The beach is swarming with flies. A couple-seconds of rest and then BAM! twenty of them land on me. I’ve hardly been able to rest all day because of them which is especially frustrating since my shin is still really painful. At one point, I tried to out-run the flies, that didn’t work. Then, in desperation, I picked up two handfuls of stones from the beach and released them while I spun around like a low-grade machine gun. That didn’t work either. A new threat to my wellbeing on this trail- insect induced insanity! But at last it was time to set up my tent, no flies inside, and I am calm.
So I am headed into the beautiful (so I’ve heard) Pictured Rocks! I thought I’d get there today but the east end of the park is more sand than rock. The terrain is getting more intense though, with massive sprawling sand dunes that would look like a desert landscape if it weren’t for the massive Lake Superior in the background.
I wasn’t too worried about this portion of the trail since it is such a popular destination for hikers. But apparently most hikers aren’t actually walking into the park, so the trail between Grand Marais and Pictured Rocks was an all-too-familiar series of baffling judgement calls- which thicket is my alleged trail? At one point, I stumbled across a deer standing not far in front of me. I have seen so little wildlife on this trip that it was a significant encounter. I was lost anyway, and not fixed to my route, so I veered off from the direction I was heading to avoid disturbing him. A minute later I was on the trail again. That deer steered me back on course! (I did get lost again about 20 minutes later but whatever.)
I passed an informational board to check out a map and while I was looking , it started moving! A little bat scooted out from behind it, stretched his wings, and went back underneath to sleep. I think of it as a little reward for taking my time to check the map (as if not getting lost wasn’t enough).
Yesterday when I was in Grand Marais, I stopped by a little shop called Gitche Gummee, which is think is an Ojibwe name for Lake Superior. It’s a mini-museum and shop with beautiful stones and gems. Stones are a big deal in this area since the shore here is covered in a lot of beautiful ones (some people use them for things other than pelting pesky flies!). The owner told me about one rock and how it was a couple billion years old. Then she said “if you believe the scientists, that means this rock is older than earth, which would make it an asteroid.” Cool if it’s true, but I was most interested in her wording. I asked her why she bothered with the disclaimer about scientists. She told me that she gets a lot of different types of people in here, and had just recently been verbally attacked by a man who was angry with her for teaching his daughter things that contradicted with the Bible (aka the earth is 6,000 years old). It was an interesting insight into the conflicts of someone who works at the intersection of science and sales.
It feels amazing to be entering into Pictured Rocks. Growing up in Michigan I have heard about this place my whole life but never seen it for myself. I didn’t even look up any pictures of it in advance, I have no idea what to expect. I started this trip off with so many goals and it’s not exactly clear to me if I’ll achieve any or all of them. Even if it doesn’t work out like I planned, I am out here trying every day. I have never spent any time alone before, never done anything by myself, it is a first that will be important to me the rest of my life.
The difference between Zero and One is only One, but the difference between Never and Once is immeasurable.
Continue to the next entry in this series here: Day 26: Something-Mile Beach to Pictured Rocks hideaway
Go back to the last entry in this series here: Day 24: Muscullunge State Park to Grand Marais