IRNP, Day 8 Moskey Basin to Lane Cove, 10.8 miles

In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.

Alice Walker
The view from the fire tower on Mount Ojibwe looking back to what I’d hiked.

Waking up in my private little shelter to the waves gently lapping and reminding me of yesterday’s leech nightmare. No plans to swim this morning. I catch a glimpse of pink in the sky, but since I’m facing south, can only see the extraordinary show when I pop out of the shelter.

Orange, magenta, lavender and pink in a swirl of color, so present and overwhelming, I feel bathed in its glow. I quickly head back to the otter dock and then out onto the big exposed bit of Canadian Shield. The smell of coffee wafts towards me as a screen door slams but no one joins me out here where the view is miraculous.

It’s just a sunrise, but I see them so rarely from our tree lined street. Are they always this good and I am simply not attuned to them? I suddenly remember that the wise old saying about red skies in the morning, sailors take warning. This glorious morning will be followed by rain.

The trail is easy back out along planks and back into the forest towards Daisy Farm. It’s a massive campground of sixteen shelters tucked into the trees abutting a cove where two sailboats of different sizes await their sailors. I get briefly lost, but soon find the trail heading up to Mount Ojibwe and its fire tower.

It’s all uphill now, but only about 1500 feet in a few miles. I come out of the forest onto a sort of saddle, where, even high above the lake, I cross a series of planks above leatherleaf and Labrador tea threatening to overtake the bog.

Morning light at Moskey Basin.
Big boat, small boat at Daisy Farm.

The trail winds steeply up towards the Greenstone Ridge, obvious now as the trees clear and the sky grays. The views are spectacular, even more so from the tower, where 59 steps take me to a walkway of views on all sides. I look straight down the island’s spine thick with balsam fir and white spruce. Inland lakes lay below the ridge, then the big lake beyond.

The wind picks up and the sky feels heavy with moisture. I throw Blueberry on my back and continue along the trail towards Mount Franklin. No rain, no creatures, just forest, bearberry thick with red berries growing into my path.

At the mountain, I meet a couple having a snack at the view which looks down to where I’ll sleep tonight. They shock me with their story that a moose charged them, splashing through a lake to get to them. “What did you do?” They tell me, they ran and when the moose got to shore he seemed to have changed his mind.

I’m extra vigilant as I head toward the turn off for Lane Cove, a steep, oftentimes washed out set of switchbacks heading back deep into forest of paper birch and aspen. I was warned there would be a beaver dam to cross and I soon come to a wiped out boardwalk. But the trail is obvious back into the brush and over the muddy wall.

It’s wet and brushy as I cross one boardwalk after another. Before one particularly long crossing, someone has affixed a plastic bag with a note inside, “BEES UNDER BRIDGE!” Underneath someone adds the comment, “no joke, where (sic) long pants.”

A brand new bridge over a beaver pond.
An older bridge with slippery bits.
Had to find a work around at this bridge.

Already dressed in long pants and long sleeves, I shuffle across, reminded of some good advice I read recently “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast: if you move slowly, you’ll make the right decision and it will ultimately be faster.”

My decision at this point was not to get stung, but it’s drizzling and that seems to keep any bees from venturing forth. I had back up and meet four people coming my way with just a bit of disappointment hoping I’d have the place to myself. They’re boaters and just out for a day hike. I tell them about the bees and ask if there are free campsites. “Oh yeah!” one tells me, and I realize my worries are unfounded. C’mon, al, be more charitable.

As it turns out, the campsite is deserted except for their mega set up of large tents and chairs. But they are way on the other side and I have my pick of sites, settling for – yet again – the best spot, number two with a little set of stairs to the water.

I eat lunch and then crawl into the alicoop as it begins to rain, my fabulous book – Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life keeping me company before I drift off. Dinner is at the view and I simply soak it in as a family of mergansers swim by, the loons call to each other and dragonflies pick hover over me, picking off the bugs.

A bouquet of birch muses.
Mount Franklin looking toward Lane Cove. These people had been charged by a moose.

My neighbors return, but all I hear is the gentle closing of the outhouse door, then absolute silence. I consider popping by, but know that if there’s a problem for either of us, we know the other is there to help, so give them their space.

How did this happen, I wonder, that I slept in the best site every single night? I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a requirement, but it’s nice once in a while to enjoy such good luck since not every backpacking trip turns out this way, like on the Colorado Trail when it rained a monsoon half the hike.

A wise person told me once to recognize when things are wonderful and enjoy them fully, because it won’t last. The point was not so much that joy is fleeting as to remember when times are tough, that joy will return. And I breath all that in sitting on my rock looking out to the Cove and the sun turns the water gold then silver and it’s time to turn in.

Site number 2 in Lane Cove.

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

Reader Comments

  1. Love that Island. It’s more of a continent than just a strip of rock in Lake Superior. Miss that Island. After so many visits the place is another home. Walking that Island. Blisters almost every time; black toe too. Black fly bites on spring ridges. Cold:Wet is that Island. May is barely survivable. September has the longest nights to shiver through; nothing wet will dry. Distant is that Island. Its very far away when you are on the boat and the sea is rolling under your feet. Green water with a glow below. Swishing breakers and a seagull drafting above. Insulated and distant; not for everyone to enjoy, except at a distance.

    1. What a beautiful comment, Tom, poetry, really! yes, nothing dried and I got blisters and black toes from all the wet even though the trail was pretty easy. my memories will always be of the abundance of wildlife, like visiting another world where we are truly mere guests.

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