Day 44: Moskey to the end of the road

rise5I 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

walkingdarkI 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 36: Herman Road to South Entry Road

the bayI can’t sleep without writing damn it! My brain wont let me. I have over 8 hours until my alarm goes off and I look forward to some high-value sleep given that I am in a BED. A woman named Connie from the nearest North County Trail chapter took me in. Yay! I think that I’m sleeping so many hours lately not just because I’ve been walking so much, but also because the sleep has been so unrestful. In addition to the normal issues of cold nights, teetering on my sleeping pad and bug bites, I have been scared every single night since leaving Marquette. Its amazing to have such a stretch of fear after having none at all up until now. I’m a more seasoned backpacker now, but I am not immune to the threats of coyotes, wolves, moose, questionable mushrooms, and murky grey shapes behind trees in the rainy-soaked dusk. Last night I had a new concern– drunk drivers.

I slept just off a road, which seemed to be very untraveled. I tried setting up my camp in a piece of property just off the road but the ground was a hard-packed clay. The whole tent relies on the tension between the two ends and it collapses without a good hold so I absolutely needed to stake it. I dragged my half-made camp down the road another ½ mile until the looming darkness demanded that I settle for what was available– a little turn-around near an entrance to some private property. I could see skid-marks in the clay dirt and suddenly the remoteness of the location began to feel sinister instead of secure. Just like the last time I slept in a turn-around like this, it was Friday night. I could easily imagine some bros with a pick-up and nothing better to do driving around back roads with a 6-pack, spinning out and goofing off where they thought no one else would find them. After fretting in my tent awhile, I got out and set up my pack against the road-side end of my tent, hoping to create a barrier or at least a speed bump for any potential threat. Of all the ways I have contemplated dying on this trip, getting run over by a drunk driver is the least appealing- nothing poetic about that at all. Continue reading “Day 36: Herman Road to South Entry Road”

Day 34: Red Road to McCormick Wilderness

500 milesLast night I slept 12 hours. I was cold. I should’ve put the rain fly on but when I opened my eyes to get up, I immediately saw a shooting star. I didn’t want to cut myself off from the sky so I closed my eyes with a smile and snuggled in.

My light is dead so I am writing blind. I hope I can read this later. I made it to 500 motherfucking miles today. It feels really good. I say “…and I would walk 500 miles…” but it was rainy and hard going so I wasn’t exactly happy in the traditional sense.

Continue reading “Day 34: Red Road to McCormick Wilderness”

Day 33: Lost to Red Road


Just breaking camp, I’ve decided not to backtrack. There is a portion of the trail that is unmarked and I’m fairly certain I’m on it.

Its funny that, after being lost and getting rained on and bushwacking, I was SO excited to find not just a path but a blue blaze- I was on the trail! I took a picture of the blaze out of sheer appreciation. Then, almost immediately after regaining my way, I have to abandon them again. I’m still so glad I saw what I saw because it implies that I am on “the part of the trail that has no blazes” versus “the part of the world that has no blazes.” It’s a meaningful difference! Continue reading “Day 33: Lost to Red Road”

Day 30: Lakenenland to Marquette

marquetteapproachI got up bright and early and made my way into Marquette. It’s amazing how different the miles seem to me when I’m close to civilization. It’s just so much more interesting when the scenery changes, the approach to Marquette was beautiful. I went 15 miles today, on the low end but nothing to sniff at, but because I was in a city, It almost feels like they don’t “count.” It’s Sunday so I have to wait till tomorrow to pick up my mail. I am anxious to get going.

I went to the library to figure out just what the hell my course will be. I’m actually approaching the point where I will have to deviate from the North Country Trail because it heads west into Wisconsin and I’m heading north up the Keweenaw Peninsula. I didn’t bother looking into the details before I left because I didn’t have time and didn’t know if I’d make it this far anyway. It’s exciting that the time has come. Continue reading “Day 30: Lakenenland to Marquette”

Day 26: Something-Mile Beach to Pictured Rocks hideaway

picturedrocks-duneMy day today began on the beach, where I thought the trail was. Before long my path was blocked by a river, which forced me upstream to cross it, and there I found a beautiful, well-marked, well-groomed trail. I wonder how many miles of it I have obliviously skipped over. I wonder how far I wouldn’t gone if it weren’t for that river! t guess I’m just used to the trail being hard to follow so I didn’t think too much about following the beach. That, and I was trying to zone-out/crank-out the miles. That, and I don’t have a map (I actually avoided writing that in my own journal until now because I’m annoyed with myself). The whole day was filled with gorgeous scenery.

Continue reading “Day 26: Something-Mile Beach to Pictured Rocks hideaway”

Day 23: Lake Superior near Two Hearted River to Muscullunge State Park

Last night is the most scared I have been in a long time. Here’s what happened:

It doesn’t happen very often that the weather, bugs, and geography align in such a way that I can sleep under the open sky. Last night looked like it might be that kind of night. I set out my sleeping bag on my tarp next to the fire and tried to sleep. There were no trees above to block the heat radiating out into the night sky, nothing to blunt the wind blowing in from Lake Superior and it got progressively colder.

I laid my sleeping bag on the tarp to sleep. It was too cold for that so I set up my tent. Still too cold so I added the rain fly. Then it actually started raining. It didn’t help that I didn’t have my long underwear. All night I was cold, half-awake half-asleep trying to push though it. I’m not sure when but at some point, I realized I was wet. Continue reading “Day 23: Lake Superior near Two Hearted River to Muscullunge State Park”