In the summer, I have a habit of getting out on the water early, just as the sun is coming up. It's perfect for me - I sneak out well before Cassandra and the boys are awake, so my workouts and paddling adventures don't take away from time I could have spent with them.
The downside is that I experience spectacular, early morning scenery that just can't adequately be described with words when I come home. There's something about that first touch of strawberry sunlight in the morning that's beyond description.
A few mornings ago, I was out on a 3 hour morning workout with my paddling partner, Steve, and snapped this photo with my phone when we stopped for a quick swim. Sunrise was long past, but it managed to describe something of the magic of a morning paddle on Lake Superior.
That image convinced Cassandra that she might be missing something on the dawn waters and she agreed to join me for a sunrise paddle this morning. Before we all retired to bed last night, I loaded the canoe and gear so that we could be up at 5:00am and on the water a half-hour later.
Unfortunately, the weather disagreed with us. A heavy line of storms was bearing down quickly, so we stayed in bed listening to the rain on the roof and thunder all around us.
The storms passed by about 9:00am and we decided to hit the water for a mid-morning paddle, instead. Our launch was at Marquette's Presque Isle Park and we paddled North toward Wetmore Landing and Little Presque Isle. Seas were calm, but a stiff SSW wind was blowing offshore. We tucked into the wind shadow and hugged the coastline as we paddled North, our trusty and beloved Northstar Polaris handling the wind with exceptional manners as we traced the rocky contours an arm's reach from granite boulders and cliffs.
With the kiddos home alone (and grandparents just a phone call and one property-line away), we didn't want to be gone too long, so we only paddled North for about an hour before stopping for a quick cup of tea at the turn-around point.
Our tea was made in my "ultralight" cook set, which packs down to the size of a large can of beans or a small can of coffee grounds. At its lightest and smallest, it's just a titanium Toaks 550mL mug and lid, a (sadly) discontinued MSR MicroRocket stove, a 100g isobutane canister, a Toaks titanium folding spork, a Snow Peak Hot Lips, and a small BIC lighter. In that version, it packs down to the size of a regular can of beans, weighs almost nothing, and will fit in any dry bag or pack that I happen to be carrying. I can easily make water for my own coffee or tea, as well as for dehydrated meals.
When there are two of us, I nest that kit inside an 850mL, titanium MSR Titan kettle, and add a second folding spork and another Hot Lips. The increase in weight and size is minimal, but I gain a second cup/pot/bowl and can boil a larger amount of water.
That was the kit that I carried today in my small, 5L Cascade Designs drybag, along with a Pack Towel, a first aid kit, a toiletry kit, snack food, a spare shirt, and my phone.
It was only pressed into service for two cups of tea in a small, sheltered cove today, but there's something truly special in stopping for a moment while water boils and tea steeps in the wilderness.
We might have missed the sunrise, but we'll never complain about a few hours on the water in our "backyard."