Cale Circumnavigates Lake Superior

Meet Cale...

May 9, 2024

Hello, my name is Cale Prosen, and I plan to circumnavigate Lake Superior in my kayak this summer. I am 20 and have just finished up my sophomore year of college at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. Proudly from Cloquet, MN which is near Duluth, and spent much time in the outdoors in various pursuits. I am majoring in biology, chemistry, and secondary science education and would like to tie these together somehow.

Have spent my past 4 summers working as a caregiver at an assisted living primarily in dementia care, has been an incredible experience and could not imagine my life without it. Last year at one point I worked 180hrs in 15 days last summer and knew I wanted to do something wild when I am still young and have time. Will write more later, but to me at this point, somewhat represents a transition from adolescence to adulthood in many ways. This is also a means of raising awareness for the conservation of Lake Superior and the surrounding ecosystems which could be nearing crisis. In my life, I have personally observed irreversible changes to steams and ecosystems in my backyard, and I do not want to sit back and wait until the damage has been done.

Tracks on Lake Superior beach

A bunch of animal tracks that I found interesting. 

Apostle Islands sea cave

Sea caves in Apostle Island at night: beautiful inside the cave.

I will be paddling my 95’ Explorer I purchased last fall for this trip and use Celtic Kinetic paddles that I got through MIKCo that are slick. Have a drysuit I got off eBay to deal with the water temps in the upper 30s, and scavenged for much of my other stuff. Spent an incredible amount of time researching by reading books, blogs, watching videos, and reaching out to knowledgeable people. Did a trial run for a bit over spring break that was incredibly successful. For food, I will eat the same meals every day, all cold-soaked out of peanut butter containers. The food consists of overnight oats, quinoa and beans, gorp, and a few other snacks. With this trip and for months I have been vegan. I did this mainly for environmental reasons and believe it to be more healthy and believe all people should at least consider incorporating more vegetables into their diet regardless of their stance on environmental causes. For my awareness efforts, I will document much of my trip and my experiences to reach others and spark inspiration for adventure and conservation of our incredible resources.

My tentative start is May 11 which gives me a day of rest after my finals. Am incredibly excited to begin. I will be continuing to write updates as I embark on my expedition. I have switched the direction of my journey a few times looking at the wind forecasts and historical wind trends. Now, as of writing, thinking counterclockwise. I would like to send out thanks to the countless people who have prepared me for this, could not imagine this trip without many who have helped me along. This will likely be my longest entry, wanted to fully set the stage as at least I find it important to better understand my expedition if you do not know me. Look forward to the trip and sending out updates.

Lake Superior

View to my left all day: wavy as far as you can see.


 

May 13, 2024

Hello all, I am now on my third day of paddling.

Taking today as a somewhat rest day as there’s a 15mph headwind and I’m prepping for a solid crossing tomorrow. With that said hope to hit 20 miles or so to set up for tomorrow. After 2 days I was 50 miles as the crow flies from Duluth, so have paddled further than that. 2nd day started incredibly rough for me. I woke up early and got out by 5 to catch a solid tailwind that was projected and it was good until 10 mins in it switched to a direct headwind. Was pretty fatigued starting the trip after just having finished finals and then spending like 12hrs on my day of packing.

Lake Superior shore

Some corrosion that I saw on 2nd day that I found interesting. 

Ended up taking a nap on a beach which I rarely am able to fall asleep for at like 7am and it completely turned my day around. Initially was feeling like I could only go 10 miles tops, but ended around 30 maybe. Started the first day under the lift bridge in Duluth around 9 am.

Been a little cold sleeping but I just haven’t had all my layers on. Have a hammock with a 45 degree quilt and underquilt and the sub 40 temps are pushing it a little.

Been using my 650 paddle primarily, has been really solid and think I’ve dialed in a nice pace and am starting to figure out a routine.

Have been documenting water temps and have seen much variance as makes sense with the surface temps, but incredibly warm compared to what I planned for as many readings are just above 46 degrees.

Stream flowing into Lake Superior

There’s a lot of these small streams to the lake, find them really neat.

Smelt

Found a mostly dead smelt today with eggs, interesting to see.

The lake warming is something that does not revive much attention with there being such large climate implications. Water has warmed near a degree Fahrenheit a decade for the past 4 decades and if continued, will have massive impacts on more than just fish. I would like to myself find an answer to why the average person should care about this and have been thinking a lot about it. It means a lot to me and I do things to protect it, but want to derive a reason to make someone who currently feels little connection to the water to care and so something before it’s too late as we are already seeing some of the consequences with increased natural disasters, ecosystems falling apart, and water quality facing challenges, and so many more are implications.

That’s that, thanks for reading, hope all is well.


 

Last view of the lift bridge in Duluth which is my start and finish line.

May 16, 2024

As of my 6th night. I am 122 miles from my start so have gone further.

To recap, I will go by the day:

Finish of 3rd Day - hard headwinds all day, found a nice campsite, would rate it an A.

4th Day - fought strong headwinds to get to a point where I had a tailwind pushing me down into Bayfield. Some large waves, first time having to look up at a wave as it comes. Had someone who sailed out to me to ensure I was alright in the waves though I was perfectly fine. Very much appreciate them checking though as it was some legit conditions. Difficult crossings but the water was 56.1 that I marked and it’s accurate. This is a staggering number. The large increase is due to the warm surface water being blown, so with all of the headwinds, the temps got warm.

While recording temperatures with my shirt not attached, paddle on lap, and phone in hand, I got smoked by a wave while like 50’ from shore and flipped. No issues however other than the scramble to deal with getting back and my kayak safe from the 4’ and 5’ breaking waves. Have been much more vigilant since then and it acts as a learning point. Would rate my campsite a C.

5th Day - another day with strong headwinds, solid progress and left Wisconsin behind, so all done there. Not much that was memorable, as always just singing songs and fighting headwinds. I knew the headwinds would occur as the general trend for this time of year is east winds which then shifts midway through my trip to west which means I’ll fight a lot of headwinds throughout my trip. Starting in Duluth at this time of year is the worst place to start I think, but that’s how it is. My upper back has been getting much more sore and think this results from having my thighs locked in to better stabilize against the waves which leaves not ideal kayaking form, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to increase my safety. Would rate my campsite as a B

They approached me and asked if I was Cale and I was shocked they knew and immediately thought I was getting fined for sleeping on a beach or something.

6th Day - started off pretty tired, fatigued from the headwinds and went out to face more. Today was the day I think the honeymoon phase stopped and the trip became real. I somehow hit the sos button on my spot gen 3 and this alerted search and rescue to come out to me. My spot was in a bag in my pfd and I literally am at a loss as to how it could go off, but it did. I had no clue of this at all. At maybe around 11:30 in the morning I was like half a mile from a boat ramp and saw a boat getting smoked by waves while beelining it to me. I watched and realized it was 2 officers. They approached me and asked if I was Cale and I was shocked they knew and immediately thought I was getting fined for sleeping on a beach or something. They told me they were alerted by my gps which had gone off. They were incredibly nice and understanding of it. I feel bad about alerting them to nothing and wasting resources like that.

7th Day - incredibly strong headwinds, taking today easy. As of writing this, I am sitting in a garage charging my phone as I have up making progress at this expense. I came up on a beach and met Fred who has been incredibly nice and helpful with finding me a charger as my solar setup has not liked the clouds.

Posted in Adventure, Expeditions.