My 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.
This part of the trail is incredibly well groomed, it’s like Disney World compared to a lot of the places I’ve been. And it’s beautiful, as advertised. The geography is hillier and more dramatic than most of what I’ve seen so far, the cliffs have different strains of color running through them, the water is an absurd blue that I rarely associate with Michigan, and of course, the lake is a stellar backdrop.
At one point I turned off the trail a little ways to make a pit stop when I suddenly heard voices. I pulled up my pants just in time to see a crowd of 10 people walking up the trail. They were middle-aged, overweight, decked out in brand-spanking new “walking shoes” and carrying large water bottles- tourists if I’ve ever seen them. Apparently I had made it to the most popular destination in the whole park and apparently it is accessible to drivers after a short, paved walk. I’m glad for everyone’s sake that they didn’t encounter me in a compromising position.
Chapel Rock is gorgeous. A tree stands alone on an island of a cliff. The land has eroded away all around it but the tree seems to stabilize the ground beneath it. It’s massive roots extend across the gap, connecting the tree to the “mainland.” I swam at the beach below to clean off and overheard a nearby boy scout call me a “beach babe.” The troop and I hit the trail together, trying to outrun a storm. When the storm actually started, the boys suddenly stopped, retreated into the woods, put on their rain gear, and stood there waiting out the rain. It was adorable. I kept going because I am not only a babe, I’m also a badass (at least that’s what I wanted them to think). I realize now that the 15 minutes I spent with them are the first time this entire trip that I have actually hiked with another person. It was exhilarating, by far the best storm of the trip. The weather was warm so I didn’t mind being wet. The sky was huge and open in front of me, pelting rain, beautiful clouds, gorgeous cliffs. It was electrifying and amazing and I loved it. The scenery went from looking like a tropical postcard to a doomsday scene.
After the storm, I stopped for dinner. As I was sitting there eating, a gorgeous man walked out of Lake Superior in a wetsuit. It was like a scene in a movie other than for the fact that I have hairy legs and armpits, insect-repellent pants, and a bug-spray stain on the left nipple of my only shirt. He’s a scuba diver, of all things, and by far the most attractive person I’ve seen in a month. He’s is also an on-duty camp counsellor and therefore unavailable to make sweet love to me. Bummer.
I was motivated by the boy scouts, sexual frustration, and fear of getting caught without a backcountry permit so I just kept going, hammering out the miles. I was strange to see other hikers for the first time. Some of them are day hikers, some are taking a few days to go through the whole park. I don’t mean to but I am becoming a hiking snob, I stare at their super-bulky packs and their massive hiking boots and breeze right by them.
The trail was slippery from the rain and I almost fell many times today. Thank god for my walking sticks.
I didn’t manage to make it to the end of the park, and since I don’t have apermit, I am illegally camping once again. I decided not to stay in an actual campsite so I went on a side trail down to the water and set up on a tiny patch of beach next between the water and the forest/hill. I keep hoping for the night when I will finally be able to sleep under the open sky. The temperature today is right but the mosquitos are not. I am getting really sick of setting up and taking down my tent every day but it’s worth not becoming one swollen itching bug bite.
Continue to the next entry in the series here: Day 27: Pictured Rocks hideaway to Big Buck Creek
Go back to the last entry in the series here: Day 25: Grand Marais to Something-Mile Beach