Digging deep

IMG_20160607_215446.jpg“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~Harriet Beecher Stowe

Stowe’s words perfectly sum up my last few days of the Big Adventure. 2 days ago on Day 6, I left Harbor Beach and set out for Port Hope. I wouldn’t realize how spoiled I had been with weather until a bit later on in the day, but for now conditions were perfect and I was eager to hit the water again.

My excitement to be paddling after a great day off was at an all-time high. I was looking forward to the paddle past Harbor Beach’s lighthouse, and set out further up Michigan’s Thumb.

I killed about an hour taking pics by the lighthouse and the view of the city from the water. The different vantage point from seeing the lighthouse from the water vs the shore was such an awesome experience.


Harbor Beach Lighthouse

To top it off, I even found out my Uncle, while in the Coast Guard had once threw a coat of paint on the very same one I now couldn’t snap enough pics of!

Almost as soon as I passed the breakwall, the wind shifted and gave me my 1st real taste of Lake Huron’s power. A huge headwind from the Northwest tried it’s best to see what I was made of, sending 20mph winds with gusts up to 25mph my way. Unfortunately for them, with my eager to conquer anything attitude for the day, those waves didn’t stand a chance. I had a blast pretending I was Marky Mark in “The Perfect Storm” and battling each one of them with all the power I had in my little Aqua-Bound paddles. It was some of the most fun I have had paddling the whole trip.

As I came around a cove in the lake, I realized I was already in Port Hope. With all the fun I was having, the days paddle flew by. The history buff in me immediately came out, when I saw the huge Chimney that greeted me upon my arrival. It is all that remains of the Mill, from the days when Port Hope was the center of the lumbering industry in Michigan’s thumb.

I then bumped into Kevin as he was mowing the campground grass, and he was kind enough to direct me to the park office. There I met Denise, who again proved to me about the kindness of strangers. She welcomed me in to the campground with so much enthusiasm for what I was doing with my trip. She helped get me set up in the perfect hammock spot right by the water, and her kind heart was the greatest gift to end my day 6 on.

With the hammock set up perfectly under the trees and my tarp, I slept like a baby, but waking up I soon found out I had a cold and rainy start to the next morning. To this point, the sunrise had always motivated me and speed up my morning chore of packing my gear. The paddle itself would turn out to be an even bigger chore on this Wednesday.

With headwinds again coming from the Northwest, and the whole trip rounding the thumb right to that direction, I faced and battled the wind all day for a 2nd day in a row. Day 7 seriously tested every bit of physical and mental strength I had in me. Not realizing how hard the day before’s paddle was, it compounded the work I had to put in. Setting out at 8:30 in the morning, I wouldn’t reach the dock of Lighthouse park until 9 hours later at just a little past 5:30pm. The last cove took every ounce of faith I had in me. Being able to see the lighthouse, but seeming to paddle 1 stroke up and 2 stokes back made me feel like I was that old cartoon donkey with a carrot dangling in front of him. To top it off, the fear of what if the campground is already closed and I have to paddle EVEN FURTHER through this, only made the end of this paddle just a little bit more mentally draining.

Like the Stowe quote went though, “the tide will turn”. Did it ever. Hitting that dock at Lighthouse County Park, was one of greatest feelings of my life. I had been beaten down, and bashed around by the days waves and to know I overcame such a difficult task, was maybe the most rewarding feeling so far of my trip.

The bigger reward of landing at this beautiful little campground was really the icing on the cake, but that friends is for another day’s story.


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