Kayaking for a cause

HANCOCK – A Copper Country couple will set off on an extraordinary voyage Monday, paddling out of Copper Harbor on a quest to circumnavigate Copper Island – all of the Keweenaw north of the Portage Waterway.

“We circumnavigated Isle Royale last year in a kayak with friends, and it went so well it went to our heads,” said Hancock’s Sue Ellen Kingsley, who will be taking on the Copper Island Kayak Challenge with her husband, Terry Kinzel. “We decided we could tackle going around the Keweenaw as well.”

Once the idea for the trip began to take shape, the couple added a few extra goals – to learn about the geology of the Keweenaw and share that learning with others, and to raise money for the Keweenaw Land Trust, a group that works to purchase, preserve and restore natural lands in the Keweenaw.

“Terry is on the board of the Land Trust, and is one of the founders, and we both really hold it close to our hearts,” Kingsley said. “We’re always looking for ways to raise funds for the trust, especially for the operating costs. We can get grants for the big projects, but it’s always hard to get operating costs for the staff.”

Kingsley said she and Kinzel will be meeting with retired Michigan Technological University geologist Bill Rose to learn about some of the geologically significant sites they’ll see along the way. They hope to locate the Keweenaw Fault that runs along Bete Gris and Bare Bluff near Lac La Belle, find the “Green Line” – apparently a mineral vein – off Copper Harbor, and explore some of the geological phenomena at Horseshoe Harbor, just north of Copper Harbor.

They hope to blog about what they see and learn along the way, though they’re still trying to figure out how to manage Internet connectivity to make that happen. Neither has a high-end cell phone, Kingsley said, but they’re looking at other options.

“One thing someone has mentioned is the possibility of borrowing a phone with a wi-fi hot spot,” she said. “If it had a connection, we could connect to an iPad and post to the blog.”

The couple is also seeking rest stops along the way, where they might be able to borrow Internet access and/or a bed for the night.

“I really like to camp, but my husband’s not so fond,” Kingsley said. “He’s been all-out trying to find places we can stay.”

The couple hope to make the approximately 120-mile trip in about eight days, and are inviting experienced kayakers to join them for whatever parts of the trip they can. Coordination may be a challenge though, Kingsley admits, as the itinerary is weather dependent.

She said Land Trust president Evan MacDonald plans to paddle along for the first leg, and several other friends are hoping to join in.

Kingsley said adding the fundraising aspect to their voyage has created extra motivation, with pledges generally given on a per-mile basis.

“There are quite a few pledges coming in,” she said.

“One says he’ll only pay if we complete entire thing. That’s quite a challenge. We can’t wimp out.”

There will be a bon voyage gathering open to all at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor.

To follow the voyage, download a pledge form or pledge online, go to If you’d like to join in the adventure, contact Kinzel or Kingsley at or 482-6827.