Isle Royale, Day One: Kinetic Memory

It’s a lively entrance into the harbor – a few fishermen are chilling in the commercial channel, and seem entirely unbothered by the large passenger vessel approaching them at speed. They don’t move or really bother to look up before an unexpected blast from the ferry’s tooting mechanism and an adapted loudspeaker rendition of “hey you kids get offa my lawn” from the captain, after which they grudgingly make way. We put in and tie off with no further excitement, save the fact that we’re here, Isle Royale National Park at last. Continue reading

Falling UP + Isle Royale Beginnings

It’s barely the end of August, and the chill tendrils of fall are starting to push their way into Michigan’s upper peninsula. I’ve spent the majority of the day until now wrapped in my sleeping bag, first in the tent, then in the hammock, and I’ve been thankful for it – it’s our first day in five that we’ve been allowed to sleep in, to move in the morning of our own accord. Still, the cold of both the mornings and the evenings haven’t lent themselves to much movement; only in the stark sun of the cool afternoons are short sleeves, a skirt, tolerable.

We’ve been working hard since we arrived in the UP, first at trying to make miles with packs not purpose-built, then at making connections, first on Isle Royale, then here on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We’ve spent a week here, catching up from our week out of service, working with incredibly passionate people to protect the lands they’re slowly turning from private to public. The lack of any real break, combined with the emotional fallout from a return to a land of false equvalencies and attempts at public lands-grabbing, has meant a starker schedule for me: wake, work, succumb to the inexorable draw of a nap, half-wake, work late, dinner late, insomnia. Repeat. It’s only now, with a half-day to myself – Spesh knows I need recharge time, and has left me to my own devices – that I’m able to look back on the last couple weeks, to feel like I can do the Isle Royale trip any justice in words that, before now, stayed obstinately stuck inside. But here’s a taste, to be augmented in the coming posts. Continue reading

Inside and In-Between

We’ve slept inside been doing a lot of sleeping inside in the last couple of weeks. It’s not that we haven’t wanted to enjoy the dregs of summer, but I’ve got friends all over, and given that tomorrow could apparently bring nuclear war isn’t promised, I’ve been making it a point to see them where I can. I haven’t been too worried about it, mostly because I know that our trip to Isle Royale National Park is fast approaching. This’ll be the second time in as many weeks that I’ll have gotten out to hike, and while we’re trying to do 50-odd miles on this latter trip, any amount of time sucking wind and enjoying the outside feels good these days. Continue reading

Stopgap: Canoefuls of Fun

Sooooo I have two posts ready for you – one about last week and one about the political climate we find ourselves in – and both of them are on my computer. In the Subaru. I, on the other hand, am chilling in the Boundary Waters after canoeing five-odd miles today. So you’ll get a post tomorrow and a post on Saturday; but meanwhile, here’re a few things about canoeing you should know before you go that I definitely didn’t learn the hard way, no way no how. Continue reading

Not-Hiking

I crest a ridge and am greeted by the morning – the sky above is laced with deep, dark storm clouds, but underneath them shines the dawn, the sun hanging heavy just above the lip of the world. Everything’s painted a brilliant orange, the road in front of me threading over rolling hills, slinking off into the distance. I’ve got more than 700 miles to drive today – right around 12 hours – but I wish I could stop and enjoy this. It’s one of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen1. Continue reading

Colorado Rockies Ruck: Full Docket

Friday morning, I’m just settling into my to-do list and I get a call – it’s my new employer, wanting to know if I’m available to pick up some more work. Mama need to make dat skrilla, so yes, yes I am available. When I arrive, settle into the scope of the project, I fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew; the work’s certainly entertaining enough, but having picked it up in the middle of doing things it goes a lot more slowly than I would like. 14 hours later, I regret everything – it’s 2:30am, and I’ve got the Rockies Ruck tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I mean I need to be up in four hours. Hoo boy. Here we go. Continue reading

TIL – Incidental Mountain Climber

I get informed upon waking that our friend Pajamas is in town, which is a rare treat – he’s building a climbing center in Nepal, and only gets a few months off a year. He comes over to hang out, asks Spesh and I if we want to go hiking. Sure, I say – it’s gorgeous out, and my student for the day has cancelled on me, so I’m definitely interested in doing something outside-ish. Between the winter and the knee recovery and whatnot, I haven’t done much in the way of hiking since I’ve been back, and I think it’s time to test the healing out. Pajamas did Green Mountain yesterday, so he’s wanting to do South Boulder Peak, maybe Bear Peak today. Alright, I’m down. So we load up the car and set out into the morning. Continue reading