Week 11 and 12 Baraga State Park to Wakefield, MI
At the end of another week we’re asking ourselves where the time went. The duration of running up and back down the Keweenaw has been spent in the company of friends, family, and folks that have reached out to help us. Instead of wrapping up our nights with our journals and books, we’ve been watching the setting sun while sharing some beers and conversation.
From the noisy barrage of traffic sound at Baraga State Park we started running toward Houghton, where we met Evan’s parents and two younger brothers, Aaron and Matthew. Partway through the 29 mile run we came across a gravel path that we could eventually take into the city of Houghton giving us a reprieve from the noise of speedy automobiles. Coincidentally we landed in the same exact spot as Evan’s folks just as they were getting out of the car from Minneapolis. After a round of sweaty hugs we grabbed some food and beer before driving up to Calumet to spend the night. The next morning we woke early and giddy to hit up the continental breakfast at the hotel. We tried to keep our cool as we helped ourselves to as many as hard boiled eggs we could imagine. While the Floms were in town we made sure to check out the sights – we drove up to Copper Harbor, a route we would soon run. We trucked through the Estivant Pines and also headed up to Brockway Mountain, two locales that would otherwise be much too far off the road for our poor tired feet.
The next day the Floms drove us back to Houghton to start our running day. Their kindness and thoughtfulness helped us push on toward what would be high mileage day. From Houghton we ran more than 30 miles to a sandy bay we dubbed Dragonfly Bay. We decided to spend the night without a tent and instead just tucked in our sleeping bags on the beach. There were no clouds and the moon was hidden that night. What unfolded above us was a shocking display of light and hidden texture millions of miles away that fell down into our expectant eyes. We fell asleep to a galaxy above us and the occasional mosquito near our ears. We decided to name that beach Planetarium Beach.
The next morning we woke bright and early to make the push to Fort Wilkins State Park where we were excited to meet up with our friend, Courtney. One thing we’ve learned during our run is that sometimes it’s harder than you had anticipated to carry on for absolutely no particular reason at all. The run into Fort Wilkins was relatively short but by the end we were scuffling, grumpy, and overtired. Oh well. After setting up camp we waited a few hours until Courtney arrived. Courtney recently came back from a Peace Corps posting in South Africa. An old friend from college, none of us had spent much time with her in over two years. To help us catch up she brought New Glarus beer and cheese curds. The next day was a rest day for us. We spent the morning with Courtney before she headed home. Later that day our friends Liz and Nathaniel came to crash with us for the rest of our down time. They also brought delicious, delicious beer and, holy of holies, green veggies. The next morning they sent us off for our run down to Mohawk with pancakes topped with thimbleberries and maple syrup.
That day, August 4th, we decided to splurge and get a motel room in Mohawk because it was Allissa’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday, Lis. We enjoyed pizza and squishy beds for the big quarter-century celebration.
Waking up in a motel the next morning had the added benefit of not having to take down camp. This allowed us to get up and going early so we could head to Lake Linden. Once there, we met up with Andrew Ranville who took us to Rabbit Island. Rabbit Island is a 91 acre island off the southeast side of the Keweenaw peninsula. Along with co-founder Rob Gorski, Andrew has created a summer artist residency for artists all over the world. Early on in the planning of our trip Andrew reached out to us and invited us for a stay. Andrew picked us up and drove us to the boat launch where we headed off on a 3 mile boat ride to the island. Once there we got a quick introduction to the lay of the land and to the folks currently residing on the island. Andrew had radioed ahead to get the sauna started before we arrived and in short order it was ready for us. Andrew told us to hop in and abide by Finnish rules which meant two things: clothing was optional and we were going to get to know these folks we just met much better very quickly. We spent the rest of the day exploring the island, fishing and sharing stories with the other interesting souls on the island. After dinner, some of us even got ready for a nighttime sauna. We heated up in the sauna and ran into Lake Superior under a speckled night sky.
The next morning, after some tasty pancakes of course, Andrew took us back to the mainland and back to Lake Linden. We said goodbye with a promise to stay in touch and keep up with the happenings of Rabbit Island.
Because of our visit to Rabbit Island and the lay of the Keweenaw we had to run through Houghton again on our way further west. Luckily this time we were invited into the house of Kyle, a kind stranger that had heard about our trip and decided to help us out.
Our time running after Houghton has reminded us of our stretch travelling through Ontario: less visitors, more rain, and more hills. But we can’t complain. The landscape has become more and more scenic in the full ostentatious display of late summer. As we ran further and further west, closer to our home waters of Chequamegon Bay, through Ontonagon and then through the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, the world has taken on a deeply familiar tinge – we’ve been here before. And if we don’t have an exact recollection of being here in these places we’ve at least been close or had friends who have regaled us with stories of these places. Just before entering Presque Isle Campground in the Porkies a truck-full of folks stopped to question what we were up to. They showered us with compliments about how intellectual and tough we were before rolling on down the road. Thanks, stranger!
And now we stay for the night at Eddy Park in Wakefield, Michigan, roughly 60 miles from being done with our journey. We can’t wait to get back home and see our friends and family and, for once, take it easy and not run all day. Also we're excited to not smell really weird.