Lake Superior Goods, Upper Peninsula, Michigan, Fall 2021, USA
Words and Photography: Marcelo Galizio
When you think of a kayaking destination, the Midwest isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind. The lack of massive mountains helps create a false perception of being flat and potentially boring. Only a few know that the land of pasties, fish fry, and cheese curds hide some of the best whitewater in the country. Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes, but Minnesota brags the nickname « the land of 10,000 lakes, » sharing the biggest of those with Wisconsin and Michigan states.
Lake Superior is the third largest fresh body of water on the planet. Its extensive drainage system creates some quality slip-n-slide drops and unique steep gorges with bizarre-looking bedrock waterfalls. Almost every river that flows into the lake has some the potential to offer anything from a chill Class II float to the most epic stout-running expedition of your life. That’s what brought Marcelo Galizio from the sunny beaches and tropical rivers of Brazil to Lake Superior’s shores for the past decade.
Last fall was unusually dry, but after constantly monitoring rainfall and river levels, part of Team Liquidlogic left the Southeast in hopes of paddling the region’s easiest to access and most commonly run, the Black River in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The trip quickly turned from being afraid of getting skunked on the Black by marginally-runnable levels to being told by the Minnesota crew that stuff was too high to run. After scoring one of North Shore’s most elusive gorges, the Devil’s Track, with blind drops and gorged-in canyon walls, the crew followed local legend Joerg Steinbach on the Upper Cascades, a gem of a river that compares to rivers in Cali or Norway.
High volume, steep and long rapids made for an epic day and left the team wishing for another few days to wait for levels to drop enough to descend the waterfalls of the lower gorge, a set of large cauldron waterfalls before the tan water blends with the crystal clear Lake Superior. They did a quick pit-stop at Tahquamenon Falls before heading back to Asheville, running the picturesque fifty-footer under a beautiful snow mist.