Standup Journal photographer, Bryce Haack celebrates the glory of the Midwest in his most recent installment about paddling the sea caves on Lake Superior.
Paddle & Sail: Paddling on Lake Superior
For the last 20+ years my aunt and uncle have explored the waters on a sailboat on Lake Superior. We have talked time and time again about them picking me up and going on a sailing adventure together.
The stars aligned this year and I was recently able to set sail for four days on the largest freshwater lake in the world. The cherry on top of this experience was that – thanks to awesome grandparents taking the kids for a few days – my wife came as well. This is a very rare occurrence, as you know, to leave the house together without kids in tow!
Lake Superior’s hidden gems: Apostle Islands and Sea Caves
Our plan: to sail around Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands. This island chain is made up of 22 islands off the shores of Wisconsin. One major draw about the Apostle Islands are the incredible sea caves that exist along the island chain.
Lake Superior has pounded on these sandstone cliffs for a LONG time, resulting in surreal caves and rock formations. I’ve gotten in the habit of bringing a paddleboard to most places I go these days. If at all possible, I didn’t want to miss this historic opportunity to paddle around the islands and check out these caves!
We managed to get a couple of standup paddle boards strapped down on the deck of the sailboat resulting in one very happy guy.
Navigating the waters of Lake Superior
Lake Superior, in many regards, is more like an ocean than a lake. Coming from Minnesota, I’ve paddled on countless lakes, but Lake Superior is a whole new monster. We planned where we were going to paddle by searching for areas on the leeward side of the islands – the side that was protected from the wind and held calmer waters.
My wife and I found conditions around the Apostles to be much more challenging than most flat water paddling we’ve experienced. Even the calmer side of the islands had large rollers constantly coming in. The waves would bounce off the islands and refract back at us. This kept us on our toes! Everything was so unpredictable.
Choosing appropriate equipment based upon conditions
Water temps on Lake Superior added to our desire to stay on the boards. Although the captain described the low to mid-60 degree waters as being “actually pretty good”, I found them to be aggressively refreshing.
Stand up paddle boards are an awesome option for exploring sea caves due to their maneuverability and our ability to get down low in order to pass through areas if needed. I use the Stohlquist Edge PFD and this was definitely a scenario where I wanted one on. Most evenings offered excellent paddling opportunities in the bays where we anchored as the wind died down and the water glassed off at sunset.
The Greyduck 11’6” Journey board is seen in this photo. The V-hull design allows it to cut through chop while still providing stability. Greyduck is a Minnesota Sup company based out of the Twin Cities. It felt like the right choice of board to have while paddling through some of the most beautiful waters of the Midwest.
— by Bryce Haack, Standup Journal contributor
Bryce Haack is an outdoor adventure photographer
based out of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
You can check out more of his work at: