Isle Royale - Day 11
Today was quite a change of events on the island. We began today with the pitter patter of rain pelting the tent and then turned into a full on thunderstorm. Fortunately it didn’t have a lot of wind, but it had enough wind to whip up some waves on Feldtmann Lake and soak our tent. We had hoped for an early start, but waiting out the worst of the rain before breaking the silence with the zipper of the tent. Quickly, in classic Feldtmann Lake fashion, we sighted a moose foraging in the lake right in front of our tent. He was a healthy, fit looking fellow with a nice fuzzy start to his antlers. He splashed and meandered and we were able to get a few good shots of him before he moseyed down the beach to the other camp sites. We watched until a sound spooked him and he darted back our way. He did not notice us standing with our packs on and almost walked right into our campsite before noticing us and turning and running the other way. He settled down and we got on our way so he could finish his breakfast undisturbed.
Most of today’s hike was smooth sailing with fairly clear trail. It’s just that we are now compounding 10 plus days in a row now, so by about mile 8, any nagging injury rears its ugly head and we find ourselves hobbling into camp. Tree Walker’s feet have been my view for 5 hours in a row today. I can tell when he is excited that we are approaching things, when his pace begins to speed up, and when the terrain is about to change. I find we have more chunks of time with empty conversation now and the time seems to be harder to pass. Before I came to Isle Royale, I wondered what revolutionary personal breakthroughs I might have sorting through moments of my life while hiking. I’ve done a lot of reflection, but honestly, now it has turned into an empty rhythm of exercise much like swimming laps, where your mind simply grabs hold of the cadence and you focus on the every flow and technique of your walking. Sometimes a song will fill up your mind, but mostly one line of an unknown lyric that won’t let go. The first hour or so are usually filled will chatter and eager anticipation. Landmarks make for interesting goal points and challenges with the clock. But a lot of the time is just a flow like a long workout or a training session for a triathlon. Your body just moves and the mind completely lets go. Honestly, after the challenges of the past few years, maybe that is good for us.
We climbed out of the Feldtmann Lake area and after about an hour of hiking, ascended the Feldtmann Ridge and turned back for a view of not only the lake, but all the way back to Washington Harbor’s entry, Rock of the Ages Lighthouse, the Feldman loop, and the Houghton Ridge to our right. It was one of the best views of the island I have ever seen. It was an unusual orientation and allowed you to see so much of the topography and interesting ridge formations, in addition to Lake Superior. We took many pictures and enjoyed the view before pressing on into the rain. From there the trail was mostly the same: high vegetation and deep fern filled woods.
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