Kayaking the Les Cheneaux Islands

By Dave Wendling and Tina Patterson

Kayak Tour Group

The wonderful group of kayakers! Photo by Marilyn Keigley

On July 14, fifteen MNA members and two guides began, for many MNA members, their first kayak trip. At 10 a.m. we all gathered in quaint Hessel, Michigan, to meet Jessie Hadley (owner/operator of Woods and Water Ecotours) and her assistant for the day, Jake, a personable young man who had just arrived from Illinois to work with Jessie for the summer. We also got to know Adrienne Bozic, MNA’s Regional Stewardship Organizer for the UP, as she joined us in the kayak adventure. You can meet her too, if you join us on the Odyssey stop at Twin Waterfalls on September 25, since she will be leading the hike.

Tina is an experienced kayaker, but this being my first time I appreciated the comprehensive orientation, lifejackets, and the care that was taken to get first-time kayakers ready for the guided tour through the quiet bay.  With lunch provided by Jessie, we took a break on Marquette Island where some took advantage of the exceptionally hot weather to take a dip in the warm waters of Lake Huron.


Having a great time! Photo by Jan Wanetick

Following lunch we continued our trip into a shallow marsh area where we learned of the cooperation between many nature organizations (including MNA) to keep this area free from degradation. Passive use of the lake and marsh is being encouraged because of its critical role for spawning fish, migratory birds, and waterfowl.  We were delighted to see great blue herons, a bald eagle, and other birds using the area.

Jessie explained to us what “ecotourism” is and how it promotes travel to natural areas to help people understand the cultural and natural history of the environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to the local people.  She explained how she works closely with local businesses and homeowners to make environmental tourism beneficial to their local economy.  MNA supports these efforts, as we all should.  One way to do this is to participate in one of their wonderful outings and nature programs which include kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, biking, and even snorkeling.  Contact Jessie for a program that fits your interest and skill level.  Custom trips can even be arranged.  What a wonderful way to learn about Michigan’s natural wonders.  There are also, of course, many outings through MNA as well.

Adrienne Bozic

MNA’s Adrienne Bozic enjoys a beautiful day on the water. Photo by Marilyn Keigley

Returning at 3 p.m., we were glad to get back to shore as thunder rumbled in the distance.  MNA participant comments included, “My first trip on a kayak but not my last”, “I am going to go buy a kayak”, “Awesome, can’t wait to come back”, “I didn’t know it would be this much fun”, and “This was so much easier than I thought it would be.”  Thanks to our great guides, Jessie and Jake, our photographers Marilyn and Jan, and to all the MNA members for coming out to experience a great day, learn a new skill, and make new friends.

For an album of photos from the trip, visit the MNA Flickr page.

MNA and Woods and Water Ecotours are working to put together another some kayak outings for next summer and fall. Keep your eye out for details!

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