I am at the West Bluff of Brockway Mountain Pass overlooking the lake, it is extremely beautiful. I sat and tried to take it all in, one or two tears escaped. Some people showed up though and that was enough to stifle any more. I am struggling to figure out how to end this trip. Copper Harbor will be the first of many endings which will also include Isle Royale, the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and returning home. Actually, there have already been endings: my last resupply package, my last book, my blue blaze on the North Country Trail. Ending are just milestones later in the journey.
Before I started this trip, I thought of the places I would go with a fantasy-like “otherness,” a gauzy filter over everything. I thought that way about the UP especially, the trail generally, and little spots along the way. Now they are just places I have been, the are real to me and have no particular sheen to them. Reality is continuous and it connects the known of now to the unknown of the future without a lot of fanfare. While the beginning of this trip was easy to pinpoint, the end is hard. Maybe I’ll know the end in retrospect, but more likely it will just roll into whatever comes next. Life is rarely neatly packaged.
Last night was really something. I stopped by the house of my new friend and was floored by the beauty of the place. It looked like something from a magazine. It turns out that my host is the president of Eddie Bauer Japan. As we sat around and talked casually, I was extremely aware of my dirty skin and potent smell. It felt wrong to sit my grimy body on such beautiful furnishing. I can only imagine how cute the “cottage” was that I passed up an opportunity to sleep at. I was glad I set up my tent before coming over to avoid temptation.
Having been deprived of meaningful human interaction for so long, I felt myself brimming over with words. I couldn’t help but talk, couldn’t help but interrupt. Often, someone would mention something and I would say “I was literally just thinking of that” and it was always true! I realize how many different things I have reflected over on the course of this trip: from old Sex and the City episodes to childhood memories to social observations and questions of nature. It’s really amazing.
I woke up this morning from my campsite in Eagle River to the most beautiful scene I could imagine. What a magical place. I started my walk along the beach, on the advice of some of my friends from last night, and eventually arrived at a little bakery called the “Jampot” which is run by Catholic Monks. They make beautiful breads and jams and baked goods, often using berries that they pick in the surrounding woods. Amazing. Since arriving in the Keweenaw, I have been on roads more, passed through towns, and seen more people than before. Because of that, I have answered a lot of questions about my trip and become “known of” in a minor way. Lots of people stop to say they saw me yesterday or somewhere down the road. One man asked if I was the one from Traverse City. Everyone has been dully impressed and encouraging. Sometime this makes me feel proud but most of the time I feel like a fake.
I seems to me that I’m talking about what I’m doing more than I’m doing it. For another, I feel guilty about bingeing and about taking that ride all the way to Baraga. For another, it almost doesn’t seem that impressive, probably because it is my reality and I accept it as normal.
As much as I’m knocking myself now, I know that if I live 50 more years, I’ll look back at this trip and be damn proud. I wanted to do it and I did it. It wasn’t preordained, this didn’t have to happen. I made it happen. That comforting thought cut the guilt and made me smile. Most people’s questions are predictable and unremarkable. A lot of people ask how I got across form the Lower to the Upper Peninsula, or what I do for food, or why the hell I’m doing this. I got my favorite question today. A man driving past me called out his window and said “do you want a ride or are you walking on purpose?” “On Purpose!” I called back. Damn right.
I re-encountered some of my friends from last night as I walked along the road. They told me that the rumor around town was that I was an undercover FBI agent. Apparently I don’t look bedraggled enough to be a credible long-distance backpacker. I was simultaneously flattered and offended. Anyway, whoever came up with that theory obviously didn’t get close enough to smell me!
I made it to Copper Harbor! What a thrill I walked down from the Brockway Mountain drive along a black diamond mountain biking path. When I saw the sign “Welcome to Copper Harbor” I got chills. I made it! I posed in front of the sign and promptly fell as I was snapping the photo. How is it that this has never occurred to me before? I have hiked from the Leelanau Peninsula to the Keweenaw Peninsula. It’s a situation where the perfect name arises after the fact and it seems like it could only have been planned.
Continue to the next entry in the series here: Day 41: Copper Harbor to Lane Cove
Go back to the most recent entry here: Day 39: Calumet to Eagle River