On August 15th through the 17th, 2014, I attended a class taught by Jeff Forseth called Where Water Meets Land 2. This was the follow up class to WWML 1, which I attended a year ago. Our meeting and camping spot was the municipal campground of the town of Russell, at Little Sand Bay, Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Superior. This was an intermediate course and along with myself there were four other students. The skills covered included rock gardening, linking strokes, paddling in confined areas, launching/landing, variable speed paddling and timing (to deal with obstacles), backwards paddling, and more.
Friday, August 15
We put in at SandBay and began our training close to jetties and sea walls. We worked on edging and turning, both forward and backward, and paddling on just one side (while right next to a sea wall). This proved to be a lot of fun as we linked three strokes on one side to keep moving forward in a confined space.
We headed out to Point Detour from there, practicing on the rocky coastline and continued on to YorkIsland. On York we practiced landing in difficult and rocky terrain, where you couldn’t directly land your boat on shore. We had to exit our boats away from shore and walk or swim to shore and climb out onto the rocks. Once on the rocks we moved to higher ground and Jeff challenged everyone to jump into the water from a ledge 8-10’ above the water. We did it once again but this time carrying our paddle, to simulate jumping in to reunite yourself with your boat (as if you had tied your tow rope to it). A challenge and great fun! Then we headed back to camp for the evening.
Saturday, August 16
We put in at Cornucopia in SiskiwitBay and did some more close quarters work around the jetty, then moved over to the bay and did some surfing in the waves. From there we continued down the south shore and did more rock gardening around the beautiful, rocky shoreline. It was another chance to practice our paddling skills in real conditions.
Sunday, August 17
On our last day we put in at Meyers Beach and headed over to the sea caves. The caves stretch on for a mile or so and include spectacular cliffs and caves carved out of the sandstone. Our challenges included using all of our new techniques maneuvering around the many boulders and rocks in the water and moving into and out of the caves. One of the tougher maneuvers consisted of moving between a rock wall and a large boulder, barely larger than a boat width, while timing the whole move with waves moving in and out. It was exhilarating and fun. We had lunch just beyond the far end of the cave and returned home with a little surfing in the waves. It was a rewarding three days.
2014 Bernie Graham