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  • Sunday, September 9, 2007

    North Manitou Island, Part Three
    - Number 8 on my life list.


    Part 3
    Go to Part 12345

     
    And on day three I woke up, stiff as hell but felt wonderful. I cooked some oatmeal for breakfast, washed up, stretched to get my muscles and joints acclimated for the additional ten miles I’d ask of them today.  I took one more look at the lake (I could now see South Manitou very clearly). South Manitou Island is interesting as well. There are light houses and a 120-150' long sunken boat that you can swim out to. No backcountry camping allowed, only a campground. I hear a pretty excellent campground though.

    Every moment this day moved slower and with a lot less anxiety than the previous. There was no rush to catch a boat ride, no plan other than move forward, and no expected destination. Just hiking till I'm too tired, too sore, or it's too dark. My senses were starting to sharpen. I could visualize each sound emanating from their individual sources, so each was separate and not part of the collective background noise. 

    I realize this is only day two but something about being alone in nature changes the way I see the world around me. It might have something to do with not talking. Just keeping my mouth shut and listening to the present. I wonder how a long trip in the wilderness would effect my perception. 

    I passed a Boy Scout leader trying to figure out where he was. (This made me feel better about getting lost the previous day.) 

    "Do you know where Johnson's Place is?" he asked. 

    "I think it's up ahead, a quarter mile or so," I told him. 

    He turned around to go back to his troop. I followed him and his bad mood at a safe distance. Another reason being in nature improves the way I look at the world is the lack of frustrated people. I heard him tell them where I thought it was. He was upset because, as he said, they didn't mow around their signs and there was no building anywhere. Well first, there was no building there anymore, which is the case for some of the old estate locations on the island, and second the boy scouts were sitting not 20 feet from the "missing" sign that said Johnson's Place. It was as plain as day about 18" off the side of the trail. 

    I didn't bother telling them. I'm sure they figured it out. In fact it would be a disservice to help them out too much, they're Boy Scouts. Besides, their leader was amusingly upset so I didn't really want to say anything to him anyway. 

    I realized I ran out of water just before getting to Swenson's Barn. I'm on an island with many views of a freshwater lake so there was never any danger of dehydration. Which is probably why I didn't pay attention to my water supply. 

    The map made it look like the lake was just beyond the barn up the hill of thick trees. It was hot, so desperately wanting a drink I thought I'd head in that direction and take a "shortcut" up the hill. When I finally made it to the top, after several scratches and near brushes with poison ivy, I expected to see the clear cool waters of Lake Michigan. But instead all I saw was a large overgrown, very dry, field and another thick patch of trees. So I had to go back to the trail to keep looking for a clear path west. 

    It's interesting having even the slightest concerned about your water supply. It was a first for me. 

    I finally found Crescent dock and glorious water at last. I stopped to fill up, eat a nice bowl of much needed sodium-filled soup, and take a dip in the lake. It's a strange feeling seeing a lake and thinking, oh finally crisp cool water... to drink. (Again, I'm not yet an experienced backpacker.) 

    Maybe this is why we feel good when we are looking out at bodies of water. When going down the highway, crossing over a bridge, you can’t help but look over at the water. We no longer realize why we are happy when we see it, but the generations that have passed without indoor plumbing have embedded this fondness into our genetic material. Now we just stand there looking out at a lake with a smile as we sip our Evian. 

    This was the only time that I was on a beach and I saw another person, and they were no less than 50 yards from me at any given time. They had their socks hung up on some branches to dry while they stared at the water, I assume, not giving it any thought as to why they loved staring at it. I waited till they were gone to get in the water. Nobody wants to see a grown man wash up in the lake they are trying to relax by. (Well maybe I shouldn't say ‘nobody’.) 

    Day three was coming to an end. I had made it to the northwest side of the island just past The Old Grade. I tried for a while to find a camp site that would come close to the beauty of the last one but got too exhausted and the sun was starting to set.  I had to stop. I just turned to the right, off the trail, and hiked in until I found a clear flat piece of land. 

    I went into my tent early to get away from the mosquitoes, even though it was hot and humid in there. I wasn’t that tired so I sat up and wrote about the day in my notebook. I thought of my bed at home. How uncomfortable it seems during a normal week but now I remembered it only as very soft and cozy with its thick heavy blankets and fluffed up pillows. Thoughts like this are typical for me on the second night of a camping trip. Generally by day three, however, I never want to leave and the comforts of home start seeming unnatural. 

    I put down the notebook and as I lay there, trying to fall asleep, daddy long legs were climbing all over my tent. I'm pretty sure they were testing it for weaknesses. They wanted in. They wanted in bad. But for what? I wouldn't let my imagination try to figure that one out. 
    Go to Part 1234, 5