome deals, especially if you can plan ahead during the off season.) Because of our close proximity, we were able to check the weather and our schedules, and we found the perfect end of season day to make our reservation.
I will admit to being a bit nervous as we got on the road that morning. I’m not super athletic, in my forties, and haven’t spent much time in a kayak. And Lake Superior is big – and cold! But after reviewing the Paddling Michigan website, I felt comfortable enough to give it a go.
After much consideration, I wore a pair of shorts that would dry quickly if they got wet, a t-shirt, a hat and sunglasses, a pair of waterproof shoes, and a good dose of sunscreen. I also brought a light jacket, in case it was cooler near Lake Superior.
We pulled into Paddling Michigan headquarters where we met our guide for the day, Ben, and the other 20 people or so who would be on our trip. The Paddling Michigan staff checked us in while we poked around the gift store, which offers last minute grabs such as long-sleeve performance gear and bottled water. After some brief instructions about the day, we got into our cars and followed Ben’s lead to Pictured Rocks National Park, just a quick drive around Munising Bay.
In the public parking lot, Ben outfitted each of us with the appropriately-sized life jacket and paddle and handed each of us a dry bag. I put my phone, a granola bar, and some extra sunscreen in the dry bag. I carried my jacket and water bottle for quick access. As we descended the railroad-tie stairs to the white sandy beach, I could see that all the kayaks were already waiting for us, lined up perfectly along the shore.
My friend and I chose a bright yellow one and easily stepped into it. We then helped each other secure our splash skirts around us and got a quick shove-off from Ben.
There was a slight wind creating some small waves, which is very normal on Lake Superior, but the kayak was surprisingly steady and easy to maneuver. I felt confident immediately, and off we went, heading north on our Pictured Rocks adventure! It was a great experience, and I can’t wait to do it again. For the rest of our adventure, stay tuned for Part II.