Re-post of My Journal From Isle Royale, Part 6

My Final Day in Paradise
Click Here for Part One

I woke up early the next morning to watch the sunrise one last time over Lake Superior. I went back to the deck from last night. I expected to see others enjoying the view, but again I had the deck to myself. Only this time, I sat on the east-facing bench. I didn't leave until the sky passed its peak of red and orange.

A couple of hours later, I was floating in a kayak. I saw that they offered rentals, so decided to go on one final adventure before boarding the Isle Royale Queen IV once again.

I paddled around Tobin Harbor for four hours, hoping to catch another glimpse of a moose. I didn't see any but I did see two loons. I tried to close in on them to get a picture, but as I approached they dived underwater for a minute or so and pop back up in another location. They are like real life whack-a-moles. They made me look like a fool as I paddled back and forth helplessly.

I passed several small islands, some inhabited by people vacationing in cabins. I paddled toward two ducks, that stood on a log floating in the lake, hoping to snap their picture, but before I could get close enough their fight or flight instinct kicked in and they flew away. Just once, I want a duck to choose fight. That should keep things interesting. If nothing else I’d find out what I’m truly made of.

I took the kayak back to the beach and returned my paddle and life jacket. I still had over two hours before the boat arrived on the island, so I decided to go on a harbor walk with a small group lead by Ranger Marcia. I learned about useful plants that I wish knew about before my hike. Some edible, but most notable was a small feathery plant that is said to relieve the itch of mosquito bites if rubbed on your skin.

When we returned from the informative walk, they were loading gear and kayaks onto the boat. A long row of passengers lined up along its side. I wasn't anywhere close to being ready to leave but I didn't really have a choice, right? I sat again in the stern of the ship and watched as Isle Royale faded away. A depressing sight.

When we docked at Copper Harbor, I got back into my car and drove straight through for thirteen hours. I was surprisingly wide-awake for almost the entire time, until I was less than 40 miles from my house. Sleep deprivation finally started to set in.

I started to hallucinate, or maybe I was actually asleep for a few seconds and dreaming. I thought I saw something run out in front of me. I swear it looked like an 18” tall Sasquatch, although I’m fairly certain it wasn't  With fifteen miles to go, I dreamed that the road dropped off on the left side until my lane looked like a plateau on a ridge overlooking a shear drop off.

I couldn't take it anymore. This was not good. I stopped at a gas station and slept for an hour. I woke up suddenly, feeling like I had only slept for seconds then finished the last 15 minutes of driving.

It didn't take long to find myself back into my routine, but Isle Royale will forever be a special place to me, a significant part of my timeline. I already want to plan a second trip, but I have too many other things on my list to do. It’s not a Yahtzee, you know. You don’t get bonus points for doing it more than once. Nevertheless, there is something unique about that place. It’s the most revisited national park in the country and now I know why.

All that life is, is the present moment and a collection of memories from past moments. If I fill too much of my past with those repetitive, ignored memories, instead of living in the here-and-now then it’s no mystery why my time has flown by.

I spent so much of my time off at home, thinking I couldn't afford to do the things I wanted to do. I was wrong. (This trip was just over $300, including gas.) I have no good excuse for staying home anymore. Life is too short and too important. These six days will never be forgotten, blocked out or ignored as insignificant. Every detail will be with me forever.

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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.