Re-post of My Journal From Isle Royale, Part 3

Life List Item Number Forty-Two
Click Here for Part One

The night was in the upper forties and remained chilly the next morning as I repacked my gear. McCargoe Cove, 10 miles away, was today’s planned destination. I got back on the trail and walked along a bog bridge, a twelve-inch plank to raise hikers above the wetland. Beautiful flowers grew wild on both sides. I didn't notice the buzzing noise until I was right in the middle of it. Bees surrounded me. It was like walking into an apiary without a beekeeper outfit, but I didn't even consider that they might sting me. I just kept walking through it with a smile on my face. My naivety will one day be the death of me.

So far, my pilgrimage to see a moose was unsuccessful. I worried that not seeing any was a possibility. Then somewhere between Lake Richie and Chickenbone Lake, just a few yards on my right, I hear a loud exhaling grunt that could have only come from one of the half-ton lumbering beasts.

I was temporarily startled but drew the camera from my side pocket like Wyatt Earp. I walked along fallen trees to get closer, balancing myself by reaching for nearby trunks and branches. He was grazing, preparing for winter, so said Ranger Marcia. His massive size and huge rack made me suddenly feel fragile. His movements were unhurried, living in the moment. He grabbed branches between his teeth then slid up to strip it of leaves. It was fascinating to watch. With great satisfaction, I mentally crossed off number 42.

I picked a site at Chickenbone Lake to stay for the night. I didn’t get to McCargoe Cove, three more miles away. I was ready to rest and after seeing the moose, I wanted to stay in the area to see if I'd see more.

Moose don’t like hot weather. They don’t get cold until about -25°F, so I figured they would frequent the lake to cool themselves. After surveying the site, I found a few moose tracks and many paths leading toward the water. I was certain I’d be successful. I set my alarm for 6:00 am. I’d hunt early, camera in hand.

Logs and rocks surrounded a large boulder near the center of the campsite, which I used as a table and chair to prepare dinner. While I ate, and for the rest of the evening, the periodic cry of a loon, put me in good spirits until it started to rain. I grabbed everything and threw it into my tent.

I hopped onto a large boulder that was a couple of feet out into the lake and watched droplets from the drizzle collided with the still water. The light reflecting off the ripples looked like thousands of fireflies swarming on the surface.

Another reason I stopped three miles before reaching McCargoe was that I didn’t want this trip to be about completing as many miles as possible. I wanted time to relax by the lake, sway in my hammock, and read my book. Aside from the few intermittent showers, it was a perfect night to do so. The storm clouds moving in reflected many warm hues from the setting sun, creating a dramatic and menacing sky.

I am a hammock-based sloth with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to answer to. Finally, I’m beginning to have the frame of mind to answer some, often ignored, but important questions. Questions that keep me in the here and now: what is going on around me, what sounds have just entered my ears that I am ignoring, what is my skin feeling, am I paying attention?

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A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.