Day 3 – Trail Maintenance?!

I’m awake at 3:30 – my initial reaction is “what fresh hell is this”, but I’m actually feeling better than I have any right to be, considering I didn’t eat last night. Not that I intend to eat now; I’m writing for the blog, taking notes from yesterday for the water report, generally reviewing the day to see what’s in store for us. I should do this more often.¬† Continue reading

Day 2 – Trending to Difficult

My alarm goes off at 4:30, but I lay there in the light-enough-to-see-by until 4:45, just watching the day begin. Our plan was to make it out of camp by 5:30, but the fact that it’s so bright already at 4:30 is unnerving; yet another aspect of this trip I didn’t prepare for. I don’t know if I want this – it’d be easy enough to just turn around, head out the ten miles we headed in and what is this, what are these thoughts that I’m having, wanting to end something that’s scarcely begun. That’s not how we do things with this human. Get it together.¬† Continue reading

Day 1 – Hydrate or Die

I check the clock, fearful of waking my hosts. It’s 3:11am. I think I’m going to have a hard time getting back to sleep, but by the time I’m done thinking it it’s 6:25 and my alarm is going off. I hit the snooze button and once again time twists changes slows, for me, for this moment; the ten minutes to 6:35 try to give me a few last moments of peace, of comfort.

Once I start walking, that’s likely to change.

Continue reading

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

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 3554-4082: Dearth and Excess

Apparently I push my mind too hard on our workday in Fargo, because this evening, after reading something entirely innocuous, I let my brain talk me into terror. It’s quiet out here at Buffalo River State Park, so quiet the wind is a distant whisper, and the creaking of the trees in the wet of the afternoon rain is haunting, otherworldly. I lose my goddamn mind when I hear footsteps in the gravel, see shadows leaning over the tent – I’m in a goddamn horror movie, they’re coming, I don’t wanna die like this. I wake Spesh and we do a sweep of the nearby sites. Nothing. Continue reading

Interlude: Consumption

I’ve been consuming a lot lately. Well, maybe not food, like I probably should be – I’m doing a surprising number of miles for living out of a Subaru, and I’ve likely spent the last week sore as a result of not eating enough. I’m not good with food. But I have a really hard time keeping myself from gorging on social media, mainly to keep up with people I care about, but also to indulge in that singular masochism that is reading the news.

And there has been so much news of late. Too much news to really recount. Continue reading