Bayfield Couple Finishing Lake Superior Paddle

Sam Cook / News Tribune

Brian Castillo (left) and Alissa Weitz, both from the Bayfield area, paddle through the Duluth harbor Monday morning on their way to Bayfield. They’re completing the final leg of their circumnavigation of Lake Superior by sea kayak.

 

Brian Castillo and Alissa Weitz are 83 miles from reeling in a dream. The couple left Duluth mid-morning Monday to paddle the final leg of their Lake Superior circumnavigation by sea kayak.

Castillo, 23, and Weitz, 26, left Bayfield July 1, proceeding in a counterclockwise direction around the lake. Both are kayaking guides in Bayfield. Weitz has guided five years for Trek and Trail, Castillo three years for Living Adventures. Both attended Northland College in Ashland.

"We just wanted to take a season off of guiding, and it turned into a much larger, longer journey than we anticipated," said Castillo, who grew up paddling in Madison.

Along the way, they’ve paddled some 8- to 10-foot seas in their 18-foot kayaks. And they had a close encounter with a black bear.

"Bears lack opposable thumbs, so he couldn’t get our hatch covers open," Castillo said.
The critter was after a free meal.

The couple thought they might reach Bayfield by Thursday evening.

It was the size of Lake Superior and the diversity of its 1,800-mile shoreline that inspired them to make the trip.

"You get that pull that attracts you to the lake," Weitz said before departing Duluth Monday morning. "I’d been guiding for a few years. I just wanted to see more of the shore than the Apostle Islands."

The rugged Canadian shoreline left the strongest impression on Castillo.

"The Canadian north shore is so remote and undeveloped," he said. "It’s pretty powerful being able to travel under your own power and experience places like that."

"That’s definitely a big part of why we’re doing this — the freedom allowed by self-propelled travel," Weitz said. "You get to places most people will never see. And the simplicity of life: Everything we have can fit into a little 18-foot vessel."

They found Minnesota’s North Shore a bit daunting.

"It hasn’t been too appealing," Weitz said. "It’s a lot of rock and private property. You’d go 15 miles where there’s nowhere to get out if you had to. But the state parks have been a huge part in helping us along. If we didn’t have the state parks, I don’t know where we would have stayed."

They would do one thing differently, knowing what they know now, Weitz said.

"We’d have started a little earlier in the season," she said, "so we’d have more time to allow for weather days, and so we’re not pushing so far into the fall. We’re starting to get bigger winds, more frequent storms. And it’s cold at night."

The couple is considering a future bicycle trip around the lake, during which they would stop in towns and speak publicly and show photos from their kayak trip, Castillo said.

For more about their trip, go to their Web site at www.sessiononsuperior.blogspot.com.