Feature guest writer, Joyce, shares her thoughts:
For the Fourth of July weekend, five ISKers (Fran, Joyce, Cindy, Lisa and Meredith) went up to Grand Marais, MN to take a class called “Where Water Meets Land” which is basically an introductory class on rock gardening. Michelle and Jeff Forseth organized and were the instructors for this class.
On July 4, Michelle and Jeff decided we would paddle to the Susie Islands since the forecast was for sunny skies, light winds and relatively calm waters. Somehow the wind kicked up on the way to the islands and with it the waves also kicked up, but nothing we couldn’t manage. It actually made for a great classroom setting on learning to paddle among the rocks and how the water moves around and over them. We spent some time learning how to power out of a slot in waves, “slapping the walrus” (rocks), and “kissing” the rocks with our boats. It was a beautiful place to learn boat control in the waves near the rocky shoreline. We ended the day watching the fireworks on the beach in Grand Marais.
On Saturday, July 5, we woke up to fog after a rainy night. In the morning we worked on getting into our boats efficiently. A couple of us worked on techniques on launching and landing in surf conditions. By the time we headed out of the harbor, there was still fog but the heavy fog lifted. On the way out of the harbor, we worked on sweep strokes to turn around the break wall. Even though the wind was almost non-existent, we were blessed with some nice swells to play in. Several of us had grins from ear to ear while learning draws on the move and hanging draws while playing in and out of the rocks. It was a blast! We were, however, chased off the water twice by thunderstorms.
On Sunday, we launched from the beach at Cut Face Creek rest area just south of Grand Marais in some fairly dense fog. Again, we had some nice swells and waves with very little wind. This time we learned more strokes such as bow rudders that start with a neutral position, cross bow rudders, linking strokes and how to apply these strokes. We also worked on rescue strategies if a paddler was in trouble in the rocks. It was another fun day that again ended with pouring rain and a small thunderstorm, but we had already left the water and had the boats loaded when it hit.
It was a wonderful learning weekend with a group of fun people. I don’t think any of us could ask for a better place or opportunity to learn.