Anything worthwhile, literally anything, requires serious effort. Here my family and I are returning from obtaining a bucket of clear, cold, and fresh, spring water during our stay at the Lily Pond cabin in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Each journey to obtain the precious drink involved a 10-15 minute paddle or row across the pond, dragging the boat onto a thicket of branches near the edge of the pond in a bog-like setting at the edges, wading knee deep in water to shore, scrambling up a steep embankment on an unmarked an slippery trail, following the trail nearly a quarter mile through ankle deep mud at times, gathering the water from a pipe that led straight into the center of the life-giving spring underground as mosquitoes sink multiple straws into your soft and supple flesh, and then carrying your nearly filled five gallon pail over and around obstructions such as deadfalls and a small creek crossing. Coming down the steep embankment to the beached canoe or rowboat below, I was particularly cautious. On one occasion a stumble caused a half gallon of the precious liquid to jump straight into the air, and somehow I had the presence of mind to catch every last drop back into the bucket. A miracle if there ever was one. This pure water, Adam’s ale, had been purchased at great price
Heaving the pail back into boat, and delivering it safely to our wilderness cabin, was a bit like King David’s might men breaking through enemy lines during a battle so as to procure a bucket of cold water from a revered well at the cost of blood out of their devotion to the king. In exhaustion he had exclaimed in a moment of apparent weakness, “Oh that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!” Heading out to locate the well for the first time after hiking in with the family during a persistent rain was a bit like that. Just a bit.
I want my kids to appreciate hard work, and the rewards to be gleaned from it. Here they are hiking in the two miles to the cabin whilst carrying all their clothes and sleeping bag in school backpacks during a rain on a remarkably muddy trail:
In previous years we hiked three or four miles in, so a mere two miles seemed rather easy. Read about a previous experience at the mouth of the Little Carp River on Lake Superior here: https://eddygilmore.com/2013/04/04/a-run-in-the-woods/
It rained much of the time during our three night stay. In fact, it actually heightened the sense of adventure for the kids as they enjoyed splashing right down the middle of calf-deep mud puddles on the way back to the car at the end of our stay. They wore Keen sandals, and loved every minute of the hike back. This was a surprise, because normally a certain amount of cajoling is necessary. I was quite proud of them, and could barely keep up with my hefty backpack that ran somewhere north of 60 pounds.
It wasn’t all rain, however. We were blessed with one full sunny day. The six mile roundtrip hike to Mirror Lake for a swim and picnic were just what the doctor ordered to burn off energy. Afterwards our twins played better together, so I highly recommend epic energy expending adventures to blow the stink off as needed. Having a cabin was perfect, because we were able to keep the wood stove going non-stop to dry clothes out. While the clothes dried we played games, and I read an inspirational 200 page book aloud.
The ancient old growth hemlocks once again did not disappoint. This is certainly the finest old-growth forest in the midwest.
For $60 a night we enjoyed this private cabin. The nearest neighbor was 2.5 miles away at Mirror Lake, so on a Labor Day weekend it’s hard to experience anything more peaceful and serene than this…
Dry trail under 300+ year old hemlocks on our sunny day:
View from the cabin:
Eating dinner at a bench just below the cabin. A great blue heron camped out on the river each night. You can kind of see it in the background.
There were serious interpersonal conflicts along the way, but eventually these were worked out. In the end we love one another deeply, and were grateful for the much needed time away…