All posts by Jeremiah Johnson

FIRST TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE LAKE SUPERIOR ON A SUP

DULUTH, Minnesota – 23 year-old Jared Munch isn’t your average college student. Rather than living carefree and with no responsibilities Jared wanted to experience more. A couple of years ago, Jared decided and committed to circumnavigate Lake Superior by SUP and after two long years of preparations he was the first person ever to do so. The journey covered 1350 miles over 46 days on the lake and was largely a solo and unsupported expedition. To learn more about his expedition over the summer we caught up with Jared to talk about what his experience was like out on the water. Take a look:

Lake Superior is quite the task, what was your motivation in doing this extensive paddle?

I had originally been looking at a study abroad option in Patagonia that was designed specifically for whitewater kayakers. It looked awesome, but it was expensive and wasn’t going to help me with my major (civil engineering). I started looking for other ways to broaden my paddling experience and the idea came to me as soon as I looked out my dormitory window. I remember thinking “Why am I trying to travel hallway around the world to have a cool adventure when I have THAT right in my backyard?” At first I thought paddling around Lake Superior was just a crazy idea. It had never been done before on a SUP. I at least took the dignity of writing the idea on a whiteboard for further considerations. After a month of staring at the whiteboard, I knew that it had to be done. This all occurred almost two years before I actually departed.

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Views of Lake Superior as seen by Jared Munch. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Did you train for this beforehand? What was your training schedule like?

Training? No. That’s for people with time and money haha. My “training” consisted of me frantically scrambling between school and work for the two semesters leading into the summer. I was working anywhere from 30-50 hours a week on top of being a full time college student just to fund my summer adventure. Physically, I wasn’t in tip top shape when I started. I was over prepared mentally though. I spent a lot of time in class 5 whitewater and surfing Lake Superior. I was totally comfortable being out there in some big water. In addition, I had gotten pretty good at making use of little supplies, and just being miserable in general over the last year during my “training”.

How long did it take you?

It depends on how you look at it. To me, it took me two years on planning and squirrelling away money to pull it off. My total number of days actually paddling around the lake was only 46. I left in early May, then returned to Duluth for two weeks to teach whitewater classes and raise more money for the rest of summer. I left again in June and got back at the end of July.

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It wasn’t all easy paddling on Munch’s 46-day expedition. | Photo Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
How far on average would you paddle each day?

Over the summer, including my days off for waiting out the weather, I averaged just under 30 miles/day. My biggest day was 52 miles.

Was your adventure supported or unsupported?

Out of the 1350 miles, 1150 were solo. The other 200 miles were in the company of my dad, brother, and friends. I carried all of my food and gear on the board. I shipped resupplies of food to myself at 150-200 mile intervals.

What gear did you take with you?
  • Board: C4 Waterman Wai Nui
  • Paddles: C4 Waterman Carbon X-Wing, Two-piece sea kayak paddle for heavy headwinds, and a flatwater canoe paddle for beam winds
  • Clothing: NRS farmer John Wetsuit, 7mm booties, semi-dri wear, down jacket, camp clothing
  • Food: Lots of dehydrated food from Camp Chow and lots of Cliff Bars
  • Tent: MSR Carbon reflex
  • Stove: MSR pocket Rocket
  • Others: dry bags, GoPro, first aid kit, small sail for emergency use only, compass, gps, sleeping pad, and my trusty Pillow Pet
lake superior sup adventure
lake superior sup adventure
Gear Shots. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Hardships?

Dealing with the wind was a huge thing for me. Keeping a 14’ board tracking well in a strong beam wind is one thing, but put a bunch of camping gear on it and you will have a much larger problem. Hunger was also a big thing for me. I had no possible way of eating as many calories as I was burning. I lost 15 pounds in the first three weeks. The remoteness was difficult at times, but I mostly enjoyed the thrill of having only myself for any type of support.

Biggest thing you learned after going on this adventure?

Paddling flatwater all day isn’t very fun. You start to hope for some storms and nasty weather just for an ounce of excitement.

lake superior sup adventure
Munch getting the nasty weather that he had hoped for. | Photo Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUP Connect
Would you consider doing it again?

The exact same trip? No. A circumnavigation of the lake was a one and done thing for me. I would feel weird doing it again. There’s kind of a spiritual thing about the lake to me. The memories from the trip are so vivid in my mind that I don’t want to relive them or change anything about them. I’m sure I’ll paddle parts of the shoreline again, or tour to some of the more remote surf breaks that I found, but I will not do another full circle continuously.

Do you have any other SUP adventures planned in the future?

Yes I do. Next spring I will be completing the first descent of the Steel River of Norther Ontario. We’re going to hit it as the snow is melting, which means living in a drysuit for a week and paddling lots of whitewater with camping gear on the board. Very little about the trip will be easy, but that’s what makes it an expedition.

lake superior sup adventure
Munch enjoying his solo time on his 46-day expedition of Lake Superior. | Photos Courtesy: Jared Munch & SUp Connect

We look forward to seeing a lot more expeditions from this young talent and we wish him the best of luck in his endeavors. To see a sneak peak at the documentary that Jared is editing check out the video preview below!

A SUPerior Adventure Teaser from Jared Munch on Vimeo.

2nd Annual Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015

What a great day for a river race!

If you didn’t know… today was the 2nd annual Onion River Race & Ramble  held on the Winooski River in Vermont. The course started below the Bolton Dam and finished at the bridge in Richmond. This ten mile stretch is a gorgeous scenic cut through the green mountains.

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The morning started out a little chilly for early June but attendance wasn’t affected from the cooler temps. Close to 90 people signed up this year to show their support and have fun at the same time which was almost double the turnout from last year. Umiak Outfitters helped out again by providing the shuttle for the eager participants. Noah from the Friends of the Winooski River led the group with a safety briefing before the heats started.

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Early in the race was the biggest obstacle, a set of rapids and rock garden, that stood between the racers and the flat water below. The tricky eddy lines surprised many paddlers letting them feel the cold temperatures of the Winooski River in June. There were many safety boaters on the water to help people to shore and recover their gear.

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Below the rapids lay many many miles of reasonably flat water on a normal day but today was different. A Northerly wind of 17 mph gave the paddlers a steady head wind most of the trip. At the end of the ten mile stretch you passed under the Richmond bridge and thus the finish line.

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After the racers finished and pulled their boats to shore they celebrated with a feast provided by Richmond Grange and sat down to reflect on the past few hours and enjoy some much needed food.

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All in all the day was beautiful, the people showed up to had fun and the Winooski River was once again conquered…at least for today.

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Big thanks to all the sponsors who without them this event wouldn’t have been possible. Sponsors include Friends of the Winooski River, with support from the Vermont River Conservancy,  Umiak Outfitters , the Vermont Paddlers’ Club , and the Richmond Grange.

Click the link below to view all of the photos from the days events.
Onion River Race & Ramble – June 6th 2015

 

Gear Spotlight: Polaroid Cube Lifestyle Action Camera

Polaroid_Cube The Polaroid CUBETM HD lifestyle action video camera is weatherproof/splash proof, mountable and built to handle everything you can imagine.

  • Records HD 1080p/720p video
  • Professional 6MP Still Photos
  • 124º viewing angle
  • Weatherproof/splash proof
  • LED Indicator
  • Microphone
  • Built in high capacity battery, records up to 90 minutes
  • Available in a variety of colors: black, red, and blue

waterproof case This new camera from Polaroid has many accessories and mounting options including a waterproof case, suction cup mount, helmet mounts, strap mount, tripod mount, bike mount and even a cool monkey design tripod. It takes a microSD memory card giving you plenty or storage to get all the HD video you want.

The new Cube video camera is available for $99.99 from Polaroid directly at www.polaroidcube.com 

E.Orchard’s review from Amazon.com says: This is my first foray into the “action cam” world. I had briefly looked into get a GoPro, but considering my needs (which are simple and intermittent), I just couldn’t justify buying even the cheapest GoPro (edit: I now see GoPro has a cam coming out that’s $129). I saw the Cube on a photography website a few months ago and fell in love. I read about it obsessively and knew I had to have one. I knew the limitations – no wi-fi, no real editing software and only a 6MP cam. Just a little camera and some mounting accessories. It’s cute, it’s hip and you can definitely tell the audience this is aimed at. READ FULL REVIEW HERE

Could this camera start to compete with the biggest leader in action cameras, the GoPro?  We will have to watch and see how this camera holds up against the already stiff competition.

Check out this video from Polaroid.

DIY technique for those Over/Under water photos.

Ever seen a photo like this and assume its fake?

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Photo Credit: Clark Little Photography (click photo to visit his website)

In a lot of cases it’s not, but it does require a bit of luck, creativity and the right equipment to capture scenes like these. I recently found a great article about how to create these half & half or over/under photographs.

ikelite-1_1.jpg.400x275_q85 Ideally you should buy a waterproof housing for your digital SLR with a dome front to get these type of photos. These waterproof rigs can cost anywhere from $1000 to $2500 and up. The larger the dome you have in front of your lens the less effect choppy and rough water will have on your image. I didn’t have the money to invest in something like this and so I had to find a different solution.

I found a website that had an affordable option to get your camera under the waters surface without putting it in a housing or in the water at all. The idea is simple… place the camera in a small fish tank and shoot through the glass while its held slightly under the waters surface.

The idea was simple enough so I decided to try it. I went to a local pet store and bought a 5.5 gallon clear glass fish tank. I first tested the tank by holding it into the water to make sure there wasn’t a leak. I decided to put a towel down inside the tank before I put in my camera to give it a little padding and keep it from banging around. I plugged my remote trigger into my Canon 7D and placed it in the tank.  Using the widest lens possible gives you the best angle of view and allows you to keep more in the frame.

chassahowitzka river the crack

A Short 30 minute paddle on the Chassahowitzka River in Homosassa Florida brought us to the top of Baird Creek and what locals call “The Crack”. We got off of our SUPs and started enjoying the beautiful clear water of the natural spring. I took out my fish tank and placed my camera setup in it. I started shooting immediately and realized while holding the tank I could angle it up or down to get the desired shot. Holding it lower down in the water and angling it up gave me a cool reflection of the waters surface.

Chass River Manatee Surface Water

This complete underwater effect gives the illusion of having a true underwater camera setup but my camera is still “naked” and without any real watertight housing.

chassahowitzka river the crack fish I then flipped my camera to the vertical position in the tank and wanted to try that Over/Under effect. It took a little practice but after a few test photos I got a few great shots.

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This short Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project didn’t hurt my bank account and it got me experimenting with underwater photography. Thats the basics, so get out there and try this easy and inexpensive solution to getting some great underwater photographs.

Any questions about this article or how to build your own make sure you email us at: VermontSUP@gmail.com or stop by our Facebook page to see the latest.

Gear Spotlight: La Siesta Hammocks at Surf Expo 2015

Last month at Surf Expo I caught up with Jessica Leasure, a sales manager for La Siesta, and she showed me their line up of hammocks, chairs and accessories.

LA SIESTA is a leader in south-american hammocks and hammock chairs. Made by hand in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil, the LA SIESTA brands and products are a gauge of quality and authenticity.

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La Siesta Booth Surf Expo Jan 2015

LA SIESTA has offices in Miami, Spain and Germany. It has specialised in the development, marketing and distribution of hammocks and hammock chairs since 1991. It was founded by Dorothee and Alexander Grisar and focuses on offering the best quality hammocks and hammock chairs while holding the highest standard in the respect of nature, environment and human interaction.

IMG_6098 Their product offerings are quite extensive and they have many different styles to choose from including the traditional hammock, a hammock with wood spreader bars, a lightweight travel/packable hammock and many accessories.  la-siesta-styles

La Siesta also has many products for kids & babies including smaller hammocks & chairs, a cool raindrop design hanging nests and an infant style hammock.

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Check out this cool video of the Travel Hammock being setup all around the world.

Visit their website to see all their products and colors.

Have cool photos of you relaxing in your La Siesta Hammock? Share them with us and we’ll feature it on our Facebook page. vermontsup@gmail.com

Location Hot Spot: Weeki Wachee River, FL

Florida is known for its beautiful natural springs and crystal clear rivers. The Weeki Wachee River is one of those must see places in the state.

“The Seminole Indians named the spring “Weeki Wachee,” which means “little spring” or “winding river.” The spring is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up out of subterranean caverns. Deep in the spring, the surge of the current is so strong that it can knock a scuba diver’s mask off. The basin of the spring is 100 feet wide with limestone sides and there, where the mermaids swim, 16 to 20 feet below the surface, the current runs a strong five miles an hour. It’s quite a feat for a mermaid to stay in one place in such a current.” – WeekiWachee.com

Mermaid_Chelsea_web-700x700 Yes… you read correctly… Mermaids! Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is the only place in the world to see mermaids.
Click here to read more about the State Parks Mermaids. 

OK… Back to the paddleboarding. I put in at the state  park where the friendly staff at Paddling Adventures showed me the map and went over the rules of the river. I walked my BIC 12’6″ Wing down the crushed stone path and into the crystal clear waters of the river.  After pushing off I immediately began to see all kinds of fish and wildlife. Your not allowed to paddle all the way to the head springs so after a 300 yard paddle upstream I turned around and began floating with the swift 5 mph current.

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Even with the overcast day the water had a deep blue color and the bottom was easily visible. I had to turn around about 1.5 miles down to make it back before they locked the gate at 3pm. I’ll be back to paddle and make sure to give myself enough time to enjoy the 5.5 miles to Rodgers Park.

If you dont have your own board you can always rent one from SUP Weeki, a local business who rents and shuttles on the Weeki Wachee River.

Click the photos below to see more of the quick afternoon SUP on the Weeki Wachee River.

GEAR REVIEW: EyeShaka Apparel

EyeShaka Thank You T-Shirts Hats

 

Our friends over at EyeShaka Apparel sent us some sick new gear to sport and show off to the paddling community in Vermont.

We love the T-shirts and Trucker Hats!!!

They also sent us some really cool Shaka stickers which we placed in a few paddling spots around the Stowe area. Find one of them, snap a photo, send it to us and you may just win something for your participation.

Erin Winooski River Vermont EyeShaka

“The shaka symbolizes a lifestyle and way of thinking that we as owners embrace everyday. The sign of the shaka originated from Hawaii and is universally known in the action sports world, in particular those based around the ocean. It signifies a carefree attitude, an ecstatic feeling, and a unique perspective on life.”
-Eyeshaka Website

Erin Waterbury Reservoir EyeShaka Oblio BIC SUP
Erin paddling the BIC SUP Wing with the NEW Oblio Paddle

“But I think deep, deep down inside ingrained in everyone, the real reason we started surfing is the fun, the stoke of walking down the beach with your three bros and you come down the stairs and there’s a killer little peak down the beach and there’s no one out and you’re coming down the beach like, “Dude we’re going to score!” You surf for two hours, getting little tubes and having the best session ever and come home all sunburned and don’t have a care in the world. That’s what it’s about. That stoke.”
-Rob Machado

GEAR REVIEW: NRS 3.8L Heavy-Duty Bill’s Bag

One of the most important things you need to think about when planning a paddling trip is how you’re going to keep everything dry. It doesn’t matter if you’re going out for a few hours on a sunny day or planning a multi-day river trip in the middle of April… you need to keep things dry!

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I best item I have purchased in the past few years is the NRS 3.8L Heavy-Duty Bill’s Dry Bag. It’s everything you know and expect from NRS including quality materials, solid construction and an amazing warranty. The entire bag is made up of a strong 21 oz. PVC/Polyester material with a 34 oz. PVC/Polyester on the bottom 6 inches for increased durability. The massive 3.8L (6500 cubic inches) of space allows you to carry all of your gear safe and dry. The 4 heavy duty compression straps allow you to compact and stabilize your gear on your board or boat. Its built-in backpack straps allow for easy carrying when portaging around dams and rapids.

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I purchased this bag in the spring of 2014 right before I took off for a 2 week river trip in Western Pennsylvania. I wanted something to carry the majority of my big and important things like: sleeping bag, tent, clothes, sleeping pad and cooking items. It held all of these items with room for more. I didn’t want to pack it too much because I was strapping it to my BIC SUP Ace-Tec Wing 12’6” and there is only so much space on the top. I also included two 20L Dry bags from SealLine and a 6L Dromedary from MSR on the front of my board to even out the weight.

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I don’t know if there’s anything bad about this bag. One thing I would say is, you want to be careful not to pack it too full because of its size it’s easy to pack more in the bag than you can carry on your back. Awesome bag and is one of my  essentials when planning trips anywhere winter or summer.

Check out this great video from our friends at NRS

LOCAL RIDER PROFILE: Trisha Hlastawa

Vermont SUP connected up with a local paddler yesterday at Oakledge Park in Burlington, VT for some fun on the water and unexpected surf on Lake Champlain.

Vermont SUP Trisha Surfing Oakledge

Rider: Trisha Hlastawa
Age: 24 years young
Hometown: Norwich, CT but currently living in South Burlington, VT
Board: Naish Alana 9’5″

Vermont SUP Trisha Profile Shot

Where is your favorite place to paddle?

I love to surf but coming at sunset and paddling on the lake is one of the best things ever.

Now you just got back from Cape Cod, How was the surf?

I went to Orleans, MA in the Nauset Beach area. The surf wasn’t that good but got better yesterday and today. (7/15 & 7/16)

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Why Paddleboarding rather than Kayaking?

I do not like sitting down! I like moving around as much as possible and paddleboarding give me the freedom to do that. I can walk all over it, I can do headstands on it, I can do yoga on it, there’s a lot of possibilities.

 

What would you tell a first time SUPer?

Be patient is the first thing. Not everyone will get it right away. Try to go somewhere totally calm to start is recommended. That way you can focus on your balance and not which way the waves are going. Coming here to Oakledge [Park] is really fun when it’s super calm which is most of the time in the summer.

Vermont SUP Trisha Paddle Out

Whats the next step? Where do you want to go, What do you wanna do?

I wanna do some touring on a paddleboard, I have a touring board and I wanna travel and go to some cool places where you can look down [into the water] and see all kinds of things. Not sure where but I gotta get myself out there.

Vermont SUP Paddle Sunset

What’s your #1 vacation spot you want to go and paddle?

Ohhh… Hawaii…?  Probably!

Make sure to follow all of Trisha’s photos on her Instagram page: @thsurfsnow

Waves at Oakledge Vermont SUP Oakledge park Burlington Surfing trisha

Waterbury Res Sunset Paddle

With Memorial Day this weekend, Umiak Outdoor Outfitters is preparing to kick off a great summer season. The rivers are holding their water even with the lack of normal rain in April and May. Most of the staff are returning from last year and starting to arrive home (VT) from their winter obligations.

WBR May 2014 Group

After work yesterday, several of the Umiak staff went out for a sunset paddle on Waterbury Reservoir to loosen up those muscles that had been dormant all winter.

Emma Porrett, received her Level 1 SUP ACA certification last summer and agreed to give some valuable pointers to the crew attempting the same course in mid-June.

WBR-Sunset-May-2014

The calm winds and beautiful backdrop made this first paddle a great start to the 2014 Summer season.

Umiak Crew BIC Wings Waterbury Reservoir