Day 22: Paradise to Lake Superior near Two Hearted River

beachA lot to think about today. I am sitting by only the second campfire I have made on this trip. I am on beach along the Lake Superior shore. I am totally alone and it is truly beautiful. Yesterday I suffered a major setback. I tend to worry about food and water and insects and getting lost but I should be focused on another threat- I am a worthy adversary to myself. Continue reading “Day 22: Paradise to Lake Superior near Two Hearted River”

Day 21: Lower Tahquamenon Falls to Paradise

7-26_foamswirlI am marooned in a brewery next to the Tahquamenon Falls as the sky dumps down all around me. I ordered myself Falls Tannen beer and am contemplating my next move. I hardly slept last night. Crazy thunderstorms woke me up and itching feet kept me up. I guess I got poison ivy on my feet when I was trouncing around naked during my Day of Nothing.

I woke up this morning and walked around the trail network in the area before packing up. I felt guilty when I saw the path where the North Country Trail enters the camp because I got a ride here but it felt great to walk around without my pack on. I bounded up and down the trails like a little kid. The water in that area is a big frothy foam of water swirled up by the descent from the waterfall. Continue reading “Day 21: Lower Tahquamenon Falls to Paradise”

Day 20: Naomikong Creek Shelter to Lower Tahquamenon Falls

7-25_LakeviewJesus what a day already. I was out on the trail by 8:15am and it’s only 9:30 now. I walked all of 5 minutes from my little cabin shelter and what a shock to see my first view of Lake Superior! I actually laughed out loud when I saw it because it was such a thrill. I can’t believe I was so close to for over a full day. There was still a bit of distance between me and the lake but I could see it! Continue reading “Day 20: Naomikong Creek Shelter to Lower Tahquamenon Falls”

Day 19: Day of Nothing

7-24_cabinTo the Boy Scout Troops and the Hiawatha North Country Trail chapter,

Thanks so much for the wonderful shelter that you built! I am writing to you from inside of it right now, where I have set up my tent (I still need it to keep the bugs away) and am happily settled for the night. It is so nice to be in this lovely spot and to have a clean space to spread all my stuff out on a floor!

 I have been hiking the North Country Trail for the past few weeks. Yesterday I was hoping to make it all the way to Lake Superior but, with a late start, tired feet, and strong headwinds, I came up short. I had gone over 20 miles but I realized I wouldn’t make it before dark. I set a rule for myself that I MUST stop by 9:30pm. I was running out of time so I turned off the trail into this little clearing. What a surprise to find this beautiful structure! I looked at my watch- it was 9:27. I have been hiking for over 250 miles and this is the very first structure for campers that I have found. 

I noticed the little sign that you built this on Father’s Day this past April. I don’t know how many customers you have had yet but I wanted to let you know that you have a very happy camper!

I hope you all get the chance to enjoy the North Country Trail as well. Thank you for making my time here special!


Continue reading “Day 19: Day of Nothing”

Day 18: Pine to Naomikong Creek Shelter

7-23_nctAnother day of total solitude. I think most women in my situation might fear the possibility of encountering someone, might fear being taken advantage of. But in the safety of my imagination, I absolutely hope for it. Once again I‘ve been comparing myself to a soldier (I’m such a cocky asshole). This time though, the stereotype I identify with isn’t a water-logged Vietnam Vet, but a love-sick WWII trenchman who gazes longingly at the picture of his sweetheart back home. In other words, I’m horny like a soldier.

Continue reading “Day 18: Pine to Naomikong Creek Shelter”

Day 17: Gamble to Pine

7-22_treetopsLast night I slept over 11 hours. This is the second morning in a row I woke up after 10 hours or so and then went back to sleep. It felt wonderful. I was totally surrounded by forest, completely alone. There was a soft breeze and the sun shone through the trees. I stared awhile through the roof of my tent at the trees above me and drifted off again. Sleep till noon? Don’t mind if I do!

Sleeping long hours and walking alone with my thoughts all day is like being in a continuous dream. My mind is like a lighthouse and my brain is the light, resting on a pool of mercury. Wherever I cast my gaze, I send a steady beam of light out in front of me. I feel healthy in body and mind. I am completely at peace. Continue reading “Day 17: Gamble to Pine”

Day 16: Breevort Lake to Gamble

7-21_damThe UP has been good to me so far. It is very peaceful here. Not a whole different world like I might’ve expected. It is all familiarly natural, just maybe turned up a notch; slightly wilder, slightly hillier, and a little–over-slightly more solitary. I have not seen any people today, no wildlife either, really. I passed a beaver dam that could have been promising but there was no activity, chances are the little beavers were resting in the heat of the day. I moved on.

I filled up my canteen in a river today and the water was reddish yellow. It looked like I had already dumped a bunch of iodine in it, or, more unsettlingly, like a bottle full of pee. I am grateful for a recent conversation about Tahquamenon Falls, where I was reminded of the tannins that die the water a rusty color. If it hadn’t been for that, I would find it almost impossible to drink this water, and it’s all I’ve got! Continue reading “Day 16: Breevort Lake to Gamble”

Day 15: Straits State Park to Brevoort Lake

7-20_mac bridgeMy first full day in the UP has been far from seamless and it’s not the fault of the trail or the terrain or the outside world, it’s just me.

First thing this morning I found the trail really easily but accidentally headed the wrong way. It worked out though because I ended up at the Visitor Center right across the Mackinaw Bridge and I had a few questions. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a decorative display of “Jiffy Mixes” boxes as a demonstration of the awesomeness of our state. I proudly told the people behind the counter that Jiffy was made in my hometown of Chelsea, Michigan- thus marking the one and only time in my life that I actually increased my social status for that little tidbit! The people there were really nice, they even let me use their computer so I could log into my bank and figure out my routing number- which is the last step I needed to complete to finalize my health insurance. I actually phone-ordered some health insurance from the ferry ride to Mackinaw Island yesterday. It’s ridiculous trying to do “real life” things on the trail but somehow I worked it out.  It’s finally taken care of. I think. Bring it on, UP.
Continue reading “Day 15: Straits State Park to Brevoort Lake”

Day 14: Mackinaw City to Straits State Park

7-19_stormyskiesOh my god, last night. First of all, I’m so glad that I stayed in a hotel. We had a colossal storm. The wind was so bad that a semi-truck was actually blown off the Mackinaw Bridge. Good call, me.

I really enjoyed the storm since I knew I had a dry space to go back to. I scampered all around town, staring at the massive incoming clouds and taking pictures of the foreboding weather. It looked like there was a sky battle going on between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. I thought a line from the book I just read where Nicola Tesla describes a “brisk wind, richly charged”- that’s exactly how it felt, it was electrifying. Continue reading “Day 14: Mackinaw City to Straits State Park”

Day 12: Cross Village to Wilderness State Park

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 5.46.00 PMMy motivation has been flagging more and more these last few days, today more so than ever. Sore feet, 90 degree-pus weather, unbearable humidity and buckets of rain have made me doubt how far I’ll make it. I thought seriously about quitting today for the first time when every step made my feet scream. I’ve worried about food and water and getting lost but if my feet don’t work, none of that other stuff matters. I plunked down on the trail and did some surgery on my shoe to alleviate the pressure on my left big toe and things stopped being so dire. But still, I crossed a line- I actually considered quitting!

I set out on this trip without defining an ending. I figured I’d take the Forrest Gump approach and go until I’m ready to go home. I’ve considered various finishing lines, some geographic, some symbolic: hiking to the “End of the Road” in Copper Harbor is the original dream but I might not make it that far; going 500 miles would be really cool; hiking until I’ve been “symptom-free” form bulimia for 4 weeks would be great; or maybe I’ll just keep going and going until I get to Wisconsin or Minnesota or Canada and hitchhike on a sailboat all around the Great Lakes. With no set finish line, there is a danger that I’ll give in to a moment of weakness and quit before I’m really ready but I gave up so much of my life back home for this trip, I think I’ll stay awhile. Continue reading “Day 12: Cross Village to Wilderness State Park”