General Trip Questions
Do I need experience to participate on Naturally Superior Adventures trips?
Not necessarily. All of our sea kayaking adventures begin with a paddling and safety workshop and we’ll have your paddling skills in top notch condition before we head out into the big waters of Superior. Those taking part in our intermediate and advanced trips should have some previous paddling experience and be comfortable paddling in some wind and waves. All participants should be in good health, reasonably fit, and comfortable camping in the wilderness. If you are unsure whether your skill or experience levels are suited to any of our trips just give us a call. We are happy to recommend a trip that would be most suited to your style and skills.
Most of our paddling is done in single kayaks but one double kayak usually accompanies each trip and is an option for anyone who feels more comfortable paddling with a partner.
What are the guides like?
Your guides are qualified, personable and knowledgeable outdoor professionals whose first priority is ensuring your safety and enjoyment. They are trained in wilderness first aid, leadership and are familiar with the heritage, ecology and environment of our area. All guides make a special effort to share their knowledge and assist you to develop your paddling skills.
Guides are focused on group safety and making your trip the best experience possible. Safety is important so you may find from time to time, your guide asking you to stay with the group. Please respect their requests.
How big are the groups?
Typical group sizes are four to eight people. Due to limited campsite space, some trips may be restricted to a maximum of five paddlers. Our voyageur canoe carries up to 14 people (including guides) on extended trips and 18 on single day trips. Custom groups can range in size from one to 35 people. As a way of reducing our impact on the Superior shoreline we often will split larger groups among more than one campsite.
Do most people come with a partner?
Some do, some come with a family, and some come on their own—both male and female. Ask about a particular trip, and we may be able to give you a better idea of who will be going along.
What is a typical day like on-trip?
Our day begins with a gentle wake up, and hot drinks to get you going. Breakfast is usually served between 7:30 – 8:30 am, allowing lots of time to pack gear, plan our daily route and set off. Most trips are designed to provide three to six hours of on-water time each day, with some longer travel days on extended trips. Once under way, we explore isolated coves, beaches and rocky islands,providing ample time for breaks, photos, etc. Lunch is simple and filling, providing energy for the last couple hours paddling to camp.
What weather can I expect?
Lake Superior creates its own meteorological patterns, so weather conditions vary a lot. Summer daytime temperatures average 21 degrees Celsius (70 F), with a typical pattern of two or three days of clear, dry weather, followed by a couple days of warmer and more humid conditions. Night time temperatures average 13 degrees Celsius (55 F), but can dip towards freezing in late August. The wind does come up on occasion, so we enjoy the rolling waves from shore.
Do the trips accommodate children?
For our regular scheduled sea kayak trips participants must be 16 years of age or older. For custom sea-kayak excursions we recommend children younger than 16 accompany a parent in a tandem kayak. We will evaluate the skills and comfort level of each paddler and ensure they will be comfortable and safe.
What are the meals like?
Meals are selected for variety and good taste, with minimal additives or preservatives. Our flexible menu allows for vegetarian tastes, and contains a mix of fresh and dried foods. Typically breakfasts include fresh fruit, hot and cold cereals, bagels and hot beverages. Lunches are simple with hearty soups,flat breads/crackers and a wide variety of spreads and garnishes. Dinners range from grilled chicken with fresh salad, to stir-fries and pastas, all with decadent desserts. We are pleased to accommodate special dietary needs as long as we know ahead of time.
Do I have to cook?
Your guides are happy to take care of food preparation, but seldom turn down an extra hand. If the camp kitchen is your favourite spot…speak up and grab a spoon!
Where do we stay at night?
Most of our campsites are on isolated sand and cobble beaches, with spectacular views of the lake, and protection from wind and waves. Many sites are at the mouth of rivers or streams tumbling into Superior. Our tents are expedition-quality, four-season domes designed for 3-4 people. Normally, you will share a tent with only one other person ensuring a peaceful sleep, no matter what the weather.
What if I snore?
If you are a snorer please let us know—we can make arrangements to put you in a single tent or ensure you share a tent with someone who sleeps soundly.
Do you practice low impact camping?
Absolutely! Our guides are all trained in low impact camping techniques and will help teach and guide the group towards practices that minimize our impact on Superior’s sensitive shorelines.
Do we have a campfire?
Where appropriate, we enjoy cooking over driftwood campfires and savour the special warmth, light and smell a fire can add to our experience. Fires are built on the beach below the high water line or in existing pits. Of course, we always carry stoves as well, for cooking in sensitive areas, or in case of a fire ban.
What do we do with garbage?
We start dealing with waste before a boat even goes in the water by buying our foods in bulk, and repackaging in reusable containers. On trip we burn paper and food waste, pack out plastics and burn, bash and carry cans. Lake Superior Provincial Park carries a can and bottle ban, so on trips passing through the park, we are especially conscientious when preparing our food kits and planning menus.
How do we take care of human waste?
If there is no pit-privy on site, we provide a hand trowel and suggest burying all human waste in a small “cat-hole”, at least 50 metres from water.
Are there any dangerous animals?
Blackbears are found in the coastal forest, but consider it a treat if you see one. Because our campsites are not well used, bears are very timid, and will seldom show themselves if people are around. A curious porcupine or skunk may wander into camp on occasion, but with properly packed and stored food these smaller critters don’t cause much trouble.
Do you drink the lake water?
Lake Superior is the cleanest of the Great Lakes, and many people drink the water regularly (even in their homes). On trip, the decision is yours. For your safety we bring a high quality water filter or boil our water.
How are the bugs?
The bugs are great! Thanks for asking. “High season” is normally late May to early June, although this varies from year to year. We find little problem with biting insects in most spots on the Superior coast due to on-shore breezes and cooler temperatures. All our tents have high quality “no-see-um” screening, to ensure a pleasant sleep in even the buggiest conditions. If you are concerned, or are particularly sensitive to bites, wear light coloured long-sleeved clothing and pants, and consider bringing a bug jacket or head net.
Can I go swimming?
Lake Superior is fresh, clean and depending on when you visit, cool or cold. Surface temperature in Lake Superior rarely exceeds 17 degrees Celsius (61F) but on almost all our trips the white sand and crystal clear water is too hard to resist after a day’s hike or paddle. Shallow bays often warm up considerably on calm sunny days, and inland lakes and streams average 21 degrees Celsius (70F), so bring your suit and get ready to take the plunge.
Is the lake rough?
Lake Superior is generally calm and easily paddled between early June and mid-August. Mornings tend to be best for paddling, but it is not unusual to have a glassy calm for days on end. Of course a Lake Superior trip just wouldn’t be right without a few big waves, so on most extended trips you can count on one or two rough days (generally one day in five). On these days we will enjoy the view from shore.
Do you bring a radio or emergency messenger?
Portable radio communication is limited along the Superior coast, but guides will often carry a hand-held VHF marine radio. Most guided trips also carry an EPIRB (satellite signalling device), SPOT satellite messenger or satellite phone so that help can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Do I tip my guide?
Just like anything in the service industry, you tip according to good service. If you think that your guide did a good job then you are more than welcome to reward them with a tip. Suggested tip amounts? Depending on length of trip and satisfaction with service, anywhere from 5-15% is fine.
What if I have my own kayak?
Depending on the trip you choose, we assume you have your own sea-worthy Coast Guard-approved kayak that includes 2 or more hatches with sealed bulkheads. We offer a discount on rentals if you need one of ours. On trips that include the kayak, discounts are available if you choose to paddle your own kayak. Please let us know well in advance if you need to rent equipment.
Where can I stay?
You may camp at one of our beach sites or stay in our Lodge (we have four beautiful guestrooms each with one or two queen beds and private bathroom – please call to book ahead). For a unique experience, you can stay in our Geodesic Dome on the beach (room for two to four people). There are also many motels within a 10 minute drive from our site.
What is your smoking policy?
We have a “NO SMOKING” policy for all our buildings at Rock Island. Please place your butts in designated cans located outside the office and the main lodge. PLEASE also do not leave butts or matches on the ground or throw them into the woods. On trip we expect that you will only smoke on land and pack out all of your butts in a fire-proof can.
A note about dogs on Rock Island
Friendly dogs are welcome to visit Rock Island, please pick up after them and keep them within your sight. Please note, we may ask you to keep your pet tied. There may be other dogs on-site so keep that in mind.
Don’t worry, we have a small, well stocked paddling store right on site. Wawa is only a 10-minute drive away and has a drug store, grocery, beer and liquor stores,post office as well as the usual host of small town shops and restaurants.
What if I have to cancel my trip?
We think we have a very flexible and fair cancellation policy. Cancellations more than 60 days before your trip start: full refund (less $45 admin fee); 30-60 days notice: full refund less deposit; 14-30 days notice: 50% refund. No refunds are offered less than 14 days out. If you find a qualified replacement: we will refund all but a $45 administrative fee. We reserve the right to cancel any trip with 14 days notice at which time a full refund is made to everyone registered.
We highly recommend trip cancellation insurance for all trips, especially those requiring air travel. Insurance normally must be purchased when you book your flight.