Archive for September, 2014

GLC_4520 News Review

Stephen Brede is half a lake from completing his goal of circumnavigating all of the Great Lakes in his canoe.

Brede returned Sunday, Sept. 7, to his Petoskey home from a trip paddling around the south shore of Lake Superior, which he started July 7, in Silver Bay, Minn. He finished at Brimley State Park in the eastern Upper Peninsula, near the St. Marys River. Over previous summers he has paddled around lakes Huron (2009), Michigan (2010), Erie (2012) and Ontario (2013).

“I expected it to be beautiful, but it exceeded my expectations,” Brede said. “Beautiful beaches, beautiful cliffs, beautiful water, beautiful people. Traveling on a liquid vastness in a little spaceship under my own power, daily encountering interesting creatures, was awesome and humbling.”

Brede paddled about 570 miles on Superior. Most nights he camped on the beach or in the woods along the shore. He also was invited to spend a few nights in sailboats in marinas in Cornucopia, Wisc., and Ontonogon. He stayed with friends in cottages in Big Bay and near Grand Marais.

“The timing of staying indoors synched almost perfectly with the arrival of some big storms,” he said. “I was again blessed with amazing kindness from strangers.”

Several of his friends from Petoskey made the drive north, and met him at some of the state and national campgrounds along the lake. His wife, Ruth, made several trips.

“There were stretches where I didn’t see anyone for two or three days, interspersed with dinners around picnic tables with old and new friends. Instant pasta and green tea one night, grilled trout and fresh mixed greens the next.”

Brede said the wind and waves were similar to those he encountered on lakes Michigan and Huron. The water temperature was much colder, though. At his start in Minnesota, the water was 40 degrees.

“I waded in, and my ankles felt like they had been stabbed. As I moved along the Wisconsin and Michigan coasts, it gradually warmed to about 60 degrees. I had to be pretty hot and dirty before I’d dive in.”

“The water is so much clearer than I’ve seen in any of the other lakes. But, as I neared Duluth and Marquette, the quality went down. There is an inverse relationship between human population density and water clarity.”

“As precious as water is to our survival, why do we continue to allow sewage and fertilizers and road runoff to be dumped into them? Why are we risking disaster by allowing underwater oil lines, nuclear waste along the shore, and mining operations on tributary rivers? The answer that comes to me is something my grandfather used to say, ‘Makes more dollars than sense.’










Hanging Around

Author: Stephen

Laying in the hammock under a mid afternoon rain, almost wishing I had pushed off this morning. The weather forecast called for a lot more than this.
Yesterday was my first day on the water in two and a half days, and prior to that I’d only paddled about 25 miles in a week, having spent a few days camping with friends at Pictured Rocks, and a couple of nights at the beautiful lakeside cabin of friends Pat and Quint.
My friends Karen and Perry were staying at their favorite state forest campground, which I won’t name as I don’t want to wreck it for them. The forecast then was similar to today’s, so I took refuge at their site. They have a little “Cozy Traveller” trailer, and I pitched my hammock nearby, between a couple of tall pines. It was the best hanging yet. Perfect height to sit, pull off my boots, and swing into horizontal. Foot end just enough higher than head end so I didn’t slide down. Other trees conveniently located to tie off the tarp corners, and a taut pitch angled just right so rain wouldn’t pool. And rain it did. Bobcats and coyotes, thunder and lightening. Laying in the hammock the night of the storm, before the rain came, it was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. Eyes open or closed, the view was the same.
When I wasn’t laying around, I was either eating grilled trout or French toast or summer squash and corn that Karen had cooked up. Or drinking wine from a bottle one of their high end friends had given them.
I jumped into the lake once. The water temp was about 62, and the air about 63. It was exquisite. I was a bit bummed, though, because my little bottle of Campsuds went missing. Must have floated out of my shorts’ pocket when I was rinsing off. Perry and I looked along the water’s edge and beach, but couldn’t spot it. I hate it when a bit of kit goes missing.
Afterwards a beach walker stopped to chat. She was wearing a short turquoise blue shift, a small cloth pack on her back, and her thick white hair in a long braid. She had seen Seaweed, and the the names of the lakes stenciled on the hull.
“You’re on quite a journey, aren’t you?” she said.
“Yes. Trying to get around all the Great Lakes. Are you a paddler?”
“No,” she said, “I sail with friends, mostly around the Apostles. I was hoping to be in the North Channel of Lake Huron on a trip now, but I got sick.”
It crossed my mind to ask if she was friends with Roy and Jeremy, two guys on a sailboat in the Apostles I talked with about a month ago. I was crossing from Madeline Island to Long Island, and they were floating offshore of the old lighthouse, deciding whether to land and brave the flies for which Long Island is infamous. Their boat, Sea Jay, was a wooden beauty. The thought passed, though, and she asked me which places around the lakes I found the most beautiful.
“Right here is one of them,” I said.
I asked her if I could take her photo, and she said yes. Then I had her write her name in the little yellow waterproof notebook my coworkers gave me when I left Harbor House Publishers.
“Hey, these are my sailing buddies!”
She was pointing in the book at Roy and Jeremy’s names. I had taken their photos, too.
Big lake, small world.
She said her name is “Tibby”. I got the spelling, “Tibi”, when I looked in my notebook. Her last name is “Light”.
I like it. Makes me wish I’d followed through years ago and changed my last name to “Sky”.
Tibi stopped by our site the evening of my second day at Campground X. We learned she was a couple of weeks from finishing a program that would qualify her to be an occupational therapist. Perry said he’d seen a few of them over his lifetime with scoliosis, and they discussed how he copes with chronic pain. Beer and University of Michigan football have been the best remedy so far.
Just after Tibi headed off down the dirt road to her camp, I asked Karen and Perry if it would be all right to invite her to dinner. They said sure, and I took off down the road after her. She’s a fast walker, and it took a few minutes to catch her.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “Will there be enough for all of you?”
I assured her we had plenty, and she gratefully accepted. Something was wrong with her stove, and she hadn’t been able to cook all weekend. We walked to her site so she could zip up her tent and put some things in her car.
“Do you need any shampoo?” she asked. “I was looking for rocks this afternoon about a mile up the beach and found a bottle.”
On the corner of her picnic table was my little bottle of green Campsuds, “shampoo”, in Ruth’s handwriting, in marker on the side.
Big Lake, magical world.

Wind Break

Author: Ruth

Anyone following Stephen’s paddle along the south shore of Lake Superior has noticed how little progress he’s made in the past couple of weeks. I can give you the answer in one word, weather. He enjoyed remarkably good weather overall in July and the first part of August, now a succession of storms and wind has kept him beach bound on the west shoulder of the peninsula that becomes Whitefish Point. Some friends from Petoskey, Perry and Karen Clark met him at Lake Superior State Forest Campground last week, so he had company and great food for a few days. This area is mostly free from roads, towns and cell phone towers, so we may not hear from him until he rounds the point into Whitefish Bay.  So close…

In the Pictured Rocks when we were together last, I took some pictures of his daily transition from walker to paddler.


Exchanging leather boots for neoprene Chotas. Bags on the beach will be stuffed into the bow and stern.


Exchanging his leather boots for the neoprene Chotas. The bags on the beach will be stuffed into the bow and stern. Denise came down from our shared campsite to watch him take off.




Cockpit cover is on and the last items are being placed. Food and water within reach, maps, compass, camera in waterproof case, (that’s the tan box behind him on the sand.)





And binoculars, Spot satellite tracker and emergency locator beacon, carbon fiber paddle, and carabiners of course.


Planning where to meet at the end of the day's paddle, a rare pleasure for us both.


Planning where to meet at the end the day’s paddle, a rare pleasure for us both.


Shoving off and swinging in, reminded me of a cowboy mounting his horse. (This picture was taken on Munising Bay.)


Shoving off the beach and swinging into his seat, like a cowboy mounting his horse. (This shot was taken earlier in the week in Munising Bay.)


Ready for action!

Ready to paddle.