The end of summer.

If my camera was capable of taking decent night pictures, I would have photographed Lily Pond at midnight.  Considering our position- staring up from a rowboat in the calm, flat center of the pond (which is really more of a lake), caught between stars and reflections of stars- my pictures would have been amazing.  But Lily Pond is pretty beautiful in the daylight too.
Matt and I celebrated the end of this summer with two of our best friends, Ryan and Michelle, by trekking to and through the Porcupine Mountains in Upper Michigan.  This is one of my favorite places in the world and I don’t get up there enough.  It’s my Holden Caulfield-esque fantasy when things get a little crazy in the Cities: I want to live in a cabin near Lake of the Clouds and fish my food and write down the different kinds of birds I see in an old notebook and not own a phone and go to sleep when it gets dark.  But since I don’t actually know that many species of birds, I settle for brief visits to the Porkies once or twice a year.
The four of us camped at Mirror Lake last year, and because of my “alternative” navigational skills, we took a wrong turn on our hike out and found the Lily Pond cabin, which, upon our return to the Land of the Internet, Matt promptly booked for summer 2011- auspiciously during The Long Weekend of the Most Perfect Summer Weather Lake Superior Has Ever Known.  The cabin features wooden bunks, two sets of oars, salt and pepper shakers, a wood cookstove, and a few mice.  A perfect getaway.
We ate our first meal of the weekend at Presque Isle Falls; the water level was low enough for the falls to invite a closer look.

The churning pools of water carve these fine swirls and dunes into the rock.

The mouth of the river is only a short distance from where we ate lunch, so we took advantage of the boardwalk and headed to Lake Superior.

Our next stop was to actually hike into the cabin, a quick three miles from where we parked my car.  We replaced the tent weight with an extra box of wine, Matt carried our fishing poles at his side,  and together we marched through the jewel-green old-growth forest, up and up and up and then down and down and down until we found Lily Pond.  The cabin is the only place for hikers to spend the night on Lily Pond, which meant we had the entire lake to ourselves, but the trail runs between the fire pit and the cabin’s front steps, which meant we met a lot of transient hikers during the day.
Our plan was to boat, to fish, to drink wine, to make friends with the local beavers, to eat fish, to build fires, to sleep late, to swim, to drink a little more wine and maybe to eat a little more fish.  And I think we surpassed even our own expectations.
Trouts for Ryan and Michelle!  The Wilsons were MVPs of trout fishing.
Happy, windblown Matt after a dip in the lake.
Matt and Ryan alternated rowing duties.
A day-hike to Overlooked Falls.
Fireside bear buddy.
So calm.
If you look closely, you can see the tiny fish (or maybe frog?) eggs in these weeds.  They look dipped in eggs, a la crunch coat at DQ.
Trout stringer.
Trout stringer + 1 horizontal trout.

As we discovered last year, there is something so satisfying about the labor involved in camping: making our own fires, catching our own meals, swimming with soap to clean ourselves up.  I brought my Kindle, but I never opened it.  There was too much happening in front of me to want to get lost in a book.

We were able to spend a night with my parents at Little Girl’s Point and two nights at Lily Pond, and though I never feel like it’s enough, I’m always grateful for any small hour spent up north.

In English education, we talk about providing a print-rich environment for our students so that wherever their eyes land, there is something to read.  I felt like I spent much of this summer in a verdant, life-rich, beauty-rich environment.  So I end the summer feeling…rich.

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