North Shore Service Trip | August 2022
Minnesota’s North Shore offers a variety of state park camping and Lake Superior paddling.
Our North Shore service trip was pure wonderful! Four ISK paddlers went north to give back to our beloved Lake Superior. Our plan was to put our special skills (and gear) to use, cleaning up the shoreline.
We set up camp at the group site at Tettegouche State Park on Sunday. It’s a really nice site and well worth the trek with a second tenting area uphill from the group area with tables and fire ring. It is a trek, though. We had to cart our gear in, past a picnic area, over a bridge, and up…up hill to reach our campsite. Run away carts are a thing! I suggest a club pack mule before tackling this site again, or at least go in knowing you’ll get some extra cardio.
On Monday morning, we drove from Tettegouche to Split Rock State Park, where we met our DNR contact, Ashley, before launching. We paddled out and around Ellington Island, then down the shore looking for trash to remove from the waters. The four of us managed to find one water bottle (credit to Greg—it was floating past the rest of us, full of water and still sealed, he spotted the small white cap bobbing along), and a fish net marker that was on rocks we could not safely reach.
We did handrail the shoreline, searching high and low, doing our best. In fact, we spotted a t-shirt on some rocks. I managed to land and climb out of my kayak and was going to retrieve it—ah-ha!—but noticed a rough trail in the brush above the rocks. It led to a campsite with gear in it, so I retreated and left the shirt in the sun. Lucky for the backpackers I wasn’t totally overzealous in my search for litter.
The lack of trash is good news for Lake Superior! We were all happy to see our services weren’t really needed after all, at least not on this stretch of her shoreline.
The paddle was, as to be expected, so much fun. We had amazing views of Split Rock Light House and paddled past our landing spot to cruise the base of the cliffs.
Our second paddling day saw us launching from a tucked-away beach that is part of Tettegouche. We explored the sea caves and cliffs at Palisade Head, then went up to Shovel Point. Another glorious sunny day, we were surprised to only find one climbing pair at Shovel Point.
Wind and waves made for fun paddling conditions. When one was caught in a trough, the whole of the kayak disappeared, and it looked like paddlers were sitting in the lake.
We managed to get back to camp early enough that some of the group made for home the same day and others stayed the night, enjoying the campfire and stars, before returning to the bustle of the Cities.
Note: It’s tough to get camping sites on our beloved North Shore these days, especially difficult to get a group site, and it proved impossible to get a site over a weekend this year. Don’t pass on a weekday trip if you can help it. It’s more than worth it!