After many months of planning, great anticipation, and our patience being thoroughly tested by Mother Nature, the time had finally arrived for our first SUP trip of the season. The timing could not have been any more perfect than to land on the very weekend of the Summer Solstice. The weather was expected to be gorgeous, with little or no rain and hotter temps. Perfect, for some fun in the sun on the water.
Weeks prior to our trip we started a list and began collecting and laying out gear, and personal items necessary to enjoy four, glorious days Upnorth hiking and exploring the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our plans would include rustic camping (somewhat off-the-grid) and of course a “water feature” for plenty of standup paddling. Below is our basic packing list of items that we packed to enjoy a weekend SUP adventure upnorth.
SUP Adventure Packing List:
On day one we set our course North towards the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore at Lake Superior, destination Twelvemile Beach Campground. Twelvemile Beach Campground is located on a lovely stretch of Lake Superior shoreline with a rustic, beachy, woodsy vibe and a prime location within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, located right in between Grand Marias and Munising, Michigan.
Arriving at Twelvemile Beach Campground we quickly located our campsite, anxious to explore the twelve miles of Lake Superior shoreline. Hopping out of our truck we were immediately greeted by biting black flies viciously and aggressively attacking our amply Deet covered bodies.
Yep! Our Summer Solstice SUP weekend just happened to coincide with the beginning of the Biting Black Fly Season upnorth. We hunkered down for the night and needless to say, early the next morning we headed back out in search of a more suitable campsite. ;-)
Making our way along the shoreline towards Munising we stopped in at the Pictured Rocks NPS visitors center where our fears were confirmed. Yes, the black flies were not going to be going away anytime soon and they would soon to be followed by mosquito season right up until the cooler weather returned in the Fall. It would be a hit or miss situation to avoid the biting buggers. So after gathering information from the kind rangers at the station we hit the road again in search of the nearest SUP friendly, bug free campground that might even offer us a bit of cellular service. (Always good to have cellular service for emergencies, right?) The next and nearest campground on our list was the Autrain Lake Campground within the Hiawatha National Forest.
Well as luck should have it, and as I always say “Everything happens for a reason” the Autrain Lake Campground turned out to be the perfect setting for our first SUP adventure trip. The campground was located a bit off the beaten path, tucked away in the woods at the end of a long winding road. We found a cozy, private campsite with a view, yes a water feature! The Autrain Lake Campground is located on Buck Bay, which connects to the Autrain Lake and Autrain River system which winds its way approximately 10 miles or more spilling out into Lake Superior. It was a kayaker and stand up paddlers dream.
We spent our days exploring the area, waterfalls, beaches, and paddling up and down the river, ending each day with a brilliant sunset over Autrain Bay/Autrain Island before retreating back to our campsite for a quiet dinner and a bonfire. In the end our adventure created many great memories of our “First SUP Trip of the Season” and left us with a great desire for many more!
CHEERS to Summer and many more SUP adventures in Pure Michigan!