Wilderness Inquiry has a long history of guiding exceptional kayaking and hiking expeditions in the Apostle Islands, and this year we decided to pair a first-rate adventure with evenings sampling Northern Wisconsin’s finest artisan drinks. On our new Apostle Islands Paddle, Pinot, and Porter trip, participants float through Lake Superior sea caves by day and return to land in the late afternoon for choice samplings of the area’s best beer, cider, and wine.
Guests stay at Wilderness Inquiry’s stunning base camp at Little Sand Bay, not far from the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where tents are mounted on wooden platforms. Inside each tent sits a cozy camping mattress, which is plenty comfortable for new campers looking to ease into things and for long-time campers tired of roughing it.
The first afternoon starts with an easy introductory paddle lesson, and then is followed by dinner at base camp. We might serve brats, burritos, or ratatouille, all paired with beer from South Shore Brewery, meads from White Winter Winery and Spotted Cow, and wines from Seven Ponds and Bayfield Winery.
Mornings begin with a hearty breakfast that might be scrambled eggs, pancakes, or delicious Gustola Granola and Dunn Brothers Coffee. Kayaking follows. You’ll explore the spectacular Mawikwe Bay Sea Case or drive to Red Cliff to paddle among the Buffalo Bay shipwrecks. Watch as eagles soar and dive for fish, and then paddle to the islands for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chicken salad, or hummus and tabouli. More kayaking follows.
Come evening, guests reap the rewards for their rigorous exercise—a tour of South Shore Brewery, in Ashland. Sample the Nut Brown Ale, a rich, walnut-colored brew that’s delightfully light, yet toasty; and the Rhoades’ Scholar Stout, a rich and hearty yet not overpowering drink with creamy notes of chocolate (save it for dessert). If you’re into lighter ales, try the Northern Lights Cream Ale, brewed with herbs, both fruity and complex. It’s smooth with a very slight hop presence and finished with a refreshing herbal taste.
The next day, after a day-long paddle, you’ll swing up to Seven Ponds Winery just above Bayfield, overlooking the lake. Its glorious 150 acres include fields of berries, orchards, and ponds. After strolling the grounds, you’ll taste several of the wines made from their orchard fruit: dry and semi-dry apple wine, cranberry wine, and blueberry wine. The night ends around a campfire with a classic dessert of scrambled brownies and shooting stars filling up the night sky. The next morning caps the trip with a final, relaxing paddle.