possible future sea kayaking adventure

Some ten years ago, maybe more, I heard about Wilderness Inquiry, in connection with a story I was writing. They're an outdoor-adventure organization for people of all abilities.
Wilderness Inquiry (WI) is an organization dedicated to sharing the outdoors with others. As you will see by exploring our website, we provide all kinds of outdoor adventures for a wide variety of people. We offer canoe, kayak, hiking, horsepack, dogsled and raft trips throughout North America and the world. Each year we conduct over 250 events serving more than 9,000 people.

Our trips are designed for everyone from novices to seasoned outdoor veterans. Over the years, we have found that attitude is far more important than experience or ability. By their very nature, WI experiences have a way of fostering positive
attitudes. . . .

Our passion is making high-quality outdoor experiences accessible for everyone, including those who do not typically get out and enjoy the wilderness. In addition to trips, we have a variety of programs and activities that help fulfill our mission. We do training for other organizations and provide outdoor skills workshops at community events. We also raise money to provide scholarships to make our programs financially accessible to everyone.

Wilderness Inquiry organizes group trips into beautiful natural areas, providing all the expertise and equipment, but teaching participants wilderness skills. There are many organizations that do similar work, including several that specialize in adaptive needs of people with disabilities. But Wilderness Inquiry is one of the few organization that sponsors integrated trips, for able-bodied people and people with disabilities, and everyone in between. They're a nonprofit organization, so their prices are very reasonable. And they specialize in running trips for people with no previous experience.

When I first heard of them, I was very intrigued. But our lives were different then. It didn't happen. Life moved on, we moved to Canada, I forgot about it.

This summer, we went sea kayaking for the first time in Gros Morne National Park, in Newfoundland, and I loved it. Allan enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as I did. I thought if we had the opportunity to do more of this in the future, I would.

When we returned, I started writing and editing the sports and recreation chapter of the new edition of Spinal Network. And I rediscovered Wilderness Inquiry.

Check out their website. If you love to travel and love natural beauty, the list of places they go will have you drooling: sea kayaking in the Bahamas, trekking through New Zealand's South Island, hiking, rafting and horse-riding in Argentina and Chile, and hiking and exploring in Costa Rica are a sample. Closer to home, there are trips all over North America, from the Yukon to the Everglades, from BC to Maine.

The only potential drawback, for us, is the group setting. It could be great: a chance to meet interesting people and share an adventure. And I think people who would choose this type of trip might be more in sync with us than the group-travel herd mentality that we take such pains to avoid. But Allan and I both have misanthropic tendencies, and there's no doubt that even a group wilderness trip has potential for trouble.

However, if we ever want to take an extended sea kayaking trip, a group is the only way. We have very little outdoorsy experience between us, and what we do have is from our childhoods. We're not going to buy equipment and figure the whole thing out ourselves. If we're going, it's with a group like this, or not at all.

So where would we go?

It's not the time for a far-flung adventure, as much as I'd love to go to Patagonia or New Zealand. And a two-week group trip is pretty much out of the question anyway.

I've long wanted to see the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; in fact, this was where I originally wanted to go dogsledding. I would love to see this wild country, especially in winter, and Wilderness Inquiry has several BWAC trips.

But now, with an eye to actually going - as opposed to dreaming about it - I think a five- or seven-day trip might be too ambitious, considering we've never done anything like this before. It's also probably too expensive for us right now (unless my work situation changes).

I'd love to do one of their Canadian trips - there are several great-sounding trips in Ontario - but they're all five or seven days.

Then I saw this: a three-day sea kayaking trip to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Three days seems more reasonable for total newbies. Plus we could drive to the meeting point, which would considerably lower the cost.

It seems to choose itself. There's even one on my birthday. We just might do it!

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