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
Arriving to camp after six hours in the car is always a relaxing experience. It’s three minutes to nine o’clock on the eastern edge of Missouri, and I’m looking forward to stretching, eating, and getting horizontal post-haste. After a requisite full-body exhale of relief, I crack the car door – and am instantly assaulted by a cacophony of sound. I reel, and it takes me a few seconds to realize what the hubbub’s all about. Cicadas. Many, many decibels’ worth of cicadas. Continue reading
Heart and Matter
I’ve been incredibly sick and warring with myself a lot these days, about what I want the blog to look like while I’m on this hiking-hiatus-turned-driving-extravaganza, about what I want the blog as a whole to accomplish. I’ve been writing and writing the last few months, and I can’t help but feel that, in a sense, I’ve lost my way. It’s not that I don’t feel some connection to place and space and movement through this amazing opportunity I’ve been given; it’s not even that I’m unhappy, or that I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. It’s just that I only have so much energy in a given day, and I think that energy would be better put to use in different ways.
So I’m going to change it up a little bit.
Some weeks, that energy is going to be best used talking about the cool trips I’m taking – for example, we’re going to get the chance to do three nights and four days of hiking on Isle Royale, and that is gonna be epic, and I’m already excited to share the experience. Other weeks – well, you know all those things that I’ve said I want to get back to, but haven’t? I think those things are important, and particularly important to me as a black woman outdoors, and I think that having my documentation of my week take precedence leaves me little and less energy for those important things. So I’m going to talk about being outdoors, and about myself in a tangential way – about what I see in the outdoors world and the outdoors community, and about what these things mean to me as a black female once and future thruhiker who wants everyone to get outdoors and care for our wild spaces.
I’m still going to (try to) post once a week. I’ll still be documenting mileage and talking about the cool stuff that’s happened in a Notable Accomplishments format, one that those of you who’ve joined me on my PCT and CT thruhikes will be familiar with. And of course I’ll still be posting rad pictures from the week, because I hope they speak to you as much as they speak to me. But I’m tired of skimming the surface. This format is going to let me go deeper into issues and events and occurrences that I think are important. It’s going to let me skip the things that are less-formative and cut to the heart of a matter, laugh about happenstance, or show you something awesome that happened.
So here goes. First one up later this weekend.
Miles 8071-8235: Nerd (On Vacation) Alert
I’m showered and dressed and full of excitement in the morning, even before coffee – Banita, Spesh and I are all headed to Denver Comic Con, the indoor delight that’s our treat to ourselves after two months of working outside. And what a treat it is. Continue reading
Miles 6888-8071: Under Over
It’s working all day and into the evening again – I’m beginning to have some severe misgivings about my ability to compartmentalize. At least this evening’s work consists mostly of trying to wrestle my camera into compliance. I’ve had this DSLR for years, and it’s large and bulky and inconvenient for carrying on foot many miles but produces some pretty great photos. Or would, if I could figure out how to get it to override the settings that stick with it even in “manual” mode. After about an hour of futzing, I call it done enough. Night shots aren’t this machine’s forte. Continue reading
Miles 5816-6888: Not-Nightmares
In the morning, we’re stILL NOT DONE WORKING, so we have to head back to Marion for the proper internet access. Womp womp. We spend another long day getting grumpy at all the civilization, and Spesh literally throwing up his hands in frustration is a sign that we’re done, even if we weren’t really done. That’s how it goes sometimes. Continue reading
Miles 4745-5816: Bright Lights, Big Cities
The Twin Cities Metro: the largest place we’ve been in a long time, and I’m honestly feeling something like shell-shock, what with all the people. We eat breakfast, find a cafe to squat in, get to work; given that this is some of the best tea I’ve ever tasted, I’m not surprised when Spyhouse Coffee’s population skyrockets later in the day. The tables being communal, I’m also not surprised when I’m drawn into conversation by an entrepreneur developing his client base looking to spread the love. I’m flattered and all, but I don’t think I’m necessarily the best person to write copy for a home renovation company. That whole “living out of a car” thing. Continue reading
Miles 4082-4745: Water Water Everywhere
In the morning, at our free dispersed campspot in the Paul Bunyan State Forest, the bugs are less terrible, but we see more ticks than we did last night – yeesh. So we pack up pretty quick, and are up and out to Grand Rapids for a workday. Continue reading