I have kayaked at the Cave & Dunes Kayak Tour at Whitefish Dunes State Park with Door County Adventure Center on two separate occasions. The excursions could not have been any more different from one another. The first was windy, foggy, and chilly; the second was sunny, calm, and warm. While both have their merits & you’d certainly think that one would seem more appealing than the other, I am here to tell you about my first experience and why I thought it amazing.
The beginning of the end. The day of the paddle came and in all honesty, I wasn’t overly excited. We were going out as part of our Team Orientation. We met up beforehand and took a van to the location together, all part of the team building process. When we arrived at the beach I noticed that there was a distinct chill to the air, the sun was behind a thick ceiling of clouds and there was a breeze blowing off the shore causing small waves to crest on the lake. As we walked to the beach it was nice to feel the fine sand beneath my feet and I tried to be as optimistic as possible despite the cloudy skies.
Once we got to the launch point our kayak guides gave us some paddle instruction and fitted each of us with life jackets. We were using tandem kayaks & I was paired with one of the new kayak guides, Steven. While we waited to be launched into the lake we got ourselves acquainted with the kayak we had been assigned. We got our seats and foot rests adjusted so we were comfortable and able to maintain control over the boat. Next thing you know it was our turn to launch and one of the guides slid our boat into the water. The adventure had begun!
We paddled our way past some small breakers and out towards the rest of the kayaks that had already been launched. They were rafted together awaiting the remaining boats. As we paddled, the water gently churning beneath us, I looked around, took a deep breath, and decided I was really going to enjoy this day.
Our paddle took us along the Niagara Escarpment that reached high up above us. As we paddled I was amazed by the beauty that surrounded us and the bluffs evoked a sense of wonder and awe, as they dwarfed us sitting on the water in our kayaks. As we continued on we arrived at a series of incredible caves. It appeared as if a giant had come along and scooped out sections of the cliff. The caves, created as a result of erosion, were varying in sizes & formations. Some were small & still forming, others were large enough to paddle inside. When we approached a cave that was large enough to enter we paddled in slowly and cautiously. Our boat slid into the opening and fully under a ceiling of stone. There was a slight corner in the cave and it formed a smaller area to our left which we were unable to reach. We marveled at the wonder while we were inside and then carefully turned our kayak around inside the cave to make our exit.
Once everyone took their turn in the cave we continued on our adventure along the bluffs. I was surprised when I noticed that a fog started to move in from the distance. It moved quickly & unexpectedly. Before long we could barely see from one end of our group of kayaks to the other. Our guides asked us to raft up and ensured that we had a system to count off one-by-one and stay close. We slowed down for a time to orient ourselves and ensure everyone was together before continuing along in this massive beast of fog that had enveloped us.
The trip back to shore was my favorite part of this excursion out onto Lake Michigan. The fog that had overtaken us lay quiet over the lake and for a time the only sound to be heard was paddles dipping in and out of the water. It was eerie yet incredibly peaceful. For a few quiet minutes I heightened my senses and did my best to enjoy the quiet wilderness as long as possible. Before long someone sparked a conversation and the small bubble of peace I had been enjoying was over.
Too soon we arrived back where we started and came full circle. Slowly the other boats around us began heading toward shore, disappearing one by one until it was our turn. We propelled ourselves towards the beach and as the bow of our boat scraped up against the sand, was disappointed to see our adventure come to an end.
It began and ended like many things do and I had come to realize that this experience was one of the best I had taken part of in a while. I thought back to earlier when I figured that I wasn’t going to enjoy myself simply because of inclement weather, and called myself a fool. This adventure, the escapade, had certainly been worth going on. The end of the beginning.
— Jacob Shields, Marketing Intern, Door County Adventure Center