Mom, Grandma and I drove back in less than two days. It was almost insulting to look out the window and see the great distance I had so laboriously covered roll by so quickly. I immediately chaffed against the new dynamic wherein I was not in control and had to make constant conversation. Grandma sensed that I wasn’t feeling talkative, and even her suggestion of “quiet time” turned into a discussion on the merits of silence. I drove the whole way to retain some semblance of power. Continue reading “Closing Thoughts”
From Leelenau to Keweenaw
Over the past 6 weeks I have backpacked across northern Michigan along the North Country Trail. I walked from the Leelenau to the Keweenaw Peninsula- the end of the road- ultimately covering over 700 miles on foot by myself.
It was an amazing trip, and I am so proud, so thrilled to be done. For weeks on end I did not see a single familiar face, and many days passed where I saw no one at all. Without anyone to experience them with, most of these memories are mine alone. But I know that my time out on the trail has made an indelible mark on who I am and that I will always look back on this and an important part of my life. Here are some pictures I took of myself along the way, sometimes to substitute for a mirror when I hadn’t seen my own face in a long time, and sometimes just to remind myself later of where I was and what I did there.
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Day 45: the end of the road
It is over. I am sitting in a pristine white room overlooking the Lake Superior shore while mom and grandma walk on the beach. I told them I was exhausted, that I need a nap, and it’s true, but first I have to write. I don’t know how to feel yet, I don’t know what to do with myself. Here is what happened: Continue reading “Day 45: the end of the road”
Day 44: Moskey to the end of the road
I am back at Rock Lodge ready to take the ferry off of Isle Royal back to Copper Harbor. It’s 1:30 and I’ve already gone over 15 miles, possibly a record for this early in the day. I am exhilarated! I ran the last stretch of trail into the harbor. Yay!
I woke up before dawn again this morning even though I no longer needed to see a moose. I moved from my campsite and set myself up on the nearby shore to watch the sunrise. I think it is the first time that I have ever really and truly watched a sunrise, though I definitely had my eyes closed most of the time, snuggled up against the cold in my sleeping bag. I didn’t even know exactly which part of the sky to watch. The color crept into the sky but the sun itself refused to come up for the longest time.
After over an hour, I was itching to go. I considered taking off without seeing the sunrise but knew that wouldn’t be right. Suddenly, a bright spot appeared. Once the sun broke the horizon, it rose rapidly. Soon it was a full blood-red sphere in the sky. Somewhere from the deep recesses of my memory, a song came to me and I sang: “I think it’s gonna be alright, yeah, the worst is over now. The morning sun is rising like a red rubber ball.” The words caught in my throat as I sang, it was a mixture of anguish and joy. A few tears fell. I love that that song was somewhere inside of me, especially since I’ve been haunted by unwanted background music this whole week. I could never have planned it, it was perfect. Continue reading “Day 44: Moskey to the end of the road”
Day 43: Todd Harbor to Moskey
I woke up at 5:30 and hiked through the dark and the dawn. I passed a few places that I thought were all but a sure thing for a moose sighting but came up short. As I walked in the dark, I didn’t need my headlamp because the moon was so full. I was tromping along with my eyes trained on the path and I happened to lift my head and look to the right. And then, a moose! I swallowed a squeal in my throat and stood as still as I could. I stared for a few seconds and then averted my eyes to avoid giving the impression that I was challenging her. Then she took off running into the thick brush. I hugged myself, I grinned. It finally happened! I didn’t get a picture, but it’s ok. I know what I saw! I enjoy these days of starting early, talking long breaks and not going quite as far. Continue reading “Day 43: Todd Harbor to Moskey”
Day 42: Lane Cove to Todd Harbor
Isle Royale is awesome, I am camping at Todd Cove after my first full day on the island and I feel great. I swam naked again, there was absolutely no one around. I was in the open sun for a lot of the day and I used dirt as sunblock. Unable to see myself, I wasn’t sure if it actually worked but I just took a selfie and yup, it stayed on just fine. There is a dock near the campsite and I jumped off of it and into the water. It made me laugh. I don’t usually do those playful things alone, I guess. I realize how rarely I laugh on my own, which is kind of sad because it means I haven’t laughed very much on this trip. Laughter is just a social thing so it’s understandable why I haven’t. Still, it’s a very sweet thing to laugh on my own in joy. I looked at my naked body while I laid on the dock to dry off. Certain things displeased me, like the small padding on my stomach or my hairy bikini line. It was nice to simply observe those things and let them go. I can’t do anything about them and there is no one around anyway so why would I suck in my gut? Continue reading “Day 42: Lane Cove to Todd Harbor”
Day 41: Copper Harbor to Lane Cove
I’m on the ferry to Isle Royale planning my itinerary. I want to do an impressive number of miles but I have 4 days and 3 nights so it’s just long enough that I can convince myself that I’ll see plenty without killing myself trying. The terrain will be tougher than I’m used to so a mile is not just a mile. I want to see sunrises and sunset and wildlife and I will make time for that even if it cuts into my distance. Continue reading “Day 41: Copper Harbor to Lane Cove”
Day 40: Eagle River to Copper Harbor
I am at the West Bluff of Brockway Mountain Pass overlooking the lake, it is extremely beautiful. I sat and tried to take it all in, one or two tears escaped. Some people showed up though and that was enough to stifle any more. I am struggling to figure out how to end this trip. Copper Harbor will be the first of many endings which will also include Isle Royale, the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and returning home. Actually, there have already been endings: my last resupply package, my last book, my blue blaze on the North Country Trail. Ending are just milestones later in the journey.
Day 39: Calumet to Eagle River
My birthday was a month ago today, its strange because it actually seems like longer. I’ve come a long way since then but I’ve also fallen back quite a bit. Even though I’m still battling every day, I do know that I have come a long way from where I was 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 years ago. I am so much closer to recovery and health, I am headed in the right direction even though I haven’t yet reached my destination. Continue reading “Day 39: Calumet to Eagle River”
Day 38: Houghton to Calumet
I’m now in the last week of my trip. I feel very solemn about it. I want to honor the journey by ending it right. I’ll try very hard not to use my phone or to escape into social media, texts and phone calls. I want to be in my head. I want to think things and do things that I couldn’t do in my normal life.
Yesterday I arrived in the town of Houghton, today I passed from Houton through Hancock and am now here in Calumet. They are all beautiful. The fact that I am on roads instead of trails means that I am around more civilization now than ever, even though in many ways I am in the most remote area. Continue reading “Day 38: Houghton to Calumet”