DULUTH — Jared Munch is a bona fide adventure junkie, so it’s not surprising he left from Brighton Beach in Duluth on Monday bound for James Bay on the Arctic Ocean.
He is paddling there. On a stand-up paddleboard.
Munch’s path takes him along the North Shore of Lake Superior from Duluth to the Michipicoten River in Ontario, about 490 miles away if you hug the lake’s shoreline. He’ll then paddle up the Michipicoten, portage over to the Missanabie River, then paddle down the fast-flowing Missanabie to James Bay, another 380 miles on rivers.
He expects to cover the 870 miles “in about a month,’’ Munch said last week. That’s an average of more than 30 miles per day, with gear and provisions lashed to his SUP.
“I’ve always wanted to paddle to the ocean,’’ Munch said.
In 2015, Munch circumnavigated Lake Superior on a SUP — the first person to do so. The trip, over 49 days, covered 1,350 miles of the big lake’s 1,800-mile shoreline (he paddled across rather than around some bays) from May 20 to July 29.
Munch, now 26, hoped to paddle straight across Lake Superior on this summer’s trip, cutting through the heart of the lake, but didn’t want to go without a boat to chaperone him. He couldn’t find any takers.
“Imagine that. Nobody wanted to go across the middle of Lake Superior with me,’’ he said with a laugh.
So he’ll be hugging the North Shore instead, arranging ahead of time for provisions to be dropped off at specific sites. He’ll be paddling alone along Lake Superior. His dad, Bill, will join him on the river portion of the trip.
“There’s some portaging on the Missanabie... There’s some Class 2 whitewater than I can do but there’s some Class 3 and 4 that is recommended to portage around,’’ Munch said.
Munch will be using a lightweight carbon fiber SUP for his lake travels and a bigger, tougher, inflatable SUP for the river portion.
Munch, a Lake Holcombe, Wis., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in May with a master’s degree in civil engineering, is working at a Duluth ski shop and a local whitewater rafting business this summer. He’s not sure where he’ll settle in for his engineering life after college. Wherever it is, he probably won’t be settling down any.
“Wherever there’s either good surfing, or good skiing, or both,’’ he said. “Duluth’s a pretty good compromise for both.”
You can follow his progress on his Facebook page, Jared Munch SUPerior Adventures. He’s calling the trip SUPerior to the Sea.
Munch is again hoping to raise money from donations for this trip. But, just like last time, it’s not to pay his trip expenses: It’s to raise money for Neighborhood Youth Services outdoor programming for kids.
“I would never ask anyone to pay for my fun,’’ Munch said, noting he has saved money for several years to cover the cost of paddling to the sea. While building his bank account, he’s also been building his body.
“I have spent a lot of time in the weight room over the past year to get ready for this… I have done a lot to improve my paddling skills since my last journey around the lake,’’ Munch said in assessing his current trip.