I’m on the ferry to Isle Royale planning my itinerary. I want to do an impressive number of miles but I have 4 days and 3 nights so it’s just long enough that I can convince myself that I’ll see plenty without killing myself trying. The terrain will be tougher than I’m used to so a mile is not just a mile. I want to see sunrises and sunset and wildlife and I will make time for that even if it cuts into my distance.
Last night, arriving in Copper Harbor was exciting. It coincided with another cool milestone- 1000 kilometers. I stocked up on food supplies for Isle Royale at a little general store and cross the street to check out the last microbrewery on my slow bar crawl! Here’s where I’ve been:
- Petoskey Brewing Co., Petoskey
- Tahquamenon Falls Brewery, Tahquamenon Falls
- Lake Superior Brewing Co., Grand Marais
- Keweenaw Brewing Co., Houghton
- Michigan House, Calumet
- Blackrocks, Marquette
- Brickside Brewery, Copper Harbor
The bartender was a seasoned backpacker names Dave who managed to make me feel incredibly inferior without really trying. I gave some generic line about how ready I was to be back home and how ridiculously long I’ve been on the road. He was unimpressed. He has gone much farther for much longer and more times. I wish I could avoid altering my view of myself so much according to other people’s responses. Then again, I did feel proud that I was able to even engage in a conversation with a seasoned backpacker like him, we are at least comparables if not equals in this realm.
The ferry from Copper harbor to Isle Royale is a few hours long and left quite early this morning. The sun rose as I waited to catch the ferry, it was peaceful and beautiful, a great entrée into this leg of the trip. There are no campsites within easy walking distance of town so I actually pitched my tent on the lawn of Dave’s trailer. He actually invited me to share his bed but I declined. I feel purposeful, committed to certain standards these last few days. Of course, I felt guilty too, for having gone to a bar when I feel I should be roughing it. Oh yeah, I threw up yesterday too, I binged while I was writing. It’s interesting and scary how the act of writing in this journal has become an act of distraction that allows me to get away with overeating. Simultaneous self-reflection and denial.
I continue to get gratification from the interaction that I have with men that are “beyond flirtation” where I, as a solo female traveler, can meet and talk to and spend time with men without expectation or romance. I was thinking of how often I embellish my pleasure for the sake of whatever man I’m with. I wonder what it would be like if every noise and gesture and behavior was as though I was masturbating,- nothing to fake and no one to impress.
I think it has been really beneficial for me to be alone so much on this trip because I am so easily affected by other people and other people’s feelings (or my distraction by my assumptions of their feelings). I met a guy in Houghton who told me he’d done the Appalachian Trail and the North Country Trail. He said that this was by far harder because there was such a lack of clear routes and trail support and fellow hikers along the way. I guess that outweighed the difficulty of the terrain in his eyes. I wish I didn’t care but it made me feel pretty bad-ass. Pictured Rocks and Isle Royale will be the only places where I have actually been around other hikers. I’ve fantasized about what my trail name might be, but there is no one to name me so I am still just Michele. I jokingly like to think of myself as “The Hiker” since I am the only one out here most of the time!
Of all the places I’ve been to on this trip, Isle Royale is the one I’ve mythologized the most. In my mind, it is wild and untamed and remote. I haven’t researched it at all for this trip but I have heard about it for years- that is is the largest island in the largest lake in the world., that it contains ancient native copper mines, that Benjamin Franklin made it a dealbreaker when drawing the boundary lines between America and Canada even though geographically it should be Canadian, that its wolves and moose make for a near-perfect scientific example of the cyclical predator-prey population trends, that it it is beautiful. Time to find out.
Continue to the next entry in the series by clicking here: Day 42: Lane Cove to Todd Harbor
Go back to the previous entry by clicking here: Day 40: Eagle River to Copper Harbor