Surfer and whitewater paddling instructor Jared Munch has proved that the stand-up paddleboard is capable of way more than a mosey along the lakeshore.
Travelling a total of 2,172-kilometers, Munch paddled around the entirety of Lake Superior.
The 23-year-old started off in his native Duluth, Minnesota, before making his way along the Ontario shoreline from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie, and then following along the Michigan and Wisconsin shorelines until he returned to Minnesota. In all, the trip took 49-days on water.
Munch is believed to be the first person to ever stand-up paddleboard around Lake Superior.
“I did it because I wanted to challenge myself in an uncontrolled environment,” Munch said in an interview with the Duluth News Tribune. “If it had been easy, I wouldn’t have been interested in doing it.”
Munch piled his 14-foot paddleboard with 40-pounds of dry bags full of food and camping gear. To save time, Munch cut across large bays, a strategy that reduced his overall trip by approximately 724-kilometers.
However even with these shortcuts, Munch still paddled up to 80-kilometers a day and he only took a few days off when the weather was too hazardous and to compete in a paddleboard race.
Because Munch was paddling alone, he took extra precautions when deciding if it was safe to go out every day. He also wore a life jacket when he was far out and attached himself to his board by a three-meter cable strapped around his ankle.
What got him through these rough, long days? Thinking about food, of course.
“I thought about food a lot,” Munch says, “wondering where I’d get my next order of deed-fried cheese curds.”
Perhaps he was able to stop for a poutine while paddling along the Canadian coast, which he says offered the most dramatic views.
“[Between Thunder Bay and Terrace Bay], you’re paddling between all these islands two or three miles from shore. It’s really cool, like a miniature mountain range up there,” Munch says.
While the journey was about testing Munch’s physical and mental limits, it was equally about raising money for the Woodland Hills’ Neighbourhood Youth Services, a program that promotes healthy and active lifestyles for young people. He raised about $1,600 for the organization.
Now that he’s completed his goals, Munch has a newfound appreciation for the Great Lake.
“It used to feel like a black hole and you’d get sucked in and never come out,” Munch says. “I did get sucked in, and now I don’t want to leave. Now that I’ve gone all the way around, it feels more like home to me.”