Sometimes you just have to jump right in.
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IRNP Day 6, Todd Harbor to McCargoe Cove, 6.2 miles

True, the sun and the wind inspire. But rain has an edge. Who, after all, dreams of dancing in dust? Or kissing in the bright sun?

Cynthia Barnett
Sometimes you just have to jump right in.
Sometimes you just have to jump right in.

Rolling thunder wakes me with flashes of light like so many strobes. I feel scared as the wind picks up and wonder if the enormous birch behind my head with branches only at the top will stay standing. I pop out to poop and pee before it rains. 

No rain hits until it’s light and it’s only a sprinkle, so I pack up and get started on the short walk to a bay with shelters. I liberate three spiders with bulbous bodies and stringy legs who spent the night huddled under my pack’s lid. A slender black fox with a bushy striped tail visits for handouts. 

The trail heads up through dense woods. My rain pants protect me from the wet overgrowth. I catch glimpses of small islands off this main island, all uninhabited except for their native creatures. 

I walk straight into a refreshing wind and think about the pipe passed around last night. I’m not against smoking, but like headphones on the trail, I don’t see a need to alter my mental state while hiking and prefer to be completely alert and in tune with my surroundings. 

Right now, my surroundings are threatening and expectant. I hear thunder to the north and south, growling like a warning. It’s so dark when I walk through forest, I can barely see where to put my feet to avoid the mud. 

One of millions of dew covered spider webs on Feldtmann Ridge.
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IRNP, Day 3, Feldtmann Lake to Siskiwit Bay, 10.2 miles

Suddenly a mist of green on the trees, as quiet as thought.

Dorothy Richardson
One of millions of dew covered spider webs on Feldtmann Ridge.
One of millions of dew covered spider webs on Feldtmann Ridge.

It drizzled last night and my lake is shrouded in dense fog. I notice for the first time witch hair moss draped over branches of the big cedar where I hung Blueberry, hopefully high out of long black-socks-fox’s reach.  

No swimming this morning as I put on rain gear, mostly for the shrubbery car wash to come. The wind is high as I make tea and eat bars. Here’s hoping it gives me views from the Feldtmann fire tower. 

Almost immediately, I cross an oily wetland on boards, one broken and sunken, but the ranger told me it was safe if I move slowly. I tell myself it is forbidden to fall and shuffle across. 

The forest is dark and wet and I move well alone in the early morning. I know the ridge comes soon and it appears as stairs heading straight up to pines. The sun pushes through silvery and bright. Crickets with fancy wings leap out of my way as my feet walk on large stones in a kind of concrete emulsion. 

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IRNP Day 2, Hugginin Cove to Feldtmann Lake (Rainbow Cove 14.4 miles

A fox tries to make its home near good supplies of food.     

Elizabeth Russell-Arnot
A wee cairn at Rainbow Cove.
A wee cairn at Rainbow Cove.

All night, the sky lit up like a strobe light, thunder rumbling long and menacing, but not one drop of rain reaching me. I packed everything inside the tent including my muddy shoes, afraid a creature would make off with something vital. 

The sunset was so perfect last night from my private rock outcropping, but this morning is socked in with fog. I pack up quickly, noticing one fat slug curled under the alicoop’s tarp. 

Tea is made and I bite into the best bars yet. I tweaked the recipe, leaving out any wheat products and cutting the uber sweet dates in half. I have neighbors, but I only see one quietly emerge to grab water. I leave before their tents come down. 

It’s a boggy, thimbleberry zone with ups and downs over fallen birch, their bark pealing into tight scrolls. Mostly, I ‘walk the plank’ expertly arranged over wetlands, a thin trickle moving the coffee-stained water. They’re hardly just nailed together planks. Often, trail workers built short stairs to accommodate the undulating land.