Squaw Bay Sea Caves (June 2000)
by Norton Johnson
Our trip started with easy group of six people. The forecast called for 80o F and SW winds building to 15 kts; however there were 3 kt north winds on the north shore which sort of put the So. winds into doubt. After a brief description of where we were going, what to expect and etc., we left the Meyers Road sand beach in near calm conditions, just enough ripples to give voice to the sea caves.
Low water levels on Lake Superior offered entry into caves we've never been in before, including an 80-90 foot long passage from the large 'auditorium' cave west to another cave. Awesome! Vonnie was hesitant about entering the caves at first, but quickly adapted to kayaking in sea caves. Jackie was determined to fit her plastic boat into any opening that promised to fit her boat. Only a few caves or arches refused her passage with lots of grinding and scraping noises. An effective and audible test as to whether the rest of us in our composite boats would attempt those portals she entered.
Heavy rains Thurs & Fri. offered plenty of water or "rain" curtains and waterfalls to cool off in under the cliffs. Gene wore his 5 mm wetsuit, which was prudent as the water temps were still just above 40o F. His relaxation was to slowly run his kayak through every waterfall to cool off and for a thorough cleaning. We found the "kayak washes" didn't do very good wax job though. We watched cliff swallows reducing the insect population and diving from their mud nests on a sandstone cliff. We also discovered two raven nests, one with four very large fledglings crowded onto their narrow ledge.
Another highlight was paddling through a sea arch in a haystack, or tall rock sticking out of the water. This also was not accessible last year! With time for six boats to clear every cave--and more were accessible than usual, we took longer to reach the rest stop beach. Everyone agreed we were not in any hurry to return, so again we took our time returning through the caves and hitting most of the waterfalls. Unfortunately, upon returning we found the light breeze has collected great expanses of pine pollen on the water along the takeout beach, so all the kayak cleaning we did was for nought.
All in all, a great trip with summer conditions! The wind never materialized, the rain curtains, the low water allowing access to more caves...ideal conditions. Except it was almost too hot! Everyone seemed to have a great time. We'll do it again.