The Story Of Lost Creek…

The story of Lost Creek is one of connections…

Greg Weiss

Greg Weiss, Owner/Director of Lost Creek Adventures & Folk School

Greg Weiss is the owner/director of Lost Creek Adventures and folk School. He began his career teaching in the outdoors in 1993, and since then has worked with Outward Bound, Boulder Outdoor Survival School, and several other organizations including one that he started with a friend. This work took him all over the North and South American continent leading survival trips, sea kayak expeditions, mountaineering trips, youth rehabilitation programs, and later on, planning, marketing, and then leading expeditions to the Ecuador rainforest to live and learn with the Huaorani natives.

It was a wonderful way to see the natural world and get paid a bit for doing it. But mostly it was the way he could try to teach connection.

Even though it seemed that the problems of the world were complicated, in the end it seemed to Greg that if people were connected to the land, physically, emotionally, spiritually… that many of the worlds problems wouldn’t happen in the first place. The idea was that if someone loved something how could they destroy it? It would be like destroying themselves. No one would do that!

This ideal, like everything in life, is born in ignorance. Ideals are black and white while life is not. However from his experience living and learning with people who still live by the old ways, there is something to it. Something modern human existence is missing. Something that all of the comforts and conveniences we have can’t make up for. Something that Greg knew deep down could help people, if they experienced it for themselves.

Greg started Lost Creek Adventures in 2011. Looking for a name he thought back to his original reason for starting this path in life. Connection. Greg’s land is at the headwaters of Lost Creek. This little waterway meanders from his now straw bale house, (across his driveway in the spring) and down several miles to Lake Superior. The name fit the mission, and the rest is history.

Lost Creek is a name that symbolizes our wandering connection to the natural world. It symbolizes the meandering adventure of life. It is a very real connection to how we treat the land and one another, because in the end, we all end up in the same place.

Lost Creek Logo

Posted in Introduction to Lost Creek, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Wilderness Gym

Routine is the key to health and fitness. Sitting at a desk all day and then going to the gym for an hour before dinner has been shown to NOT increase your overall health. Loggers, coal miners, small farmers and others who work moving around,¬† have actually been shown to be in better overall health than white-collar workers who work out “regularly”.

 

If you sit most of the day, that is your routine. To be in better shape we need to not worry so much about the perfect exercise routine, but rather about our life routine. That’s where wilderness comes in.

In wilderness living or travel (whether it be for a day or a week) makes us work out. For example, I heat the house I built with wood. This means that i have to collect, cut, split, and carry it. The great thing about this workout, is that it has it’s own extrinsic motivation built right in. If I don’t get wood, I’m cold all winter.

In the same vein, if I don’t paddle I won’t get anywhere, if I don’t climb I won’t reach the top, if I don’t walk I won’t see the next overlook. Being a wilderness lover and traveler you get to work out with the greatest coach and motivator, Mother Nature.

Cancel your gym subscription and stop spinning someone elses’ wheels. Instead set your sights on building a new stone wall in your yard, or cutting all of your own firewood this winter, or biking to work. Plan a week long canoe trip, or sign up for a wilderness challenge. These routines will give you real fitness, as well as experience beyond the 4 walls and 50 TV screens.

Posted in Nature, Sustainable Living, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feathered vs. Un-feathered Paddles

I started whitewater kayaking in 1991, and at that time paddles had a 90 degree “set”, otherwise known as a feather. No one asked any questions.

Example of straight or non-feathered blade, vs. 90 degree feather, or “set”.

I started sea kayaking not long after and soon came to the instructor realm. I found that instructors for sea kayaking were teaching that the blades were off-set, or feathered, in order to “cut through the wind”, or in other words the idea was if a paddler was going in to a head-wind, a feather to the blade helped.

So I wondered why whitewater paddles also had a set.

Eventually I figured it out. A blade is feathered for the simple reason that you need to lift the paddle shaft angle in order to place the other blade in the water. Without a feather to the blades, you need to contort your wrists to orient the blade correctly.

Depending upon the angle with which you hold the paddle shaft to the water surface, you will need to off-set one of the blades by about that much. A 45 degree shaft angle corresponds to about a 45 degree angle set, or feather. Racers paddle with a more vertical shaft to bring the blade closer to the keel line of the boat, so their blades are set closer to 90 degrees.

Happy paddling!

Posted in Paddling | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Caring for your yurt

I’ve lived in a yurt for 7 years in northern Wisconsin. I bought my yurt used (Pacific Yurts), and I am estimating the age to be 22 years of this posting.

So far so good. The frame is great. The vinyl top seems solid. So what problems have I had and how did I address them?

Greg's yurt in front of the newer straw bale house.

Greg’s yurt in front of the newer straw bale house.

Skirting

The thin plywood that I used to make the skirting (what the bottom of the side cover screws into) has rotted in some places. This is what helps keep the yurt down in a wind so I need to replace it soon. I’d like to find 1/8″ treated plywood for this fix. Pretty simple. I would think 1/4″ plastic sheeting could work too, but you want it to be strong enough to screw in to and hold up against wind.

 

Windows

The plastic windows have velcro along the edges, (female) which attach to the velcro on the yurt side cover (male). When the sun hits the male velcro it breaks it down pretty fast. Consequently the windows blow off in a wind, get damaged and new ones cost $60 each last I checked. It would be great to have a better fastening system.

What I did was to pop-rivet new velcro on to the yurt side cover. It leaves some air gaps between the new and old velcro however, so gluing fabric or sealing with caulking would work to seal the gaps.

Sidewall

The vertical sidewall gets a beating from the sun. Generally the sidewall is lighter and has exposed stitching. Mine was rated for 10 years, and after 22 years being in full sun it’s still going strong.

When I saw that the stitching was starting to fray I decided to paint it. Yes, that’s right paint it. It sounded crazy to me, but with a new sidewall costing $2,000 I figured I’d try it.

I bought paint meant for RV’s called “Plasticoat”. It’s a flexible paint meant to go on metal. Since metal expands and contracts quite a bit, I figured this paint would work well.

It came in white, so I tinted it some with brown, and rolled it on. After at least 10 years of exposure I can say that this is one of my few experimental successes. No chipping or peeling at all and the stitching is coated and protected from not only sun, but molds and other growths known to affect fabrics.

 

That’s about all for now. Let me know if you have any questions!

Posted in Sustainable Living, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sea Caves Trip – 1/2 Day vs. Full Day

Our most popular trip in the Apostle Islands is to the sea caves near Cornucopia, via Meyers beach. This area is known as the “mainland sea caves” (There are other caves located out in the islands also.)

DCIM100SPORT

Our guests often ask us which trip would fit them better; our half-day or full day exploration. Since either trip would be good for just about anyone, here are a few facts to consider when making your decision.

Time: Our half-day trip is about a 4 hour total commitment, with 2.5 hours on the water and the rest of the time learning about your kayak, practicing strokes, learning important safety information, and getting ready. Of course there is a short drive from our shop too. (4 miles. We’re really close!) If you have an appointment to meet, a ferry to catch, or a show to watch, the 1/2 day trip works well and provides a stress-free day if you are trying to do a lot of things while in the area.

Our full day trip is about a 7 hour total commitment (9am-4pm or 10am-5pm) This trip works well if you have the time and want to spend a nice day on the water, back in time for fish fry!

D

Age/Fitness: Another question that comes up is since “we don’t have a lot of paddling experience” or “we have only been kayaking once” which trip would be best? Really, either one would be fine. During the full day trip we paddle about 8 miles, but have 6 hours to do it in. On the half-day trip we paddle just over 4 miles, and have 2.5 hours to do it in. You end up sitting in your boat 2.5 hours at a time either trip you choose. During our full day trip you get out for lunch for about an hour, so plenty of time to rest up for the paddle back.

For older folks our main concern is if your back is in good shape. Sitting in a kayak all day can be hard on anyones back, let alone if you have a previous injury.

Another consideration is if you are bringing kids, and whether or not they will be able to paddle the distance comfortably.

Cornucopia Sea Caves

Views: Does the half-day trip give you enough caves? What else do we see on the full day trip? These are common questions, but not all that you should consider. The cliff line that harbors the caves is about 2.5 miles long. During our half-day trip we paddle about half way down and turn around. On the full day trip we paddle past the entire cliff face to a beach, eat lunch, then turn around and head back. On the full day trip you get to see the whole cliff, which has some more caves (smaller) than at the beginning, and more waterfalls (when they are running) You also get to hang out on a nice beach and eat lunch. The unique thing that we do at Lost Creek is offer an EVENING half-day sea caves trip, which means we are the only outfitter that brings you out to the caves when the sun is hitting all of them, often with a bright orange color from the setting sun. This is my favorite time of day to be there, except for early morning when there is sometimes fog and mist in the caves. Another magical time.

Price: Obviously our half-day trip is going to cost less than the full day trip. One thing to keep in mind is the policy that all local outfitters have: Though you may have signed up for the mainland sea caves, if it is too windy at that location the outfitter will bring you to an alternate location. We do this as well when we can’t get to the main caves. Often we will instead bring you to Romans Point, or sometimes Houghtons Point, both of which have some smaller caves. At any rate, doing a 1/2 day trip provides you with lesser risk of going to a location that you may not have planned on, this being due to quickly changing weather patterns in our area. Due to our proximity to the caves we are able to keep our vehicle expenses down, which we pass on to you as the lowest cost sea cave trip in the area, while still offering the highest level of quality and safety.

Hopefully this has helped answer your questions about which trip is best for you. If not, leave us a note!

Posted in Introduction to Lost Creek, Paddling, Travel | Leave a comment

Choosing A Stand Up Paddleboard

Stand Up Paddleboards or “SUP’s” are a relatively new addition to the paddle-craft buyers market. As a paddler with over 20 years of experience, I can tell you a few things that you won’t hear from the retail stores or manufacturers.

Many companies want in on the action of SUP. It’s new, it’s hot, and it’s selling. However many of them don’t have the experience to design a good board.¬† This doesn’t mean that new companies can’t be great designers and builders, but very often YOU as the consumer end up being the test dummy for the models put out by the newer companies. Don’t listen to the hype. Get a good understanding of what makes a board do what you want it to, then you can make the best decision.

Some steps to finding your perfect SUP

1. Don’t look at boards first.

First think about what kind of paddling you will want to do. Generally this means you should borrow or rent a board for a day and try paddling it for a distance, play on it, and just think about the future of you and your board. Try not to fantasize too much.

When I paddle my surf-style board my maximum distance for fun paddling is generally 5 miles. As counterpoint, in my kayak 15 miles is a fun day. If you want to SUP distance, you will most likely want a touring style, not the flat or “surfing” style board most popular now.

2. Decide on a flat or touring board.

Surf style SUP boards are designed primarily for flatwater paddling. The smaller SUP’s (relative to your weight) are geared towards being able to play in the surf, while the larger are more stable when on flat water. Overall they are maneuverable, have enough floatation to carrying your pet sloth with you, and your drybag for your lunch.

A touring board has a pointed nose/bow for cutting through oncoming waves, and the bottom shape lends itself better for going straight than turning. It’s a less stable feeling board initially. Because this board tracks better, and has less rocker (or tip to tail curve, like a rocking chair) and is generally narrower, it will be a faster board when in the hands of the right paddler.

3. Decide on general dimensions

Length: Surf-style boards range from 9′ to 12′ or so. Most board manufactures design a board shape and then make that board shape in a range of sizes, not just for different size people, but for different sized uses. For example I can use a same design 9’6″ for playing around in the surf, but for traveling 5 miles on flat water I choose my 11’6″ board.

For a touring board you will be looking at 12′-14′ board length and maybe even a bit longer depending upon your weight and desired use. Though a longer craft has the potential to go faster, speed depends not on your board, but on YOU. You must have the technique and muscle to propel it. So at some point a longer board gives you less, not more.

Width/Beam: Again, this will mark how much stability the board has. The wider the more stable platform you will have to stand on, the more floatation the board will have, and the slower the board will be. Flat boards range from around 28-35″ as width increases with length, while touring boards generally stay just under 30″ regardless of length. Touring boards are tippier, but faster because of this.

Depth: This is how thick the board is. Boards will be thicker somewhere around the center or balance point of the board, while thinner out at the nose and tail. Thickness lends itself to “displacement” or how much water the board displaces. The thicker the board, the more displacement, the higher you ride, and it will feel more stable on flat water. It will also be heavier, as there is more material. I know paddlers who like water washing their feet all day, while others have boards that put the paddler 2″ above the water. For surfing it’s nice to have a lower displacement board, because once you are on a wave the planing action floats the board, rather than the floatation in the board itself.

Remember that the longer the board the more displacement it will have due to length as well, so you have to figure that in along with the depth.

Rocker: Is the banana shape you might see looking at the side of a board (or kayak) This means easier turning, but a bit slower board. A more rockered board will also feel more stable for the same width/beam than a less rockered board of the same dimensions.

Additionally, rocker can be placed in the middle, or often more towards the nose. This helps your board to not “pearl” or take a “nose dive” while catching a surf wave.

Shape: Even “flat” boards are not flat. Perfectly flat boards are called “doors”. SUPs come in concave, convex, double convex, and all variations. The idea is that the bottom of the board affects how the water travels past the fins, and how you can edge the board to help it turn. This is somewhat subtle and complicated to explain here, so if you’re local store can’t really tell you much about the board shape, you’ll want to continue your search.

In general you will want a board with some nose rocker to keep from pearling while on a wave, with a rounded rail (sides) gently giving way to sharp rails near the tail. This sharpness helps carve while on a wave. Plastic and inflatable boards do not have much shape, and more more “door like”, while composite boards allow for much more variation and subtlety in design.

4. Decide on materials

Strength: You want a strong board if you are going to be in surf. This may mean a bit heavier due to more layers of material on the board. Most boards have more layers of fiberglass on the bottom and sides, with less on top. This helps keep down some of the weight.

Materials: If this board will be for “anyone” and paddling around rocks in the river, you’ll want an inflatable or plastic board. For open water touring or surfing, a composite material such as epoxy-fiberglass or carbon fiber to decrease weight. But you’d be surprised at how a bit heavier board feels better in a headwind and waves. You’re momentum tends to carry through rather than being stopped at each little swell.

Some may argue that they want a wood board. That’s great. The difference is that instead of foam at the core of the board, you have wood. You’ll still have some kind of composite on the outside to keep water from soaking into the wood.

Fins: A strong fin box and good quality fin that you can adjust. A center fin is a must for straight paddling, while more fins, usually 3 smaller fins are used for paddling in both flat water or surf, and help “carve” while edging the board for a turn. Generally shorter flat boards come with 3 fin boxes. Longer flat boards have 1 center fin box because the manufacturers are not expecting you to surf the larger boards much.

Accessories: bungee cords on the front? fully padded on top, 3/4 padded, or no padding? What quality is the padding? Will it rip up quick or last a while?

Generally, if you look at a bunch of different boards closely you will see which seem to have a shoddy layup and outfitting.

4. Decide on price range

$800 to $3000 or more.

5. NOW go out looking

Take all of the above in to account and take a look around. At Lost Creek we have all lengths available in flat boards, with a few different brands available in used or new. What’s better, if you rent from us and then buy the board, your rental is free. There’s no better way to figure out what you want than trying a bunch of boards all in the same day.

Posted in Paddling | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paddler health – a winter venture

To put it simply, if you’re a paddler you are starting to get ready for the “season” which for us in the north starts when the ice goes out in April. First the rivers flood, then the lakes open up.

After I got a desk job with all the increased pay and benefits, I also started to get hurt more. My shoulder dislocated and then I hurt my lower back, neither of which I had ever had trouble with… All in one year. This was the year of sitting.

Now, paddlers do sit to paddle, but all the while proper stroke technique is increasing our core strength (good for the back) and the connective tissue and small endurance muscles. (the shoulder rotator cuff muscles)

But it’s too early to paddle so what to do to get ready? Check out our Paddler Heath page for updates on some strengthening ideas.

Posted in Paddling | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment