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Our goal is to facilitate your adventure into one of the most unique and biodiverse destinations in North America. The Apostle Islands are a sandstone island achipelago that feature long stretches of towering sandstone cliffs nestled amonst pristine beaches. These islands are some of the last places to find old growth boreal forest and home to the famous sea caves. The sea caves are found in 3 spots (Meyer’s Beach, Sand Island and Devil’s Island). They are sandstone cliffs in which the waves have etched out winding caves that are just the right size for kayaks and paddle boards. Any questions you have for us please feel free to contact us, we are happy to answer them.
Geology of the Apostle Islands
The Apostle Islands are built out of a porous red sandstone rock. Sandstone is
made out of sand that has been cemented together over time. The sand was deposited
in this area during the late Proterozoic period in Earth’s history about 700 million years
ago. The sand is evidence of the large sea’s that covered most of the earth during that
era, and the beaches and dunes that formed along its edges. Persistent battering of
continents by the wind and waves gradually wore away mountains; Boulders and
pebbles turned into sand and other sediments that were then carried downstream.
Rivers and ocean currents redistributed the sand and sediments and deposited them
The thousands of feet of sand were compressed by a succession of glaciations
over the last 40 million years. In the last glacial maximum period, about 12,000 years
ago, the Great Lakes were covered by an ice sheet two miles high. Take the Sears
tower in Chicago and stack 8 of them on top of each other and that’s how tall the ice
sheet was. As you can imagine all of that ice was very heavy and as a result
compressed the land underneath. As the glaciers receded they left behind the scour
marks of their weight and power that today form the Great Lakes. The series of small
kettle lakes surrounded by hilly moraines found throughout Michigan, Wisconsin and
Minnesota are also evidence of the glaciers retreat into Canada and their eventual
disappearance as the climate warmed.
Once the glaciers fully retreated from the landscape the land that was
compressed by the weight of the glaciers began to slowly rebound. The Apostle Islands
formed when the compressed sandstone began to rise, and gradually got eroded away by the wind and waves of Lake Superior. Oak Island, the tallest of the 22 islands, shows
how far the landscape has risen since relieved of the compressive force of the glaciers.
Over the past few thousand years the water levels in Lake Superior have varied,
and the sea caves were carved out as the water and force of waves broke down the soft
sandstone layers. The rise and fall of the lake levels explains why you can also see
caves below the surface of the water. Those were carved out when the lake levels were
lower than at present day. When you look at the caves you can clearly see different
layers of sandstone, accented by the different colors. The colors are a result of the
different minerals present in the rock, the most prominent being iron which tints the rock
red. Black streaking on the surface of the sandstone as well as within the stone comes
from trace amounts of manganese that turns black when mixed with oxygen in the air
and wind. You can think of it as a different kind of ‘rust’. If you look closely you will be
able to see the individual sand grains and the rock with be rough to the touch much like
sandpaper. Today the wind and waves still play an important role in the formation of the
caves and are the primary cause of erosion along the coastline. Water that seeps into
the cracks in the rock freezes in the winter, as water turns to ice it expands, further
expanding the crack and creating instability in the rocks during the spring thaw.
Sometimes the cracks in the rock become so large that large pieces of the coastline will
break off in mass wasting events. This mass wasting makes it easy to find sizable pieces of sandstone on the beaches that can be studied up close. Sandstone is rough to the touch, like sandpaper, and if you look closely you can see the individual sand grainscontained within.
Lake Superior Agates
The beaches of Lake Superior are a rock hunters dream. Every major rock type
can be found on the beaches around the Chequamegon Bay region. Metamorphic rocks
that have been crushed and heated deep within the earth have been recrystallize into
schist and slate. Sedimentary rocks show us the sand and pebbles that were tumbled by ancient seas are now cemented together to make sandstone and conglomerates that
look much like concrete. Igneous rocks are also found here. Igneous rocks are created
from tectonic and volcanic activity. There is a very old fault line that runs underneath
Lake Superior. During a period of uplift a section of the fault thrust toward the surface,
creating what is now Isle Royale, Lake Superior’s biggest island. Basalt is a remnant of
the old volcanic rift that runs under Lake Superior and is responsible for the formation of
Isle Royale long before any glacial advances. Basalt is the parent rock of the most
coveted Lake Superior Agate.
Agates form all over the world and are in no way a unique formation to this
region. When a volcano erupts, magma is often ejected along with a mixture of gasses.
While most of the volcanic gases escape as the lava moves downhill sometimes the lava cools before all of the gas bubbles escape. This can happen when lava erupts into a body of water or when a volcano explodes in a very cold climate. Those gas bubbles are now forever trapped in the basalt rock and leave behind hollow spaces in the rock.
That’s what often gives volcanic rocks their rough texture or the look of Swiss cheese
when we see them at the surface. Volcanic basalt and scoria are frequently used in
landscaping so it’s possible to find a volcanic rock far from any fault zones or volcanoes. The spaces in the basalt left by the volcanic gases are the birthplace of all agates. Agates are formed inside of volcanic rock after it has cooled and is sitting exposed to the
water table. When groundwater percolates through bedrock it picks up trace minerals and allows for chemical movement through rock layers. When silica rich ground water moves through basalt, it fills up the vacant spaces left by the volcanic gas. The water then deposits the minerals it’s carrying around the walls of the empty air pocket. As you can imagine a lot of different minerals can fill those empty spaces and not all of them will make agates. Agates are specifically made out of a micro-crystalline form of Quartz
(SiO 2 ) that gets deposited slowly, one layer at a time from the outside in, until the whole air pocket has been filled with tiny layers of quartz. Agates form so slowly and are made of such small building blocks that it makes the resulting agate very dense and more resistant to weathering and erosion than its surrounding parent rock, basalt. Over time, when the basalt is moved closer to the surface and begins to erode away, the agates will pop out of the basalt. Whole agates don’t look like much, its only when they are broken or cut open that their true beauty is revealed. The colors of an agate can tell you a lot about where it formed, and what other minerals were present in the ground water that that time. The colors of different agates are a direct result of the other trace elements that found its way into the air pocket with the quarts. Lake Superior Agates are mostly red-banded agates which is a sign of the presence of iron. The white banding is ‘pure’ quartz with less iron. Lake Superior’s diverse landscape has lead to an even more diverse set of agates. Regions along the lake have different and unique agate formations and a lot of books that have been written that go into detail about their intricate differences.
Written By Barbara Richter
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What do the prices include? All tour prices are per person (participant)
• Day tour prices are per person and are all inclusive – everything you need to enjoy your trip is covered. This includes a 15 minute instruction session prior to launch, your tour guide, tandem or triple kayaks, wet suits, dry bags and all other kayaking gear, and all taxes/fees.
• Overnight tour prices are NOT all inclusive. They include what is listed above but do NOT include the camping gear, permits, or food that you will need to be prepared for spending the night. You will need to arrange all of that yourself – and we are happy to help. See each tour description for more info.
• Rental prices are per kayak and include the paddle, life jacket, spray skirt, paddle float & pump. All other gear (including wet suits & extra paddles) can be rented at competitive rates. See our rental descriptions for a list of gear and rates. A $25 Sea Kayak Safety Training Course is added per person to each booking – see description for more details.
Do you offer private tours?
Yes! However, the minimum for all of our kayak tours is 4 people. If there are less than 4 of you, you’ll have to pay for 4 seats.
Do you offer multi-day and/or group rental discounts?
Yes! Please click on the rental type for those details.
Group discounts may be available for parties of 8 or more. Please call, text, or email to inquire.
What should I bring / wear?
• sunglasses (with neck straps are great)
• a dry change of clothes (leave in your car for after the tour)
• a pack lunch / snacks (or eat a meal before your tour), we do not provide food
• please check the weather on your departure day and come prepared to get wet and be comfortable. –This means swim trunks/bottoms & swim shirt/tops – you will be provided a wet suite.
What time should I arrive?
Please arrive at the meeting location 30 minutes prior to departure time.
Where do we meet you?
We launch from different locations, you’ll receive a meeting location with your reservation confirmation. Locations Include:
Meyers Beach in Cornucopia, WI
Little Sand Bay Visitor Center in Bayfield
Red Cliff Campground in Red Cliff, WI
Hagen Rd. in La Point, WI
Custom meeting locations can be arranged for rental deliveries and pickups
What about parking?
Our launch locations have parking lots with ample space. You may use those. A fee list is below but please double check to make sure rates are current for your launch day.
Meyers Beach Parking $4
Little Sand Bay Visitor Center $0 (free) (overnight parking available)
Red Cliff Campground $5
Legendary Waters Resort & Casino (overnight parking available) check for fees
What about my personal belongings?
We recommend leaving personal belongings in your car or with us – this includes wallets / purses and etc… (we provide a small 2 liter dry bag for limited items like phones / cameras / keys)
Can I bring a phone or camera?
Yes, but space is limited. We have a 2-liter dry bag for use.
What happens in the case of inclement weather conditions?
• Sea cave tours begin when water temperatures are at 50 degrees at the tour location. If you book a tour that has water temperatures lower than 50 degrees we will refer you to a boat tour.
• When you book a tour or rental and weather forces a cancellation, we do our best to accommodate you. We allow you to choose between a 100% refund, rescheduling for another day, or an alternate tour of the same value.
• You will receive a notification email from us a few hours prior to your departure time confirming or requesting alterations (in the case of weather). Should anything change between then and the tour time, we will contact you via phone call or text.
What about reschedules and/or cancellations?
• The trip minimum for all of our kayak tours is four people, most often the tour you sign up for will have 4 people booked by the time you launch. If you are signed up for a tour that only has two people and you do not want to pay for a private tour we will put you on a different tour that has enough people signed up.
• Watch out for an email reminder from us 5 days prior to your scheduled date. We will be in touch with you via text or phone call should we need to make alterations to your reservation for any reason.
• Should you need to make changes to or cancel your reservation, for best results, please email or call within 48 hours of your reservation date (refer to our Tour & Rental Policies below for details).
• To hold a reservation we require full payment. If you cancel less than 48 hours before your reservation you receive a 50% refund. No show results in no refund. If we make it to the sea caves the tour has been conducted, regardless of how far along the tour travels. If we do not launch the sea cave tour due to weather you do have the option of a 100% refund.
Are there any age / weight restrictions?
• Yes: anyone weighing <50lbs is not allowed & you must be <265 lbs, <6’6 with hip width <20″ to properly fit in our gear.
• Our age classes are as follows:
◦ Adult ages 18+
◦ Teenager ages 13 – 17
◦ Child ages 12 and under; paddles or rides at a discounted rate. You will choose from the child class weight options below at the time of booking…
– 100+lbs are eligible to be paddlers in a tandem kayak or riders in a triple kayak
– 50-99lbs are only allowed to ride along in a triple kayak (this means there must be at least two additional paddlers on the tour for them to be able to attend)
• Sand Island Day Tour: Adults Only
• All overnight tours: Teenagers and Adults Only
• All participants in a rental must weigh at least 100+ lbs
Do I need to take your $25 Sea Kayak Rental Safety Training Course?
No, if you’re going on one of our guided tours, are renting a sit-on-top kayak or paddle board, or are renting a sea kayak and also hiring one of our guides to go with you.
Yes, if you’re reserving Sea Kayaks with us through our rental program without also hiring one of our guides. The cost of $25 per person ($50 total for Tandem Sea Kayaks and $25 total for Single Sea Kayaks) is added to your total at booking.
NOTE: Everyone in the group must be able to pass our Sea Kayak Safety Test. To pass, you must demonstrate to us, in under 90 seconds each, a T-rescue, a Rodeo Re-Entry and Eskimo roll, prior to launch. (If you think you can pass without the taking the course, please request to demonstrate to us the skills above when you arrive, and before taking the course, and if you pass we will give you a refund of your $25). We reserve the right to deny/cancel your rental if you are unable to pass the Sea Kayak Rental Safety Test – even if you’ve taken the Sea Kayak Rental Safety Training Course.
How long does the Sea Kayak Rental Safety Training Course take? Where does it take place?
The duration is 1 hr and takes place at Thompson’s West End Park 1048 W Bigelow St, Washburn, WI 54891. Please take this time into consideration when planning your rental itinerary.
What is the difference between the Sea Kayak Rental Safety Training Course and the free instruction provided on a tour or for other types of rentals?
The Sea Kayak Rental Safety Training Course teaches emergency skills to get in and out of your sea kayak or to help another. The free instruction covers the basics you need to know to paddle, balance, turn and enjoy your reservation. Sit-on-top kayaks and paddle board rentals do not require the safety course because they do not have the same risks.
I have no experience can I rent from you?
We love new paddlers! If you would like to rent from us, but have no paddling experience, we highly recommend hiring a guide to go with you for an extra $200 per day per 6 people.
This graph shows you the recorded waves at Meyers Beach for the past 10 days and is updated hourly. To see the hourly recorded wave height for today go to the website and click on “real time waves”
This map shows the current size of the waves on Lake Superior in real time.
YOU MUST HIT START TO BEGIN THE ANIMATION WHICH IS THE FORECAST. This map begins with a forecast that is 1.5 hours out. It does not show current conditions, it is a forecast.
The Current Radar map shows areas of current precipitation. A weather radar is used to locate precipitation, calculate its motion, estimate its type (rain, snow, hail, etc.), and forecast its future position and intensity. Modern weather radars are mostly doppler radars, capable of detecting the motion of rain droplets in addition to intensity of the precipitation.
Cornucopia, Wisconsin weather conditions and forecast (54827). Today’s Cornucopia, Wisconsin weather report: current observations, hourly forecast, 10-day forecast calendar and chart.
Great Lakes nearshore marine forecasts are issued throughout the boating season, typically beginning around April 1 and ending around December 31, dependent on ice conditions on the entrances to each individual lake.
If you are next to shore you can expect the water temp to be 5 degrees warmer than you see on the map.
Wind, waves & weather forecast Herbster/Lake Superior / Wisconsin, United States for kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing & sailing
Wind, waves & weather forecast Devils Island / Wisconsin, United States for kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing & sailing
Wind, waves & weather forecast Oak Isl./Apostle Islands / Wisconsin, United States for kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing & sailing
Wind, waves & weather forecast La Pointe/Madeline Isl. / Wisconsin, United States for kitesurfing, windsurfing, surfing & sailing
Bayfield, Wisconsin historic weather averages and records (54814). Bayfield, Wisconsin Climate report for average, high and low temperature, precipitation and snow. Monthly and Daily weather averages and records for Bayfield, Wisconsin
In consideration of this outfitter furnishing services and/or equipment to enable me to participate in activities, I agree as follows:I fully understand and acknowledge that outdoor recreational activities have: (a) inherent risks, dangers and hazards and such exists in my use of our equipment and my participation in activities; when renting kayaks I understand that all decisions to land or launch are a decision made by the renting party based on their evaluation of their own skill level(b) my participation in such activities and/or use of such equipment may result in injury or illness including, but not limited to bodily injury, disease, strains, fractures, partial and/or total paralysis, death or other ailments that could cause serious disability; (c) these risks and dangers may be caused by the negligence of the owners, employees, officers or agents of this business; the negligence of the participants, the negligence of others, accidents, breaches of contract, the forces of nature or other causes. Risks and dangers may arise from foreseeable or unforeseeable causes including, but not limited to, guide decision making, including that a guide may misjudge terrain, weather, trail or river route location, and water level, risks of falling out of or drowning while in a canoe or kayak and such other risks, hazards and dangers that are integral to recreational activities and/or use of equipment, I hereby assume all risks and dangers and all responsibility for any losses and/or damages, whether caused in whole or in part by the negligence or other conduct of the owners, agents, officers, or employees of this business or by any other person. By signing this waiver I understand that the booking and promoting agency reserves the right to act on purchasers behalf as a third party booking agency. I further agree to abide by a policy of no alcohol on rental or guided trips and to wear a life jacket at all times.I, on behalf of myself, my personal representatives and my heirs hereby voluntarily agree to release, waive, discharge, hold harmless, defend and indemnify this business and our agents and officers.
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