Isle Royale National Park - Day 2 South Lake Desor Campground to Hatchet Lake Campground 8.1 miles hiked
This morning I realized how long it has been since I last hiked with a pack on my back. Three years? Four years? It has been a very long time.
I woke up with aching hips and shoulders because I had been wearing the waist belt of my backpack far too low on my pelvis the entire first day. All 11 miles. I had assumed that I was sore and uncomfortable because I am painfully out of shape. Although this is not untrue, as soon as Michael noticed the problem and we readjusted my pack, I felt much, much better.
In sharp contrast to yesterday’s hike which was over in record time, today seemed to last forever. Where we were fueled uphill by anticipation and excitement yesterday, today we were pushed along by the realization that we have days of hiking and camping ahead of us. We are less than one-fourth of the way through. While yesterday the dozen other hikers on the boat gave us fodder for conversation and speculation all afternoon, today there didn’t seem to be much to say. At least that’s how I felt. I had a hard time of things today.
It rained last night which means everything we are carrying is soggy and heavy and will no doubt have an aroma by the time it is unpacked. Tell me again why I like this?
I like hiking because everything I need, I have. Right here. It’s on my back. I like hiking because it gives me a chance to cook, which I rarely get to do now that we no longer have a kitchen. Making something edible out of Ziploc bags of grains and spices is strangely satisfying to the exiled chef in me. Never mind that I broke our new stove last week in Kentucky the first time I used it. I fixed it. It’s fine now.
I like hiking because it gives me time to myself. It is pure, uninterrupted “quiet time for Gabby” as Michael likes to call it. This I cherish, rainy gear and all.
When we hike, Michael is usually twenty paces in front of me. I bring up the rear. Once I understood that it made no sense for me to scurry and try to keep up with his longer, more powerful stride, and that sporadic stops and starts wear me out, hiking became much more enjoyable for me. This is my pace. This is about me. Slow and steady wins the race. Twenty paces behind, I am left to my own devices – usually singing a random collection of tunes to match the beat of my steps, recounting past incidents and situations and stringing together strange word/song/idea associations, or just letting my mind wander. Every once in a while, I even look up to see what’s going on around me. But then I usually trip.
Lately, whenever I am faced with a physical challenge, my thoughts drift to my friend Sarah who decided last year that she was going to run a marathon. She began training, running every morning rain or shine, honing her body and mind to the task, only to find that at the last minute, the marathon she planned to run would be cancelled due to security concerns. All of that work! How could they?! The morning of the cancelled marathon, Sarah packed a daypack full of water, planned her route and ran anyway. All the way to a handmade finish line. The photo of her triumphant finish is the one I pull out in my mind when I need that extra incentive. Sarah, I was thinking about you a lot today…when I wasn’t thinking about moose.
Are we ever going to see a moose? We dodge moose poop on the narrow trail every ten steps. I can’t stop thinking about moose tracks ice cream. But we have yet to see the elusive beast. I don’t think we have unknowingly walked past any. I mean, they’re huge, right? We’d know it if we saw one, right? People seemed to say it was a foregone conclusion that we would certainly, definitely see moose while we are here. So I’ve been obsessing about moose. And strawberry rhubarb pie in Grand Marais, Minnesota. But that’s another story altogether.