“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”~ Saint Augustine
Today marks day 29 of my Big Adventure as I am coming to 1 month out on the beautiful Lake Huron. Each day has made me dig a little deeper to find out what I am made of. Do I have what it takes to really paddle up and out of Lake Huron, let alone the entire Great Loop? I have always believed I would see that mighty bridge that marks the end of Leg 1…but seeing and believing are two different things.
It has been a battle everyday to achieve that goal. Facing obstacles that I never would have had, just teaching students in a classroom. Out here, it’s just me. One wrong move could mean the difference between life and death. The Lake has a way of reminding you that.
After crossing Saginaw Bay and Thunder Bay, you could say I was riding high, if not even a bit over confident. Day 25 and Hammond Bay would be a piece of cake I thought. The winds are with me, the weathers perfect and I can make it across before dark. That’s what I thought anyway.
Only a mile from my destination, and out of no where, my south east winds that had been behind me all day instantly shifted to a huge Northwest headwind. The skies turned dark black and my Marine Radio starts blasting warnings from the Coast Guard that Mackinaw is getting rocked with huge storms. What!?! How!?! The weather was supposed to be perfect all day…now what do I do?!? I didn’t plan on this!!
After a few minutes of fighting the major headwind, I started to think…crap…this could get bad. OK think…think…think…what’s the smartest move to stay safe. That answer came easy, but at a price.
Rather than fight another hour maybe more for that last mile, into the unknown of what may be coming at me from the North…I decided to give up all the miles I earned the last few hours of my day and backtrack, riding the winds back across the bay towards where I just came. My objective wasn’t to make it across anymore…it was just to stay safe, and I had faith that I made the right decision.
Soon enough, I found out that my smart decision would pay off big time! After almost reaching the Bay from where I had come from, in steps day 25’s heroes in Jerry and Ruth. I knew there was a little park near by, and I asked a great couple for simple directions to it, because after being crushed that I didn’t make it across, all I wanted to do was get to the park and set up my hammock. Next thing I knew, Jerry is chasing me down the beach telling me to come back, camp in their yard and he would grill out some burgers over the fire… and on his birthday no less!!! A night that could have been ruined, not only cleared up to become the perfect night, but in the company of 2 of the greatest people I could have ever hope to have paddled into…even if Jerry is an Av’s fan.
The next day, Sunday Day 26 called for rain and more thunderstorms. Not making the crossing the day before, I was determined to get across and to Hammond Bay Harbor, regardless of the forecast. Again I trusted in my faith and decision making and went for it.
Although, this time it was “smooth sailing” across the bay, someone else didn’t think so. As I neared the other side of the bay, I see a police car waiting for me and Sheriff John coming down to the waters edge.
Oh great…what the heck did I do wrong???
What happened was someone saw me towing the Kayak Kaboose, through binoculars Rear Window style. From the shore, the cop said they thought the saw a man towing two children in a kayak behind him (my malone kayak kart wheels on top of the Kaboose apparently look like heads from a distance). They freaked out when I started going across the bay and when they lost sight of me, they thought I had drifted out to sea with 2 kids in tow. At least they cared for the saftey of me and my plastic children. I thanked Sheriff John and told him what I was doing and that I had all the proper saftey devices on board if I did run into an emergency.
After that brief delay, it was on to Hammond Bay Harbor. I can’t thank Fred and Bruce enough for letting me stay. To top it off, Bruce truly inspired me. He is 75 years old and not only did he just complete the Michigan half marathon, but finished 1st in his class. I can only hope to get out of bed at 75, let alone run a half marathon!!! Congrats Bruce!!!
Day 27 was another day of war with Lake Huron. A small craft advisory was out, but no way I was letting that stop me from making a little progress. From Hammond Bay Harbor to a little beach I stopped at, those 4.5 miles would be some of the toughest earned miles of my trip. To top it off..that effort earned me another big time reward…my 1st view of The Mighty Mackinac Bridge! It was like seeing light at the end of a dark tunnel. I could see the end of my 1st leg…and I was only 30 miles away!!!
Day 28 started as rough as I had seen the previous day, and I thought…forget the winds and waves…I’m staying put. But then I got impatient. It was such a beautiful day minus the winds…let’s do this. I packed up my gear, and hit the water. Again I was rewarded as the winds calmed down and the waves gave way to gently rock me on the water. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, and by the time I reached Grass Bay, it was right in time to see the sun work it’s magic, setting right behind the Mighty Mac. Probably the greatest sunset I have ever seen away from the ocean.
I always knew seeing that bridge would be amazing…but never could I imagine how big of a victory it really would be for me…even if I am still a couple of days from it.
This journey continues to make me look to myself and my faith for the answers…all of them…to every question that runs through my mind on the 330 miles of Lake I’ve paddled. Each time, putting my trust in that faith…has shown me rewards greater than I could ever imagine. Each day is new, exciting and this has been the most rewarding and life changing month of my life…I can’t wait to see what next month has in store!